There are so many arguments for each side it’s hard to keep them straight and its even harder to know the truth. From the point of view of this very ‘average Albertan’, I don’t see it as an either/or dilemma. Although I was raised in Ontario, my Dad worked at a large oil refinery. His job there allowed my family to live. It would be hard for me to curse the very thing that helped my dad feed his large family.
I also know that many of the things I enjoy so much in my life would not be possible without petroleum. I love to ride my bike and my helmet saved me from cracking open my head during a crash I had about 9 years ago. My bike tires and my helmet are both petroleum-based products. The nail polish and lipstick I use as part of my costume for dancing with the Chinook Country Dancers are products made from this same petroleum.
The water pipes in my house, my contact lenses and many of the clothes in my closet are petroleum based. When Jim had his heart attack, had he needed a heart valve, that too would have been a petroleum-based product. I’d be pretty hypocritical to say we just need to find new ways to get around town.
At the same time, I love some of the other non-renewable resources in my province too. I love our mountains. I love our clean water, our rivers and lakes. I love our fresh air. I love the wide, open spaces that house our abundant wild life. And I love the people. I certainly don’t wish to have these in jeopardy any more than I wish to stop riding bike made with petroleum-based tires.
Our current political landscape would have us believe we need to take a side. We need to commit. We need to declare that we are either for or against; in or out; right or wrong. There seems to be an attempt to reduce this to a binary problem where there are only two possibilities; the correct one or the incorrect one. Each side of course, believes their side is the only right way.
As I’ve been pondering the oil dilemma, trying to imagine possible alternative ways to think about the issue of non-renewable resources, I’ve naturally been thinking about how it pertains to people. Not necessarily how people will be affected if we continue or do not continue to invest in the oil industry, but more like how do we treat non-renewable resources of a more human kind?
My friend, Sandy, was diagnosed with cancer in February. Over the past four or five months she has completed her chemo and radiation regime and this week she got the most incredible news. Her oncologist says her treatment could not have gone better. She still has some more treatment to undergo, but the news was beyond fantastic. You kind of don’t know how close to your ears your shoulders have risen until you breathe the sigh of relief that comes with this kind of news. The sigh is so great it often pushes water right out of your eyes.
Sandy’s life is non-renewable. She gets one trip through, just like the rest of us. The hours in each of her days are non-renewable. She can no more get any one of them back than the rest of us can. My friendship with her is non-renewable. Youth is non-renewable, middle-age is non-renewable and old age, if we are lucky enough to experience it, is the same. Moments of kindness are non-renewable. We can’t get them back. We can hope for new ones in our future, but we cannot get back moments where we had an opportunity to say or do something kind. Comments can be non-renewable. Inspiring moments can be this way too. We experience them and then they are gone, so quickly we wish we could have a redo. How often do we look back and wish we had fully appreciated the circumstance we found ourselves in?
It’s sobering to think how often we squander our valuable, non-renewable resources of people and time. When I look back on some of the times in my life when I was too afraid to put my whole self ‘out there’, I regret I cannot get those moments back. I suppose I was trying to protect a little bit of myself; I thought I would save my best self and pull it out to use when the time was right, never realizing that some opportunities are non-renewable.
I’ve had a perfectly wonderful, non-renewable dancing week with the Chinook Country Dancers. By the end of Sunday, I will be completely spent; exhausted and sore. And I am perfectly fine with that. I know I will never get this week back. So, I have tried to wring every wonderful moment from it I can.
I don’t have a solution for the minds trying to figure out the oil industry or the environment. I will continue to appreciate my abundant, non-renewable life, understanding that much of what I enjoy could not be possible without the oil industry. I’ll also continue to be a good steward of our environment.
And tired or not, I’m going to find a few minutes to celebrate with Sandy.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘How am I choosing to use this non-renewable time?’
Elizabeth is a certified, professional Life and Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership and personal coaching for individuals and teams. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to make the most out of your most valuable non-renewable resource; your life!