Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Life: Whirlwinds Strike Again

Sometimes life moves fast, sometimes it moves slow.
Grace happens when we move at the speed of life.
Suddenly life around this sentient being is getting awfully fast. I'm just 45 minutes away from my train to Gatwick airport, where I'll depart for a three-hour flight to Malta, then a quick taxi ride to the ferry where my good friends Margaret and Bruce expect to be awaiting me to accompany me to their place on the island of Gozo. Yay!

Then, seven days in Gozo. I'm bringing only my camera and three books: Kant's Metaphysics of Morals, A book on Buddhist Ethics, and -get this- a novel (I haven't read one of those in who knows how long). Oh, and a notebook and a journal.

After that, a day or two in London - meeting my advisors - and then on to Bristol for four days to visit SJ and other friends from my MA days. Then just two more days in London, one really, and I fly back to the US - for good (on the 28th). Just in time to see my beautiful fiancée lead a Socrates Café in McLean VA (fitting, as it was at such a Café that we first met!).

So... the whirlwind cometh (again). And, provided I keep up with it, not much should be rattled up and it looks like it will drop me back on earth right where I need to be.


Barbara said...

Hi Justin, I just got a really cool computer and Kelly is showing me all the wonderful features including your blog and how to comment. So, hey, and how are you??

Buddhist_philosopher said...

Hia Barbara! Wonderful to hear from you! I'm doing pretty well, soaking up the sun and quiet of Marsalforn, Gozo, Malta. I'll have to get your email address so we can keep in touch :)

Anonymous said...

I'm really sorry Justin, but I just don't understand how you can call yourself an environmentalist or someone interested in ethics and get on a airplane for a vacation (of all things). I hate having to pick people up on this, but I see it all the time and it confuses me. Either you're an environmentalist, or you get on planes. You can't have it both ways.

Buddhist_philosopher said...

Anon - "Either you're an environmentalist, or you get on planes." If only life were so simple! People do say the same about being a vegan/vegetarian and probably about living in a stand-alone house and driving a non-electric car... I think these are all noble moves we can make, praiseworthy, but not clearly black and white. (our friend H.H. the Dalai Lama flies all over the place, eats meat, and gets driven around in heavy duty government SUVs)

I'm sure also if you go to the next international environmental ethics conference, especially if it's out of the US, you'll find that most of the environmentalists/ethicists there had (or chose) to fly.

I worked with Andrew Light, author/editor of lots of the latest work in environmental ethics in Montana these past two years. He flew in. He did discuss it, saying that it felt a bit hypocritical, but that he felt that he was doing enough good in the world with each flight (and he was clear that he DOESNT take vacations) that it was a necessary evil. His advice was to regularly check your carbon footprint and constantly try to reduce it (a bit of a mindfulness exercise, no right and wrong, just degrees of skilfullness).

Similarly, if my travels revive me to do better work in the world, or just to survive my last very busy days in London, then I'll accept the bad karma accumulated by flying. I do buy carbon offsets for my travels, though I know they are controversial - they are at least something.

Jennifer said...

Hi Justin,
I think your super contentious about the environment. I really admire your conviction to environmental issues. I hope you vacation leaves you recharged.
Peace Jen

Anonymous said...

"I'll accept the bad karma accumulated by flying."
If only life were THAT simple! The sad thing is, of course, that climate change isn't just a matter of karma for you, it's a matter of life and death for some people.

As regards vegetarianism, I would actually question someone who calls themselves an environmentalist but still eats a heavily meat-based diet.

Perhaps better to put the flying issue another way. If you fly, you'd better have a damn good reason. So: Al Gore flying around to promote An Inconvenient Truth = good reason. A doctor flying to Africa to help train other doctors = good reason. The Dalai Lama travelling around promoting peace and teaching the dharma = fairly good reason, although I'd like it if he thought a bit more about his carbon footprint. A speaker flying into a nonpolitical conference on the environment = pretty poor reason (some environmentalists know this: Mayer Hillman uses videolinks, Prince Charles has used a hologram). Me (who has no special skills in medicine, no political influence, not a great deal of wisdom or expert knowledge) flying abroad for job/study purposes = very weak reason. Me, flying abroad for a vacation = utterly selfish reason.

That's my two cents.

Non-dairy Vegetarian who lives in a terraced house of six people and who does not drive. (next step is the green electricity tarrif, but it's pricey).

Jennifer said...

Hi Justin,
I saw this article thought it was cute and a good idea thought you might be interested. Peace, Jen

Buddhist_philosopher said...

Jen - Lovely! Thanks for that. I always enjoy the creative ways people are promoting living a more local, environmentally sustainable life - especially when it involves good food like PB&J, black bean chili, and vegetarian burritos. :)