Author: Roland Magyar

Nine (plus one) benefits of living sustainably

Nine (plus one) benefits of living sustainably

In our personal lives as a family of three (comprising of two stay-at-home entrepreneurs and a life-learner child), we have found the following benefits to be outstanding in the quest of embracing a sustainable life. Profoundness The most convincing – and even viscerally felt to […]

Why bother about trees

Why bother about trees

Why bother filling our lungs with fresh air…. Why bother to quench our thirst with clean water… Why seek cool shade in the scorching heat of the sun… Why look for diversity when plain is so comfortably familiar… Why inspire ourselves and our youth by […]

Choose the countryside for a sustainable life

Choose the countryside for a sustainable life

I went back to town, running some errands, when in the lobby of a department store I reposed a bit and pondered at the regular shoppers pushing their brimming carts through the doorway…

Fifteen years ago, my wife and I were just like them, in the University district of Seattle. Granted, we began prioritizing the health food stores already, food still rolled and gathered across aisles, our catch of the day walked home in shopping bags. The urban foraging that takes different muscles and a very different kind of thinking.

In a way, it’s playing it safe, or rather relegating responsibilities in as many different directions, as many products in our bags. But then, is this way of nourishing ourselves safe, or do we only delude ourselves that dozens of producers of our quasi choice (manufacturers and growers) as well as hundreds of specialized touching hands amount to sufficient guarantee for our wellbeing? Now, for our feeding, it certainly seems more or less satisfactory enough, but in order for us to achieve and maintain vibrant health this kind of eating in rosy twilight most definitely has lots of shortcomings. And let me tell you, as a gluten, A1 dairy, starch and legume sensitive person, I have found this out the slow and hard way – this equals vulnerability, wholesale.

There is always a point in the producing, handling and processing chain beyond which virtually all food manufacturers cease assuming further responsibility of their own. The phenomenon of cross-contamination is a prime example. And I’m not even talking hygiene here, just pure food awareness. Those who live with food allergies and still prefer eating out from time to time, know what I mean.

Replacing front- and backyard ornamental gardens with vegetable patches, planting fruit trees as an act of goodwill in public spaces are virtuous deeds. We have taken advantage of crops at public avail in the English “alternative” town of Totnes before, when we could have afforded little more than urban foraging.

But again: do these efforts truly promote thriving or are they rather approaching a minimal welfare target from the underside?

Aren’t we just adding more color, texture and flavor of our “making” to the kaleidoscope of foods we now eat, eventually allowing ourselves to can a few jars of homemade specialty preserves, keepsakes for festive family reunions, while the homeless of town and select industrious, low-income folks can sample the taste of left-behind country life?

How far is this from unbound wholesome nourishment that perpetually provides excesses, not only for the off-season alimentation of our own and of other fellow humans we care about, but wildlife too? Truth be told, few grocery cart maneuverers concern themselves with the latter, which also happens to form the 95% (give or take) of the world’s mouths and general metabolic systems; the invisible or – at best – obscure 95%, viewing it from inside a city fabric, including the over-fragmented suburbia.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, folks: if one really digs sustainability, as the genuine stuff, not being easily misled by any phrasal constructs containing “more”, “-er”, “-ish” or “less” and coming from an angle of ernest concern for the future of her/his loved ones, then I’m here to support that person by stating that tweaking a greenish life in and around a city will not get anyone there, to sustainable living – ever. Guaranteed.

Town and sustainability are two mutually exclusive notions.

Unless we morph ourselves into ant colonies, or else, corrupt the concept of sustainability, as we have done with so many great initiatives before. Either way, with our human aspirations for durable life on Earth, we would be shooting ourselves in the foot.

In fact, cities and towns as such will inevitably need to dissolve into a verdant countryside, once again. Whether inside out or outside in, it will eventually need to happen, concomitantly with a radical awakening, an insofar hard to fathom, yet entirely possible rise in consciousness. That is a whole new topic, for another time, perhaps.

For right now, let’s just accept as indisputable, the need ample space in form of land, to comfortably provide nourishment for a radiant health and overall thriving. That’s because sustainability should not, cannot approach living from spatial minimalism. Such spatial frugality only results in imbalance, frustration and a whole suite of regretful social phenomena that precipitates from congestion and that we already know all too well.

Sustainable living assumes comfort with minimal friction, if any.

Nature’s balance is dynamic, yes, nevertheless an equilibrium and exuberance in health is integral part of that. By in large, and despite occasional anomalies, nature tends to promote conditions of abundance, the prerequisite for powerful and blissful survival. You cannot shortchange real health, or achieve robust immunity with inferior food and stressful living conditions.

For these reasons and so much more, like the one of sheer aesthetics, the innate joy of being immersed in a rich, sensuously stimulating natural environment, one has to yield to the inertia, abide the wise, intuitive call and get out of city “comfort zone” once and for all.

It is best to raise our ecological consciousness, sensitivity first, then get ready to pick up nature’s mentality, feel more than an affiliation with the non-human world – a oneness with it.

This shall be, so that when one is spiritually prepared to make the move, she or he is also ready to engage in a harmony. Not only as an onlooker, but an active participant.

Much, otherwise evitable damage, destruction to a fragile natural environment can be inflicted in one’s new, still foreign setting if the emotional-spiritual honing work wasn’t previously taken to a high enough level. It’s a matter of honest self-judgement. The precautionary principle and gentle approach to the host environment, are to be applied. Treat the novel wide horizon of exciting opportunities with due respect and great responsibility.

Remember: freedom comes with well-understood and well-worth limits. It is no different, only more true, with sustainable living.

The good news is that your safety net will be your heart itself, aligning you with the laws of the Universe almost unnoticeably, even while you are relaxing – well, especially then. This intuitive inner guidance of your, this renewed conscience alone will guarantee the unwavering advancement on the chosen life path of no-return.

Be brave, be happy!

Urgency of living like you should: sustainably

Urgency of living like you should: sustainably

Let me tell you some things about what urgency conjures up in my mind… In some languages the word “urgency” is one and the same with the English “emergency”. If we added the word room, you would instantly get what I’m pointing at. Emergency room […]

Experiencing quality versus quantity

Experiencing quality versus quantity

It is our personal experience, dating back as far as the first years of our lives, when each of us began to reflect consciously on our observations, that poor quality is unaffordable, especially if one is poor or lives on a tight budget. It took […]

Sustainable Living in Action – Creating calm from conundrum

Sustainable Living in Action – Creating calm from conundrum

An epic journey in ecological self-fulfillment

Sustainable Living in Action series – Creating calm from conundrum

It was finally time to do physical work around the property we inhabit, again. Chores of this sort we do not consider an everyday duty, so that they can never wear down on us. We guard physical work as pleasure activity, so we can pour all of our attention and passion into it. Seems as though everyone, always would benefit the most from, take the most out of labor when it is well balanced with creative mental work and relaxation. Labor itself is most pleasurable if it is of creative character, where intuition and mind can satisfy a recognized need for innovation, if not innovation, then the drive for a job well done, beautifully carried out, a work of art in a way.

And the work that chose me, us, with an irrefusable beckoning, was the continuation of the creek clean-up project we voluntarily took on at the back of our rental property. Clean it up as well as if it was (already) running in our backyard. All water bodies deserve this approach, which is a bit illusionary, in the sense that land (and water) owns us, not the other way around, yet we humans can relate to a healthy sense of pride in private ownership. This moves us. This typically moves us more than, say, volunteering in someone else’s project. We want to do the best, we wish the best for ourselves, which may come across as selfish (and at times it may be), but in the case of work done well, is rather proof of earnest selflessness, since its motivation, intention is to pass on a keepsake legacy – all the while one should understand the dynamic character of balance in the world (in nature). That the fruit of our labor can be washed away or covered up by the next torrential rain.

The love that we had invested in our work, however, cannot be annihilated. The place, the waterway, for instance, will always remember our gesture and the spiritual bond will persist.

The unconditioned love invested into our former farmland in southeastern Hungary, where everything we did to the land we did with an utmost respect, for eight pleasurable homesteading years, will always remain a fond memory to us – and to the land too, we believe. Her gratitude was continuously expressed by the teeming wildlife that could regard our land a safe haven in all four seasons. Deer ate from underneath of our cherry plum, rabbits took pleasure in the garden’s sage bushes in the dead of winter and, on our last day there, a grey heron strolled calmly across in front of the open kitchen door, as if in farewell to us.

So, off I went, just myself at first, put my boots on, grabbed my work gloves (not the naturally tanned organic leather ones I wish for yet, but protective nonetheless), wheelbarrow, a garbage sack and headed to the backside steep slope of the property, at the base of which the stream snakes towards the village.

As is, the stream shows an ambivalent picture, that of an abused, under-appreciated beautiful soul, that bears the undue weight of years-worth of neglect. We cannot take it, cannot allow this maltreatment to continue, so little by little, investing the same love we have always invested in a land that we have mutually chosen each other with, are gradually returning the creek to her former glory. By-gone, perhaps, but not irreversibly. True, we are talking about a stretch of eighty to a hundred meters only, the segment under our care.

The patch we dealt with at this time, initially looked much like what you see in the picture below. Woody debris, garbage in a multi-generational tangle, mixed with ashes of former attempts of doing a so-called clean-up.

Our approach in a messy situation like this is to remove more than absolutely necessary, just to be sure. And so we did, whatever the naked eye could pick up as foreign and unfitting, was sacked. The brush we chopped up and stockpiled in the woodshed. Because Cheryl and Csermely joined me to finish off the job. Cheryl as a green thumb, planting some willow branches found on the site, already rooting and leafing out from the moisture of the creek babbling by. Now we offered them a smaller peninsula as habitat. Turning a conundrum into calm. The rest is the job of the rain to arrange. And it beautifully does so as these words are written.

Csermely in the meanwhile enjoyed the coolness of the water just a couple of steps downstream, giving herself a refreshing bath, by the use of a fragrant broad leaf as bath towel, plucked straight from behind her on the bank. It was enchanting to see and hear her joyousness. That is exactly why we have done the work and will continue doing it year after year. The kind of glee sans souci. And, naturally, the water sans souci.

What one removes is no longer there – a soothing reassurance to a hurt aethos, the insulted dignity. The dignity of the creek and all those connected to it on a life line.

Do you care for any surface or underground water body in particular? How exactly do you?