Greenspace for Saul
Decisions, Decisions

Conventional thinking:

  • Driving costs less than half of taking transit
  • $50 per month in gas saves 20 hrs of time when compared to biking. My time is surely worth more than $2.50/hr.

Well, I’d be an idiot not to drive.

"We have housing for [the nomads] too…"

I saved an article from the Toronto Star (Africa’s Great Land Rush by Rick Westhead, published 3 December 2011) which investigates how companies from countries such as China, India and Saudi Arabia have snapped up 227 million hectares of farmland from developing countries at prices as low as $1 per hectare and the effect that is having on locals and their ways of life.

I want to share a last bit of one section of the article.  A small piece of background information: Singh works for Karuturi, an Indian company that develops lands for industrial agriculture.

"We are building houses.  We are not employing children, we need more people to work our farms," Singh says.

But ActionAid’s Mtinda doesn’t buy it.  He says there are reports of sprawling commercial farms destroying the livelihoods of the nomadic Maasai herders, who have shepherded livestock across the African plains for centuries.

Singh insists Karuturi wants to make life better for the Maasai.

"We have housing for them, too," Singh says.  "It’s safer and it’s better than what they have now."

I understand that countries like China and India have growing populations and that people need food, but I can’t help but think that there’s got to be a better way to approach this.

If you would like a copy of the article or to discuss this further, please drop me a line.

Babylon By Bus

This post is only a rant.  I have no actual statistics, facts or data to back this up.

I found this Bob Marley album title fitting for this post.  It’s something I’ve noticed since I’ve started working full-time.  

It seems like we’re all in a hurry, but we’re not sure where we’re going.  All we know is we have to get there as soon as possible - the sooner, the better.

But today at work, everyone in my department had left by 6 o’clock and I decided that I would stay longer to keep working on a report since I was making decent headway and didn’t have any prior commitments.  Oddly enough, it was enjoyable to push that report along.  It was nice to be right in the thick of it, to have the time to do it how I wanted to do it, and I think that’s what made it enjoyable.

I love going to the gym and strangely after leaving work, I didn’t feel like going - I just didn’t have the time or energy for it.  Weird, I thought.  But it got me thinking again: things are enjoyable when we have the time and energy to do them.  When you have the time and energy to accept and embrace your situation.

Modern technology saves us tons of time and energy, so in theory shouldn’t we have more of it?  It seems like we don’t, like we’re “penny-pinching” with our time in all aspects of life.

We seem to be spending less time cooking, exercising, sleeping, getting involved in our local communities, creating, discovering first-hand, visiting with family and friends or even just reflecting - taking time to absorb what has gone on in our day.

So where is all this extra time going that we’re saving by virtue of technology and “penny-pinching”?

"Man sets out to conquer the world but loses his soul on the way."  Your soul is where and how you spend your time and energy.

So where and how are we spending our time and energy?  On vacation?  On the internet? In a cubicle?  On the couch watching TV?  Around other people?  In isolation? Both? 

It seems like the time and energy we’ve gained has enabled us to take on much more, do more things and afford more luxuries.  And maybe to a certain extent, it has.  But why the “penny-pinching”?  It seems like we want even more, like we’ve set our sights higher than ever.  And perhaps that’s why economic growth seems to be putting such a strain on things like culture - because we want it all.

But maybe that’s just it - we’ve got so much “stuff”, both material and in our schedules, that we’ve lost sight of embracing our situation.  But why embrace our situation if we can simply pick up and start somewhere new if there are things we don’t like about it? 

I’m not saying we should stay fixed in one place and never pick up and try something new.  I’m also not saying we should pick up and leave in the face of adversity or boredom.  I’m not hoping to take a vow of poverty to free up my time and energy.  

But how about a vow of humanity - a pledge to just be a person.  To have the discipline to limit the amount of things we want or that we take on so that we can increase the quality of and appreciation for those things.  To make time in our every day lives to take care of our human side - I don’t think we’ve evolved from being human quite yet.  Cook some food and share it with someone, get some fresh air, let your mind wander and get some sleep. 

Good stuff:

One Drop by Bob Marley

Nigel Marsh: How To Make Work-Life Balance Work

The Choice

The intellect of man is forced to choose

perfection of the life, or of the work.

And if it take the second must refuse

a heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.

When all that story’s finished, what’s the news?

In luck or out the toil has left its mark:

That old perplexity an empty purse

Or the day’s vanity, the night’s remorse.

A poem by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

New Year’s Resolutions

So it’s February already and I haven’t got any solid resolutions.  What’s been working so far are weekly goals.  But in the bigger picture, my push for this year will be:

  1. Get home to Niagara for at least one full weekend per month to be with family and friends.
  2. Make time DAILY for exercise, reading, reflection and enough rest.  It’s important to me to get these things on a regular basis.  I feel like it’s similar to eating food: you can’t expect to be healthy by starving yourself for days, then going to a buffet to gorge yourself.
  3. Focus at work.  This way, I’ll be able to keep time spent at work within reason and maintain item 2.

That’s about all I can commit to for the moment.  I’ll see where that takes me.

I received an email today regarding some calculations I did a month ago.  This was the email chain on it.

I received an email today regarding some calculations I did a month ago.  This was the email chain on it.

Money Shaping the World #1
A subdivision development project at work.

Money Shaping the World #1

A subdivision development project at work.

Being Engaged = Happiness?

Does being fully engaged in what you are doing equate to happiness?  Or is there something more to it?  Attitude?

“When the Unwanted Guest arrives…

I might be afraid.

I might smile or say:

My day was good, let night fall

You will find the fields ploughed, the house clean, the table set,

and everything in its place.”  -Poem taken from The Zahir by Paulo Coelho

Love and Suffering

A mother is selfless in caring for her child.  She sacrifices her time and energy in order to feed and raise her child. 

A father takes on the burden of providing for his family.  He puts his career aspirations aside, grits his teeth through the tough times and remains at his unfulfilling 40+ hours/week job in order to ensure that his family has the money to live the life they want.

In times of high stress and tension, both the husband and wife heatedly argue with one another.  While providing unconditional love to their child, the child turns around and rebels against his parents.

This begs the question: does love equate to suffering? 

Better yet, does lack of love equate to suffering?