We always get a raised eyebrow or two when we talk about joy in the post-petroleum world, and for understandable reasons. How on earth can we even talk about joy in the context of catastrophic climate change, resource depletion, and economic decline? We can, of course, because we must. We humans must find ways to experience and share joy. If we don’t, our very humanity is at risk.

So how will we do it?

  • We will return to community. One of our mamas or grandmamas (we can’t remember which one) taught us years ago that shared joy is twice the joy; shared sorry is half the sorrow.
  • We will spend less time listening to music of others and more time making our own.
  • We will spend less time watching others entertain us and more time entertaining each other.
  • We will revel – yes, revel – in the joy of eating and sharing the first tomato we grew in our own garden.
  • We will rediscover the thrill of repairing a machine that’s broken so we can avoid replacing it with a shiny new one.
  • We will relearn the art of savoring the seasons, which will change not only how we dress but what we eat and how and where we spend our time.
  • We will read more.

Are you ready to experience joy, real joy, in the post-petroleum world? Here are some ways you can begin to prepare:

  • Pick up that old guitar or flute and play it a little. Of course you sound raunchy now, but you’ll be amazed how fun it will be after a little practice.
  • Sing or whistle while you do simple tasks. It really does help the work go faster, and it will intimidate your children.
  • Bake some cookies and take them over to your neighbor’s house while they’re still hot. Then sit around for awhile and visit over them.
  • Organize a party for your neighborhood or apartment building. Get an impromptu talent show going.
  • Save an old pair of blue jeans.
  • Avoid driving at all, or if we must drive, drive an ideal vehicle for the post-petroleum age.
  • Write a poem
  • Stake out a claim to a little dirt somewhere, even if it’s just in a window pot, and grow something you plan to eat. And when it’s ripe and ready, share it with somebody.
  • The next time something you use breaks, scratch your head and see if you can’t fix it. At a minimum, you will learn more about what makes it work, and you just may learn a valuable new skill.
  • Carve out an evening each week when there’s no television or radio, just quiet time to read and interact with others in your household. And if you live alone, invite somebody over for supper.
  • If somebody invites you over for supper, offer to wash the dishes with them (yeah, without the dishwasher).