I paddle long early morning hours, happiest starting at sun up and dragging in nearly disabled right before noon. Satisfied only when spent.
I am in an angry red-eyed knot if prevented from going by weather or joint pain or even by pleasant social engagements.
The rising sun gratifies at once. Wire tendons and stick muscles soften in the warm glow within minutes. The serenity of silence soothes my scattered morning mind. I love the rocking ocean, a sensation that continues long after I have pulled my paddleboard up onto the grassy bank.
Even after my shoulder became inflamed and my back required regular ibuprofen, then muscle relaxers, I asked my husband to put the board in for me and take it out so I could still be out there, limping along or swimming, or even just floating in a deep sea recliner, a cool saline soak for overdone joints.
Neuroscience tells us that dopamine is released in tranquil blue scenes like these. It IS addictive. Seratonin is activated. Oxytocin, the love hormone that prevents exhausted new mothers from killing their young, joins in the rave.
But before I can tend to my ocean addiction I Need my coffee first. I can’t go out until I down at least one, maybe two. I might combine addictions and sip my black bitter on the paddleboard, sitting sidesaddle with legs submerged. If I don’t have my coffee, I risk an all out day in a dark room, crawling to the bathroom, hammering, eyeball jabbing migraine that lasts half a day. No freedom in the bottom of THAT dark cup.
In the afternoon, I tighten into a moving statue walking stilted stony steps.
Then there is ibuprofen, my benefactor who unbends me… but not on empty stomach, so I break my diet again and add buffering carbs. Bread or crackers, my forbidden fruits.
Evening comes. If another walk doesn’t provide enough relief for me to sit through a movie with my husband or dinner with friends, I will require an adult beverage or two or three to soften the stone.
Are you sensing a trend?
But alchohol is not good for sleep, or stomachs, or brains.
And though it sometimes pacifies, food isn’t either. Nor is cruising the internet. All are addictive. I have always tapped down one habit, only to have another pop up whistling jeers like a gopher.
It has gotten worse. I may have affluenza. It is a short drive from here to lost weekends shopping the malls for things I will immediately regret buying.
Am I driven by, and then tricked by pleasure? A servant of bliss?
I know people like me.
I bend over and pick up the plastic six-pack holder left laying on the beach. I hold this seabird strangler with two fingers and let it drip sand. This problem of waste and overconsumption is much bigger than me.
I need to reroute the hardwired connections to an engine of compassion not only for myself but for this world I claim to love.
I need to watch the sons and daughters who are trying to teach us that there can be joy in sustainability.
There is a nightclub called Watt, in Rotterdam where young people go and dance. The more they dance, the more electricity is produced from the high tech floor.
Wendy Steiner, in “The Joy of Less” puts it this way:
“The next generation gap will form along the fault line between morality and pleasure. As one parent describes it ,”for us Earth Day is a reason to go outside, but for the kids, it’s a religous holiday. ” Baby boomer and gen x-ers can only sigh at the celebration of restraint that lies ahead-assuming the earth lasts long enough for their children and grand children to impose it. Meanwhile the future of the planet lies in the hands of elders who lack the ideological wiring to connect right action to pleasure. The problem for the forces of change is how to detach the values of self expressivity, excitement, and ecstasy, from waste, and attach them instead to sustainability. Seldom has an existential crisis presented itself so openly as a challenge for rhetoric.”*
Remember Wall-E? It was a Disney animation based on the end result of consumption taken to its logical conclusion. Immobized Pillsbury doughboys trashing what was left of the planet from their couches?
The protaganist, The cheeky little robot somehow gets everyone off the couch, makes sustainability itself seem like a pleasure, and he saves the planet.
His motivation was pure love.
Dear world, may I have the next dance?