Friday, February 10, 2012

Portugal- the poor, the rich, the car, the waste

I am getting more and more stubborn.

I don't know if it has anything to do with getting older. If there is any correlation between the two things. Or if it is just a coincidence. But not only I get more and more stubborn on certain principles of mine, but I also get more and more allergic to certain crazy behaviors...basically, to anything that has to do with an access of materialism and with a continuos research for other people's approval.

I moved here and everyone told me that I needed to get a car to have a life here. This has been giving me a lot of headaches in the last months, because while I have nothing against cars in principle, I think that we abuse of them, we rely too much on them, and in general I don't like my life to have to depend on a car.

My general philosophy is: I have two legs that function well, I am healthy, so I can walk and when I cannot walk because of the distance, I can take a bike and when I cannot take a bike, I will use public transportation.

It took me some weeks to realize that I actually don't need a car in my daily life here. I can have a life without a car. It is more complicated probably, but I can live nicely without it. I can use the metro and a bus to go to work. Yes, it takes me about an hour between my place and where I work and every day I have to walk for about 20-25 minutes (if I walk fast) on each way to get to the metro. Yes, if I would have a car, it would take me half of the time and I could sleep longer. But I actually don't need it. And while when I moved here I considered the possibility of buying a second hand car, the incredible amount of fancy cars going around here makes me wanting to puke. It is just too much. It makes me allergic. It makes me feel that I want to make a difference.

I have this thing. I cannot explain why I feel this way. But if I am in a place where everybody or the majority of the people values something too much in a way that a normal thing becomes a status symbol, then I immediately don't want that thing. I never wanted something because "everyone has it and I must have it too". Here I have this feeling mostly about cars. In the USA I have it about kids. I never feel so strongly against having a kid as when I am in the USA. I actually would like to have a kid in my life. But when I am in the USA, people praise pregnant women and kids so much that I became immediately allergic. Come on, they are just kids....yes, they are cute (and for sure not all of them), yes they can bring a lot of joy (but also an incredible amount of sleepless nights), etc., etc.....what I am trying to say is that I like to give the right dimension to everything.

....and something on which I get more and more stubborn, more and more allergic is how much we waste. We waste so much. We continuously buy new things. And here it is incredible. The times I have been to the mall to get things for my apartment, people were just buying and buying. And it is not only here. I don't know. Maybe I am making my life more complicated, maybe I don't enjoy things enough, maybe being a scientist doesn't help in living in a "lighter" mental way.....but

- when I was in Costa Rica I couldn't stop thinking of how badly we are destroying the place, making it similar to anywhere else in the world, with big hotels, big swimming pools, malls, buildings next to the beach.....

- here, it is a continuous of seeing people looking very poor on one side and people with expensive cars, clothes, jewelery....every day depending on where I look to or at, it seems to be either at Hollywood or in a very poor place. I have never seen in any European country so many people with bad teeth or just a few teeth. Here it is very very common. And then at the same time, next to these people, there are people dressed up in very expensive clothes from top to bottom. Yes, there are many places with poor and rich people living next to each other....but here it is different, because my impression is that some of these people just want to look rich to show off, but at the end, there is not so much difference between the two types, except in the outside.

My point is....why don't we all try to have a good life but living in a simpler way??? it wouldn't be just much better for the environment, it would also be better for us. Why don't we go back to value things for what they really are? why do I have to listen to someone commenting that my apartment looks too empty and "cheap" just because I didn't want to fill it in with many furniture that would just stand there without any function?

Just to avoid misunderstanding. I don't live like an ascetic. I am not Gandhi. I just hate the waste and this continuous buying and collecting useless things that will be kept for a short time and then be thrown away to be replaced by the newest thing. I got a present today. A book that someone whom I met while in Costa Rica strongly suggested me to read and said that the book changed his way of thinking. The book is Thinking in systems. I look forward to read it. I got it today....the same day in which I read the news that in the USA, in Georgia, it has been approved to build two nuclear reactors. If we would learn to waste less energy and be less dependent on oil, maybe we could avoid building new nuclear reactors......

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