I recently realized some of my small everyday acts both meet my own needs, and give testimony to the Quaker value of simplicity. Here are two examples:
First, one action this morning met various needs: most weeks I make it to the meetinghouse with compost from my week of meals. Today, I had two 32-ounce containers filled with various scraps. The rinds, stems, seeds, and other parts of the plant matter (minus the labels) reminds me of the health I cultivate with those nutrients. Not only did I recall my enjoyment of the nutritious meals they were a part of, I also thought of the health those food scraps will contribute to my community (as they become compost in the community garden at our meetinghouse).
I enjoy contributing to the community garden. Friends tend the compost during monthly meetinghouse workdays; some Friendly angels tend it at other times as well; and new soil is enriched. Composting is a “low hanging fruit” in the sense of being an easy way for me to help create the world I want to live in – a world that meets our needs of stewardship, health, well-being, connection with nature, and community.
A second small act I completed this weekend met various needs: bike maintenance. It is important to maintain any machine that we use regularly. After I finished the job, I found satisfaction with added efficiency and safety while riding. The project included replacing the drivetrain (a front chainring, chain, and rear cassette). In the process, I gained smooth shifting and a more efficient pedal stroke. Most importantly, the chain is now less likely to skip at inopportune times when pedaling with extra effort to get through an intersection. Obviously, this increased reliability offers increased safety.
Along with the safe and efficient use of my time and energy provided by these new components, I continue using my bicycle instead of my car for commuting. I have bought roughly two tanks of gas in the past ten months because I use my car so infrequently. By spending a few hours each month caring for my bike, I gain both by meeting needs for safety and efficiency, and in helping create a world I want to live in – namely, a world that values health and good stewardship of resources.
In the end, I am grateful to have structured my life to include simple acts that meet a variety of needs. Simple acts like composting and bicycle commuting help my health and well-being, and they also help meet the needs of others. Going to bed tonight, I hopefully helped improve the soil for someone to enjoy a tasty local vegetable in the future. I can also rest assured I have reduced my environmental footprint on our planet. I am glad to take these small steps towards a world I want to live in.
Todd Hierlmaier is an educator, running coach, and student of physical therapy. He coordinates interest groups, seminars, and carpools for the summer gathering of IMYM. He attends Albuquerque Monthly Meeting.