Living small and practicing low impact consumption. The idea that if you can’t fix whatever is wrong with things, maybe you can contribute to the problem as little as possible.
The irony is that keeping with your own morals and ideals is totally challenging. It’s a lesson in humility; who am I to demand an entire culture to change if I myself cannot consistently live by the standards to which I would expect all others to follow.
Progress is not a straight line, or a highway that once you’re on you just plow forward full steam.
It’s like walking uphill in a stream bed, going against the pull of gravity. It’s uncomfortable, it’s wet, it’s probably cold. It’s actually really hard. The rocks are slippery and the force of the water is constant, just waiting for you to make one wrong move. There’s no way you can take big strides in the direction you want to go, so what do you do? Try to stay balanced for one, and take tiny little steps. Inch your way there if you have to, and when the current pulls you down and drags you backwards, you curse your own weaknesses. Then hopefully find your balance again and keep on inching. You try to stay focused.
I found a book on soil sprouts stashed in the library compartment of the V-berth. Excited, I spent a good couple of days pouring over it. I remembered from earlier conversations with Joel, Tony, and Jarrad, as well as some of the original YouTube content they put out, that sprouts were one of the original sustainability concepts driving this whole boat scheme. I was determined to make it a reality. And was pretty stoked about the idea of having some freshness to compliment the massive quantities of rice and beans already in stock and part of the low-cost, low-impact diet plan.
After learning all that Peter Burke – author and master of soil sprouting – had to offer, I made a shopping list and wondered where I could possibly find seeds for sprouts in Marathon… not bloody likely, I went to the Internet. There, I found an especially cool sample pack of 12 different varieties amounting to 2.5 pounds worth of seeds from (where else?) Amazon, and BAM! I summoned sprouting seeds with a simple tap of my thumb. I justified that supporting the super-massive retailer and using jet fuel to bring these precious seeds to us was worth it, that in the end it was a step in the right direction. But who knows.
After much anticipation the day finally came, the seeds had arrived! We had waited up to this point to get all of the stuff needed to do the actual sprouting, because we wanted to knock it out all at once and get to planting right away.
Rather than call a cab to make our grocery shopping and trip to Home Depot more convenient and way easier, we walked, and we lugged 4 gallons worth of dirt back to the boat. You know, just to save a little money, spare the earth a little bit of fuel consumption, and mostly proving to ourselves that we can practice what we preach. Then, to get the seeds, we walked six miles round trip to pick up the package from the FexEx carrier headquarters in Marathon.
If you haven’t been to Marathon, it’s an island in the keys, and I’m pretty sure it got its name from whoever was stuck building the original roads and infrastructure. It goes on forever, just a mile wide (I’m guessing) and a whole marathon long.
Anyways, by the time we got the seeds we were seriously pooped.
We started early, did a ton of walking on a hot windy day – probably more than 8 miles worth when it was all said and done – and in our incredible lack of foresight hadn’t managed to bring a single bottle of water.
By 5 pm, after small breakfast early that morning, we were dehydrated, down-trodden, and down right tired.
Sustenance was needed, water at the very least. We had all of the necessities back on the boat, even a bunch of new food from our shopping trip earlier that day (mostly onions, because who can live without onions), but we were so far from the boat!
So tired and so thirsty.
What’s that? Taco Bell!?
A few tiny little steps in the right direction, then we lost our balance and the current took hold. A sidetrack by the cruelty of convenience and mild desperation.
We could’ve made it, we would’ve survived. The boat and all of her life-sustaining goodness was just waiting for us, but God damn if those burritos weren’t the most delicious thing.
Feeling thoroughly sated, and disappointed but still totally determined to find our balance, we returned to the boat with our precious package.
On the way back we considered the effects of convenience. What have we as a culture won by striving to make things faster, easier, by learning to respond to instant gratifications? Too much of a good thing it seems.
It has to be an evolutionary imperative that a species would seek to live in the easiest way possible, with access to ample food at all times.
Where does it all lead? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it.
At least while we’re pooping our brains out tomorrow morning we still have the planting of seeds to look forward to and the promise of good health in the future.
Staying grounded and keeping the commitments to your own values is pretty damn hard sometimes. But we always have a choice, that’s the beauty of it.