In Resilience Reflections we ask some of our contributors what it is that inspires their work, and what keeps them going.
Claire and her husband Mike and began their practice of voluntary simplicity in 1994. It has prepared them well for the current predicament brought about by the end of cheap energy and the resulting economic and environmental difficulties. Claire blogs at Living Low in the Lou.
Who/what has been your greatest inspiration? And why?
When I was in grade school, my greatest inspirations were three women: Marie Curie, Helen Keller, and Anne Frank. All of them showed great resilience under very challenging circumstances, and Marie Curie directly influenced my choice to study chemistry. In the 1990s, Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin influenced my and my husband Mike’s decision to live on as little money as possible so we would have more time for ourselves and for what is important to us, and they and Amy Dacyczyn taught us how to do that through their respective books. Most recently, another triad of people have been of great influence in my understanding of the nature of this time and what it requires of us: Richard Heinberg, Sharon Astyk, and John Michael Greer.
What keeps you awake at night?
I have an obsessive pattern of mind. Almost anything that grabs my attention enough is capable of keeping me awake at night. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen as often as it did before I began a serious spiritual practice, and I find it easier to let it go eventually and get back to sleep.
What gets you up in the morning or keeps you going?
There is so much to do that I want to get done and so much to learn and experience before I die!
For you resilience is…?
Resilience means having backup systems in place in case the primary systems we’ve come to depend on falter or disappear. It can mean anything from cultivating our bonds with family members and friends, continuing to make new friends (especially younger friends) as we age, to getting to know our neighbors and community members so we can aid each other when needed. Resilience means having a source of water and food, a means to cook and to provide lighting, and the means to keep oneself warm or cool enough should the fossil-fuel-based systems we depend on go down for hours or days, maybe even weeks. Resilience means spending the least amount of money possible, learning to get by on less energy, fewer material goods, and less artificial stimulation so that we are better prepared for the various declines that we are facing. For me it also means a daily spiritual practice, one that helps to smooth out my rough edges and allows me to be of help instead of causing more problems. It also means spending as much time in nature as possible, to counteract the various malign influences of mainstream culture.
What gives you hope?
I don’t have hope or need it to keep going. What I can see is that there is good work out there that needs to be done that I am capable of doing, and much more that I want to learn than I could ever learn in this lifetime. I keep up my spiritual practice to maximize my personal resilience to the changes happening now and those to come.