I had an interesting weekend. It was fun, the weather was great, I enjoyed a couple good meals and talked with some great people and even bought a few used books at this great bookstore in St. Paul. http://www.midwaybook.com/ Summer is sneaking further into Fall here in Minnesota making my continued transition to the Northlands much more bearable than I imagined.
I’ve been reading a book called Mindfulness by Ellen Langer… re-reading actually. I’m recognizing each section as I re-read it… how do I forget that I’ve read this book? And do I keep reading it, thinking I didn’t quite finish it last time? Yes, of course. While it covers a wide range of ideas that I cannot give full explanation to here, it was not what I expected, which was something along the lines of meditation mindfulness. It is instead more about the way we think of things: how we categorize information which prevents us from seeing things outside their already determined roles; how we act automatically; how our mindset keeps us from creatively understanding situations or keeps us in ruts that have been conditioned into us. And it explains how being mindful and thoughtful can bring power to us along the lines of creativity, productivity, prejudice and even our health. In this re-reading, I’m realizing that either it’s a natural aspect of my personality or it’s something I’ve developed since my first reading of this book; I see many ways that my comprehension and actions are in line with mindfulness. But I still have so far to go. There is often still such a mindlessness in my everyday life. It’s not always for lack of trying… sometimes it’s a result of trying too much. Taking on a lot of projects in hope of making a difference, then realizing that I can’t quite do as much as I might have hoped.
As we drove home from the Cities, I had the realization that much of what I had done this weekend was mindless fun and not very productive. I became overwhelmed by a feeling that I should be focusing instead on critical aspects of life like climate change mitigation, local food resiliency, creating a sustainable lifestyle. How much effort am I expending along the lines of the most important things in life and how much am I wasting on things that will have little consequence in the grander scheme?
So I find myself again at a place in the cycle where I feel a bit overwhelmed by the need to find answers and make progress on the path of sustainability. Maybe it’s just a letdown from the amazing feeling of accomplishment from last weekend. Maybe it’s an epiphany, a realization of how different it feels to just twinkle along having fun versus seeing a big project come to fruition. I see the difference ~ knowing that I got much more fulfillment from the Rocket Stove accomplishment than I did from this past weekend. The building was way more work, but it was worth it.
Yet I still go through the motions. As do so many of us. We still drive a long way to work, or make three trips to town instead of a single consolidated trip. We waste time shopping for things we don’t really need and have more groceries on our shelves or in our freezers than we can eat in a month. We feel this need to have the latest gadget or a newer car/dress/shoes. Why? Why aren’t we seeing the waste and making more changes? Why aren’t I making these changes? I know the downside of all the driving, the wasted dollars and more importantly, wasted time. Don’t I? Perhaps life is all a process. It’s progress, not perfection, they say. But it sure feels lousy when I realize I haven’t made the most of my time and efforts.
We still have plans to go back to the Cities for a weekend of fun later this month: some music, seeing family and friends, eating some tasty food. But I’m guessing it will again be not quite as fulfilling as the feeling I will have after this weekend’s cob work or the land prep we’ll do later this season. I have a belief that I am where I am supposed to be. This is all part of my process of figuring it out. So I am grateful for the realization and I am in hopes that it will push me to continued recognition of doing more of the things that I know truly bring value. And less of those that do not.
The most valuable production to date ~ our son Tom.