I work very hard at collapsing delusions when I write. This isn’t easy. The French philosopher, Catherine Malabou, talks about how a “cut in one’s biography” forces a person to alter his/her perceptions of self. I’ve written a lot about this in literary terms, but on a personal level, to face these cuts and alterations of self, takes a lot of honest self-reflection–in other words, time to feel pretty bad about oneself and one’s life. The current state of the world has brought some of my delusions crashing down.
I always thought I was a responsible caretaker of the earth, but if I’m straight with myself, I have to admit that I’m a huge consumer and give little back. Okay, I’ve been recycling since I became an adult in the 1990’s (I went to Humboldt State in Northern California and learned how to compost back then.) I haven’t supported the commercial meat industry since I was a kid in 1983 and stopped eating red meat and poultry. When my car died a year ago, I decided not to buy a new one. I try to buy sustainable, local, organic. I only use face products, cleaning products and etc that have not been tested on animals. I try to recycle my clothes and not buy fast fashion. But sometimes I do. And I don’t grow my own food and here I am living with so much space in Vermont.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been beginning to face the way I put my own desire for comfort above what I know will help the planet. It’s not like I’m not informed. I am.
I started walking the perimeter of my land with the dogs: 8-pound Beesly and 186-pound Rupert. We always stop at the top of a steep hill and sit for a while. The other day, I looked at the land below and started planning the way Brad and I could transform the land into a sanctuary for plants and birds and insects and animals. He’s already a gardener. He has a flower bed of white peonies and red bee balm, a greenhouse/den full of lemon trees and gardenia. He tends a small vegetable patch each year. He understands plants. I told Brad my idea about transforming more of this land into an edible landscape. Or at least make an attempt.
He’s into it.
I’ve known about permaculture for years, but have never felt settled enough to create something. If not for the quarantine, I would not feel settled here either. I would be thinking, “Oh, but we’re going to move sometime in the next couple of years…..” But now I see that we have to work on the land where we are–even if we aren’t here forever, which of course, we won’t be. But we can create and cultivate an environment that will sustain itself. That’s what matters.
Listen, I’m much more comfortable sitting inside and reading books and writing and reading more books. I’m perfectly content. But comfortable and content seem to be one of the problems in the world. It’s hard to wake up from blissful delusion. Really hard. Believe me, I know. I’ve been deluded about more than one thing. Many more.
But this is the thing I’m facing today in isolation.
I made a list of things for this project–yes, a list of things to BUY or to ORDER and be SHIPPED by airplane…..um, no. I have to start simpler. So I bought some kale seeds from my local market along with my groceries and started them in a small container I found in some junk in the old barn on the property. Start small. Start simple. Start.
I don’t know at all what I’m doing, but I feel deeply compelled to heal the wounds I’ve been responsible for on this planet. It’s time.
I’m still reading, yes of course, and I’m still writing and still reading some more.
“Out of a cut in the biography, a new being comes into the world.”
Catherine Malabou, The Ontology of the Accident: An Essay on Destructive Plasticity