The animacy of the world is something we already know, but the language of animacy teeters on extinction — not just for Native peoples, but for everyone. Our toddlers speak of plants and animals as if they were people, extending to them self and intention and compassion — until we teach them not to. We quickly retrain them and make them forget. When we tell them that the tree is not a who, but an it, we make that maple an object; we put a barrier between us, absolving ourselves of moral responsibility and opening the door to exploitation. Saying it makes a living land into “natural resources.” If a maple is an it, we can take up the chain saw. If a maple is a her, we think twice.
… Learning the grammar of animacy could well be a restraint on our mindless exploitation of land. But there is more to it. I have heard our elders give advice like “You should go among the standing people” or “Go spend some time with those Beaver people.” They remind us of the capacity of others as our teachers, as holders of knowledge, as guides. Imagine walking through a richly inhabited world of Birch people, Bear people, Rock people, beings we think of and therefore speak of as persons worthy of our respect, of inclusion in a peopled world. We Americans are reluctant to learn a foreign language of our own species, let alone another species. But imagine the possibilities. Imagine the access we would have to different perspectives, the things we might see through other eyes, the wisdom that surrounds us. We don’t have to figure out everything by ourselves; there are intelligences other than our own, teachers all around us. Imagine how much less lonely the world would be.
~ Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
I don’t spend enough time with the wild horses on Assateague Island to know what they might be able to teach me. I’d like to. But I have re-discovered something I forgot even though I am being frequently reminded. There are not enough hours in the day. No matter how early I get up in the morning, I can’t seem to find the time to fit in everything I would like to do.
That leads to prioritizing. Prioritizing, lately, has been difficult. I want to do my yoga practices and meditation. I want to draw mandalas. I want to read books and blogs. I want to write and take photographs and play with editing of said photographs for the pure fun of it. I want to spend the day with the tree people or the horse people or the crow people. I want to ride my bicycle and take walks or hikes and sit on the dock in the sun. I want to take porch naps on the days I’m tired. I want to be a good gardener or at least a good lazy gardener. I want to cook good food, from scratch, and then take my time eating it, savoring every bite. I want to share that food with others.
There are more “I wants” that involve being with family, being with friends, going on retreat (or making my own at-home retreat during these pandemic days). I want to work with my community picking up litter, educating people to dispose of their trash properly so we won’t have to keep cleaning up, writing letters to absentee landlords of low-income housing who don’t provide what people need to live safe and healthy lives, writing to our county commissioners to get them to do something about the absentee landlords. I want to make the world a better place for future generations, knowing that all I can do are small things and hoping those small things will make some kind of difference.
I want to live in a world where people have enough compassion, respect, and sense to stop politicizing everything, a place where people wear masks without whining about it or making up stories about conspiracies, immunity and body sovereignty in order to sell their products (usually supplements).
It’s impossible to have all the “wants.” M reminds me, when I complain about not having enough time, that it’s a good thing my days are so full, that I have so many interests. He’s right. It IS good. The small “wants,” the things that keep me busy right now, help with the bigger “wants.” Sometimes that is through distraction when distraction is needed (for instance, if I’m drawing, I’m not refreshing tweets on Twitter or obsessively watching the news cycle). Sometimes through actions (letter writing, etc.).
I was always puzzled by friends who said they didn’t want to retire from work because they feared being bored. It’s as if they think retirement means sitting at home in your rocking chair watching the world and life go by instead of opening up a world of possibilities. I suspect some of those friends love their jobs so much that they don’t want to retire for that reason alone.
If I had a point to this ramble, I’ve forgotten it. So, let’s move on to something else, shall we? How about the cleaning and decluttering for the Holy project?
It’s going, slowly but surely, and going well. The office, where I sit now and where I started, is looking and feeling so much different. All the decluttering around the desk made room for M to come in and install a new hard drive in my computer. There are a few kinks to work out with it (it’s doing some odd things), but all in all, it’s good. I was able to upload new photos and I now have the space to do something with some of the old images that have been sitting around waiting to visit you via my blog. The shots of the horses, for instance, are from last month. I am happy to finally be able to share them. Warning: There will be more sometime in the future.
I also worked in our bedroom over the weekend, cleaning and decluttering. It feels so good to be present in a clean, decluttered room. I hope I’ll be able to keep the momentum and motivation going. Motivation, of course, comes after you do the thing, when you’re sitting with and present with the good feelings that are a result of doing the thing. I will keep reminding myself of that when I’m tempted to shrug and put it off again.
As without, so within.
That should do it from me on this blustery and chilly Monday. We had rain overnight. I guess it was part of a cold front because it certainly feels much cooler now. Once the clouds cleared out, the sky became an intense and beautiful blue. Let’s meet out at the Point for sunset. You’ll want to dress warmly, maybe wear boots or wellies since it’s still wet and the tide seems higher than usual. Sunset this evening is scheduled for 4:46 PM.
Thank you for visiting with me. Please be safe, be well, and be kind.
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,616: Space! Not just on the computer. Space opening up in the house as I clean and declutter which in turn seems to be opening up space within me. 1,617) Blustery days with intense blue skies. 1,618) M, always. He’s a very talented, patient man. 1,619) A couple of Zooms and Polos with the Little Wookie and Little Peanut over the weekend. 1,620) Love, always.