I recently rediscovered the fact that there is a universe of fascinating things and people awaiting us in our own neighborhoods if we just take the time to find them. Slowing down and getting to better know what’s already around us is much more fulfilling than the fleeting artificial experiences we routinely buy and sell at great cost to our planet, our health, and our humanity.
TV and movies come to mind when the term “artificial experience” is used, but even quick trips to hike or visit “must-see” tourist attractions should be included. In such cases we come away with limited memories and knowledge, which there is great pressure to replace with something different or new that someone else has created or at least enabled.
The best experiences are the ones we create for ourselves, making them part of us, and us part of them. This takes time and effort, but ultimately has more staying power, and is most easily done around where we live. Familiarizing ourselves with other people and species, and letting them do the same with us, also establishes bonds that tie us together as a community or an ecosystem.
It is nearly impossible to not have an impact beyond our localities, and to be fully engaged and responsible citizens of the world we have an obligation to know its extent, in lives and places touched. If we took the time to do such research, before we bought something or elected someone for instance, we would most likely reduce both the amount and the deleterious effects of our actions. We would also feel empowerment from the knowledge along with a visceral connection parts of the Universe we can’t directly know, what might be called spirituality.
Living more completely takes time; and because it takes fewer resources and connects us more strongly to the world, it also makes time through improved chances for the longevity of those whose lives we are part of, adding to their richness of life as a bonus.