poetry

Pain

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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.

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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.

The Silence of Space

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Much of this blog has centered upon the goal of self-sufficiency, but little do we realize that such goals come with their own baggage.  No matter what the goal we have, it will pale in comparison to the idea of that goal.  This is simply a reality rather than a judgement.  The idea is so opaque, so brittle in its nature; easily breakable but it is the only solid ground we have to stand upon if we are to succeed.

If to simplify we must complicate, then to achieve a goal we must have an idea of that goal . Perhaps the most important act (it does come down to action) is to move forward while remembering the past; to complicate in order to simplify.  But again, remembering the past complicates the very simplicity that we desire.  It does sound so encumbered, so esoteric.    How can self-sufficiency be so complicated?  It is because that while life is simple, to act is complicated.

We must all light upon a surface and look around; we must all settle in the security of knowing that the life that we lead is not only up to us, but up to our realizing that there is no ideal.  We must acknowledge the silent moments and learn from them what we can; they are so few and far between.

So, as I feed the animals I must take the time to consider them.  When I work in the garden, I must look for those moments between the weeds that give me happiness.  When I work a piece of wood, I must follow the history of the grains of the tree that it is made of.  When I look up, I must realize that in the end we are self-sufficient like it or not; realize it or not.  The silence of space reminds me of that, and the act becomes complicated.

Mistakes, Misgivings, and Motivations: I

face roadmap

Throughout life mistakes will be made, but perhaps the more important, more helpful truth is why those mistakes were made.  There is a story, perhaps…

In the search for the good, for a truth, a man went on an adventure; where to was not known and neither was the motivation: only the misgivings.  And so, with the misgivings the man started off, one foot at a time.  From the one step came another and before he knew it his adventure had begun.  In fact even without him knowing, long before he considered it, the adventure had already begun.  And without him knowing it, mistakes had been made.

The path started straight, wide and sunny, but as the weather will the clouds soon came and the path became muddied with doubt.  The man sat under a tree and pondered his predicament.  His bag wet from the rain and his coat soaked from the worry of the day, he wished for the straight, wide and sunny path and so he soldiered on.  There was no decision to be made as that had been made, and so it was with mistakes.

After a fitful night’s sleep (and soaked and sore feet) the man donned his soaked coat and wet bag and went on his way.  As paths will, the way curved and climbed with hills hiding what was ahead.  “Such is the future.”, the man thought.  And so was his life, motivated by fate or future or adventure, or whatever the man called it at the time.

His happiness wained and waved as the sea might do on a beach, but as the water will, his happiness washed upon the beach and sifted through the sands.  The years went by as will the days, as will the minutes and the man thought to himself: “Such is the life I lead.” Throughout his life the man met others and those fell away around the corners of the path the man was on, and soon the man found himself alone.

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.

The Enemy of the Good

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It is difficult to wake up every morning and face the day, knowing that something that you will do will…fail.  But, this is inevitable; no matter what we do: we will fail.  Failure is a source of stress and frustration, anger and sadness; failure builds like a bomb inside of us and weighs down upon our shoulders.  Failure is physical.

But fail we will.  Some call failure an opportunity and others call failure a learning adventure, but when we lay our heads down at night to fall into a fitful sleep it is failure that we feel, it is that deep feeling that we did not quite make the grade.  This feeling of failure starts early and is experienced often.

This much is true; this much is the case and it must be the case.  But why do we fail?  This was a question that has been posed for eons and answers are many.  We fail because we do not try; we fail because we do not believe in ourselves; we fail because we have been told we will fail; we fail because we tell ourselves we will fail; we fail because to many anything less than perfection is failure.

Anything less than perfection is failure?  I have been a full time farmer for approximately a year and if I did not know that perfection is an illusion, then farming has taught me the hard lesson that it is, in fact, illusory.  We can gnash our teeth and pull our hair out; we can cry and obsess; we can wail and scream at the gods or we can remember that we should never let the perfect…be the enemy of the good.*

*Sam Harris: Waking up

 

Change

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Change is inevitable.  It does not come secretly into the night, but glaringly through our lives, if we only notice it.  Perhaps we turn our backs on it in hopes that it will go away.  But change will never go away; it is the reality in which we live.

Change is neither good nor bad.  It has no moral code, but a clear path which is all and everything.  It is the certainty that morality will never be.  It is reasonable to accept it, as it is reasonable to accept the moral codes which make sense.

Change cannot be ignored.  To ignore change is to ignore the water on the planet upon which we live; it is to ignore the infinite space above us to wonder at a small ditch beside the road.  To live life looking at the ground makes no difference to the change in our lives.

Change is fundamental.  It is both sufficient and necessary.  The fideism in which we lose ourselves blinds us to the ineffable, to the sublime, to the practical, to the rational, to the happiness in our lives, and to the sorrows that we must all face.

Change is the only consistent; the only inexorable constant, the philosophical truth, the scientific fact, the universal of the universe, the one god which is not love, but change itself.

We can change if only accept the change that is our lives.

In the Mornings…

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In the mornings a newly paired couple of ducks sneak up to the winter’s bird-feeding tree and gobble up seed and grass, always on the lookout.  But with a cup of coffee in hand, before the day starts, I settle back in my chair and watch them as the cautiously feed.  After ten minutes of so they fly off either to the pond a few hundred yards back or to the other side of the property where the water gathers a few feet deep, fed by the trickling stream from upland.

I’m not sure why I find these moments special, but I do.  Always sad to see them fly away, I know that I will meet them when walking Maggie (my dog), and we always do.  they complain and fly off but by the time we are making our way back towards the house, there they are again.

They are Mallards, a common duck, and are beautiful like the mornings here, grey and rainy, a bit cool; the subdued weather brings out their colors even more.  I like that they are cautious but getting braver every day.  I like the cool, grey mornings that are getting warmer and a bit more sunny every week.  There is change in the air, and the ducks know it too.

Soon they’ll mate and eggs will be laid, ducklings will be presented to the world and the ducks will become parents.  Perhaps, with a little luck, those ducklings will grow and have a happy life, only to show up once again in my little corner of the universe to feed cautiously as I watch, coffee in hand.

And when the coffee is cold and I am no longer here to watch I can only hope that there will be ducks cautiously feeding under tree, always on the lookout for the change that is, in the end, inevitable.

Twelve Non-Sequiturs

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Deep in the night of distrust comes the dreams that make us, us.

In the starlight of the dark the mirror of our soul we realize that it was always.

In the muck of mired reality and mindless noise I find peace under a tree.

Memories flood the causeways and hope finds a boat.

The world must go on, but in our minds we know that we must not.

I had a bicycle once, and felt free.

Joy can be found but must be forced from its hiding place among the crowds.

Tears flow from the hidden parts of our lives, those forgotten gems.

To tear away the truth is to tear away the fabric of all there is to know.

Love lays silently wishing for the days that have gone by.

Waking from a startled sleep I search for source of my trouble.

Say goodbye to the memories of those who must live in the past.

 

 

My Own Mistakes

I continue to be taught by my tools and the wood and earth that I now work with on a day to day basis.  It is a wonder how much a table saw can teach us if only we listen.  My bandsaw lays in waiting for the lesson to be taught.  A piece of lumber is a particularly harsh professor.  Lacquer is a nun with a ruler.

The oak that I saw lures me into the comfort of knowledge only to take it away again, leaving me in the darkness of ignorance; but there is always a light at the end of that educational tunnel.  The maple slabs never let me slack nor do they allow me to rest my weary head.  I lay my well-worn sander on them only to find a new lesson.

My jack plane is a peculiar teacher.  The razor sharp iron lures me into comfort and laughs at me again and again as its paper thin slices suddenly turn to chunks of precious wood.  I cry and it offers no solace and so I am angered and it is entertained.

My shop lays in wait at night for me to wake and try my luck again at learning a trade that I thought I knew.  It proves me wrong and I still fight.  There is no “first place” or empathy; there is no participation points.  I am learning from the best teacher that I know of: my own mistakes; and teach they will, one way or another as long as I keep trying.

Sustain Sufficiency

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The fall has come here at our new forest/farm.  The renovation on the bathrooms is almost finished and the months past have flown by.  The question still remains: is self sufficiency a pipe dream, is it possible?  This discussion, I’m sure, is common in households that have decided to turn their backs on the supermarkets, the food-consumer concentration of non-sustainability, and suburbs that offer comfort and the all-consuming security.

First, self-sufficiency.  The problem, it seems, is energy.  How to sufficiently produce and continue to produce the energy that it takes.  There are two possibilities: add to the energy production or take away from the energy consumption.  Alone, there is no option: we must take away our need for energy to be self sufficient.  So, self-sufficiency becomes a community approach to living at some point, which (in order to be moral, to be healthy and to be virtuous) must be sustainable.

Second, sustainability.  The problem is energy.  How to continue to sufficiently produce the energy that it takes to be self sufficient.  There are two possibilities…

So while self-sufficiency and sustainability are not the same they are reliant upon one another: to sustain self-sufficiency we must have sustainable energy sources.  This is the catch and the secret.  This is the unending education that I am reminded of as a look out over my new acreage  and feel the damp coolness seep in, watching the golden leaves fall.

I throw another log on the fire and sip my hot coffee.