Sustainability is an annoying word. Not only is the term over-used and under-applied, but it also sounds so boring. A friend on Facebook posted a quote: "Sustainability is like teenage sex: Everyone says that they are doing it more than they actually are and when they do do it, it's not as great as they imply." And that is so true.
Defined by Wikipedia, sustainability means to use with care; to serve; to make last; to conserve; to be supported, upheld, or confirmed.
Who doesn't want that? Whether we are talking about the environment, our relationships or our health or our job, we can only relax when we are supported in our effort; when there is an equal input to our output. The debate is Math 101. Add one. Take one away. If we end up back at zero, if we break even, then we can sustain. We carry on.
And sustainability applies to our appearance as well; anyone who watched the Oscars last week witnessed the way in which plastic surgery has been used to uphold the faces and bodies of our aging Hollywood icons, some with more natural-looking success than others.
Whether we are talking about our wrinkles, our heart, the air, the trees, or our relationships, we all bear the responsibility to not only look ahead, but also to reflect back; to understand not only our circumstances -- how we got here; are we where we intended to be; what we can do differently, and so on -- but also to understand how to get back to neutral; to replenish, whether it's by planting another tree, asking for a hug, taking a day off or a deep breath.
The older I get, the more I want to minister not just to people's bodies, but to the state of their souls. I want my heart to add one, take away one and in the end, to leave things a bit better than the way I found them. I used to roll my eyes at the cliche "It's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all." Not anymore. I now feel the truth in that.
If I could teach people one thing, it would not be how to burn more calories or how to do a better push-up. It would be how to break even.
We do that by being willing to learn; to look at our past behavior; figure out what worked and repeat that, while admitting honestly, what didn't.
If we could all take five minutes at the end of each day for an inventory, where we asked ourselves how our day went, what we learned, who we need to connect with and what we plan to do differently, then perhaps we would sustain ourselves in a way that resulted in our lives unfolding in a manner more lined up with who we want to be.
Maybe we need a livelier term for sustainability. We could call it "finishing strong."
And who doesn't want to do that?