Son,I am very pleased with your awareness of your impact on the environment. I was in my twenties during the gasoline crunch of the 1970’s. Conserving was all the rage – for all the wrong reasons. It was about money – about saving money for yourself. That can be a strong motivator – but as soon as the crunch was over it was all forgotten. SUV’s graduated to Hummers. Global Warming is not something that is going to be over in my lifetime. But conserving energy in a consumer oriented society is tough.
I tried. And then I tried again. Reducing energy is like many lifestyle changes. First, one has to be motivated. Losing weight is interesting – we all want to look good. But my experience is that vanity is a poor motivator. I look good in 32 inch waist faded blue jeans from Eddie Bauer – when my waist is 32 inches. A bowl of ice cream with Hershey’s chocolate will trump Eddie Bauer every time.
So the solution is to burn more calories, right? I have worked in an office environment for 38 years – a sedentary lifestyle if ever there was one. My calorie burning was done at the YMCA. Exercise for the sake of exercise (or for the sake of vanity) did not work for me. I enjoyed playing the games – like racquetball. I played as much as I could manage – and improving my racquetball skill was a motivator for other forms of exercise. I ran and lifted weights and jumped rope – all to improve my endurance and speed on the court.
I know many people who have come to terms with some part of their life that they wanted to change. Take an alcoholic who is finally ready to change. Most treatment centers promote 12 step programs – so the alcoholic goes there to find hope. (the reality is that 12 Step programs work for about 20% of those who enter the doors.) What happened to the other 80%?
I know personal trainers who know everything necessary about physical exercise. Unfortunately many of them do not know much about people. The get a new client and ask the standard questions – and rightly so. What are you looking for? What do you hope to achieve with this exercise program? That stuff. Then they develop an exercise program to achieve the defined objective. I have been at the YMCA and heard women say, “Oh no, here comes my personal trainer. I haven’t been doing his exercises.” She liked the recumbent bike – but he wanted her to do the elliptical machine. The result was that she quit coming to the YMCA – her exercise program failed her.
An old friend of mine and I were on an energy kick about ten years ago. We learned that we should not ‘top off’ our gas tanks because we were forcing the top fumes into the atmosphere. He suggested that we should only flush our toilets after a bowel movement – a little urine in the stool can’t hurt anything. I got into big trouble at home for trying that one.
The clock thing on appliances is interesting – I tried that one too. But every time I wanted to set the timer on my coffee pot to have coffee ready when I woke up in the morning I had to reset the clock on the coffee maker. That did not last long. Back in the 1960’s televisions and radios ran on vacuum tubes. When the set was turned on it took some time to ‘warm up,’ very inconvenient for a fast guy like me. Some brilliant engineer figured out how to give the TV and radio the appearance of being turned off – he just turned off the sound and picture tube – the other tubes stayed on – they sold these things as the thing of the future – no more waiting for that long warm-up time. Convenience sells.
If one wants to save energy, help the environment, lose weight, exercise, or stop an addiction – there is but one way. It is the way that you will do. The meaning – there are some inconveniences that I am not willing to suffer. There are some exercises that I don’t want to do. There are some foods that I don’t want to give up. Conserving energy is like most other things in life – it is not all or nothing. It is about finding the compromise in your life that you are willing to sustain.