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.

Advertisements

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.

 

More is Not Better

Give Me Give Me MORE | sweatglow

There’s a lesson to be learned in the idea that more is better.  First, this is an idea that has proven itself time and time again false, and yet as a society, as individuals, and as a race we continually strive for more.

More is larger, more is better; we need more and we desire more!  In fact, our society has based the concept of progress on the idea of more.  Oddly enough, it seems that intuitively we know that this is not correct; it is not right.  But we continue on.

Our current president has made a name for himself by believing, or at least selling the belief, that more is better.  The idea clearly does not work.  More seems to undermine better; quantity does not equal quality.  Rhetoric does not equal intelligence.

To move forward the concept of value needs to be redefined: both what we value and why we value it.  A self-sufficient lifestyle will do wonders in redefining what is important.  In fact, the whole concept of self-sufficiency is better because it allows us to redefine value based upon need alone.

No longer is money the measure of value; no longer can we confuse desire with need.  No longer can we continually accept that more is better.  To be self-sufficient is not simply to feed, heat and shelter yourself.  No, to be self-sufficient one must THINK for one’s self.  More thinking does not equal better thinking.  More production does not equal better products.

We can no longer define what we value with quantity.  So, what do we do?  One good starting point might be to start with less: buy less, think better about those few things that are actually important, and produce quality rather than depend upon quantity.  Perhaps we will find that more is worthy only of less thought, and less importance.

 

Merry & Happy!

“Keep ‘christ’ in Christmas”

“There’s a reason to the season”

There are many Christian platitudes that have taken over Christmas in this country, the USA.  But as anyone with any curiosity would know, Christmas is a mishmash of numerous belief systems and traditions.  It really has nothing to do with the Christian religion.  However, the so-called ‘battle’ between religion and the non-religious seems to churn along in all of its unimportant and ideological glory.  This is too bad.

As about as militant an atheist as there is (think Richard Dawkins), what we call this time of year is truly unimportant.  In fact, I would argue to those that are put off on either side are missing the point entirely.  First, if we called the holiday season Kwansikanikas, or Hanumanikas, the problem would still be here because as a society we tend to miss important points.

As the atheist beforementioned I would like to take this time to wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS!  To those fellow atheists, quit sweating the small stuff.  To those religious folks that happen not to be christians, just enjoy your own holiday in your own way and quit trying prove a point.  To those christians that continually bleat the importance of Christ in Christmas read some history and get off your high horse.

Remember, it is seldom that we human beings can actually smile at each other and wish each other the best; let’s do that, if not all year then at least for a short time at the end of the year.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A Two-For!

change-fishWords
In this day and age of endless internet banter it seems that language has been lost. Discussion, too, has taken a blow. We no longer communicate but rather yell our opinions at each other, and of course those opinions are beyond respute. We have answers to questions we do not understand; we have solutions to problems we do not know exist; we speak without understanding the power of words.

Terms either go to the wayside or are used as swords of offensiveness or defensiveness; either way we “are right” when we often do not understand the concepts of words like “right” and “wrong”. Being “politically correct” or simply being empathetic and kind; being “offensive” or simply being “truthful”. Gone are the days, it seems, of being expected to live up to the standards that we create: only need to speak because that is often the only thing we can do.

We use words as weapons and forget the firepower that make language important in the first place: concepts, propositions. We shortcut language without a thought to what that shortcut does to the actual meaning behind words. Without a thought we attack each other. Afterall, they’re only words.

When Things Take a Turn

I recently sold the property that we intended to start our farm on. Oddly enough it was not a difficult decision. The difficulty, as perhaps it always does, lay in the logistics (the work) of actually moving. Even in the short time we were at the place, material and tools pile up. It takes a lot to be self-sufficient.
So, into storage went my workshop and onto my neighbor’s (Neighbor Bob) property went the hens, my tractor and a few other large implements. While our decision to move on from our newly acquired place seems irrational to many I would argue that it would be insane to stretch your hand out to catch a dream and settle.
To expect something you know will not work to get better is to guarantee failure. And so, things take a turn. The work was unrelenting and the limbo that it puts a want-to-be farmer like myself in is almost as stressful as the move itself. But, when things take a turn there is not other option than to enjoy the scenery.
I will not explain that such decisions are easy or that they are the best for everyone, but often times the truth is obvious and that makes the answer even more obvious.
My advice to anyone finding themselves in a situation that is not conducive to their happiness is to remember that change brings new options, many of which were either not noticed or not available. When things take a turn sometimes the best bet is to ride the storm and other times it is to abandon ship. But, the most important aspect of change to remember is that life is short and change, no matter what turn it takes, is inevitable.

Here’s Knowing You!

Pork and Belly 2

 

It was a good day yesterday. Pork and Belly, our pigs, are hanging in the garage and the job of butchery begins tomorrow. We have four sides to get through and the process will be a learning situation. The process of raising, slaughtering and butchering your own meat is (as the words used to describe the process) a somewhat violent process towards the end but I choose to broaden my perspective and see the beauty in the cycle of life.

Pork and Belly were happy right up to the end. Sniffing at the barrel of the pistol that was about to end his life, Pork was at ease and full of trust; never stressed and never felt a thing. As I took a minute or two to calm my nerves, holding the pistol and watched as he poked at it innocently. I describe this not to disgust or dismay, but to remind us all (including me) that death is not the important thing: life is.

While it is true that Pork and Belly trusted me and I broke that trust, it is also true that I built that trust by giving them the best life that I could. Their life was full of rutting around, eating acorns, pats and scratches and a warm bed of hay every night. There lives were good by any standard and it is that life that I am proud of.

This is a process that I believe is necessary if we insist upon eating meat. It affords us the understanding that by eating we take something of great value, something that we must come to appreciate as we cannot bring it back: a living, breathing, and thinking entity. I do not thank a god or gods for their lives. I am thankful that I have been given the chance to look at life straight in the eye; all the blood and beauty of it. It only gives me a greater appreciation of the food that I eat, and the animals’ lives that I take in order to do just that.

Raise a glass with me to Pork and Belly
Good pigs they were, and good food they are!

One More

NRA

This coming weekend I am faced with having to put a pistol to the head of my two pigs. When I talk to others about it we talk of the necessity of the killing, and how they’ve had a good life, which they have. I do not pick up a weapon lightly, and I do not kill anything with apathy; rather, I put the pistol to their heads with antipathy. I take a life, and I do it trying to be morally consistent and with respect for the finality of the act and because I live the way I do: I eat meat.

The recent slew of shootings is the opposite of respect or for that matter the understanding of the finality of death. These shootings are the symptom of, not the prelude of, the lack of understanding and dismissal of the respect that is necessary to take a life with purpose. These shootings are a symptom of how we as human beings have lost the understanding of the price of taking a life and replaced it with ignorance and fear, false empowerment and cowardice.

These shootings are allowed by apathy and a lack of antipathy for killing not because we are not capable, not because our leaders are not capable, but because we are unwilling and our leaders are unwilling to call the shootings what they are: our own responsibility. I kill my pigs, the pigs that I have watched grow and play with the understanding that I am responsible for their lives, but also and more importantly my own: I kill my pigs because I eat meat, not because I like to kill.

I remember when the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) motto was “Firearms Safety Education, Marksmanship Training, Shooting for Recreation”. This was almost a virtuous, an understandable goal. Now, the illustrious association prefers an excerpt from the constitution: a motto that was changed in 1977 to the one the N.R.A. still uses: “The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed.” Mr. LaPierre leads the charge against a massive majority of this country’s populace who must endure and endless stream of shootings because a minority of people scream about concepts that they seemingly do not understand: rights.

What strikes me about the motto is the allusion to rights. But rights are actually restrictions, not guarantees. The use of a constitutional amendment is important, not because it is an excerpt of the basis of this country’s laws, but because of the word “amendment”. The term amendment alludes to change, to alteration: by its very wording the constitution is to be changed: the very thing the NRA led by LaPierre fights rabidly against.

The NRA is now nothing more than a terrorist organization belying their stated goals of protections of rights by their endless siege upon the safety and security of the persons in this country. They now hold this country hostage by disallowing amendments not only to the constitution concerning gun law, but to their obvious lack of antipathy towards killing: it seems they simply like to kill. With this in mind, I must hold a gun to kill the food that I will eat: I hate killing, but I am morally responsible for what I eat. The NRA supports the opposite: they kill because they immorally support concepts that they either do not understand or refuse to understand.

To the NRA I ask: “How many more times must we say “one more…”?
And the answer that they seem to give is: “As many times as it takes.”

 

 

Art

black-hole 2

A musician searchs for intertwining melodies, chordal movements, and counterpointed lines to paint a mental picture or to tell a story that can only be understood through sound.

A painter splashes paint, dabs color, carefuly inundates the canvas with lines of imagination, shapes of surreal dreams, looking for the picture that is indelible, cemented in his mind.

The poet draws words from the canvas of language and rhythm; memories are real, and reality as clear as the words on the page. The black and white of paper and pen the most beautiful of all.

The philosopher searches for the illusive truth, the difficult understanding and the never-ending hunt for reason. The art is euphoric and personal but applies to the world.

The farmer wakes with the dawning sun and looks over mother nature. His animals await, his plants sit silently in the morning light. Pitchfork in hand, plough on horse, the farmer smells the earth, the manure, the life that he creates.

The teacher draws in the coffee smells and pulls up papers, hoping for the spark of intelligence. Eager faces look for guidance, and the teacher looks for secrets that we call learning.

The carpenter draws a blade across the wood and puts his nose to the newly planed plank. Timber becomes lumber and lumber becomes the necessities of life.

If only…if only perfection were found in art. Then, and only then, the artists could rest their weary heads and contemplate the perfection in their hearts.

Pain

IMG_5740

This week I have had that old and misunderstood teacher, pain, in my life.  This time it came in the form of an old piece of oak and a table saw.  As good teachers ought to, pain pointed out my stupidity but did so not in a condescending way; my lesson was learned in a split second and by my own hand.  I have no excuse, which was the lesson taught.

I have all of my fingers and they all will work normally but for the time being I have thirteen stitches in two of them (nine in my index an four in my thumb).  I took the test and failed.  However, failure is as it always is, a chance to learn.  My Renshi, pain, has not let me down and I have learned; if only I can remember when the lesson is finished.

A teacher and a student are one in the same, but a teacher sometimes needs a reminder that they are a student as well.  I’m not sure what lesson Master Pain has learned.  My lesson has been one of trust: do not do it with machinery and wood!  I have an old adage: comfort is your enemy, and there is another one: familiarity is a teacher of men.

My lesson is all bandaged up now and the learning process has started.  Flashbacks of my lesson continue, I cringe, and I type with eight fingers for the time being but the lesson came at a cheap cost.  Pain is unforgiving, straightforward, and honest as all good teachers should be.  And I am thankful as all understanding students come to be.

MISTAKES, MISGIVINGS, AND MOTIVATIONS: II

face roadmap

Motivated by sheer will and some curiosity mixed with a dose of virtue and the endless misunderstanding of truth the path became home. The roots he had dug up so many times, he carried in his bag which was by now old and worn by the mistakes that he’d made. And it was with these misgivings that the man turned around and considered his past for the first time in his life.

Never noticing it before, it was nevertheless worn from wear. Like a shiny piece of metal washed many times and never found, it was clean…almost luxuriously so. The past mirrored the man as he looked into it’s shiny, blank sheen; not so much did it offer up memories, but misgivings as to what could have been compared to what had been.

The past, he found, was not full of memories, but of imaginative vagueness and ample insecurities.
“What if…”
“If only…”
“Had I only known…”
The sentences formed in his head and his imagination finished them thoroughly and almost automatically. It was as if he had no control over his past.
“But it is mine,” he thought.
“This is my past!”

However, the metal simply stood its ground; the past would have none of his illusions. Stamped in metal by his own meanderings the man realized he no longer owned what he had done, what he had been.

Looking around for an explanation, there was none.
Searching for answers to the puzzle that the past posed, he found none.
“There must be, though; the past is mine. IT’S MINE!!”

But the metal dripped in apathy as the man slowly realized that it was only the tears and he put the past back into his pocket.