Thursday, 13 October 2011

ready to learn again

Do you ever wake up literally itching with inspiration? Have you ever had that overwhelming feeling like there's a tornado of dreams, desires, budding thoughts and ideas inside of you and you just want to bust out of your skin because it's too much to keep it all inside? You don't know what to do, you pace around the house, make something to eat, turn the TV on, turn it off, pace some more. You don't know what to give attention to of all the thoughts swirling around, but you're paralyzed and wide-eyed and can't make sense of any of it.
There's two places to go from there. You can distract yourself until it subsides, or you can turn your face to the gale, open your eyes though it stings like a bitch, and look. People don't choose the second option very often. It's like perching at the top of that first big hill on a roller coaster, and knowing what's coming as soon as you tip over. That wonderfully orgasmic but too-intense feeling of falling that makes you clench your guts until it's over. It's hard to look, because once you do, it becomes exponentially harder to forget about it. The more attention you give to your dreams, the more achievable they seem- they start to descend from the clouds and become tangible. And once that happens, oh, you're in trouble my friend, because if you abandon them now, they'll haunt you forever and nothing will satisfy you.
I've been looking over my shoulder a lot lately, feeling the pressure rising in the air, knowing I would see that twister snaking along the horizon soon enough. Today it came. The autumn leaves swirled against the house, the hollow walls creaked in the wind, and I lay in bed, a squirmy baby tucked under one arm, a snoring dog at my feet, listening to the tornado and itching all over.
I brought it on myself, really. Rabble-rousing my thoughts with too much soul-searching and too much indulgence of my imagination. Opening too many books and realizing how easy it is to learn things.

     I think I want a farm.

           It's more than that.

:: I want to learn how to grow my own food

:: I want to have a negative footprint on the Earth

:: I want to know that my family will be okay if the power goes out for awhile, or we can't afford gas anymore, or there's a collapse in industrial agriculture

:: I want to be part of a community of people learning a better way of life together; I want to barter and borrow, share and trade, and work together instead of relying on Walmart and Home Depot

:: I want to live with the seasons; eat squash in the winter and berries in the summer, sit around a campfire on warm nights and a wood stove on cold ones

:: I want my baby to know the names of constellations and bugs before he knows the names of celebrities and video games

:: I want him to have a long, wondrous childhood like I had

:: I want to wear rubber boots

:: I want the things that we need to be less mysterious to me

:: I want to labour in the Earth and feel the wonder of getting something back from it

:: I want to develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of the things that sustain me

It's not about being independent in the sense of going it alone like a wild mountain hermit. It's about being interdependent on real people, real communities, and less dependent on conglomerates and industrial systems. I want to reclaim the knowledge that's buried somewhere in my bones, if only just for the pure joy of learning.
I always loved school, even when I was sick of it. My favourite classes were the ones that had nothing to do with my major. My major (zoology) was gearing me up for a career in a lab, which I didn't want. Those classes stressed me out because I felt myself being channeled in a direction I didn't want to go in. But my electives were pure joy, because I was learning just for the sake of learning. I want more of that feeling in my life.

Before you think I've gone off the deep end, I'm not talking about becoming a cash crop farmer or a cattle rancher. I'd like to have a beehive for starters. Some chickens, rabbits, maybe a goat and some sheep. A big vegetable garden. I'd like to slaughter the thanksgiving turkey in my backyard. I'd like a pig to turn the garden beds for me. I'd like to have named the animals on my plate and remember their personalities as I give thanks for my meal. Does that sound morbid? I think the system we have in place now is morbid. Remember the Simpsons episode where Lisa becomes a vegetarian? Homer: "It's lamb Lisa, it's not a lamb." That's morbid.

Part of me wants to put this post on ice for awhile. I don't want to embarrass myself by waking up tomorrow and thinking, wait a minute- I want to travel, I want to go back to school, I'm happy just being a zookeeper. This is just a phase, like wanting to get into politics during the election campaign, or become a professional crocodile handler, or work for the United Nations. I can't have farm animals and raise a child, what if this happened? What if that happened? I don't want to work that hard. And now I've gone and told everyone that I'm facing the tornado and owning my dreams or whatever the crap that metaphor was supposed to mean...maybe no one read it. 

I think there is a very real threat in every life that goes something like this: you have dreams. More than one, usually. They seem to contradict each other. You think, I can't do that, because then I can't do this. I must choose. And somehow, you end up abandoning all of them, because you thought you could only have one.

I can't be a mother and have chickens.
I can't be a zoo keeper and a mother with chickens.
I can't be political and be a zookeeper with kids and chickens.

Maybe that's true. I don't know, I haven't done it yet.
But there's no harm in learning.

stars hide your fires
these here are my desires 
and i won't give them up to you this time around
and so, I'll be found
with my stake stuck in this ground
marking the territory of this
newly impassioned soul 

~ mumford and sons


  1. Amazing post. I think there's nothing wrong with trying. Do it with your children. Do it for your children! I want to do some of the same things! Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. You know chicky, your dreams sound a lot like ours! We should go buy a farm together! Or at least farms next door to each other so we can trade veggies and animals. :)

  3. Oh this resonates! What to do when it just seems so much easier to shelf it...