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Stuck on Paper: One Artist's Commitment for Responsible Consumption Month
Submitted by Meredith Arena on Wed, 4/4/2012, 10:00am
To be honest, Responsible Consumption month overwhelms me.
I feel stuck in trying to decide how I should practice. It is, a practice, so the idea is to try it with one small thing, like coffee or paper towels. The idea, from a Buddhist perspective (I think) is to see what effect this practice has on your thoughts and on your life. We often assume we need certain items to be happy or to make life easy. These very same things are often not in accordance with our spiritual or political ideas.
As Jonathon Kaplan mentioned on Monday, the Eightfold path is the Buddhist system of ethics. It is what we use to contemplate the effects of our thoughts and actions. I think I need a paper towel. If there isn't one around, do I become annoyed? If I find one and use it, do I feel guilty? If I do not use one, do I then feel good about myself? ME. ME. ME. ME. ME! All of this is about me. So I go to intention. What is the intention behind my actions? Am I making decision based on a view that has ME at the center? These questions are valid ones for a Buddhist, even if at first, they seem to miss the point of environmental activism.
To decide what I would work with this month, I asked myself: Where am I most stuck? On April 1st, I bought a new sketchbook on non-recycled paper. I love new paper. I love writing on it, reading off it, printing things on it. I like the newspaper, magazines, post it notes, cards and drawing paper. The sketchbook, I thought would help me with my mindfulness, get me drawing again, and give me a space and a structure on which to be creative. I would say that I suffer from an addiction to paper and I believe that the purchase of new notebooks, pads and books to read will make me a better person, by making me more productive, more creative hence, more interesting.
So in April, I am will give up new paper. I will not buy any new paper at all. I will use the sketchpad daily to write or draw, so that at least I am in keeping with my intentions for it; I will continue to utilize the Seattle Public Library for reading and will not convince myself to buy any new books or newspapers. Plus, to up the ante, I will write a letter on this sketchbook paper or maybe draw a picture on a dirty napkin for anyone who requests one. Just e-mail me your snail mail address (email@example.com). I will bring the letters to the post office for postmarking when the stamps I have run out.
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