While preparing yesterday's post, I remembered how much I loved traveling at home, and so, I decided to talk to Annie, part-owner and manager of Cafe Mooset in downtown Bloomsburg, PA, where my parents live. When she asked me how long I have been writing on this blog, I looked to the bottom right of my computer screen (for some reason left open), and I realised that that day, the 29th of March, 2013, was the three year anniversary of when I started living trash-free, although, as I will write about below, the past few months have been anything but that. (I have recently been saying that I used to live trash-free, because saying otherwise would be like saying I am a vegetarian when I eat non-vegetarian food, even occasionally.) Regardless, the 29th of March still holds weight for me.
When reading my blog posts from the one year and two year anniversaries, I see pictures of the trash and recyclables I was (partly) responsible of introducing into the world. The pictures also make me think about all the choices I made that aren't captured in those pieces of paper, plastic, or metal. I have no record of that for most of this year, mainly because I no longer live in Ann Arbor, and living trash-free is essentially impossible when you are on the road. Since I finished my dissertation in late August, I have been traveling--first, a road trip across the country, primarily out to the western states; then out to the east coast; then back to India.
I cannot say that I have gained any new insights into individual
activism and social change over the past year, apart from this: I cannot stress
how important it is to be diligent about and attentive towards anything
and everything we do. When it comes to trash, for example, I have found
at times myself being lax when on the road, knowing that even if I
could have saved a small fork or paper bag from being used and
immediately discarded, I found myself biting my tongue or not speaking up.
It is quite timely for me to be traveling at home given the amount of traveling I have been doing recently. I consider it a privilege to be able to travel. (I do not take travel lightly.) I have found this country, in particular, to be stunningly gorgeous. Then again, the garden is everywhere, as Barron Wormser writes. I have continued to wonder, though, what it takes to appreciate home, and to have that sense of directed attention towards it as you do when traveling some place new. This is an ongoing project and lesson, and ties into what I am thinking for the year ahead.
Year four will hopefully be influenced by another project that is in the works right now--one which I wrote about a year ago--that I am tentatively calling Dissolved, which is focused on what divides people and opinion, and how we can focus on the things that unite us rather than the things that divide us. Mohammad, my labmate, and I are working on this survey-based project, and I really, really want to get the ball rolling on this.
I would love to have more contributors to this blog, and I thank people for continuing to read it.