In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. Lao Tzu from www.goodreads.com/quotes/132684-in-dwelling-live-close-to-the-ground-in-thinking-keep)
When I was young, I used to have theories about the meaning of life. As a little kid, I used to wonder whether life was a dream. For years afterward, I thought that I had been a clever child to come up with such an idea. Sometime in my twenties, a friend scoffed at the idea—not the idea itself—just the self-centered thought that I had come up with a different understanding of the universe than everyone else. Okay, maybe lots of us think life might be just a dream, but, in any case, I don’t think the dream theory has gotten me anywhere I want to go.
In high school and college I was big into polarities: yin and yang, something about Prometheus, and—the now thoroughly discredited—idea that we could give peace a chance. Like King Arthur in the musical of that era, Camelot, I thought that there was a chance for using might for right. I even had an icon/mascot for myself: the chicken hawk. That icon still sort of works for me—maybe I will tell you about it some other time—but, basically, these theories didn’t give me any satisfaction.
Somewhere in my mid-twenties, I started to hunker down, ease up on the theories, and try to live a little closer to the ground. I figured out that I wasn’t going to be able to live in a national park, save the world, decide whether or not god existed, or understand the meaning of life. Instead, I planted gardens, canned peaches, taught—Montessori through graduate school—and, with my husband, tried to raise our kids. I didn’t do anything drastic. I even kept up with the news and the general zeitgeist. I think I just found it easier to realize that big theories didn’t make me feel secure about the world and my place in it. I do have ideals that I struggle to live by. However, when people ask me what I believe in, I mumble something about whatever is true in the universe is true and that different belief systems are metaphors that try to explain the truth.
Meanwhile, all those unruly, poorly staked tomatoes; all those cupboards full of fruit, jam, pickles, and ketchup (from Joy of Cooking, 1975 version); all those stories read to the kids; and all those students I met along the way are the details of my life. The pages of this blog contain my reflections of my attempt to live close to the ground. Within these details, I hope to find and share some metaphors of my own.