This morning I fed my daughter Keaton carrots. Not yet six months old and I am already learning from her. The task of introducing solid foods to our baby has fallen mostly to my wife. Today is was my turn. After a few successful bites I started to think to myself, “Maybe I can feed her all these carrots without getting any on her face.” What an impossible goal! As she first began to get dirty I felt a twinge of disappointment. I wanted to feed her perfectly without any mess. The goal was not achieved. I had failed. But wait; I stopped myself and realized that I was successfully teaching another human being to eat carrots. She was learning a skill she’ll use for the rest of her life. I was introducing a healthy food and even went to the trouble of preparing it myself. I boiled the carrots and mechanically smashed them with my own two hands (I did use a masher). I was raising a daughter. Not all at once and not with individual burst of perfection but I was making progress on the road towards a happy, healthy human. What a success.
Groovy Green readers could be enjoying an interview with Path to Freedom founder Jules Dervaes. He and his family live in Pasadena, California and have become heroes to many people striving to live more sustainably. Despite their urban environment the Dervaes family grows much of their own food. They brew there own biofuel, have made great strides towards reducing electrical needs and are walking the talk that many in the environmental movement so actively encourage. Jules was kind enough to speak with me and fellow contributor Chris Welch was willing to edit the audio. So why is the interview still not up on our site? Because this week every time I listened to it I heard the flaws I perceive in the recording. I have been unwilling to release the audio because it’s not perfect.
This spring Groovy Green developed a hands-on project and invited the readers to follow along. I began raising 10 baby chickens. I wrote about the experience and updated readers on the progress of our urban chicken project. Lately though there have been no updates. The truth is one of the chicks died. I still feel incredibly terrible. I have been unwilling to write anymore about this project because I felt it was a failure. So I just stopped.
This morning as I fed my baby daughter carrots, I recognized our time together was not a messy, imperfect action but a step towards achievement. Our goals as individuals and as a movement of caring citizens of planet Earth aren’t a destination, a point in time when all will be accomplished and all will be perfect. Like the raising of my daughter ours is a journey. It is a path that separates itself from the suicidal consumer culture and seeks to forge into a distinctly different territory. It is easy to get discouraged and to run back to the familiar path of business as usual. It can be frustrating to try new and challenging ways of living. We can easily get bogged down by the idea that we are not doing enough or that we are not achieving our goals perfectly. But this notion only debilitates us. It masks true progress on the road towards a more sustainable way of life. It is a pitfall that can be dangerous to all that want to walk differently. I have struggled with it myself and thought that bringing it out into the light might help others to recognize this avoidable setback.
Keaton is sleeping happily with a belly full of carrots. I cleaned her up but I realize she’ll have food on her face again soon. And that’s ok because she’s learning to eat. I am going to revisit my interview with Jules Dervaes, make a few changes and put it up for Groovy Green readers to enjoy. It won’t be perfect but it will be inspiring. And tomorrow I’ll sort through all the names Groovy Green readers have suggested for the chickens. I’ll pick ten; even one name for the chicken that died. I’ll move forward with that project understanding that I am taking a great step in raising nine chickens in my own little backyard. I won’t let one tragedy paralyze my steps towards sustainability.
As a new way of life grows out of increased awareness about the state of our environment and our energy problems, we must remember that great change can’t be made without mistakes. I’ve made many. I’ll make more. Come and watch so you can learn. Share with me so that I might avoid the mistakes you’ve made. Together we can recognize the need to continue to walk and remind ourselves that the path is worthwhile even if it’s flawed sometimes. We can’t take a pass on progress in search of perfection.