Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What's a Motto With You?

I was at a meeting last night with a wonderful group of women and a discussion of mottoes came up. A couple of the women told us they shared a motto, "it is what it is", but changed it when someone else was saying the same thing all the time. One of the other women said what I was thinking, "what's a motto with you", a quote from The Lion King. (A relevant movie quote is always good for a chuckle). Anyway, the discussion moved on, but it got me thinking about mottoes. I don't have a motto although I do have sayings, some of them passed down from my grandmother, that you'll hear me mutter from time to time. "It's not going to do itself" is one of them, when I don't want to do something but it needs to get done anyway.

Then there are quotes, which are kind of like expanded mottoes. I was never much of a quote person until recently, when I started noticing particular statements that resonate with me for one reason or another. At the moment, a particular favorite is this one: "...but what does it mean to lead an examined life? It means to be curious and ask questions. The reason you ask those questions is because you want to do the right thing, not only for yourself, but for the people around you as well." - Yvon Chouinard, founder, Patagonia, as quoted in Mother Earth News magazine. (I posted this on Facebook, too.)

Sometimes I don't know the right questions to ask, but I keep at it. I think of where I was at 21 when I met DH and where I am now at 46. I'm so much more aware; I've awakened to politics and people and our planet. I think the seeds were there when I was 21 but they needed time to grow. DH has helped with that growth because he is so curious and passionate about his beliefs. He was aware at 21 while I was still asleep, but I recognized that about him; it's one of the reasons I fell in love with him. He sets the example of reading the paper and watching the news and he debates and discusses things with me (and anyone else who will engage with him) and that has helped me figure out my own views. (Which are pretty much in line with his, but not completely.) Then I learned about spin, thanks to John Stossel. I didn't understand about spin when I was younger and I didn't know John Stossel's political leanings, but he was making an argument for something and I remember thinking whoa, this guy sounds so reasonable but I can see all sorts of flaws in his logic. He's not mentioning this, or this other thing, and that doesn't make sense at all. But if you didn't know about this or the other thing, he would sound perfectly reasonable and you would buy it. That's spin; making crazy and bad sound like logical and good.

Another incident comes to mind. It was in 2000 when Gore was running against Bush. For some reason, I was discussing politics with a bag boy at the grocery who was getting ready to vote for the first time. (Why, I don't know; maybe I had a Gore button on or something.) He said he wouldn't vote for Gore because he was too smart. Huh what? I commented "um, shouldn't we want somebody smart to be President?". That was just crazy! It still irks me when a good trait, like being smart or intellectual, is taken and twisted around and made out to be something bad. It's branded "elitism" with a sneer and made out to be something we don't want in the leader of the free world. Sheese; wake up, people!! It's spin!

DH woke me up politically but now we're both examining our lives and waking up about the vegetarian thing. This is due to the influence of friends. I've always admired my vegetarian friends through the years but I met them when they were already committed to that way of eating. Now I'm friends with someone who is going through the switch during the time I've known her, and we've had the opportunity to talk about it. She shared with me what influenced her, beginning with Food, Inc., and we've had discussions about the transition. She is the friend who invited me to a vegan Raw Foods un-cooking class which opened up a world of ideas for what to eat as a vegetarian. (We're not raw foodists, but the food they eat is really good and a lot more varied than salads and smoothies. Definitely worth eating for a few meals a week.) She also invited me to the book club where we read Eating Animals then had a fantastic meeting discussing it and enjoying the vegan foods our hostess prepared.

There's also a vegan-leaning-towards-raw mom in our homeschooling group and she's been influential as well. She also held an un-cooking class that The Middle Child and I attended about how to make ice cream with frozen bananas. (Peel and slice, freeze, let them thaw out just a few minutes so they don't break your food processor, then throw them in and blend away. She also threw a few other ingredients in there, but you can make it with just bananas. Yummy!) When the homeschooling group went to the library the moms were all checking out raw food and vegetarian cookbooks, too. I don't know that they are all vegetarian, but they are also apparently incorporating those types of meals into their diets. It's a growing trend, I'm finding.

It all comes from examining our lives, though. Asking questions and figuring out what makes sense to us based on what we are learning from a wide variety of sources, tying that in with what we know from past experience, and following the positive examples set by friends and loved ones. That's why the quote from the founder of Patagonia made such an impact at this point in my life. We are going through a process of examination which found our previous choices unsatisfactory. They didn't measure up. Eating meat on a regular, almost daily basis didn't meet the litmus test of doing "the right thing, not only for yourself, but for the people around you as well".

So that's a long, rambly philosophical post for you! Congrats if you made it all the way to the end. ;)

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