Monday, June 1, 2009

Too Close to Home

It can be difficult, working with family dynamics.

The place that we've been working on is owned by my parents, and they live there. We--CM and I--come and go during weekends, throughout the year, and try to help out. We're also trying to envision a future for those 118 acres and those of us who are connected to them, and to bring that vision into focus. This kind of work takes many years, as all important work does. We have been guided in this effort by the principles and concepts of Permaculture, which I might say in really brief terms is a philosophy of wholeness. There are plenty of other places on the web where you can learn about permaculture; this site is where I--and, I hope, a few others--learn about what it means in the context of one particular homestead.

I bring this up because, well, because my little rant yesterday had I think quite a lot to do with the conflict between espousing certain values and actually living them.

I am inseparable, or I should say I am not capable of separating myself, from Everything Else: the intoxicating fragrance of this year's late lilac, the hummingbird hovering an arm's length away, long-awaited rain and the rumble of thunder in the distance... I don't make a distinction between Inside and Outside, in that way. I have a similar trouble separating myself from Other People, such that I often neglect to consider that they may not have a clue what I'm feeling, talking about, etc. (and, in fairness, vice versa).

The first principle of Permaculture is observation, and in mine, the condition of one's home says quite a lot about the condition of one's psyche, which as we all must know, has a relatively significant impact on one's thoughts, moods, spirit and general well-being.

What I'm getting at here is that I fail to understand how we, as a family, can continue to work toward a "sustainable" future together when there's about 10,000 square feet of a lifetime of accumulated shit around the place.

C Monkey raised the question yesterday, and I rudely dismissed it. He suggested that perhaps we all need to ask ourselves why we are doing any of this. I thought at the time that it was a little high-minded, an overly intellectual approach to something that should be bloody obvious. But, you know, he's probably right. The thing is that not everyone thinks that way, or is even capable of thinking that way, which brings me back to Permaculture. Another way of describing it might be as a set of tools for observation of patterns from which we can learn how to model and shape our own habits, in the form of Life. The truth is that not everyone really wants to do anything like this. Some people sort of prefer not to consider a whole lot.

Trouble is, when our lives are all tied up together, then it's not really just your thing anymore...your decision to let it go to hell, whatever It is. Russell Means has shared with us this profound idea, that Being Free is about having the freedom to be Responsible. For ourselves, for each other, for the planet. And coincidentally, in looking for his exact words just now, I found them here, in this post of his, from this very day.

It's difficult, also, to work in a place which is separate from where you live, or to live somewhere that you don't work. It's a challenge to be present in both places, or to feel at home in either one. Yesterday I felt like neither was anywhere near. Today I'm comfortable at home, in my place in the city, but wishing I could just walk outside and spend the afternoon planting seeds in the garden. But I can't be two places at once, just as we can't build a future without a past.

Maybe it's just me, lately, who's not really communicating. I'm working on it, folks, I really am.

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