Saturday, 14 July 2007

The Tale of the Energy Efficient Lightbulb

Everyone's going on about the hoo ha of climate change at the moment. 'Hoo ha' they're all shouting, 'the ice caps are melting' we're all going to be wiped out by giant hurricanes and the sea flooding over our flower beds' and this is a lot of the sort of reality hoo ha you get to hear and see all the time. Then celebrities rake their minds for what they've read about 'green stuff', for solutions, and they remember 'hooray, 'light bulbs', yes and 'hybrid cars' - hooray if you can afford a hybrid car, the rest of us have to settle for light bulbs. What they're not talking about though is how boring this all is. If being green is just talking about lightbulbs and turning off appliances at their sockets etc, it's boring - even with the urgency and the message, it's not going to make all of us race out of our doors like we do when the latest Harry Potter book has appeared on the store shelves. 'Oohh, the latest energy efficient lightbulbs in stock, I must rush out and get one before anyone else' just doesn't have the same appeal does it?
But here's the real myth. The real myth is that mankind as a whole is facing an unknown global threat. We've mustered up a vague sort of name for it 'Global warming' but like 'Voldimort' none of us really know, do we, what that means? In the same way that few of us really know what 'death' means. We're all of us a little bit afraid of the unkown and we call it different names 'Climate change', 'Global dimming', 'The El Nino Effect'; lots of names that have all garnered mythical proportions.
Myth was the language once used to explain why things were the way they were - 'Where did fire come from?', 'Why is the Sky blue?', 'How was the earth made?' and we are told that, the earth was a giant turtle that swam about the ocean, or it was the 'Big Bang', or God took a week to set it up, and that fire was given to us by a magical being in exchange for a good deed (or a bad one), and many other stories. All of these stories had in common the ability to hold our attention, to transfer meaning. Through stories we learnt about the nature of nature; we learnt about plant medicine and the dangers of rivers and cliffs, storms and beasts, and our own human enemies, failures and triumphs.

Now we are living in a time when there is the arousing of a new myth and it isn't all to do with light bulbs, or cars or our choice of material purchases, but also to do with us, with our strengths and our weaknesses, with our fragility and the enduring wonders of being human.

We are, each of us, suddenly put upon to be the central characters in an emerging myth. We are all looking at each other asking 'What do we need to do?', 'What's the most important thing to do?', 'How do we solve this?' - I'm asking you, you are asking me; the 'experts' are telling the 'experts' and vying with each other to grab the attention of the rest of us, and the popstars and celebrities are, bless their hearts, trying to do the best they can within their means, by all of us and of course their fans.

Well, I thought, maybe there's another way to go about this. You know, the-take-a-few-deep-breaths, that's -it-calm-down-a-bit way.
The earth is being crawled upon, quite literally, by all of us. When you think of this big round ball, of air and space floating in the ether and you imagine the sprawling cities, the dwindling forests, the animals and plants fleeing (albeit sometimes slowly at a grass growing, seed floating sort of way) and being knocked off willy nilly, you begin to get an impression of what it's like to be the earth and you also get an impression of what it is the earth might be wanting in all of this. We might all of us give a second to listen and hear what the earth has to say...

In the same way plants shared their secrets with the medicine men of the past so to can the earth share the secret of what it is each one of us is needed for. It might be as simple as 'Take a few deep breaths and calm down' or 'Rush out and buy an energy efficient lightbulb' or it might be 'All of you, stay home a few days, don't fly anywhere, don't drive anywhere unless you're in the emergency services. Stay home a few days; plant some trees in every patch of grass within walking distance. Learn how to mend stuff instead of always buying new' It might be that.

Humans are best at adapting, that's why there's six billion of us. That's why, when there's a flood, or a fire, or some threat, we count our costs and get on with it. So whatever the costs are of our past actions, we will adapt to them, or we will run away and hide under our duvets in an underground military bunker. I think though that we are the myth makers, that we can change the endings of our stories.

We hold within us the power of our ancestors to face the beasts of the unkown and to overcome them. So here is a shadow, and it casts its darkness over the land. At times this shadow is darker in some places than others. Yet it casts it's shadow and all of us feel something at some level whether or not it reaches our awareness.

Last night I watched the 'Live Earth concert' and today incongruously I watched the Grand Prix with my dad, and he told me how he had put energy efficient lightbulbs all over the house. No doubt when I put this article up there will probably be an Adsense for Content (internet advertising) advert up for energy Efficient Lightbulbs because I have mentioned them so often in this article. The companies who are selling the Energy Efficient Lightbulbs and the Hybrid Cars are probably making a mint right now and good for them. For some reason these lightbulbs have stood out in our minds more than insulating the house, getting a rain water butt, putting a brick in the toilet cistern, and turning everything off rather than leaving it on standby - you know 'boring stuff'. Why is it boring? You know you're really helping the earth by doing these things, you're cutting carbon emissions, you're doing all the right stuff - why then is it boring?

Why do we feel more alive when we're in the middle of a disaster, or an accident, or some such 'story' - we're definitely not bored then, are we. Myths give meaning to our lives, in a positive sense. It is in amongst the twists and turns of a story, from the mystery of it's beginings to the questions at it's end that for a while in our lives we have purpose and thrill. We gain fulfiment when we are imagining ourselves as Harry Potter facing and surviving his most terrifying nightmare; we are happy for a while becuase we experience companionship at a depth most of us never get to experience in the real world. How many of us can say like Frodo and Sam, that we have a friendship formed by such hardships as facing the Dark Riders, or the absolute destructive power of The Ring, and their long ordeal of saving Middle Earth. Today, we are so isolated, many of us have lost our 'tribe' our value to a community and we feed like voyeuristic vultures on the imagined companionship that the stories of todays media gives us. Then when rare occasion brings us together in times of hardhip, that's when we have the opportunity to make our 'friends for life'.

We have an opportunity now to choose to go on a journey together that is full of mystery. To forge deep bonds of friendship that will last us for the rest of our lives. Each of us have the solution to our problems within our very hands. It might not be the Cloak of Invisibility or the Marauders Map , but it is the very essence of our own self, the best gift that we have as one amongst so many human beings. For on your patch of earth, wherever you are; whatever money you have or don't have; whatever property you own or owe money for, or have to borrow- on your patch of earth you are King or Queen, you are the magician who did not know you could do magic, you are the healer who did not know that people would feel such relief at your touch , you are the gardener who did not know plants would flourish from your attention. Maybe you are a programmer and can put together the right code to do the right jobs that you want it to do, or you are a surgeon whose hand remains remarkably steady no matter whether you are calm or emotional.
Perhaps it doesn't look like it from the inside. In your life, you may be preoccupied with things like invoices, and shopping trips, insurance and credit card bills - maybe you don't get to 'be the change you wish to see in the world' because instead of training for the Iron Man contest or American Idol your body is taking on the image of someone who maybe eats and drinks a little too much and who has to sit at a desk or in a car seat for more hours in the day than means you get to have the streamlined, slick and beautiful body you envisioned for yourself. Your myth hasn't been made yet. The TV you watch has become a little stale and doesn't quite reach the spot.
Is what absorbs your attention and is making your life just using up the minutes and hours in a way that leaves you feeling like nothing has been done, or achieved - that you're missing the point. Are you missing the point? What is the point?

Say we come at this as though we've got hindsight, as though we're our future selves. We're standing on the other side of the present, even of tomorrow. Instead of acting in our usual hasty manner where we just react rather than respond, we take those few deep breaths and really meet and greet our future self.
'Hi me,' we say
'Hi ' we say back to ourselves
Two time-conundrums meeting each other with a Doctor Who sort of normalcy.
'What is it I should do?' our past self asks our future self.
What should I do? being the optimum question, and of course, our future self knows the answer, because they are the potential outcome of all the collective choices we might ever choose to take. They know because we haven't chosen yet, we don't yet know what it is we are going to do, or should do, or will do. The point is for once, we're thinking to ask, we're thinking to look ahead of next week, the next deadline, the next due date and consider what else? And that's just it, when you are a myth maker, you are the one who makes the mountain, you are the one who builds your soul, puts credit in your bank account, or cultivates your image by shaving and/or dyeing your hair

Do you do it with notes and profit margins or do you do it with magic? For magic is something that is eternal, it lasts beyond now and is stored up in our dreams and the images that rise in our everyday consciousness to prod and pull us in all the directions we find ourselves going in. The wonderful thing is, that at this time, our personal myths and our collective myths, our past and our future myths are all coming together. There is an opportunity now for Big Magic, for potent medicine and for the realisation of our ultimate dreams.

It should be easier now for us to put aside our differences. Looking at the planet from space, seeing television broadcast live, simultaneously, from all the metaphorical corners of the planet. Easy for us to see our similarities and to lose our strangeness to one another. I saw that image of the earth from space and I said jovially to my Dad 'That's my house' boasting in a way, as the amazing pictures of forests, and mountains, oceans and animals followed and were brought close before our eyes. 'That's my house' I said.
And it is.

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tags - energy efficient light bulbs, hybrid car, myths, famous, helping the planet, going green

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