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.
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.