I got that tattoo I wanted. It’s funny. It’s so meaningful to me, and yet I haven’t been inclined to really discuss it with people who have asked. I just tell them I’d wanted it for a while and that it’s pretty and I’ve always liked the tree of life and all that, which is true of course… I guess it’s just that it’s more personal than I knew. I mean, obviously it’s there to be seen, as well, but having gotten it I feel like it’s just sinking in and I’ve yet to realize what it fully means to me yet. In some ways it felt like I’d taken some kind of a plunge into the deep. Especially while I was getting it, I kept thinking "This is it, I’m serious about this now, there’s no turning back…" It felt like I was making a promise to myself.
I attribute this image, now scarred forever into my skin, as being symbolic of my dedication to the natural world, to love and to truth, to those around me (both human and nonhuman), and to my very spirit. I can no longer stand by and watch as our home and our bodies are poisoned and not do my best to stop it. I mean, so many people just watch from the sidelines, scared and abused so long that they can’t even mobilize and get themselves out, let alone stop feeding the monster. I will not be one to forget, and I won’t be one to do nothing. That’s what this means to me. It means I’m in for a great deal of change… I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t just the tiniest bit uneasy about it all, but I know in my heart it’s the right thing.
Jeff and I had a talk recently about family size. I have always really admired and loved bigger families that I’ve known, and so I had this vision of having half a dozen kids or something, and we’d all live busily and happily and have a very large eating table and a warm house and… yeah. We both come from families with 4 kids in them, so we thought that sounded reasonable. As we grow in this way of life, though, the harder it is to justify that choice. We are just too many in number, us humans. Really it’s not about number, it’s about consumption. But we can’t seem to get a handle on that, we are killing the planet, and I truly believe there are just too many of us. I decided that three kids was a good compromise, and we talked about how if all the environmentalists stop raising kids then who are we left with, and so on. Then Jeff and I had a tough talk about it and finally settled on two. Two kids. We’ll live simply and hopefully find a way to be self-sustaining (or as close as we can be) and pass on those skills to our kids . Who knows what the future will bring, but we have control over this aspect of our lives, and it’s just… seeming right.
I got to thinking about why I saw this decision as being a bit of a loss, and it’s been enlightening. I realized why I love big families so much, and it’s because they were living so naturally together- working side by side, sharing all that they had. I think kids that had many siblings had many advantages in terms of learning about the value of simple work, sharing, interdependence, the list goes on and on. The families I knew were so beautiful together. I realized that I don’t have to birth many children to have this- I can find that community all around me. My instincts in this area are good, I just have to figure out how to fulfill those needs for community in different ways. I think this will be good.
Giving birth was the most primal, natural, powerful thing I’ve ever done. It connected me to life in a new way, and now I’m always trying to see that truth in other things, trying to remember that feeling. It actually doesn’t take much to find it, it’s everywhere. It’s lead me down this very distinct path, one that I am excited about and welcome, but is not entirely within my comfort zone. It’s scary in some ways, but I also trust it. Just like giving birth was a little scary (mostly because of the unknown, really), it was also empowering and enlightening. I’m starting to think that returning to truth is this way, too. It’s rocking my whole foundation- we’re so good at pretending we aren’t the animals that we are, that we can modify and fix ourselves- to eliminate pain and suffering and outsource all of our needs so that we are just civilized echos of what we used to be. But I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think that gets us where we need to and really want to be.
If we follow a path of love then we most certainly open ourselves up to the potential for great pain. I think these two things exist side by side. The deeper I love those around me, the harder it will hurt when/if they leave me. It’s just science, really. I’ve been meditating on this when I contemplate making these changes in my life. Some of it is uncomfortable to realize. I have to let go of my dependency on things that really (seem to) make me happy. One of the most obvious examples is the food that we eat. We were only eating vegetarian/fish when we went out to eat, because of the obvious reasons (factory farming and tortured animals and all that…), but then we realized that’s not good enough. We realized that the fishing industry is enormously harmful, even if the fish aren’t tortured in an obvious way. It’s damage to the oceans and underwater ecosystems is catastrophic, and we will soon see the damage in our everyday lives. Then we thought about tofu/veggie options, and it’s the same. Industrial agriculture is unbelievable harmful. Pesticides, herbicides, water usage, industrial runoff into the groundwater, the decimation of natural habitats, all of it. This all comes at a horrible cost. So for a little while we went out and ate what we wanted (inexcusably, really, we just felt limp about it). Now we have to fully address it. There are a few restaurants around that serve food that we can eat, but mostly we have to eat in. We did mostly anyway, but I will miss things. I’ll miss sushi. I’ll miss coffee. I’ll miss chocolate. I’ll miss convenience. I’ll miss pretending it was okay.
This is not without it’s "painful" side effects. But I’m counting on that pendulum swing- I’m counting on realizing the love on the other side of all this uncomfortable change. I’m already realizing some of it, and that helps give me momentum. Clearing my conscience is a good start. We’re healthier for these changes, certainly. We’re connecting with ourselves and each other in a way that we never have before. Jeff and I are way closer and more intimate (somewhat unexpectedly) due to these changes. That encourages me, it’s already some of the fruit of our efforts. It starts with taking a chance, though. Diving in, making the commitment. I realize I’ve only just begun. So that’s my project these days. I’m trying to be honest.
Quote of the day:
"And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields." (Kahlil Gibran)