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My Lawnmower Runs Better Backwards

August 5, 2012

My lawnmower runs better backwards, as if its previous owner installed the blade in reverse or upside down. Pushing it only mows half the grass, and I’m forced to drag it backwards over the lines to get a complete cut. Lately I’ve taken to simply pulling it around the lawn; it works just as well. I’ve adapted to its inefficiency, a sort of Darwinian truce with Murphy’s Law. As replacements inevitably bring their own problems I’ve found it worth milking each asset to the point of diminishing returns.

Call it environmentalism. A bold opportunity to reduce my carbon footprint, to thumb the finger at consumerism. A voluntary downshifting of my technological vogue.

Call me a rat race dropout. Call me tight-fisted, or dance around it. He’s working within a budget. There’s truth there, too. But I have another explanation, a logic behind my madness. I’m not prepping for the apocalypse. I’m trying to live as if it already happened.

This isn’t as outlandish or dramatic as it sounds at first glance. I still shop at grocery stores and use grid power. I’m tied into society’s matrix. But I’m also aware this lawnmower may be the last one I ever own.

The price of Thai-made computer chips skyrocketed after the tsunami. Panasonic hasn’t been able to meet America’s demand for bathroom fans due to Japan’s struggles. Ikea is having problems with their butcher block fabricators.

Ladies and gentlemen, this might be a golden age, but it’s already peaked. We are in a decline. One day humanity is going to wake up to a very different world. I’m not going to list further evidence to prove my point; if you can’t see the signs you’re choosing not to. What I am going to do is urge you to spend every day, and every dollar, as if it were your last.

It’s hard to temper that thought with the long-term planning necessary to thrive in a Capitalist society. I’ve struggled with the dichotomy since my early twenties, when I read Tom Brown Jr.’s book The Vision and first saw the unsustainable nature of our world. How could I invest myself in something I didn’t believe in? How could I live a fulfilling life without doing so? For years I hovered along the fence, never fully investing myself but never completely breaking away, maintaining my ‘freedom’ at the cost of instability. Whenever the hypocrisy became too much I’d quit my job, or move, or sever a relationship… only to start the cycle over.

And then I became a parent, and everything changed. I had to invest myself in the accepted paradigm. Sure, I fought it. I’ve moved 8 times in as many years. I’ve struggled with relationships. I’ve wanted to quit my job any number of times. But there’s more at stake now. Not only do I have to invest myself in society, but I have to do it in a way I believe in. The example I set is going to affect my daughter’s thoughts and outlook for the rest of her life, as well as the lessons she may one day pass on to her own children.

I don’t want to be the problem; I want to be the solution. And if that means the neighbors give me strange looks as I drag the lawnmower around, so be it. As long as my daughter understands.

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From → Rants

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