Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Come Harvest Time

That problem I mentioned yesterday -- about cleaning up our leftovers? -- is, in a lot of ways, a manifestation of our cultural issues around growth and acquisitiveness; the constant drive to get more. My friends who work in the arena of sustainability talk about the folly of measuring success by the GNP; that just because we're creating more doesn't mean our people are better off.

And in fact, in a casual chat at my local coffee shop a day or two ago, someone mentioned that something over 90% of the wealth in this country lies in the hands of around 1% of our population.

I never know if statistics like these are true -- Huff's famous book, How to Lie with Statistics came out when I was five, so I grew up feeling pretty skeptical about such things. But it seems clear that the gap between rich and poor in this country has grown exponentially in the last few decades, whether (as Michael Moore claims) it's capitalism that's at fault or whether it's just the rampant consumerism that sometimes results from that pesky belief in the individual's right to, not just life and liberty, but also the pursuit of happiness -- which often gets defined as "having more stuff."

I try hard not to succumb to that temptation, and do my best, when I have the opportunity to get new "stuff," to give an equal amount of old "stuff" away. But where I fail is in the arena of my photographs. I am ALWAYS acquiring new ones, and I have a very bad habit of not taking the time to sort through them, of not tossing the weak ones and the duplicates. Worse yet, I don't even take time to evaluate the good ones; I'm so busy getting more that I forget or miss the good stuff I already have.

I say this because just yesterday I rediscovered a file of photographs I took in Anaheim this summer at the Episcopal General Convention. The convention center there was gorgeous -- especially in the early morning, when the bluish outside light poured in the windows to provide this lovely liquid counterpoint to the orangey interior light. Not that this is a particularly meaningful photo, but aren't those colors delicious? And I didn't even know I had it; I'd completely forgotten a whole pile of similarly rich images.

Fortunately winter is coming, with its gray days and piles of indoor time; always a good time to sort through the photos I've gathered over the course of the year. And perhaps, rather than flagellate myself for "things done and left undone" I should remind myself that there are seasons in life as well as in nature; seasons of growth and fullness, seasons of harvest and pruning, seasons of hibernation. Perhaps that's what this recession is about, as well: we are reaping what we have sown, and now we assess what crops and behaviors have worked and which need to be set aside so that new crops and behaviors -- hopefully more sustainable ones -- can emerge.

It's all good.

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