You’re using too much, you want too much, and there’s too many of you!
Part of my reilience training was giving up all the things I loved having, including a nice house, a sports car, and a family, but I’d still like all those things! They’re nice, aren’t they!
It’s nice to get married, build a home life, furnish it with nice things , and have children.
It’s nice to have fashionable clothes, the latest gadgets, the latest homewares, and eat like king every day, but all of this has a cost…
You have to keep working hard or it all goes away! And if the economy falters, or there is civil unrest or a natural ‘disaster’ it might go away even quicker!
But let’s just imagine that life is perfect for now! Even if you live in a ‘developing’ country, this applies to you.
Let’s start by examining the life of my labrador, and seeing how we can apply this to our human world.
My friend Hari ( as i am not his owner!) loves going for walks, meeting other dogs and people, and enjoys a nice meal…
Before we go out walking I have to get ready, make a coffee or tea, put on my shoes, a hat if it’s hot , a warm jacket if it’s cold, but hari’s already ready!
Well, Hari doesn’t need shoes, or a jacket, or a hat, or suncream, or sunglasses…He doesn’t need a coffee to wake up, in fact e needs very little…
He doesn’t care about status, technology, big houses, money, careers, new carpets, paintings on the wall, the latest tv, social media, the arts, education, the environment. He isn’t jealous, hateful, violent, greedy (well sometimes for biscuits), nor deceitful, power mad, he has not developed chemical warfare or nuclear bombs, he doesnt gamble do drugs or drink alcohol (should I go on?)…
He has very little impact on the natural world (except his food, which I provide and that is something that i try to choose to have minimal impact on the animal world, but I could do better).
The one thing he does have an impact on is humans. People love him. Children and adults want to pat him all the time, and he brings joy to everyone he meets, including other dogs…He likes fun, swimming, walking, love and attention…that’s about it!
Imagine if you could say that as a human. All I need is …
Admittedly he wouldnt do that well in the wild, but the he’s a human companion, not a lion, and hence relies on my choices for him..
He’s not a ‘gun dog’ or ‘working dog’ but then neither am I. He’s not aggressive, but then neither am I, he is friendy, and so am I, so maybe we’re a good match!
I use a lot more resources than him though, and am not half as resilient!
I watched the other day as he drank froom a muddy puddle , but I had to wait until i could guarantee the quality of the water in case I got sick.
As I am still wearing my sandals (with socks) my feet got wet today, and I was cold for hours afterwards… he just marched through the puddles and then dived in the cold atlantic ocean for a swim! How i envied him!
Even in our little tent, I am wrapped up in thermal underwear, a fleece and a hat inside a sleeping bad, and he is quite happy on his little camping mat!
Living in the northern hemisphere as humans with no appropriate fur, we have had to evolve technologically, and now have homes with insulation, heating, and cooking stoves, along with warm clothes for the winter. This has made us northeners more resilient, but we are now relying on technology, which could fail , or as has been seen in some countries, cut off by governments, to control or punish the people! So in the end, we are not reilient, but reliant!
When I decided to embark on offshore sailing and create ariana sailing team, it wasn’t for the adventure or racing, but to teach myself resilience, and to learn what I actually needed to survive in the cold atlantic ocean. It turns out that i needed a lot less than I thought i did.
Primarily, offshore sailing is about safety, but then what else? Well, warming food, tea and coffee, and a warm sleeping bag to get some shut eye before the next watch.
As I choose to cook only vegan food on board I initially faced some resistance from the crew who all wanted meat and fish, but rather than explaining why, I just made sure they had greaat tasting hot meals at all times, including porridge for breakfast, chilli butternut squash soup for lunch, with home baked bread in our solar oven, and dishes such as lentil cottage pie, indian curry, mexican chilli, and homebaked cookies!
The crew loved it all. It was tasty, warm, and satisfied all their food needs, and most were surprised they enjoyed it, despite it not containing any ‘meat’.
In addition to low impact eating, we had to manage our resources , such as water and electricity, and I had to teach the crew that fresh drinking water was a finite resource and so was our power (being a sailing boat) . This taught people that you couldnt have what you wanted when you wanted, and no matter how much money you had, it would not increase the amount of resources available…
Cross over to the land however, and the reverse is true. If you have a plentiful supply of money, you could have what you wanted, whenever you wanted it..and indeed it’s true..
If you have money, you don’t need to worry about the amount of energy you are using, or the food you are eating, or the water you are using…it is, in essence, limitless, despite planetary resources being finite.
And so, in the westernised countries you are seeing absolute greed in the use of resources… we are building more wind farms, solar arrays, and power plants and living a consumeristic dream of consuming as much as we can, because we can..
And it all begins with me, my home, my family…The kids want more, and so the adults demand more…we want a better home, or bigger, we want it warm at all times, and we want as much as we can get our grubby little hands on without one thought as to how all this is produced, the people making it, how it is shipped, and how it is distributed …
and now we have over eight billion people living on the planet, most of whom would seek the consumer dream given the money! Imagine the drain on our resources when everybody gets what they want…
That is why I have decided to take a stand, and rather than telling people they should have made a conscious descision to live more lightly on the planet, have less, consume less, and give up theis idealistic notion of a permanent family home, I decided to make the first leap…
and now I am living in an ice cold tent, using minimal resources in Scotland, to show that it is possible, that resiience is not just possible in time of great hardship, but as a positive way of life…
My dog Hari agrees.
NEXT UP : SELF RELIANCE