The Long and Winding Road
As the old saying goes, roughly: progress is not a straight or steady path.
Case in point, we installed a new Energy Star rated water heater two years ago hoping to reduce our natural gas use. Are we using less natural gas? I don't know, because the monitoring app that talks to the water heater's wifi controller gizmo just doesn't work. I do know the water heater is rated to be much more efficient than the old builder-grade heater it replaced, but I have no way to measure it.
We've made progress in some areas (a good year in the garden thanks to new rain cisterns) and had setbacks in others (replaced an apple tree scratched to death by a neighborhood cat). But we keep working to live well and sustainably even when progress is uneven. We're at a stage where further reductions to our carbon footprint require money, not just creativity.
So, I've been thinking about the winding path of progress. Where can I find ways to live better when there is no easy path forward? I see parallels in trailbuilding, another hobby of mine. Trailbuilding requires a lot of tromping around in the woods, climbing to high points and searching for a route through dense brush. If you're patient, use a map and compass (or GPS), eventually you create a path. And often enough, the best route available is full of switchbacks and curves.
"Progress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution."
- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe