“Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.” Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. They love to live where they work and to work where they live. If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide. I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.” -Wendell Berry
There is no formula for generating the authentic warmth of love. It cannot be copied. You cannot talk yourself into it or rouse it by straining at the emotions or by dedicating yourself solemnly to the service of mankind. Everyone has love, but it can only come out when he is convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love himself. This conviction will not come through condemnations, through hating oneself, through calling self love bad names in the universe. It comes only in the awareness that one has no self to love.
-Alan Wilson Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity. 1951.
This Is Just To Say
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
– William Carlos Williams (USA, 1883-1963)
This is the first poem I recognized as one of my own: one so about everyone it was about me too, even at 12. The confession; the very thought to leave the confession and all the love it entails; the comfort with consequencelessness that allowed him to eat them; the foreknowledge & involvement of their lives and plans; the universal treasure of sweet, ice-cold plums; even the sense that only your love can offer her benediction on an act of naked theft. It’s a poem about love.
In the midst of a story about quantum interactions (turns out they happen 10000*C) I encounter somehow for the first time the idea of ‘spooky action at a distance,’ this notion of the entanglement of photons. Even at a distance these scintillations remain involved, and reflect this involvement by exhibiting a sort of knowing reverse polarity. When one photon is ‘on’ the other is ‘off’ and vice versa, instantly, even at a distance.
It calls to mind those moments for humans ‘When Something is Wrong With My Baby, Something is Wrong with Me‘ as Sam & Dave put it. Did you ever feel an ineffable connection to someone, even in passing or out of nowhere (functionally the same as at a distance)? Did you ever just know to call, or could you feel someone’s bad mood before you could see it? Is an energetic connection an energetic connection, no matter the scope? Is it the light of another that calls forth and directs our own gleam?
Andy Williams was the first pop singer I learned to identify by voice. Consider the moment when music becomes something other than a seemingly-divine abstraction, when we realize that voices are people: consistent, personal, the original instrument. Close on its heels the arrives realization that we too have a persistent, original voice that’s 100% keyed to our willingness to employ it. The nascence of our creative selves happens in moments like these: waiting out a lightning storm in an Oldsmobile outside my grandmother’s house with my mom, hearing an Andy Williams song come on the radio, and calling him out by name. It’s one of my earliest memories, and as the wellspring of my creative self-awareness one of my fondest as well.
There’s no human measure capable of plumbing the depths of sorrow attendant on the death of a child, and damned few words. In this passage, Ken Kesey finds some of them…
…Up till this time everybody had been exhorting him to “Hang on, Old Timer. Stick it out. This thing can’t pin you. You’re too tough, too brave. Sure it hurts but you can pull through it. Just grit your teeth and hang on.” Now we could see him trying, fighting. We could see it in his clenching fists, his threshing legs. And then aw Jesus we saw it in his face. The peacefully swollen unconscious blank suddenly was filled with expression. He came back in. He checked it out, and he saw better than we could begin to imagine how terribly hurt he was. His poor face grimaced with pain. His purple brow knitted and his teeth actually did try to clench on the tubes.
And then, O my old buddies, he cried. The doctors had already told us in every gentle way they could that he was brain dead, gone for good, but we all saw it…the quick flickerback of consciousness, the awful hurt being realized, the tears saying “I don’t think I can do ‘er this time, Dad. I’m sorry, I truly am…”
And everybody said, “It’s okay, ol’ Jedderdink. You know better than we do. Breathe easy. Go on ahead. We’ll catch you later down the line.”
His threshing stopped. His face went blank again. I thought of Old Jack, Wendell, ungripping his hands, letting his fields finally go…
Read the rest here. Expect to be moved.
This is phenomenal: an assemblage of footage from the life of a little Dutch girl, from babyhood to her tween years. I showed this to my kids, to show them what adults mean when they say “They grow up so fast.”