It’s natural to draw to the close of a year and think back over what has been, and how life may have changed. And this evening, when we pass from this decade to the next, it is even more insightful to look back at the last 10 years.
Ten years ago, I was on a 5 day hike around Wilsons Prom. Myself and 5 other friends spent New Years eve at Sealers Cove. I vividly recall sitting on the beach, drinking a few sips from the one bottle of warm champagne we could carry in, someone was playing a guitar, there were twinkling tea light candles and bright stars in the sky. It was surreal. Back then, there was much hype and speculation that our way of life would crumble all because of how we stored our dates on computers (Y2K). Some people even went as far as building bunkers and bulking up on water and baked beans in case it did. I recall thinking that if our way of life was to come to an end, I was happiest being surrounded by nature.
Not much happened on that night. We didn’t have enough alcohol to get drunk (the warm champagne is sickening) and I was probably asleep at 2 minutes past midnight with sore legs and huge blisters on my heels. I was a bit miffed that I to carry all of my belongings for another 4 days out of the Prom. Back to the reality and the next decade. I can’t even publish any pictures from then, as we didn’t have a digital camera! Shock horror, how would I survive now?
I didn’t have any children at that time, nor did I have any intention of having any. Well…that was the decade of surprises for me! I now sit here blogging (Miss Techno-phobe), married (Miss Commitment-phobe) surrounded by 3 children. Strange indeed.
Yet again, I have found an interesting article in the Age Ah, the noughties, the decade when we cast off reality. I agree whole-heartedly with Brigid Delany – we have become unauthentic in the last 10 years. Plastic fantastic. The other day I read an article about botox – apparently girls as young as 19 are getting it these days. I find this insane. I want to get off the bus, so to speak. I am bored of the drivel being served up on television these days, bored of most of the movies being produced, bored of the over-rated post Christmas ‘sales’ hype. I am tired of being sold to.
Despite all of this, something has changed for me over the last two years. It first started with a few small changes. Building a wood-fired oven, building a small vege garden, making our own compost. Then we were busy making pizza doughs and trying to get the perfect crust, which then lead to making bread. Before I knew it, we were making sourdough. 12 months before this I wouldn’t have cared to know what sourdough was.
Now I can’t get enough of this stuff. I have joined the Melbourne permaculture group. I found making yoghurt was easy, making sausages, tricky. Making your own pasta was hard at first, but delicious. I have discovered a new passion. It enables me to be be creative, and it reinforces a sense of self confidence that you can do quite amazing things by yourself. It has also forced significant changes in my life. All of a sudden, something bought doesn’t seem as good as the home grown stuff. It makes it hard to eat out when you get way better food at home. When someone else shares a new plant or food with you, it makes it all the more special. When you discover all of the know-how that some people have, you are in awe. Now I want to make my own cheese, brew my own wine, one day have my own animals. Dang, I am starting to feel a strange attraction to tie-die (not really, but definitely natural fabrics).
When you discover authentic, the plastic fantasic just can’t compete. And when you become aware of all of the processing and un-natural additives in products we are being sold these days, especially in food, it really makes you start to wonder if it isn’t as insane as botox on a 19 year old. If you extrapolate this to all areas of your life, you really do need to start worrying about how unsustainable the plastic fantastic lifestyle is. It’s a throw away existence, where you consume more, and don’t even look back at the pile of trash you are accumulating. I think more of us have to wake up and start to question what we are really doing. Even more so since world leaders have been unable to come to an agreement that will reduce the damage we are doing to our planet in Copenhagen.
So, I think it’s up to each individual now. A close friend of mine Bruce said recently ‘We can’t all change the world, but we can change ourselves’. I agree. And I am going to make use of every spare minute I have while on maternity leave to learn all I can and change my living practices. I have become very aware, and disgusted by how much we throw away. Not just plastic and wrappers and things that aren’t landfill, but also useful things. Tom and his geeky friend Vincent just built a website in their spare time to combat sending useful things to the tip (called Reuse Moose). See, even geeks can give a damn about the environment (albeit in a geeky way)!
Also, I am very aware of the power I really have when purchasing things. Every time I go to buy something, I ask more questions about where it has come from, how it has been produced. I now go for DIY home grown, home made if possible, and if not, Australian made, local, organic or free-rage. Every time I reach out, I am telling ‘Mr Woolworths or local producer’ loud and clear, I want authentic! Now I will have to research more about bartering and sharing skills and produce with my local community.
I am excited by a rogue plant that has sprouted in my backyard. 5 weeks ago I had no idea what it was…it looked like just another weed, and was tempted to pull it out. Over the last 5 or so weeks I have walked past this plant, observing it. Then a few weeks ago I recognised the hair-covered stalk and leaves and I was suddenly excited. Maybe this is a sunflower? Today I have the nicest present you could get for a new year, a sunny bright yellow face. Perhaps it is an omen for my decade ahead? Back to reality. I hope so.