An Irresistible Force

I get up out of bed after a sleepless hour because I forgot to take a pill. I reach into the top drawer of my dresser in the dark. I can’t tell by touch which bottle contains the Vicodin but I know it by the sound. The oblong tablets make a heavy, hollow sound when they rattle inside the bottle. I take one and slip back under the covers.

My daily use of painkillers is one of the ways my life has changed since I suffered a serious accident, riding my bike to work more than three years ago.  I thought the effects of my traumatic brain injury would be temporary. It would just be a matter of months before everything would be back to normal. But that day never came and the chronic pain, which came with the nerve damage, may be with me for the rest of my life.

The pain is a reminder of what can happen when you live in idealistic disharmony with the world around you. My ideal was to not be dependent upon a car, even though I was living in southern California.  I would prove to others, or at least myself, that I didn’t have to fully embrace a lifestyle that was physically unhealthy and bad for the environment. My feelings have changed since then.

I remember being at a meeting of transportation planners. A guy from Brazil said that the only people in his city who didn’t drive cars were poor people, who couldn’t afford cars, and “nerds like me.” It makes sense to ride a bike to work if that’s all you’ve got. But I’ve decided it doesn’t make sense if you’ve got the option of being surrounded by a car’s steel envelope. I’ve got that option, and now it’s the one I use.

Today we see pictures of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico endlessly pouring its deadly muck into waters that had been full of life. Yet the awesome power of fossil fuels has brought us comfort and convenience we simply will not give up until we’re forced to. The lives we lead, in our energy-rich environment, seem like an irresistible force.

It’s a force that’s given us too much faith in technology. We believe the masters of invention will find a way to turn sunlight or wind into engines that are every bit as powerful, dependable and efficient as coal and petroleum. Maybe we should hope for that, but I wouldn’t bet on it. There’s more than one way to stick your head in the sand, when it comes to the subject of global warming. One is to deny it exists. The other is to deny that our lives must change to stop it from happening.

Someday we will be forced to change our lives but I’ll be driving my car to work in the meantime because, I’ve decided, I can’t change the world by myself. I miss the superior feeling of a having a small carbon footprint, but the pain in my legs makes me think there are more important things.

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2 Comments on “An Irresistible Force”

  1. Mary Beth Says:

    Tom, EFT may be worth a try. It’s amazing. I know there are experienced practitioners in California. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nRY3UtTHvo


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