Thankfully it appears this campaign has succeeded 🙂
I find it interesting that this is really the ultimate question of my life, and has been for years. These three simple words rival all those other weighty three words combos: I love you. I miss you. I am sorry. If you stop and think about it, What is Important? defines how we use those other admissions. They simple act of relatively valuing the things in our life completely defines everything that is and will ever be. Is success more important than love? Will it always be this way, or just while we are young and flexible? Actually, if you think about it shouldn’t we dedicate more of youth’s flexibility and vigor to love? After all, I hear it gets harder and harder to meet people when you begin to leave the institutions that make finding people so easy (college).
I spend so much time fretting about what I need to do that a lot of time I forget that I don’t need to do any of it. Hell, I don’t even need to finish college. These are only things I want to do because I believe they will help me pursue a better life. Now, when you put it in terms of quality of life, suddenly things become more complicated. I could work really hard and maybe be rewarded for my endeavors, or I could take a more relaxed approach to college and immerse myself in the unique social atmosphere that exists in no other institution on this Earth. Essentially, I could be the irresponsible kid/teen/guy I never was. Wow, why is life so complicated?
Our live are only as complicated as we make them, and sometimes we need to be reminded just how silly we are. Luckily I have a lot of support when it comes to telling me how I’m screwing up, and someone is always around to steer me in the right direction. I mean that in the most positive way though, and just last night someone special made me realize that the way I live, with all my commitments and my meticulously planned schedule, is about as far from my ideal as I could ever be.
If you ask me my ideal lifestyle you will undoubtedly get a mix of purposeful work and meaningful relationships. What you might not hear me say is freedom and introspection, yet these are two things I hold dear. When I am free to move and grow as I please I am most happy. And when I can reflect on my life and the world around me I can feel the weight of ages pass over me. It is as if I am making a connection with the past; a connection to that fundamental human spirit that lives in us all. It is cloaked in the folds of manufactured purpose, but under the veil we can all relate to the need to feel satisfied.
You know, above all else I think that is the word. Satisfaction. Are you satisfied with your life? Are you satisfied when you give up something fun and important to do something you think you need to do? Or are you satisfied living a life of mediocre productivity? Everyone knows the feeling of satisfaction. Look for it. Pursue it. Find it. When you’re satisfied those important things will come easy. You will confess your love. You will show your appreciation. You will admit your wrongs.
And you definitely won’t be wasting your time trying to figure our what you’re doing with your life 😉
|Obama’s new CAFE plan.|
I wanted to do a little writing tonight. Something productive. I wasn’t feeling an essay for internships, so I thought I’d check out the email I got from the Sierra Club asking me to implore Obama to continue fighting for the new 35mpg CAFE standards. I’m sorry Sierra Club, but these new standards are downright BS. I don’t want a band-aid solution, I want a real fix. I’m sure my answer won’t mean a thing, but once I got writing I got a little carried away. This is what I had to say:
Dear President Obama,
I am supposed to be writing you in support of “the strong fuel-efficiency and carbon pollution standards for new cars and trucks” your administration is advocating. While I appreciate your interest in the environmental and economic benefits higher fuel efficiency creates, I cannot endorse this policy. As we have seen in the past, the automotive industry is a fickle and quite capable of circumventing the goals this motion seeks to achieve. Furthermore, the automotive industry really is not the problem here; the problem is consumers are not given the right information. And I don’t mean advertising or sneak deals (these are an entirely different issue). I mean pure economics.
If the Obama Administration truly wants to see the evolution of our fuel efficiency standards it must give consumers the correct information: that the real price of oil, including the negative social externalities it creates, are far higher than the measly price we pay at the pump. The true cost of our gas-guzzling behavior is already being felt in the ever-increasing costs of the natural disasters sweeping our nation and the globe. Obama, please commit to increasing taxes on oil! It is the most direct way we can create the necessary environment for decreased fuel consumption through more intelligent and conservative driving and higher fuel efficiencies.
No doubt anyone reading this will immediately mention political suicide, but is it really? How many blue-collar Americans do you think will oppose increasing taxes on oil if you couple it with an income tax cut? Seriously, do the math. Republicans want tax cuts and less regulation, the budget needs balancing, your average person is struggling, and no one is doing a damn thing to stop our oil addiction. Environmental tax reform is an answer. I won’t even bother to explain how widespread it could be applied because I know my voice here is not heard.
However, consider this: environmental tax reform will win you votes. Hardcore conservatives will never be realistic, but centrists tend to feel the environment is important and, if they are right leaning, will prefer less regulation. The center-lefts will of course jump on board if they would ever consider a fuel-efficiency measure. Radical lefts will support taxing oil, and who doesn’t like having less income taken away? Besides, given you will be facing a Republican candidate I wouldn’t be to concerned with anyone beyond left-of-center.
This might be a simplistic analysis, but the point is moot: Environmental tax reform is the most straightforward way to address our economic and environmental needs through shortening and simplifying the tax code, reducing the burden of income tax, and reconnecting the price of oil with its true cost. This will protect the freedom of our businesses and move people toward improving their own livelihoods with cheaper, healthier, and more sustainable transport. Action must be taken, but our country cannot afford another jumbled attempt to attach a band-aid solution to our greatest problems. Fix this, and fix it now.
Oh, and your economists will surely tell you something quite similar.
Danes aren’t all that different from us. We both live in the developed world and enjoy all the comforts that come with it. We all work to live, and some live to work. We eat, we drink, we love. We just live. It is amazing how often I found the simple connections between what at first appears to be quite different cultures. Laughing while enjoying a night of games and chatter…it doesn’t matter the subject of the game. The feeling of closeness and warmth that draws us to these shared moments spreads across cultures.
Before going to Denmark, my good friend Becky Deffler told me this: “Kevin, don’t be responsible for once.” I did that, and I discovered that when you have great friends like these you don’t always need to be responsible…someone will ALWAYS have your back. That is friendship.
Four months ago I moved in with total strangers. Not only had I never met them before, they were of an entirely different cultural background. Their primary language was different, and the kids did not speak any English. Of course they had their own images of the United States, given our immense cultural influence, but I knew very little of Denmark. Other than biking and wind power I did not have a clue, and it’s not exactly like those things give someone an insider view into the average Dane.
I remember I was a little worried during the first week because I met Lauren’s host family before my own and they were very cool. They lived close to the city and had two older brothers, 18 and 23. I had preferenced older siblings and of course would have rather been close to the city where I could quickly bike to school. On the other hand, my family had two young children who spoke no English and they lived about as far away as you could while still being in the Copenhagen region.
It turns out living in Koge was not so bad, and by the time I had spent another couple of hours with Lauren’s parents I knew I was much better off already. Four months have passed now and I no longer consider my host family strangers. Actually, I don’t really even consider them my host family. To me they are simply family. Everyone would get confused if I referred to them as family though, so I think I will just call them my “Danish Family.” I like the sound of that…it is so much more meaningful and personal than “Host Family” and it creates that distinction so people are not confused. And I think it makes me sound classy…I have family across the globe
Living with a host family is truly the way to experience a new country. A whole different side of life lies beyond DIS and the kollegiums. Even a Danish roommate could not fill the void of engagement created by staying with a family. I learned about everything from food and tradition to politics and taxes. Students are never really in the “real world,” and it is such an amazing experience to learn what the real world is like in Denmark compared to the U.S. I saw what worries they had and what things they enjoyed. I learned how families interact and what traditions they celebrate. I spent most of my time in Denmark either with my host family or with a few good friends, and I am so happy with the way I spent my time. By the time I left we were playing “Settler’s” almost every night (I did win eventually), and I was getting along with the kids incredibly well.
I’m not sure what more to say that has not been said in my other posts. The point is that my Danish family was fantastic and they really made my stay a real joy. It’s only been a week since I left and I am already thinking about when I next visit. Of all my time spent in Denmark, my Danish family is without a doubt among the top three best things about my trip. If not for my luck in finding amazing friends my Danish family would take the top spot. I suppose that sometimes, when two parts of a whole are so incredibly important that you cannot imagine the whole without either one of the parts, ties are inevitable. Usually ties are boring, but I think in this case it is the best thing that could have happened to me.
Well, it’s about that time. I leave tomorrow for the U.S. and I must say goodbye to my host family. You always hear “Home is where the heart is ” but what you don’t hear is that the heart can be in many places at once I’ve discovered this in the last 4 months, and part of me doesn’t want to leave But the other part wants to go home and see my American family. So I guess I will have to leave my Danish family and just keep a piece of my heart there so I can always call this place home. ♥ ♥