In Defense of a Simple Life

I can’t sleep. Up too late with thoughts running circles round my mind. It seems that life is moving faster all the time, each year, no, each month, swifter than the last. I can’t catch up. Here, in this culture where woman wear busyness like a badge of honor, I just want it all to slow down.

I an eternal optimist, I can’t help it, I try to be surly at times but to no avail. I always optimistically believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that I will have more “free” time, sometime in the near future…but sometime is never here. It looms, ever in the future, just out of reach, I could almost touch it if I just reach a little bit farther.

The ideal of the woman who can do everything is a crock of shit. I know this,I feel it in my bones. I know how marketing works, how swindled we all are. If it isn’t a fashion mag we are comparing ourselves with, its that perfect remodel on HGTV. There is no end to the cascade of false ideals dumped on our doorsteps each day. How can we know what is real amidst this storm of consumerist coercion? It insidiously creeps into our minds, thoughts we thought were our own, when opened for examination have no origin in us. This is madness. This drives us to madness.

I myself, am in a daily struggle. The desire to “produce” more, be it income, social capital, or even beauty. Weighed against the truth that I am tired, and I don’t want to play the game anymore.  I cannot hold it all up, and hold it to the standard that I desire to. Things begin to crumble. I cannot be it all, I cannot do it all. I feel this, and I am in a two income family with one grown child. What must this feel like for my friends with little ones at home and bills piling up on bills? Is this the equality we have been fighting for? Somehow it feels like we have missed the mark. “killin it” seems to be killing us.
And yes, of course this is a grand generalization, and I can only speak from my point of view. Still, I see so many women suffering under the delusion that we can multi-task our way to a picture perfect life, that it is time to pull back the curtain on that lie, expose it’s ugly underbelly and begin to engage in some real revolutionary work.

Could it be that in my relentless pursuit of becoming, I have lost myself? Lost the thread I am meant to hold throughout my life, the thread that William Stafford calls to us to cling tightly to? If this is what matters, and I think it does, what has to be sacrificed? What must I lay down in order to have a hand to hold the thread in?

There is this thing, called “too much” that surrounds us. We are so inundated by the cultural messages of acquisition that we fail to see how deep this patterning is. Peers of mine who eschew the commercialized ideals of the “American Dream” (who knows what that even means anymore) still ascribe to the doctrine of acquisition and hope, through a Hodge podge of progressive spiritual ideals that are in fact selling us the same thing. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. I am not above this, how many weekend courses have I taken trying to become a better version of me? How many crystals and smudges do I have right now in this very room where I write? Spiritual capitalism at its finest.

It seems that the only way to get off this mad train is to turn and face it looming behind me. To stand firmly in my two shoes and say “no more!” I am unwilling to trade growth for depth any longer. I am unwilling to sacrifice the sanctity of my life to meet some ideal that is not even my own. I will no longer be 3 miles wide and 2 inches deep, I want to be a  well, a spring,  dig deep and find sweet water, here.

I am learning to identify barriers to connection in my life, competition is one, perfectionism is right up there as well. What can I reclaim, or claim for the first time to bring sanity back into my life? I’ve been thinking on this and simple as it sounds, and not surprisingly, I think it has something to do with vulnerability and acceptance. If I can learn to see all the ways I am striving towards unreal expectations or doctrines, than maybe I can turn myself around. Connection is the antidote to bullshit, in fact,  I am pretty sure it is the antidote to all the woes of western civilization.

When I allow myself to be vulnerable, to show my multi layered imperfection, I am open to connection. I can have friends at my house that is messy, I can eat with joy and abandon without concern for what others think of my size or shape, I can speak my mind and heart, not tip toe around others. Which in this PC world feels like it is more an more necessary. Truly, it is not. Disagreeing with someone does not mean you don’t love them. In fact, differing opinions are a healthy thing, if we are all the same it is pretty boring out there.

So I am learning to be uncomfortable, to listen when the feelings of ” I need to be….” arise. It takes so many forms, there are so many things and ways I have been taught I need to be to, to  be worthy, to be accepted. It is a lie. I am, and will be, a whole healthy human woman, even if I don’t meet the standards, even if I look a little frazzled at the edges. I am taking a stand. Because you know what? No one else is going to do it for me. I am going deep, holy well deep. I plant my feet on this soil I call home and I will stay here. I will joyfully  grow my food, raise my hens, sleep beside my husband. I will listen to the quite yearning of my own sweet heart, and stay, home. I will, day by day divorce myself from the system that says I must be more. I am enough. I am woman,  I am home, and I am grateful.

Marianna Louise Jones

*image is of St Fumac’s holy well, Canmore Scotland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackberry- A Tumultuous Love Affair

I have been waging war on blackberry. Since early spring her shoots have come, bursting forth with great voracity, taking over my yard, my garden beds, my fence line and grape vines….my whole life it feels at times.
This poem came to me as I was out working, clipping away at her lush vines. My arms, covered in scratches, my brow damp with sweat. I felt the first line come in, burbling like a spring coming up inside me. I put down my clippers, went inside, took my notebook and wrote.

 

Sometimes blackberry feels like my enemy.
Her thorns catch my skin and I tear
her roots, gnarled and strong
wider than the thickness of my thumb
hold deeply in the earth
and won’t let go.

She seems to come up everywhere.
Bright shoots, thorns still soft
sprouting among the snow peas
twining herself around artichoke,
befriending a fellow spiney one.

She reaches her tips out from under my house.
Just now I blinked-and thought
I saw her growing out of my wall sconce
she is even growing in my mind now.

As I write, my arms are red with scratches.
My back tired from bending to dig and pull her roots
and still I hunger for her ripe, purple fruit
it’s a hot cold kind of love affair we have
blackberry and I.

Bee’s nuzzles blackberries white flowers.
Enthralled with her fine yellow pollen
an eruption of white blossoms now fill the places
in my yard, where blackberry reigns.

We have made a treaty of sorts.
A line of demarcation
she is fair game when she rears her head in the vegetable beds
but the hedgerows are hers to dominate
and there she will grow to sweet fruition.

White blooms soon will, thanks be to bees favor.
Turn to hard green fruits- and then!
Lush purple mouthfuls, full of sweet juice
staining my fingers and my tongue
my clothes and my counters
my good wooden spoon.

She leaves her mark on me it’s certain.
I suppose it’s like any other love affair
hers and mine
prickly at times, and at others
sweet as nectar.

Praying to the Peas

The air is warming where I live. Young dawn with her rose red fingers now lights the sky as I walk out to tend to my hens each morning. A mild winter has come and gone, leaving no trace of our brief snows presence. In the garden plants are thriving, brassicas planted late last summer that struggled then, and barely lived through fall, are now already giving sweet leaves of dark rich kale and purple broccoli is bearing small dense heads. Life is shining here, showing me her bright smile, her golden underbelly. My fingers already know the touch of the damp earth.

Tomorrow peas will go in the ground, and scallions too, small seeds an offering to the dark mother, and a promise of good things to come. The sacred contract renewed again each year. I plant and pray, she feeds me. As she feeds all beings, last year the slugs ate much more rutabaga then I did, and the cabbages were ripe game as well. I am under no delusion that it is all for me. I’ll take my share and be satisfied. Earth care, People care, Fair share…right?

This morning I put the peas in a water bath to soak, small round brown seeds, tumbling into my hand and then through my fingers. The soft sound they make as they roll into the glass bowl, a cascade, rough and rhythmic, a husky sound, solid. The gratitude I feel for these ones was so present with me. These ones who will grow and feed me, send strong white roots down into the cool earth and then green shoots up, reaching, always reaching for the sun. Flowers will come and then the sweet tender pods, tendrils of green wrapping and grasping, pulling their way upwards on anything they can claim and hold.

That I could, for a moment hold this majesty of life in my own hands! A call to honor them rose in my throat and I spoke. A prayer and a promise, we are indebted to each other, bound.  Remember to feed the ones that feed you.
I may not recall word for word the prayer that arose from my heart to these good seeds today, but the flavor of it is in my mouth and heart.

Dear ones…
So we have arrived again, here together
you small and brown in my hand
may you grow strong and tall
may the light kiss softly on your face
may your roots run deep and your vines be hardy
I know you will grow abundantly!
I will care well for you
give you strong support to climb on
I will cherish you and love you
watch you climb in your spiral dance with awe
as I eat you, you will become me
life for life, nothing is free
we belong now to one another
grow well my dears
a promise I will make to you
some of your young will live and go to seed
seed I will save and hold all coming winter in good place
until again next year, I will plant
plant your daughters in this fertile land
thank you!
I await our spring and summer together with great joy!

This is ceremony, learning to be with the ones that feed me. This is the way I believe we should be with each other. Aware of all that is given and received. I, in my own small way am learning….
Learning what? to be human, to respect, to see the grace that holds me up. The same grace the holds the peas in their soft beds of earth.