Last Man Standing

PHOTO: Mohammed Doyo, head caretaker, caresses Sudan, the last male northern white rhino left on the planet. (Nichole Sobecki for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

For so many people an animal, far from their reality, that dies is a news item and nothing else.  Their families, their jobs, their lives take precedence over the importance of a single rhino that dies thousands of miles away.  But this death is important to us as a species: it represents our disregard for those around us and the world in which we live.

With the passing of the last white rhino, our world becomes a little less interesting, and much less diverse.  The world that we live in becomes smaller as our understanding becomes more narrowly focused.  Selfishness is not a virtue that we can count upon to survive; human beings are not the center, focal point of all things.  And so as another animal dies due to human action, this lesson becomes more important.

But how can we take into consideration an animal that dies thousands of miles outside of our perspective when we cannot take into consideration those around us, those outside of our own families?  This is, of course, a rhetorical question.  To say that our families must always take precedence over all things is not enough.  The kind of life we want our families to have is directly correlated to the kind of life we want everyone and everything to have and so as the world becomes a poorer place the quality of life is diminished; it goes quietly.

Our decisions cannot in any moral sense be limited to our own narrow perspective; easy is not an option.  Somehow we must realize that it is not the quantity but the quality of life that matters.  Until this sense of virtue is understood there will always be a last man standing as the world putters by.


Producing Good Work

One of the more difficult things to do is to explain to others what it is, exactly, that we do.  As a newcomer to homesteading, this is especially difficult.  Most people are not comfortable with the vaguely nuanced answers that sometimes come with homesteading.

“I’m a farmer…”, you might begin.

But, there’s more.  What about the carpentry?  the mechanics, the weather, the forest, the land?  What about the canning and the cooking?  What about the slaughter and the butchery?  It takes a lot of work to eat; more than most realize.

“I’m a homesteader…” you usually end up saying.

But that is ambiguous and what about the money?  Perhaps the issue and the real question is money: people want to know what you do to earn your living.

Nowadays the new homestead is demanding some demolition: tearing out drywall and knocking down walls.  Unscrewing screws and pulling up nails; there’s the cleaning up and the three dumpsters (so far).

The answer was given while watching video: “I earn my living by doing good work.”


face roadmap

Leaving; there was no where.  Looking; there was no road.  The silence of the forest and the whisper of the wind off of the ocean; the mists off the mountain tops and the death of the desert’s heat; the man had been many places and was still looking.

Still, looking.  “I am still looking….”, thought the man, “still looking for my home.”  The past in his pocket and the future on his mind he stilled his weary thoughts and lifted the weight once again of what would have to be done.  The difficult task ahead, that he knew all too well, was once again upon him.

“This is life.”, he said to himself as we walked along noticing all of the people who had there own pockets and pasts, their own illusions and dreams, their own weights to bear.  And it showed in their faces and in their eyes.  It showed in how they walked away and to, how they moved and sauntered; how they sat and slept as he past them by.

“Mirror’s everywhere.”, he thought.  “Mirror’s everywhere.”

With a Gun in Its Hand

Image result for gun violence pics

That we all must live in a society is no longer a question; the question is what kind of society do we want to live in?  Most of us talk of a just society, a society in which we have liberties, we have rights.  But those words are more often than not code for “my” liberties, “my” rights.  In such a society discussions become battles we cannot fight; arguments become wars that we must not lose.

In order for a society to work there must be a basis, a foundation upon which we all can build.  We must fight fear and cannot ignore ignorance, but must meet it head on.  My liberties are our liberties; my rights are our rights.  Any group, any government administration, any corporation or individual which dismisses this foundation is no longer working towards a better society.

But what are rights and what are liberties, those words so many seem to throw around?  Rights are limitations, liberties are freedoms.  To have the one we must accept the other.  To have a civil and a peaceful society we must all come to understand this.  And, we must understand that fear, ignorance, ideals and ideologies will fail us all.

So as the roar of voices rage on and the vulgar have their pitiful time in the spotlight, those that believe that a peaceful rather than fearful, that a civil rather than ignorant society is possible must continue to carry the heavy load of human potential and not give in to the penchant to define freedom as violence and normal as the lowest denominator.  We do not do this for our children or our children’s children, we do this because it is the right thing to do; we do this because the ugly alternative is staring us in the face at this very moment… with a gun in its hand.

The Sun Goes Down

A new place; a new beginning. Pulling the old, familiar tools out again I go to work. Things are the same, but yet (as people always seem to say) they are the same. The smells that make up a home coat this house, but they are unfamiliar as they always are. At first, not knowing where to begin, I begin; and the day goes. The sun comes up.

I throw old memories down the staircase knowing that at one time they were important. They aren’t mine, but I feel for them nevertheless. Almost as if time as stopped I pause at a few, looking at them and understanding that there is a time for everything and an end to everything as well. The house is full of these memories; some are good, and some are just…memories.

The wood stove warms up the place and it comes to life. The house was never dead as some that I have known were near. It is a heavy feeling to work in a near-dead house. This one is tired, it is worn out but friendly. Silent, but thankful. Years go by in an hour. Days go by in a minute. I put another slice of wood in the stove and the cinammon smell of dried oak and pine fill the room.

The house is patient with me as I go about my chores. I leave for while to start a tractor, to make plans, to pick up wood, to have coffee, but I come back and start again. Each time I walk into the house the musty smell of smoke, incense, wood and beer fill my nose. It is not a bad smell, not a good smell; it is the smell of years of life, of existence, of survival, of talks and fights.  It is not my life, but somehow it is all of our lives. Human life is messy and the house as experienced all that people can give it.

And now, like me, it begins a new adventure. I almost see it smile as a close the door as the sun goes slowly down behind the trees.


face roadmap

As he realized, there was no explanation and searching for answers to the puzzle that the past posed, he found none.  With the past in his pocket, there was only the unknown, the future left to pack.  And as he folded and flipped the future a new realization dawned: it was not his own.

“The future is not ours…”, he thought out loud.  “The future belongs to no one; it is, in fact, nothing.”  As the thought settled in his head he reached for another piece to pack and found that there was always something to put into his bag, into his pocket to become the tear-soaked past.

“Something out of nothing is the truth; finally!  The Truth!!”

And what of meaning and these dangerous days of wonder and worry.  There will come more mistakes and more misgivings, but of what?  And about what?  If the future is truly nothing, than we are left with the pocket full of past and the present that we cannot notice.  Are we truly slaves to the limits of time or are we burdened with the freedom of space?

Philosophical nonsense made meaningless by poetry and prose, by literature and leitmotifs.  And as these thoughts ran through his head, the responsibilities that he had once believed he had had continued to create something that was never his.  Picking up his empty bag and feeling the weight in his pocket, he turned to go.

We’re In the Monkey Cage -Jerry Seinfeld


Yes folks, the zoo is open.  Spending our time eyeing strangers over the rims of our iPhones with speculative if not skeptical eyes.  And if that is not enough the cameras, on the phones and on every corner, will do it for us.  Stay on the path and don’t feed the animals.
The glass walls are cleaned every once in a while and no one seems to know who the zookeepers are.  Nevertheless, the food keeps coming and the cages are cleaned; we are happy and content…so they say.  And the next installment is just down the way.
Far back in our memories we seem to remember a different way of living;  I remember when everyone went out to shop, and I’m told that at some point you had to grow your own food.  These narratives of neverland must be mythical.  We’re told what to buy.  Take a left by the palm tree and notice the Orangatangs.
Don’t mind the forlorn looks on the faces; they’re happy as clams.  Just remind them with a peanut how good they’ve got it!  The four walls?  That’s just for safety, both theirs and yours.  Look at their funny butts; let’s post that! And for our next visit we can just catch them if you look hard enough: the majestic cats of the jungle.  I promise they’re in there!  And if you’ll follow me, I’ve got just the place for you.

Pick Your Paths Carefully

How to Choose Between Two Paths in Life | JP Morgan Creating

Some may remember a series of books by Carlos Castenada written in the seventies about a “real, spiritual”** adventure taken by Mr. Castenada, soon afterwards debunked.  In these books the concept of human battles was presented; battles against fear, power, clarity and finally old age.

Fear is the first of the four battles that we must, as individuals and societies, overcome.  While fear is evolutionarily founded on the overwhelming desire to survive, in the context of our modern lives it often misinforms us given our homogeneous societies, given the social pressures that we all endure: mind your parents, go to school, get married, have kids, and retire.  Fear, I have found, often leads many people down paths that they never wanted, that they never desired and stunts intellectual growth.  In short, most of our fear is disconnected from its evolutionary roots of survival and has become a road block to personal growth.

Once we realize that fear is sometimes founded, but more often not founded in reality, we recognize the power that the realization offers us.  Power comes in many forms, one of the more common forms is money.  With money comes security and with security comes the illusion of power.  Our happiness, our contentedness, our self becomes defined by the power that we hold as all important and they (in turn) become dependent on the power that we believe we have.  Soon enough the slave becomes the master.

Our happiness, our contentedness and our security safely put in their virtuous places we are enlightened to the fact that our lives are short and perhaps insignificant in the grande scheme of things.  Perhaps we recognize that independence is based upon understanding and curiosity and that it is these concepts that lead us to the ever illusive peace and contentedness that seems to elude so many.  The universe opens up, we achieve Nirvana, we find god(s); we are clear about our place and purpose in the universe.  And then we are old.

Our bodies let is down when our minds should be at their best.  Aches and pains sneak up on us as we watch the universe expand beyond our comprehension.  We have lived enough years to realize the regrets that we fought so hard not to have, and now some changes, some things, are outside of our grasp.  Our clarity drives these truths home, and we watch as our happiness is now in danger.

It is at this point that we must make our choice, according to Castenada: to jump into the abyss leaving all we know behind, or to fade toward the light and into the oblivion of the masses.  The one leads to loneliness, and the other leads to loss of self; and it is at this point that we face our old enemy fear again and the journey begins again.  Pick your paths carefully and fight like a Viking.

**I believe this phrase to be oxymoronic.


The Unattainable 

Looking at a mountain and slowly crawling up its magnificient facade by eye; the peak, so far up, and smiling down, from its precipice in the sky; seems to smile and smirk as if to say there is no way you will come to me.
And as you ready yourself, taking long breaths and feeling the tingle in your gut; you busy yourself with tools and toys and thoughts of what you must; the answer, you realize and come to know, is in your thoughts and not what you see.

The journey begins one step at a time, one foot, one stone, one rock; you begin the climb and see the sights that the trees down below have blocked; the climb is steep and the rocks are loose and the peak continues to smile.
The days go by, the tiredness heavy, and newness has worn off; your muscles sore, and so alone but the voices in your head they scoff; the morning comes and the pain is fierce, but ahead mile after mile, after mile.

Until one day, all hope is gone, the peak it snears and screams; the pain is numb, the cold is deep, and misery is in your dreams; you walk again, your bones are brittle, your desire is all but erased.
Dumb and blind, careless and lost, your adventure is no more; no more pain can cause you harm, there is no voice to implore; but at the top, you’ve made your goal! And now a smile comes across your face.

At the peak you sit and eat, and hope and power you feel; the sun shines down and the rocks are warm, your fate it has been sealed; you have conquered your fear and made better your life; explained the unexplainable.
Looking down, the trail is known, and the miles they melt away; you’ve not met your match, you’ve accomplished much no matter what others say; all are proven wrong, and you are honestly proud to have attained the unattainable.

It’s Just a Feeling

There is a place for that feeling that we get, our gut feeling, without explanation, about places, people, and decisions.  Sometimes that feeling is a warm and tingly sensation in the stomach and sometimes that feeling is a knot.  Somehow (it seems) our body is reacting to thoughts that we might not realize that we have; somehow are emotion is a road sign to an unknown understanding.

Perhaps this unconscious intelligence has just been blinded by a society that is motivated not by curiosity but by consumerism?  Maybe it takes time to realize, to listen, that how we feel is sometimes linked to what we do.  David Hume famously stated that reason is the slave of the passions.

Do not get me wrong: logical reasoning and rationale must be the foundation; we cannot lie to ourselves and equate our emotions with intelligence.  However, we are human and we must accept the bastard child, emotion.  Reigned in and controlled it will steer us toward what we truly want, ironically.

Think about it: the dreams that we pursue are not rational when we envision them but must be rationally pursued to make them a reality.  So, it seems, that we have a choice: 1) to sleep and perchance to dream, or 2) To dream and perchance to act.  It’s just a feeling after all, but feelings count when we choose to listen carefully.