Wednesday, June 3, 2015

27 Years: HELP and MAKE STUFF

Idly flipping through the Economist's world in figures pocketbook, I saw that life expectancy for women in the United States is 81.something.

For me, that's one-third of my life.

27 + 27 = 54 (my age)
+ 27 = 81 (life expectancy)

The math both shocked and, oddly (?), relieved me: 
Just twenty-seven more years? Hell, I can get through that

Also, it provides a little pressure, and I've always worked best facing an approaching deadline. (See book proposal, due in 3 days)

So, what's on my bucket list?

Well, I don't particularly want to consume more---more experience, more sensation, more "fun," certainly not more stuff. 
I don't care about going to Tahiti; remodeling my kitchen; driving a Jaguar (well, that one, maybe a little).

  I'm not even wanting more knowledge, or not the way I did when I was young and despaired that I'd never know what I thought about God (I do) or how the television works (I don't, and I can live with that).
Really, what's rattling around in the bottom of the bucket, is

I want to help. 

(Is there some way to say that that doesn't sound grandiose or Polly-Annaish?
No, I think that's it.)

Not to be a crusader, not something involving martyrdom, just... well, something more than "do no harm." 
I think doing good may involve accepting the risk of doing harm, because being afraid to cause harm can stop you from trying.

I've been thinking about this because I don't really want to write this garbage book. It's so grim. Even all the cool developments are nowhere near enough to offset how many people throw out their cell phones

Of course we may make an evolutionary leap and change our ways voluntarily, but it's not looking likely today, and I'm not too hopeful about tomorrow.

Anyway, I thought, should I really do this book? 
Yeah, I should. I mean, I want to. So, it's a little depressing? But it could do some good, and it's something I can do (not like tolerating the health care system, which I couldn't). 
You know, maybe some kid will stop buying water in plastic bottles.

Here's a fun fact: it takes 4 liters of water to produce 1 liter bottle of water.

If helping is draining, and sometimes it is, there's gotta be something to refill you. For some people, it's faith. Right now, for me, the complementary thing in my bucket is

Even writing that makes me smile. 

Making stuff can be hard, but there's  not much downside to it (not like TO HELP, which can be really painful), unless I count, for instance, my sore fingertips from sewing with a needle. (I can't get the hang of using a thimble, yet.)

There's tons of stuff already in existence to make stuff out of. Besides trash and thrift stores, here in the Twin Cities there's the ArtScraps Reuse store.

Here, below, is what I'm making--my soft samurai armor, making it up as I go along (inspired by other hand-sewing I've seen).


Yesterday I met S. for happy hour, and when she saw what I was doing, she told me it's like Japanese sashiko stitching, which is a running straight stitch. Sashiko means "little stabs" and it's the most basic kind of sewing, used for repairs as well as decorative embroidery.

It's really calming, too--like fingering prayer beads. I have no idea what I'll do with this piece---S. said it would look good on a piece of clothing. 

Hey, I haven't yet today mentioned Max Rockatansky (that's his name). But look---even Mad Max gives the thumbs up to hand-sewing: you can see he stitched up his jacket. (I love this movie's level of visual detail.)


Zhoen said...

Oh, wow, that costumer needs awards, lots of 'em.

I never got the bucket list thing, seems such a teenager view of life, which makes sense, then. But if you want to give from your bucket, that makes sense.

As for garbage, I guess we gotta leave something for the archeologists of the next millennia. And giving kids a different way to look at it would help, since they are hearing all the terrible messages of doom and gloom. Telling them, yes, big problem, but there are solutions, and you can find even more. Not a happy book, but potentially a hopeful one.

Fresca said...

ZHOEN: I'm rewriting my comment I deleted:

I don't much like the term "bucket list" because it sounds like shopping list, though the idea of reviewing your life before you "kick the bucket" is not a bad one.

I've definitely enjoyed writing Things to Do lists---I'm just not in that mode right now.
Anyway, yeah, Americans can be perpetual teenagers.

Garbage. It mostly is terrible gloom and doom, but I'm adding hope to the book, even if I have to lie to do it!
Not that I'd have to lie--- after all, you never know if help really is right around the corner.

I think all the post-apocalyptic stories in pop-culture are onto something:
we're in some deep shit.
But that doesn't mean we're not clever monkeys who might compost that shit and use it for fertilizer.
If there's not a solution, at least there are imaginative life-giving responses...

bink said...

Write the book to inspire small children to hound their parents every time they crack open a bottle of water. Turn them into nagging little voices that NO to waste! That would be a good deed. And inspire the children to hand stitch plastic bottles into samurai outfits. That would be another good deed! :-)

Fresca said...