At every point of the game we may choose to accept or resist what is, to be easy or to get busy. Easeness or business, easiness or busyness. When we resist what is, we suffer. When we accept what is, we open ourselves to enjoying being. More simply, business brings suffering, while easeness allows for joy.
The situation we have come to commonly refer to as "The Pandemic" is no different than any other point of the game. We can accept what is, or reject it, enjoy ourselves, or suffer. We can get busy fighting for our lives or be easy and live. I realize that this may sound trite or callous or perhaps just oversimplified. Today we are swimming in contradictions, riddled at every turn with paradoxical conundrums, gobsmacked by echoes of doublespeak careening off the interior walls of our safety bubbles. We can hardly heed a statement without questioning its authority or consider a question without evaluating the credibility of the querent. Might it be that we now inhabit a "ubiquitous matrix of lies" (as Eisenstein puts it) wherein words lose and have lost their meaning? If we peer back to the origins of business, perhaps we can glimpse the source of this semantic vacuity, in spite of which I continue to offer you this easy new perspective in written form as a sign of the changing tide.
So I suggest we establish some etiquette, and that we take a scientific, logical approach as we contrast a busy reaction to the Pandemic with an easy response.
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Let's step back and examine the contrasting premises of easeness and business in the context of the Pandemic.
We address the shallowest question first, that of the station of humanity in the grand supposed pyramid of nature.
Are we on top? If so, why and how and how can we stay that way? If not, why do so many of us act like we are?
Do we reign over the animal kingdom? Who says it's a kingdom? Some guy?
For each of these presumptions posing as premises, we'll examine a Busyness example or two, and then we'll explore Easeness in the same field.
And that's just where they'll spend most of their several thousand year lifespan. In a hurry to turn a profit selling cushioned steps to kids who want to look as cool as the cats on the court, we've created millions of tons of shoe-shaped plastic trash, each two treads trod upon for weeks or maybe months, outgrown or outmoded, then tossed in the back of the closet, the goodwill bin, over a power line, or sometimes straight in the ocean, skipping the middlebins. Busyness is booming for sneakers and kicks, and while the shelf life is short, the life span of these wonders of textile technology far surpasses anyone who touches them by a factor of twenty.
See, the rubber sole may take 50 to 80 years to decompose, but if the upper is synthetic leather, that means it is likely PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which was discovered 148 years ago in 1872. Since then, no one has yet witnessed the natural decomposition of PVC. We know that it takes longer than 148 years, and the natural decomposition we have observed has been so incomplete that the estimated life span of PVC is more than 1000 years. In 2016 alone 61 million tons of PVC were produced.
What will they do in the centuries to come when the plastic displaces the ocean? Will we seal the seabed in polymers so we can swim our VR drones from coast to coast, reef to barren reef, without encountering any gunky carbonoids? Le sigh…
And on the other side of the coin, the consumer side, we find just as much harmful busyness. Nike ushered in the padded-foam-soled running shoe in the 60s. In the earlier days they cobbled and peddled sponge-rubber-soled Cortezes out of the backs and sides of vans. Then in the 70s Nike and their pacing competitors began to layer EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate, which also lasts at least 1000 years) into the midsoles for support and cushioning and "shock absorption" and the market exploded. But why? What was behind this epidemic demand for shock absorption?
My intuition points at pavement. If we were to extend our examination to the paving and flooring industries, I bet we'll find a boom in sidewalks, streets, and cement foundations that tracks the skyrocketing sneaker biz. And pavement is hard on the bones, especially for us upright apes to stomp around on all day. Our hips, ankles, knees and toes were made for forest floors, not terrazzo mall tiles. These so-called sneakers must have felt like heaven, pillowy rescue boats for our parents' and their parents' barking dogs.
Fast forward to fifty years later, we've leveled and paved exponentially more of the surface area of fair Gaia, and we've pumped out tens of millions of tons of EVA and hundreds of millions of tons of PVC all of which will probably be around in the year 3030 (better keep 'em mint), long after the pavement has returned to dust. All in the name of what? Comfort? Style? Progress? Legacy? Happiness, or more accurately the futile and failing pursuit of happiness?
Which brings us to the premise in question: humans are exceptional. That's the reason we never stopped to wonder whether we ought to keep paving, or whether we ought to break ground on a new EVA or PVC production plant, or whether we ought to clad the kiddos in knockoff Jordans. We are the supreme beings. We do these things because we can. Those other apes can chew bamboo, check out my Sketchers Safari boots. Yup, 40% off on Black Friday.
That was rough. Before we end up neck deep in acidic analyses like these, let me assure you, I am guilty of all of the crimes of consumerism mentioned above. This is not a criticism of the Other, it is an examination of the Self we share. I'm looking at my worn old sneaks now. They're too small, hurt to walk in, the foam is all but flattened, and the outsole has pretty well worn off. But they have more miles to go than I'll ever know. What do I do with these? How can I take it easy on the kicks?
Meanwhile, in many parts of the world, there are folks who have walked a lifetime of steps with nary a mile in thousand-year shoes like mine. They operate on a different premise, one not nearly as hyperbolic as the exceptionalism that would dwarf the Andes with Air Jordan Mountains and pave the Amazon River to bring 2-day delivery to the last bastion of nature's chaotic wickedness. They will admit that humans are acceptable and sacred, and nothing more, just like every child of Gaia.
These of Earth's children also tend to their tender soles without forgetting to tend better still to our tender souls. Their brave young glide through the trees shod in the generous hide of a fallen four-footed friend, a joy we in the technocracy encounter in mangled echoes as we dart through traffic to slip into grippy Vibram at the rock gym.
While we are sitting in a national timeout, we continue to ease up on the gas, to ease back on the kicks, and return to the Source for shoe tips. The Source would have us outlive our shoes. We would know their origin, care for them as they care for us, and when they have put in their paces, we would dedicate them as food for another being, another process.
So far only the most sovereign cobblers have begun to operate thusly and to encourage their shodden followers to trot along. Pioneers like Sole Rebels in Ethiopia
The path to responsible footwear is frought with peril and shrouded in the mists of deception. Lest ye tiptoe into ethical quicksand, keep in mind that vegan leather is often polyurethane (which has upwards of a 700-year life span).
Even Nike offers a glamourless afterthought in this direction with their Reuse-a-Shoe program and the Move to Zero greenwashing campaign. At least they impliedly (but not culpably) admit just how far there is to go. Peep this brag: "Made out of 50% recycled materials, Nike's new VaporMax sneakers are the brands most sustainable shoe to date and are leading the way forward to the brands Move to Zero journey."
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Here we give a voice to our stomachs.
Is there a need for greed or space for grace? Is nature abundant or are our earthly and even cosmic resources finite and thus subject to scarcity?
Whether we judge nature to be abundant, we may also ask if it is with us or against us.
We witness the Law of Return ("Eat and Be Eaten") that everything is food for something. And we may either accept this, or object. To object creates a subject as well, which role we then step into, separating ourselves from nature, putting us at odds with Gaia and its many denizens.
Pausing on the possibility that nature is in our favor, we may also wonder if it is in fact both with us and against us because it is within us and vice versa.
Regardless of whether nature is against us or within us, we see and suffer harm. Some harm seems needless, some deeds seem evil. We each commit evil deeds and many are offered condemnation, retribution, and salvation as avenues of recourse.
Which begs the question, are some of us evil and others are not? Can we switch teams? Can we be saved?
Here the question is whether it all amounts to nothing or to something.
Does the apparent duality of the realm of form with its mutually arising opposites mean that everything cancels out to a null set, rendering existence a void of meaningless? Or does the mutuality of each of these pairs of the qualities of form point to an underlying unity with the formless, tracing everyone and everything back to a common cosmic root?