What makes me feel like a warrior? When I walk through the woods and feel sun on my face and feel the strength of the sun pulsing through me. When I sit up from a Network Chiropractic entrainment and feel my back spasms releasing and joy rising and power to do good returning to my being. When I laugh out loud with friends and remember that laughing is a way of fighting evil. When I speak the honest truth to the world. When I take care of myself.
These are just a few of the many things that make me feel like a warrior. I try to remember them when I feel the illusion of weakness.
And now I ask YOU, dear reader, what makes you feel like a warrior? Please leave your thoughts and ideas in a comment, I would love to hear from you!
There is a water bottle that is made of metal
and is red and dented and a bit lopsided
and I am not made of metal
and I am not red
but I am dented
and a bit lopsided
and I wonder
if the water bottle
can still hold water.
Can it pour?
I want to go to the library and check out all the books. I know I won’t read all the books. But I never read all the books I check out, even when it’s a more reasonable number than “all the books.” Which isn’t even a number, really.
I want to check out all the books in the library and lie them out on the floor of my apartment (in stacks, because my room is very small) and I want to make intentional piles. Books I wish I had time to read. Books I really will make time for. Books I wish I myself had written. Books I wish had never been written at all. Books that look like they might cause me to experience an enlightened spiritual state and stay in it for the rest of my life. Books that genuinely look like they might end white supremacy and homophobia and genocide and depression and sexism and racism and environmental destruction. Books that were written only to make money.
These are just a few of the many categories I will make if I ever get around to checking out all the books in the library.
Woody would sit at his typewriter for hours and bang at the keys much to the dismay of some of his housemates and women and children and he didn’t give three and a half shits because he would bang those keys and then he would sometimes even throw those pages away he didn’t care it wasn’t about production or fame so here I am at my macbook wishing it was a typewriter and wishing I didn’t care what came out of this writing session and wondering if we have writers these days who still write on typewriters and whether or not they throw out their work just because they are in a bad mood that day and I know I have a lot to say and I know it matters how I say it but goddam it feels good sometimes just to pretend I am banging on a typewriter and that in about five seconds I will pull the page out and crumple and throw it in the wastebin because hell it never really was about fame or success or getting a degree so how did it become that
Mary Oliver takes a notebook outside and walks in the woods every morning and jots down what she sees. Then she goes back home and looks at what she jotted and turns the jots into a poem.
I would like to try this method, but I wonder, does she write as she walks? Or does she stop every once and a while to reflect? Does she write standing up or does she find a boulder or a dead tree branch or a dry patch of pine needles and plop down?
What about the winter? Does she have special gloves that her pen doesn’t slip through? Or does she write with a pencil?
I shouldn’t assume that Mary Oliver writes with a pen.
It is 4pm in Western Massachusetts in February and
the sun is shining
and it is 33 degrees outside.
Let me repeat that.
It is 33 degrees outside.
Let me clarify in case you are confused.
I am used to relief
Don’t get me wrong.
There is still a lot of snow.
But after so many
and below-zero days
and grey skies
relief flows like water
pulled by gravity.
I have not been able to motivate myself
to walk out my door
into the cold
when I pushed myself
to do so today
I felt I was breathing for the first time.
Oh what a joy
to watch my feet disappear
in the snow
to hear icicles dripping
and to think maybe there are green buds in me
about to burst through
just as there are in the earth
unseen but present and ready.
I will miss the peace of being surrounded by books and feeling that all the words in the world are holding me.
I will not miss being made to feel stupid because I made a small mistake.
I will miss intellectual and literary conversations with strangers I will never see again.
I will not miss customers harrassing me and asking me out and making me feel uncomfortable at work.
I will miss the wonderful people who work in the bookstore and in the building and who have become friends and backup teams and silly gooses and who work hard at what they do.
Every job has it’s ups and downs. When you decide it’s time to move on to the next part of your journey, it’s a mixed bag. I feel nostalgic already for the parts of bookstore life that I love. I feel excited for what lies ahead. Change is always happening, but sometimes the change feels big, and the change begs to be honored and marked. I am honoring and marking this change, grateful for all that I have learned and the experience I have gained, and eager to see what is next. Is “I’m standing at the crossroads” cliche. Absolutely. Is it true right now? Absolutely.
grateful and humbled and proud and ready
In my final reflection post about The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball I find myself eager to discuss Kimball’s contemplation on the escape of horses, and the larger concept of escape in general.
“I’ve had more than one opportunity to wonder…what it feels like to be a horse running away. I know there is fear, but I also think there’s a certain joy, or if not joy then exhilaration, abandon. The broke horse is always poised between his instincts and his training, and running is giving in to the instinct.”
Commitment is scary, be it in the context of a relationship or a job or a lifestyle or, in the case of The Dirty Life, all three at once. There is a power to nesting and rooting and grounding. Today you can read Kristin Kimball’s blog about Essex Farm and see the amazing work that is being done there as a result of committing to finding stability amidst the chaos of running a farm.
However, I am also interested in this concept of abandon and exhilaration. The tension between instincts and training. After spending so many years trying to be “good” and “do the right thing” and “not get in trouble” I often feel that my instincts are more trustworthy than my training. And I wonder if following my instincts, and abandoning my “training” (in the broad sense of that word) I can experience joy and exhilaration, and from that place, discover my own version of grounding and rooting myself into a life that feels meaningful. I think society has things mixed up and backwards most of the time, and this passage makes me ponder if escape can be what brings us home.
“I was in love with the work, too, despite its overabundance. The world had always seemed disturbingly chaotic to me, my choices too bewildering. I was fundamentally happier, I found, with my focus on the ground. For the first time, I could clearly see the connection between my actions and their consequences. I knew why I was doing what I was doing and I believed in it. I felt the gap between who I thought I was and how I behaved begin to close, growing closer to authentic,” (Kimball 158).
Ah, the power of who we think we are. When this gets called into question it can be very uncomfortable. I love this concept of a gap closing, and outer actions beginning to reflect inner reality. I think this is applicable to many of us, farmers or not, as is the concept of focusing on the ground. There is the physical ground, and then there is the inner grounding, the feeling of centeredness that gives us clarity and purpose. Farming isn’t for everyone but I would like to believe that there is something for every one of us that brings us “closer to authentic.”
In the case of Kristin Kimball, she was somewhat thrown into it by luck and circumstance. A part of me thinks that is unusual, and that most of us have to look for and work for it. But maybe we are all thrown into it, and it’s just a matter of realizing what is going on–that our opportunity to merge our inner and outer lives has arrived, and we can either take it or risk letting it pass. Kimball could have walked away from the man the was in love with and the farm she was starting to build so many times. She thinks about it many times throughout the book. But she doesn’t. She sticks with it even when it is hard. I admire this. I await the closing of the gap. I hope I will know it when I see it.