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.”

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.


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.