Dragging my knees through the colloidal soil complex that holds so much of the magic that keeps my farm abundant and growing can often times feel less than magical. I find myself curled up in a ball after a days work—smartphone in my hand—scrolling through the endless possibilities of the infinite internet. I see faraway places and people, cultures and passions, great hair styles and bad makeup tutorials and my mind swirls, satiated with the uncontained binge of media. Something about this magic carpet ride through the world from the comfort of my bed tugs at my deeply rooted life and I feel the urge to flee.
A voice in my heart coaxes me to take flight from this landscape and experience new things. My toils in the fields seem to weigh me down like a ball and chain and my dedication waivers with the fever pitch of harvest season. All of this hard work for such bite sized, incremental gains can be overwhelming and I find myself questioning what sort of path we have set up for ourselves on this land. No 401K or retirement, no possibility of moving up the corporate ladder, and every season is blighted with the unexpected twists and turns of a living system that pays no mind to tenure when it dishes out disease, inclement weather, pest pressures, and all other unpredictable, biological and meteorological evolutions; intensified byproducts of our changing climate.
We Face Daily Obstacles to Present, Physical Engagement
Plane tickets seem easy enough to score while I attempt to internally process my wanderlust--stalking friends, acquaintances, and total strangers from the safety of my anonymous online persona. I see the very best of sunlit beaches, perfect relationships, and the open road. My heart bounces from one picturesque setting to the next and I compare my seemingly battle hardened life to what appear to be blemish free realities where happiness is waiting inside every brunch mimosa. Just like a bag of chips, I put my phone down not when I feel full, but when I feel slightly nauseated; almost dirtied by my uncontrollable desire to keep consuming other people’s experiences.
It’s usually only after some shame-filled adventure into the abyss of the web that I am able to see just how pervasive screens have become in our day to day dealings. Social media has made it ever more difficult to count our own blessings when the fear of missing out is a “real” hashtag-worthy phenomenon. The choice to love yours, to be here now, and most importantly, to intentionally engage with the world in your immediate physical vicinity has become harder and harder to make. These obstacles are beefed up by industries and advertisers hoping to skim the cream off the top and play to the peccadillo of our wandering eyes.
The internet is only one facet of the party we’ve been having on our planet since our thumbs opened doors. Our world is progressing at lightning speed and it is this constant, obsessive sprint into the future that robs us of our intimate connection to possibilities of today.
We often talk about climate change as if it exists outside of us; as is if it is an environmental problem. We see the world on fire, freezing, flooding, desertifying, and going extinct and it all feels a bit like a timeline that was predestined, necessary, or inevitable. We think about the new “needs” we each have and they feel justified and important. Our collection of poorly made goods, derived from the stolen raw materials of distant lands, carefully constructed by the exploited hands of a modern slave labor force, become a part of who we are. To us, it feels like it has always been this way and when the department store shelves are full every day, we aren’t able to imagine anything else.
Climate Change as a Symptom of Inner Grief
It’s recognizing the internal picture of things that brings me back to the porch, dusting off my boots for a morning in the fields. Climate change may feel like something far outside of us, but it is a symptom of our deepest, inward grieving. Our insatiable desire to consume, to feed our racing thoughts an onslaught of validating content, is a compulsion that traps us in an isolated state. It is this separation from nature, from our communities, and even from the physicality of our own bodies that feeds our industries and not ourselves.
People don’t farm, establish community, or build all of the tools and comforts they need to survive because it’s hard. It’s hard to grow food. It’s hard to love each other--our real, unfiltered, off-Facebook selves It takes time and effort, and practice to learn a craft. For the most part, the objects that keep our daily routine in line can be purchased anywhere at anytime by the click of a mouse with no thought or knod made to the true cost of “cheap” goods. We aren’t motivated to learn new things or to seek deeper truths through experience when a simple google search can make us an instant expert.
We’ve been taught that the Earth is a material rich medium that generates objects that bring us happiness and we’ve believed it. We’ve severed all of our ties to natural rhythms, worked for “profit” all of our lives, and have watched the withering detachment grow from our hearts and spread into the soils, waters, and foundational natural communities that keep this world alive. We’ve collectively contributed to the mining of our planet to fill voids opened by our raging emotions simply longing for presence, acceptance, love, and the quiet medicine of nature. We’ve allowed others to be marginalized, brutalized, and underserved so long as it didn’t affect the flow of resources to our own outstretched arms and open mouths.
Land-based Work Can Heal
The corporations and financial institutions that rely on this extractive culture to maintain power want to keep us sick, scared, and spiritually starving; judging and comparing ourselves to others. These invisible hands will never be satisfied with a healing Earth knowing that it will essentially ensure the healing needed within ourselves. Healing means wholeness, self responsibility, reparations, justice, and equity. Healing is understanding how the natural world maintains harmony, allowing energy to be transferred from the atmosphere to the depths of the soil through the communal efforts of a diversified, living sphere. Healing cannot be metered, commodified, or taxed and is only truly possible for one when it is possible for all.
When I’m able to put my phone down and come back into communion with the land, the hardships remain but a freedom grows steadily from my deepening responsibilities. My work on the land is not for material gain, nor even an activism against our seemingly unstoppable and irreparable “progress”. It is a placeholder, a fire that needs constant tending; a living, breathing organism wherein the difficult and satisfying crafts of surviving through the stewardship of a diversified, syntropic community are practiced and honed.
Change is slow and while the pendulum continues to swing towards devastation, I plant apple trees, nuts, and berries in preparation for when it swings back towards transformation. As the media spins tails of hopelessness and further feeds our inability to cope, I listen to the infinite life exchanging wellness in the pasture grasses, vetch, and clovers and feel the momentum that built this world.
I sense myself becoming fortified by the diversified nutrition being made available through the developing, ecological complexity. As the great friction of these challenging times births our future wisdom, the opportunity to create something better has never been greater. I log on and throw a few follows and likes to kindred others heeding the call.
Darby Weaver has spent the last decade growing Biodynamic produce in the Southeast and teaching holistic and ecological methods to learners of all ages and backgrounds through articles, agriculture intensives, workshops, and lectures. She has recently moved to the Northeast with her husband to begin a new venture on 20 acres in Wolcott, Vermont. You can read all of Darby's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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