Happy Friday!

“When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.”

Pema Chodron (born 1936);

Buddhist Nun

A Greco-Buddhist statue, one of the first repr...
A Greco-Buddhist statue, one of the first representations of the Buddha, 1st-2nd century CE, Gandhara. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Moment of Solitude by K. Kenneth Edusei

I usually write to 90s theme music, but today I am in the park listening. Listening to the birds chirping, dogs barking, people talking, and probably the most annoying, insects buzzing. Despite the many sounds I hear, I feel the pull of a moment. A moment separated from infinite linear progression. For this moment I feel freed from the temporal world. This is a moment to reflect, to dream, to plan, just to… Moments like these help shape my vision in the present, think or rethink the future, and help me come to terms with the past. This is separated from infinite linear progression. This is a moment of solitude.

Blurred due to recent events, my vision is not stable. I’m doubting my ability to interpret the world. Is this tree really a tree? Is the grass greener than before? Why do the birds sing such a somber song? My vision has failed me before; somethings are just so very hard to see. Even with contingency, I was forced to scramble. Fortunately, impromptu is a skill I am equipped with. Yes, I am able to handle what the world shows me. I may not like what I see but I am prepared. I am ready to see things clearly and overcome them. I am ready to see what exists in the present and I am ready to take on the challenges of existing.

Looking at this present world makes me think. Think about a future I desire, a future I want. But the future I want, the one with this, this, and this, is not guaranteed. I guess the first step in planning the future is knowing what that future is. I guess it’s time to rethink things again. “What’s your motivation Kenny? Why are you walking this path?” Necessity? “Come on Kenny you can do better than that.” Need? “Whose need? What you need?” I need… better. “Better what?” Just better… “Well, how do you… better?” You try better, act better, play better, think better, strive better, persist better, love better. You just do better! “Haha, well, that sounds like a plan!”

What is this sound? Like a rustling, lightly in the background. And what is this sensation? It feels like a slight tug on one’s shirt. Anyway, the plan for the future does not exist apart from the past. The corridor of personal history shows me so much. I see apologies to give, goodbyes to impart, and greetings I failed to utter. The murals of missed opportunities, the canvases of wasted time, and the different colors highlighting the paths I rejected. Again, I hear this rustling. It sounds closer. And I feel the touch of something. Like a light wave washing over my body. That tug, it has gotten stronger. Now it is more like a pulling, consistent and directional. Hmmm… Let me hurry. First to the wall of errors. I am sorry, I acknowledge the things I have done wrong. Now to the place of loss. I feel so weary looking at these tombstones. Saying goodbye does not mean I miss you any less. The goodbye itself cannot truly express how things have changed. To those whom I have failed to greet, I say hello and hello again.

What is this pull? It feels like an earth magnet pulling me in! I hear the rustling loudly, that push against my skin is stronger, and birds? I know, I understand now. One cannot be separated from infinite linear progression forever!  I am back in the park. The dogs are gone. The trees rustling loudly as the wind cools from the heat. The birds are singing; the chatter of people is all but gone. My moment has passed. I feel grounded, hopeful, yet a little burdened. Wow, so much has transpired and it only took a moment.

Societal Dumpsters Need Freegans by K. Kenneth Edusei

The average job search takes at least four months(Bloomberg). In that time, most job seekers apply their talents to few things. Their specific talents go unused within gaps of employment. With unemployment affecting over 10 million people (bls.gov), I can only speculate the amount of lost productivity caused by it. Recognizing the potential of so much wasted capacity and how accessing it can greatly benefit society should be  important. The potential is clearly visible in the employment data and I believe the model to use for accessing it is found in freeganism.

Freeganism is a movement that “practice strategies for everyday living based on sharing resources, minimizing detrimental impact of our consumption, and reducing and recovering waste(Freegan.info). Freegans are those whom recover what others have thrown away and put it to use. The most famous way of doing this is “dumpster diving.” Dumpster diving “involves rummaging through the garbage of retailers, residences, offices, and others(Freegan.info). The idea of going through someone’s garbage may seem off-putting, however the usefulness of what is found there can be quite astonishing. The organization Food Not Bombs employs dumpster diving as one way of acquiring food to feed the homeless, hungry, and others. Food Not Bombs “recovers and shares free vegan or vegetarian food with the public in over 1,000 cities around the world”(FoodNotBombs.com). When organized in a large, structured format, freeganism can achieve two important goals simultaneously: reduced wastes in resources and reduced need for such resources. This approach to unused resources provides a framework for thinking about another wasted resource: unemployment.

Currently there are 11.8 million people unemployed (bls.gov). Table A-14 breaks down unemployment by sector. This data shows us what specific skills, by the thousands, is presently unused. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data does not include the 1.7 million students expected to acquire their bachelor degrees this year. This number is expected to rise yearly, eventually hitting around two million bachelor degree recipients annually by 2020(NCES). With so many people currently unemployed and many graduates having very low job prospects, a large amount of human capacity will be wasted. This unused capacity should be viewed as a “social dumpster” where potential productivity is thrown out. The time between employment and unemployment should be a temporary space from which wasted capacity can be rescued. This space contains very useful resources that can be applied to a variety of social issues. Like the freegans whom decided to make efficient use of wasted tangible goods, society should go dumpster diving. Society should have an institution that reduces the waste of capacity and reduces the need for such capacity. Society should have an institutional freegan. Similar to Food Not Bombs, society needs a structured organization designed to apply the unused skills of the unemployed to specific problems in need of those skills. This entity will use the specific capacity of the unemployed to meet specific short-term needs. This institution can “dumpster dive” through the unemployed with the goal of using some of the lost productivity. If only a small portion of the unemployed applied their specific skills to issues, there is a guaranteed return on their investment in the form of reduced social need.

Freeganism, as a model, is successful in reducing need through existing resources. As a conceptual model for dealing with excess capacity, freeganism allows for society to efficiently use current human resources to reduce the need for services. Dumpster diving is the hallmark of freeganism. It is an efficient way to meet needs through unused goods. It has proven successful when given large scale structure and purpose as with organizations like Food Not Bombs. Due to unemployment there exists an enormous amount of unused capacity in a “social dumpster.” Society needs a dumpster diver, whom better than a freegan.