By the time you read this, having returned to work after New Year’s Eve and the Christmas Season of conspicuous consumption, I will be in the jungle of the Upper Amazon, either trekking to see animals or hanging out at a shamanic centre, learning from the shamans about their medicines and spiritual practices.
As I write this I’m in a liminal space between two worlds, sitting in an airport area hotel in Toronto, about to board a plane and travel from the world of the “haves” to the world of “have nots” — at least as we’d define “not having” in a consumer society. Experiencing the contrast is a big part of why I’m taking this trip, yet the consumerist contrast loomed less in my imagination when I booked the trip a few months ago.
I am, of course, nervous about what I’ve got myself into. I’ve had my yellow fever shots, and others, and will start taking malaria pills tomorrow. The tour organizer emailed me yesterday that daytime temperatures range from 30 to 35 degrees Celsius and it’s very humid. There are regular downpours as the rainy season has started in the Amazon. So it’s going to be a hot and sticky jungle trip, and I already feel like Charlie Sheen in Oliver Stone’s Vietnam movie Platoon. (Note that this was never conceived of as a relaxing holiday.)
Before I get on the plane I wanted to share my thoughts with readers about our consumer society and some of the negative distortions that attend our commitment to limitless growth at any cost, our short-term thinking, our impoverished spiritual lives and the affects on the environment.
But instead of writing a long tome on that, I’ll instead simply share with you a link to the URL for a short movie from the people who brought us The Story of Stuff a few years ago.
Their new film, The Story of Solutions, was released in October 2013, and, as the website says, “explores how we can move our economy in a more sustainable and just direction, starting with orienting ourselves toward a new goal. In the current ‘Game of More’, we’re told to cheer a growing economy – more roads, more malls, more Stuff! – even though our health indicators are worsening, income inequality is growing and polar icecaps are melting. But what if we changed the point of the game? What if the goal of our economy wasn’t more, but better – better health, better jobs and a better chance to survive on the planet? Shouldn’t that be what winning means?”
I enjoyed this short film quite a bit and especially the use of certain materials that become waste, about which I already know lots because of my job as an environmental writer. Please make time to watch this short video, and share it with friends and family.