Words on a whim – 12/10/13

The air was bitterly cold this afternoon, more so than at about 6 am, when I first went out with the dog. I should probably wear a hat to conserve heat, now that my hair is so short, and I did for a few days, but much prefer the freedom of an uncovered skull.

No hats on my head and no hats on my mind today. No. Sustenance is what occupied my mind. Not that I am hungry or anything. I have all I need. What came to mind, rather, was this: Here, in a country setting, one is almost expected to grow a garden if a patch of green is available.

As an individual who lives alone and tries to embrace a frugal lifestyle, you’d think that I’d take up gardening. As someone who eats a big salad every single day, you’d think I’d want to grow my own greens. As someone who loves nature, you’d think I’d want to dig my hands in the soil.

ps - 1210 - farm

Yet I have no desire to garden. I bet if I started I’d get hooked, but am not curious enough to find out. Then there is the increasingly popular notion of self-sufficiency. This makes perfect sense, of course, but I cannot imagine what it might look like should everyone decide to be completely and independently self-sufficient.

Growing crops, tending animals, canning foods, maintaining buildings and equipment, preparing food… all of this requires much time and energy. When does a writer at heart find time to write? When does an architect find time to give shape to a new design? When would even the teacher find time to teach?

As I put together a small breakfast, this morning, it suddenly occurred to me that the diversity of purpose and talents we find in the world today would be utterly impossible if we were all to be independently self-sufficient.

It is through our diversity of talents that we serve each other. If we were all busy being completely self-sufficient, there would be no time or opportunity to become individuals.

And this is what work is all about. We have lost track of this, or perhaps we are discovering it as we go, but work is not about making money to put food on the table; work is about playing our part in supporting all life by offering our diverse skills and intelligence.


4 thoughts on “Words on a whim – 12/10/13

  1. Well said. And thus civilization is born. One uses the surplus one creates to acquire those things that one cannot create by one’s self. Heather sent me a journal written by a young woman about 1880 and it only covers a year. Between the things she had to do for herself and her family to survive in upstate New York at that time, there was little left over to write in her journal. Most was quick notes on what happened that day, and only rare occasions, did she seem to have time to jot down her thoughts about her life and surroundings. Guess you need to offer your scribe services to those who spend a large amount of their time tilling the soil and work out a trade of each others’ surplus productive capability.

    1. Very interesting. This sort of history is lost between the lines, or rather beneath the heroic highlights we learn in conventional history books and in the classroom. I remember learning about life in 17th to 19th century Canada through deeply researched fictions. Not in history class.

      1. Yes, the minutia of day to day life is usually lost with time, except for the life of significant figures or events. To most, it’s too mundane to preserve. But as time passes, the old trivia and daily activities change and disappear, and seldom does anyone think to record them as they occurred or as they disappear. I think of all the vanished professions and vocations and all the hard earned “tricks of the trade” that have vanished through time. Wouldn’t they make a fantastic “Wikipedia Archaica”?

      2. You hit it on the nail… there are very few apprentices now. We value academia instead. We may say we value vocations, but in reality we don’t. We value credentials. That’s altogether different. Separation from our elders does not help matters. We do not know their stories and values. I could get carried away with this. I’ll stop here. 🙂

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