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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, August 19, 2006
    Approaching generosity
    I ought to take stock of how Generous I'm being at present, as I'll probably have to account for this over Greenbelt weekend.

    Things I started well at but now am failing at:

    Turning off the tap when brushing my teeth - I just can't overcome the instinct that there's something therapeutic in the sound of running water first thing in the morning... and something wierdly unsettling about unaccompanied brushing...

    Stopping taking carrier bags from shops - I do ok at refusing bags at bookshops and record shops (two of only three kinds of stores I ever shop in), but the big use is at supermarkets where I'm still failing miserably to remember to bring any other bags with me and come away laden with yet more wasteful plastic...

    Slowing down, calming down - sticking to the speed limit - sorry, officer, it's just that if everyone else does 40 down this dual carriageway where I live, and undertaking is a given rather than an exception, I find myself just slotting in...

    Posting my packaging back - great idea this, and fun, but in the end it got too much like hard work...

    Things I'm doing ok at, thanks:

    Shopping small - looking for local suppliers instead of always using online multinationals - it was easy to switch online booksellers once I discovered that News From Nowhere's website offered all that Amazon does - plus the bonus of the option to collect the order from the shop, from a friendly face, the human touch. I order so many books online - they know me now.

    Getting rid of some of my books. This was a very good tip: Green Metropolis, through whom I have sold four books in the past two months - Empire by Michael Hardt, The Satanic Verses, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, and a spare copy of (the indispensable) Generation to Generation by Edwin H. Friedman. And this has provided me with the money to order Shrinking Cities Vol.1 which has been on my wish-list for a very long time.

    Putting a save-a-flush device in my cistern - well, this didn't take long. Only had to do it once. And I'm hoping that my companions-in-generosity will accept that the water I'm saving by flushing modestly will more than cover the ongoing excesses of my toothbrush fetish.

    The thing I need to take a serious look at:

    Am I taking the Generous project seriously enough? I tend to be a little stand-offish about the whole thing, and that's because I'm mentally dismissing these tiny middle-class lifestyle changing acts as mere window-dressing. Putting a water-saving device in the cistern??? A real act of generosity would be putting a homeless person in the spare room. Or putting a hammer to a Trident submarine. But in moments of blinding honesty I admit I'm nowhere near ready for that. Perhaps what I learn through taking these small steps might just open the way...