Saturday, June 13, 2009

To Be...Or...

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Wisdom to Survive



A Vision

If we will have the wisdom to survive,

to stand like slow-growing trees on a ruined place,
Renewing it, enriching it,
If we will make our seasons welcome here,
Asking not too much of earth or heaven.

Then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live here,
Their houses strongly placed upon the valley sides,
Fields and gardens rich in the windows.
The river will run clear,
as we will never know it,
And over it, birdsong like a canopy.

On the levels of the hills will be green meadows,
Stock bells in noon shade.
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down the old forest,
An old forest will stand,
Its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.

Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music risen out of the ground.
They will take nothing from the ground they will not return,
whatever the grief at parting.
Memory, native to this valley,
will spread over it like a grove,
and memory will grow into legend,
legend into song, song into sacrament.

The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling light.
This is no paradise or dream.
Its hardship is its possibility.


--Wendell Berry

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Phone is Ringing...

This morning I am entering the Green Phone Booth for the last time. Running through the rain that just won't stop around here, my superhero cape is soaking wet, heavy, and dripping all over my spandex leggings hemp calf-length skirt and high-heel go-go boots worn-out Birkenstocks.

Continued here...

Monday, June 01, 2009

A New Beginning

From the time I was four or five years old, I kept a diary chronicling my days. At first, I wrote about my adventures with other children in the neighborhood. As I grew up, I noted what was served for lunch in the school cafeteria, and then for an unforgivable number of years about which boy attracted my attention, and then about how big a nerd I was--how alienated that left me from my highschool-full of beautiful and rich classmates.

When I entered graduate school in history and began writing advanced research papers based on primary documents, I panicked. Yikes! For so many years I had imagined my diaries as letters to myself. Now I suddenly realized that I had an audience, whether I liked it or not: HISTORIANS OF THE FUTURE.

I stopped writing in my diary. I burned the many volumes in one giant bonfire.

But I struggled: how does one evaluate one's life, one's days, without writing about them?

Blogging allowed me to return--only by making that terrifying elusive (and evaluative) historian-of-the-future into real live readers who could comment--ideally with lovely stories, interesting thoughts, and kind support, but also with swinging fists when they felt necessary.

When I started this blog, it was a knitting blog. What pleasure it was to talk about my fibery obsessions and also to share my finished objects with others! Luckily, the wonder that is Ravelry has completely supplanted that need.

As time has gone by, I have worked through some fairly intense personal issues (including the illness of my father) in the pages of this blog. I don't know how to thank my readers for the depth of compassion I have received during these times. But it wasn't just my readers' comments on and off the blog; just the fact that I had this place to write to sometimes made a difference, too.

For the last months, I have been part of a magnificent project: the Green Phone Booth. Here a group of five fabulous "green sheros" have talked about green-caped superheroic efforts--and also our normal everyday efforts--to address the environmental issues that confront this world. I am inspired daily by this amazing group of women and the acts they do. But I feel awkward every week when I try to imagine what piece of information I can pass on that will enlighten anybody. It turns out I have very little instruction or advice to give. (Who would have thunk it?! Poe could have warned me that the didactic is almost always heresy and waste.)

So my blogging isn't about teaching whatever I think I might know.

Blogging, for me, needs to be all about navel gazing.

Do I believe my navel is really of such great importance to the universe? If not, might the universe at least be reflected in my navel? Dare I even wonder if anyone cares about what I think might be going on in my own personal belly-button?

When I get too far from the goal of analyzing my own umbilicus, I start panicking about what other people will think: if they will be disinterested in my writing, dulled by what I think are insights, disappointed in my efforts, sick of it all.

Honestly? I am trying really hard to tell myself that I don't care, that I won't worry whether you are all so bored to tears that you'd rather watch the weeds take over our backyard than read what I am writing (instead of weeding the backyard). Whatever fictive/real "audience" is out there must be better than any imaginary future-historians I could conjure to write for. (And you are, dear readers, you are! You can't imagine what I can imagine.)

Sometimes this blog takes time away from living. I am both a homeschooling mother and a writer of academic books. And I prefer both knitting and reading to blogging.

So I will tell you that I am not promising to write more than about one post a week or so.

And these posts will be random. They may be about knitting, about parenting, about homeschooling, about environmental issues, about the books I read and the music I hear and the plays I attend. They may be about politics or the collapse of civilization as we know it. You know Edgar Allan Poe will never be far from my wings. Shakespeare will appear occasionally. The history of race in America informs everything, as does my weird Jewish-Atheist personal crises which recur constantly. Beethoven, and disability politics, and Suzuki violin--they might stick their necks in. My fencing son will insist on getting a touch in occasionally. And yes--there will be food and gardening, too.

I very much needed this sabbatical. It has been wonderful. But, like the end of all great vacations, I am ready to come home. I hope to have all of you with me as I pull the suitcase out of the car and up the stairs, back to this site.

I hope you will all join me.

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