truth

Space

spaceSpace is amazing thing.  We create things to create space; we place things to create certain spaces and we rely upon people to give us space.  Space surrounds us; it makes up most of the universe and yet we are surrounded by barriers.

Once asked the job of government the answer was simple: to create space for a civilized society.

Once asked why read, the answer was simple: to create space in our minds for imagination.

Why learn?  To create space for curiosity.

Why be curious?  To create space for progress.

We all need space to ourselves and to allow space for others.  This is not just tolerance; we must not tolerate stupidity or incompetence.  But we must leave space for those who do not want to be or to remain stupid; to be or to remain incompetent.

There must be space for them and the change that they search for in the space that they live in.

There must be space for change; and it is in the spaces that we create that life happens.

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MISTAKES, MISGIVINGS, AND MOTIVATIONS: III

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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.

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.

 

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.

 

A Two-For!

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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!

Art

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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

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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.

The Act of Caring

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Pork and Belly: it has been a pleasure!

It is getting close to doing the inevitable for the last time this year: I must “process” the last twenty-five chickens and more difficult, I must say good-bye to Pork and Belly our two pigs. There is no getting around the fact that death is violent, no matter how we choose to express it. Killing is even more violent. But death and killing are ubiquitious and we must come to understand that sometimes the acts are not necesarily wrong if we are to live with peace of mind.

When the decision was made to make self-sufficiency the goal the decision was also made to act philosophically; to be philosophical we must also act philosophical. And the reality of eating brings upon us the reality of killing. I have run into many that have expressed their opinion of the uselessness of philosophy, but in my years of teaching and trying to live philosophy their conclusion seems empty.

To kill an animal, even for food, honestly, we must look it in the eye and put the knife to its throat; this is the honest thing to do and because honesty is important to the act and so the act is philosophical. The question of killing is most certainly a moral question, one which the homesteader needs to ask themself: is it the moral thing that I am doing?

This is all to say that Pork and Belly present a unique opportunity to put philosophy into action, but also present a moral decision. We started with two pigs and they become as much pets as livestock. So, the obvious answer seems to be: more pigs, less pets. In other words, with more animals on the chopping block we don’t get attached. However, this solution is sidestepping the real question; it is a way of making ourselves immune to the inevitable act of killing an animal.

In the end we must choose: to eat meat or not to eat meat, but in making our decision we must also realize that life includes and is not the dichotomy of death: life and death are one in the same, and this idea (again) is philosophical. As humans, we have the ability, the capacity to choose morally, we must choose philosophically; life does not care, but we must because we can.