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03 November 2014

How much has it cost to have me here?

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by Hugo Sandon

[groups_non_member group=”Registered”]One of the biggest wet fishes, of the many that have been served up over the years was this question; “How much has it cost the world to have you here? Do you really think you will have contributed more than you took out when you die?”

Gosh. This wet fish slapped across my face and knocked me right off my perch. Once I really started to ponder this and to get to the heart of the question, I have to say I was a little shocked. I’d never really thought about it in such a complete way. Although I had been aware that I was very fortunate and that there was a massive environmental impact that humans were having on the world and had a sense that what we consume without thinking on a daily basis was quite substantial, I hadn’t properly looked at it in terms of me, personally.

 

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[/groups_non_member]

[groups_member group=”Registered”]One of the biggest wet fishes, of the many that have been served up over the years was this question; “How much has it cost the world to have you here? Do you really think you will have contributed more than you took out when you die?”

Gosh. This wet fish slapped across my face and knocked me right off my perch. Once I really started to ponder this and to get to the heart of the question, I have to say I was a little shocked. I’d never really thought about it in such a complete way. Although I had been aware that I was very fortunate and that there was a massive environmental impact that humans were having on the world and had a sense that what we consume without thinking on a daily basis was quite substantial, I hadn’t properly looked at it in terms of me, personally.

What’s more I hadn’t even begun to really contemplate the reality of what it had actually cost everything to have me around. What had I cost other people, in terms of their help, their support, their kindness, financially, their time and much much more? The cost was untold, everywhere I looked, taking out, indulging, doing whatever I wanted and expecting to be able to.

It had been an enormous cost to be here, in many different ways, some not immediately apparent. I had been a huge cost to those around me, those that had supported me all my life, my friends, to the country, and to the planet as a whole. The resource I had consumed was massive and I hadn’t giving it much of a thought. I suppose I had just expected that that was how it was and so that was ok. Looking at it with fresh eyes there was absolutely no way that I had even begun to replenish, using Burgs analogy, the bank balance I had come in with and I was running an enormous deficit.

When I looked at this really honestly, there were serious questions now floating around my head that I could not ignore. What on earth did I think I had been doing? Was there anything I was doing that was a contribution? Everywhere I looked in my life there had been consumption, taking out and very little putting back. The questions kept coming. What am really I doing to help other people, other than the odd 10p in the charity box? What can I do to be there for others? Have I actually helped anyone? How do I really feel about eating meat, the lives of all of those animals? What about the amount of energy I consume, these hot showers I take for granted, a warm room, warm clothes, healthcare and instant communication? How inefficient is my environment? What about work? How do I earn a living in a way that doesn’t cost the world or deal with companies that are willing to harm to get what they want? I realised, in truth, the way that I had been living was pretty selfish, however I dressed it up, and that the challenge was to try and bring a less selfish ethos to every aspect.

So there was no option really but to start looking at how to simplify and live in a way that was more justified. Where I have managed to simplify I deeply appreciate the emptiness left in the absence of stuff that was there and the teaching ‘he who is of few needs and easy to serve is close to being at peace,’ begins to come alive. Of course I don’t claim to have got anywhere near where I ought to, but certainly I am enjoying making a start. The other danger is having made a few changes to rest on my laurels convince myself I’m starting to do enough, but if I were to really look into it, it doesn’t come close.

Whilst this teaching that Burgs had given put me in an uncomfortable place, I was so pleased that he hadn’t minced his words on this one. It really was time to address this and to delight in trying to start the process of putting back.

Burgs constant reminders to ‘be under no illusions’ about what is required, certainly means I realise it’s going to take a long time to resolve and I don’t know how successful I will be. One thing I do know is that there is no option other than to commit to putting back, trying to do my bit, and certainly curb mindless consumption, but most importantly not smothering myself into believing I am doing enough.
Mulling over what I have written, I think that this, for me, is really at the core of what Burgs has shared and clarified with us over the years. His gentle encouragement to delight in simplicity and to look to find the joy in expressing simplicity has given me a life-long challenge to engage with. I think that’s great, I’m so up for it wherever it leads me. Maybe one day I may get closer to being in a state where I can share what I have with those around me and that I could look back and think, I did my bit, I enjoyed it and I wasn’t that much of a cost and a burden to those around me and this beautiful world.[/groups_member]

1 Response

  1. Jelena Belgrave

    I have enjoyed your introspective writing, Hugo. I’ve just come back from lunch break, tired from the overall Christmas shopping frenzy that takes over Oxford Circus at this time of year. Your words are so timely!

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