Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Opportunity Knocks

The coming energy descent, and the associated impact on our financial and economic systems, is probably a change that you didn't request. Knowing that our society will, at the very best, have to completely transform the way that we live, work, and eat can make anyone nervous and anxious. At the very worst... well, you've probably already encountered the die-off websites. Possessing the knowledge that an incredibly disruptive change is on the way can be both a heavy psychological burden - AND a lucky opportunity as well.

There's always a silver lining. Those of us with this advance knowledge, who accept the idea and implications of peak oil and peak energy, have the opportunity to prepare and to reinvent ourselves in a way that will get us through what may turn out to be a very rough transition. We have opportunities that billions of other people don't, and won't, get.

Consider these three questions* to find the silver lining in our current situation:

1. If anything could be GOOD about peak oil/energy/economy, what would it be?

2. How can I take this situation and turn it to an advantage for myself, my family, my loved ones, my community?
3. What opportunities will peak oil create (or has already created) that I could take advantage of in a positive way?

*These questions are borrowed from the book AdaptAbility by M.J. Ryan.

Although I sometimes wish I hadn't taken the peak oil pill of knowledge, I never doubt that I am better off because of it. The key is finding a way to accentuate the positive, decrease the negative, and take responsibility for your actions in responding to this huge change in our world.
In truth, despite my occasional yearning to spend my time, money, and attention on something BESIDES preparing for peak energy/finances/economy, this situation has opened a creative outlet for me (my blog), offered an opportunity to connect with sustainability folks in my area (meet new friends), and introduced me to the joys of tomato varieties and hauling compost (reconnect with nature, learn new skills, and get healthy exercise). I thank my lucky stars that I became acquainted with peak oil. It has given me the possibility to change before the floodgates open - and the chance to help others, if I can. How many people get that kind of karmic opportunity?

What positives and opportunities have you discovered - if any?


Deanna said...

The lives we live all are unsustainable to some degree, whether or not we admit it. This creates great internal personal and cultural tension.

If peak oil/energy/economy can get us closer to a place of wholeness and reality, of standing on solid ground, the peace of mind would be fertile ground.

If we're not holding our breath waiting for the spinning plates to drop, or feeling guilty for a lifestyle we thought was normal and therefore fine until we learned better, or feeling the tension of compromise between all the conflicting demands in our lives, then we have more creative energy.

Not that we won't have conflicting values in a post-peak world. But I think values and decisions will be clearer.

Right now we live in our present world, but only sort of. We also live in so many others, all versions of the future that we may never inhabit, though we feel bound to keep building scenarios because we if we have to leave the shores of the known world, we are driven to know what land we’ll inhabit next. The ocean of not knowing is so scary.

So we live in a bizarre hall of mirrors, our experiences of today distorted by all these scenarios of the future and our beliefs and intentions about what we can and can't do in response.

And here's another one -- the acknowledged arrival of 'peak' whatever will relieve some cognitive dissonance, and a sense of freedom of honest expression.

We all have areas of our lives, or maybe our whole lives, where keeping mum, or being ultra discreet or even coy about what we know seems like the only viable way to relate to the people around us.

When that kind of behavior is not what you're used to, not the way you want to live, this leads to all kinds of discomfort.

Who among us doesn't just want the cat out of the bag already, the secret society overtones washed away.

Who among us doesn't at least some of the time have to reassure ourselves that we haven't become the (whatever we fear we've become - conspiracy theorist, far out survivalist, cynical pessimist, etc.) thing we dread.

So, I would say an infusion of clarity about what is needed, focus of purpose, and cleaner energy (not as in 'green energy', but personal energy in the sense of motivation and drive, energy from honesty, openness, and greater alignment of expectation and reality) would be potentially improved states of being to come out of a major shift or collapse from a depletion state.

As you say, I often think how I would rather spend time/money /attention on something besides preparedness. But even that awareness is valuable.

In order to invest in preparedness, I'm more mindful and hopefully smarter about how I spend all my resources. I'm almost forced to live more in accordance with my best values.

And the desire to also use my resources on something besides preparedness means I have to ask, what IS that something else I want besides preparedness? If it's so important, how can I get/do/enjoy it while I can.

That question makes me focus, reduces distractions, makes me look for creative ways to experience what matters to me. It makes us grow up.

It's also good practice in the art of letting go, or being less attached to things, either in the anti-materialist sense or in the Eastern sense of non-attachment.

There are things and ideas that we have to give up or shift in order to invest in preparedness. At least we're learning to let go, adjust, make do, focus on the have instead of have not. We'll need those skills in the future even more.

Peak oil, etc., makes us think, makes us more intentional. I have to credit that as a real advantage, even when I'd rather kick that ball back to someone else, put my head in the sand, and go back to (it wasn't really all that) blissful ignorance.

Eddie said...

"What positives and opportunities have you discovered - if any?"

I learned about Peak Oil in late 2005 and began two archival blogs [see profile] on Peak Oil theory and how to cope with Peak Oil.

After gardening for 25 years, I learned that there was more to know about healthy gardening soil beyond adding NPK, which ignores the necessary trace elements needed for growing healthy food. So I set about creating three compost areas to add nutrition to my soil

I did not know how to cook and decided to learn. I began with the simple chicken soup, but from scratch there are so many ways to prepare it. From my garden, I use Thai Hot Peppers. Eventually my hot soups eliminated my bronchial asthma. [I threw away my inhalers.] Not knowing how to can, I washed my hot peppers and put them into Mason jars, and then added apple cider vinegar, for winter use.

I met all of the gardeners in my neighborhood. I have received many divided perennials from these people and my garden better attracts bees. Also, I learned about what vegetables grow best in my area.

Since I can't drive because of medical reasons, I have walked a lot and I've always lived some semblance of a Peak Oil life. However, in 2005 I began a regular exercise program to keep me in peak shape.

Last summer I installed four 55-gallon buckets, two connected to each other on the south side of the house and two on the west side for another gardening area. These buckets were free from a landscaper. It was nice not to use cold, expensive tap water to water my gardens.

I have become more of an experimenter with growing plants. I've added two herb gardens for potential health and cooking purposes.

Last year, I developed my gardening formula of S-cubed plus W plus B. Space, sun, soil, water, and bees are the components to gardening success.

I'm currently reading "Teaming with Microbes; A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web" by Jeff Lowenfels & Wayne Lewis. I have a lot to learn.

I have been collecting items that will disappear fast in a Peak Oil Era. Garden tools, heirloom seeds, clothing, and most recently fleece everything, e.g., sheets, sweat suits, shirts, hats, scarfs. You can never have too much; what you don't need immediately, you can use to barter.

My usual winter bedroom temperature is 61; I feel healthier with this temperature and sleep well. My heating bill is now very low.

This was a good discussion topic and it made me recount the positives of preparing for Peak Oil. Thanks!!!

ThinkLady said...

Well for one thing I found in you a friend -- and that's a true gift Ms. Hausfrau. Another gift -- an opportunity to embrace the shadow side of our lives at this moment in human evolution, to truly look unflinchingly at how we live without defensiveness, rationalization or emotion and analyze how we might live in a more congruent way with each other and Nature. Lastly, the opportunity to be open to new ways of being in the world, that are more connected to each other, less fearful, more meaningful. It's not a destination, and it is full of light, dark, gray, and at the same time it is a journey well worth taking.

feebeeglee said...

I'm new to the Peak Oil phenomenon, but I've been into armchair sustainability for years. Finding your blog is what made me go for a shorter length mortgage, in an older house vs 30 years in a brand new xurbs one with a postage stamp yard. Less debt is a great effect!

(I'm here in OKC as well - I spect I'll run into you at a relevant event soon :-)