food, farming, friends and family: a meditation on chosen simplicity and (in)voluntary complications – life.

Archive for January, 2010

She Me You We He Us

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances – if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

Carl Jung’s words found me in the midst of reading Loving and Leaving the Good Life, a book written by Helen Nearing that describes her life before during and after its intersection with the life of Scott Nearing. This couple has been active in my thoughts for a while now, and hearing Helen’s perspective is fascinating. 21 years Scott’s junior, she makes it clear just how profoundly her life has been changed by having known him. And the reverse is certainly true as well.

I’m pretty fascinated by human interactions and personal dynamics – people, the way we relate to one another, and the amazing things we gain in the process – our countless experiments in human chemistry. The life I lead is not so unique; I’m not doing anything that anyone else can’t do or hasn’t done; but, in the richness, the spontaneity, and the depth of the relationships I form, I create an experience that is special and affirming

but not always easy.

Because there are all kinds of external forces telling me what my relationships should look like.

Because the grey area is murky and confusing – and it’s much easier (if sometimes less fulfilling) to be black-and-white, defined, comfortable.

Because doing my best to be intuitive and living true to what I believe is also being selfish; and in any relationship, there are at least two individuals to consider.

Because people don’t want to talk on the elevator, make eye-contact on the street, or open up a conversation with a stranger on a plane. Or if they want to, they feel like they shouldn’t.

Because leaving your heart open to people is also leaving it vulnerable.

Of course I’m an optimist. I’m hopeful. I’ve seen the potential we have to light sparks for each other – friends, family and strangers alike. And I believe in the strength and possibility of the connections we form, no matter their brevity or label. I also know that any pain my heart has felt has always been followed by a deepening of the love I’m able to offer others. So I’m in this human chemistry experiment for the long haul. A beautiful experiment it is.


You are so privileged and so temporary. Let both of these facts push you to make what you can out of what you have.

10 December 2008

I was two miles into a long run today when these words popped back in my mind. The sun was shining, miles of back country roads were stretched out ahead of me, and there was just enough grit mixed in with the snow and ice to ensure I wouldn’t be limping home with a bruised tailbone. That’s just about all you can ask for in a run on a windy January day in Michigan.

So I’m on this run, my mind is off exploring its various caverns (64% of the reason I run), I remember that line from an old journal and I think –

What am I waiting for?

Truth be told, I’ve been a little nervous about the coming year. I don’t have a master plan; I don’t have a job; I don’t even have furniture in my house. 2009 was a lesson in creating a self-structured life, and it wasn’t always easy – It was actually pretty difficult at times. And 2010 could look very similar. I’m working on switching my teaching certificate from Michigan to Washington so that I can substitute teach, and I certainly plan to have my hands in the soil more often than not, but, really, I’ll be providing this year with its shape.

And today I finally let myself get excited about that – let myself see it as an opportunity instead of a burden.

I am both priviledged and temporary, and to forget either piece of that is to waste time.

So I’ll build the furniture

and get back in the classroom from time to time

and enjoy growing food in soil that seems to get more fertile each time you look at it.

I’ll play the piano

and run

and cook great meals with great friends.

I’ll get more acquainted with my sewing machine

and write letters

and feel good about the fact that the next time somebody asks me “What do you do?” I really won’t know where to begin.