Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Year Toward Happiness

By virtually any standard, I've had a good year. I found a job with a company that benefits from my strengths, has the potential to help make the world better, and is improving my family's financial condition. I'm getting healthier by eating smarter, and consuming smarter by driving a more efficient car and considering the social and environmental records of the companies that make what I buy. Last month's election could have resulted in a rapid acceleration toward oblivion, but it didn't.

Yet I am nowhere near feeling happy, mainly because oblivion is still ahead of us. The fire that pulled humanity out of the stone age is beginning to engulf our world, yet we continue building and using the equivalent of more powerful blowtorches. The recently completed talks on climate change demonstrated that this is unlikely to change before the firestorm becomes self-sustaining and unstoppable. Planning for the future is looking pretty futile, except for deciding how to resist the causes of our problems.

I've recently felt overwhelmed to the point of frequently losing sleep. For years, I looked forward to having at least as much knowledge, understanding, and wisdom as I do now; answers to most questions come much more easily, and the path to answers I don't have is typically quite obvious. Bursts of insight that I used to celebrate because of their rarity now occur as streams rather than bursts, and most reliably when I'm facing a problem or a commitment; and I am currently facing several of both.

My life is a microcosm of the dying world we are a part of. I accelerate just to keep from losing ground, yet that ground is growing soft and fracturing beneath me because of the weight and stress of too many of us doing the same thing. My instincts and best judgment scream at me to slow down, to make the most out of every experience rather than moving headlong from one to the next. I know that if I take the time to know the ground, I can find ways to stabilize it so it will be around when either I come back to it, or someone else passes along more safely for my efforts. Left to my own devices, it's what I prefer to do; yet I live in a society designed and tweaked to make speed rather than substance, to grow at all costs -- and all costs is what it will ultimately pay if it doesn't change its goal.

For years now, I've written about my struggle to repent for, and end, my contribution to the sabotage of the world's future. In many ways my happiness hinges on it. While better equipped, I am still weak. Having some of the answers and taking some steps is good, but still far from good enough.