Thursday, March 10, 2011

Insomnia and Apple trees

A long time ago, I wrote this:

Master needs the TV running in the bedroom to go to sleep.  He turns it on, turns the sound down to an unintelligible murmur, sets the sleep timer for some amount of time and goes to sleep.  It can’t be any type of show; they have to be what Master calls “sleeping music”… documentaries with soft spoken narrators… ideally nature shows, history… Richard Attenborough really does it for him, knocks him right out.  But many times the deep dark night is a bleak time and he has to choose something else… and something he chose last night woke me right up.

This habit of choosing sleeping music has gone on for years… and once again… one of his choices woke me right up.  It was a circle of talking heads, arguing about the impending collapse of our excessive society.  How we cannot continue to consume and consume beyond our means and it is inevitable that the apple cart will eventually tip over or run out of apples or both… infrastructure, energy, clean water, food, debt, banks, money… it was all doom and gloom.  And I lay there in the dark, listening to the words and felt afraid.

Because deep, deep down I agree with them.  I have this sense of living on borrowed time… of living a wasteful life.  Commuting too far for a too low paid job, two people living in a too big house, eating food brought from thousands of miles away… and I wonder what would happen if this house of cards falls down. 

I know I can simplify… and I already do leave a smaller foot print on the world than many people do, but even if I lived a perfect life, gave back more than I took, eating locally, organically, bicycling or walking to all my destinations, eschewing all fossil fuels… (and I am the first to admit I don’t do any of these things).  Even if I made those extreme steps, I am surrounded by a sea of humanity that is not willing to make those choices… and I use this fact to justify my consumption… I argue that the work I do is important… gives back to the community but this sense of impending doom makes all these excuses seem hollow.

And I lay there in the dark and begin to plan what would I do, should I do.  Should I diversify my investments for my old age… should I perhaps buy buckets of lentils and fill my basement with staples and other random crap in case the dollars I have so scrupulously scrimped together for my old age end up worthless and the mythic retirement programs I am invested in implode and fail to send that check.  Should I plant fruit trees in my back yard so fifteen, twenty years from now, when I cannot work, I will have something to eat and perhaps barter with.  Should I buy a gun?  Or move to the country and dig a bunker?

I actually like the idea of moving to the country.  Moving to a place where Master’s hunter gatherer instincts could be encouraged.  A place where when he brings home another load of random crap it would be looked upon as an investment in our future rather than just more junk. 

Master says that either we need to do this 100% or do nothing at all, that I am stressing myself out… and if I do this, decide to stare at reality in the eye and blithely deny its existence… I think I would be willing to die with the herd, but a little voice in my heart screams out, that I don’t want that for my children.  I would be willing to go down with the ship if I know that my babies are in the life boat.

I think I will plant that apple tree this spring.  I am sure, that in the future, someone will appreciate the thought.


  1. Blues-y thoughts - I have the same one sometimes. I'm glad you're planting the apple tree.


  2. My husband is a news junkie too, all those talking heads too - although I managed to "win" the battle of TV in the bedroom years ago - so i get to fall asleep to quiet - although we wake up to NPR. You've done a beautiful job of expressing these feelings - it feels like I have to do as much as i can - but then i look up from my own feet and think it's all so totally useless. Maybe I need to start planning what to plant this spring.