Religion

Ganditorul de la Hamangia si femeia lui

I was talking about religion with a devout Christian friend.

Given my propensities, there were fireworks – mine!

On the other hand, despite the impasse, there was usefulness to that discussion.

You see, I am a comfortable humanist and agnostic evolutionist – no, don’t ask

The comfortable bit comes from the fact that the above makes sense to me even if I can’t explain how perceiving divinity ties in with the hot bacterial soup that eventually made me possible

If I lean towards a more “you evolved to live, further the species then die” approach I begin to feel uncomfortable, something is missing. If I lean towards a more “you have been created in the image of…” approach, I begin to feel uncomfortable, something is missing. If I lean more towards “humans need special treatment as they are superior to…” then I begin to feel uncomfortable, something is missing.

So I aim for the middle, which feels comfortable. Not many certainties, though.

I believe that at the very least the humans should not be harmed, but they are not entitled to this world as their domain (you can add ecologist to my description 😛 )

I believe that humans need their beliefs and symbols and finding meaning in their own lives, but not at the expense of community, caring for one another and caring for this planet.

And I believe that not knowing is ok, too. Not knowing does not mean your belief is true… it may be, I don’t know. Not knowing does not mean that your belief is wrong… it may be, I don’t know. And belief can’t be forced, so I am stuck with the knowing… or not, in this case

I will think about these things and get more comfortable as I go… we need certainties, us humans…

But being comfortable needs to stem from this thinking about it, and considering, and listening and the like. Comfortable should not mean that this is the way it is and it can’t ever change. I have been happily ignorant about such matters, then I became a Christian, then I became an atheist and then I settled in agnosticism. I was happily ignorant about such matters, then I became an ecologist and settled. I was happily ignorant about such matters, then I started reading and knowing people and loving them and changed from an essentially selfish and entitled human being to a marginally less selfish and less entitled human being I started from being taught right from wrong according to human law and custom in my native country, then I began to adapt and adjust what I have been taught to what I saw served to further my happiness without encroaching on someone else’s – and I settled. So I am comfortable because I changed over time… maybe I have matured? 😛

I was reading Mark Vernon’s “How to be an agnostic” – it was the only book I read as slowly as it was possible for me, because every word was like knowing myself rightly… like the extra time we spend in front of the mirror because we know we look our best…

Vanity, thy name is…

 

PS The photo is one I found on Google Images – it shows two Romanian statues thought to be about 5000 years old. The male figure is the Thinker of Hamangia, his pair is a bit harder to translate, the Earth’s Peacefulness or Patience or Obedience… take your pick.

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Land

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With my desire for productivity and for beauty sometimes at odds it makes sense to have a look at this conflict – if conflict it actually is.

It comes as a no-brainer that my insisting on productivity is linked to the size of land I have in my care. Quarter of an acre, that is.

I am no big fan of intensive gardening – I want nature to give me enough of what I want, not a glut of everything. I do not wish to exhaust the land or, heavens forbid, work too much to restore fertility of the land afterwards

That means I have only a limited allowance of fertility available to me, so it makes sense to grow something that I can use.

But beauty… ah, beauty is just as important. Not to say that productive plants aren’t beautiful. Just that I have this quirk of reacting to showy, OTT beauty.

There is an abundance of extravagant scent passing by a fence trailing with jasmine and honeysuckle, a disturbing wealth of trembling in a stand of poplars and maples, an uncompromising quality to tractor seat plants and barberry and a deceptive frailty to pink then cream then green toon trees. And this is still spring, so I am not even going to go near fir trees rising from the snow, or ginkos blazing gold in autumn or the post-card worthiness of pohutukawa in bloom at Christmas (summer!).

I want all of the above and more!

And the only limiting factor at the moment (if you do not wish to count ignorance) is acreage. I may be able to squeeze quite a number of fruit trees on a quarter acre, but for the rest of the forest I dream of I need a lot more space, given that I am not into hortitorture (as my tutor called bonsai, espaliers, pleaching and other bending of the nature laws to human whim).

Some people tell me they are looking for a flat piece of land to build a house, I am asking for a couple of hills cattle have trouble navigating. Others are downsizing while I try to go all out and all over the place And when others are discussing the merits of easy care low maintenance minimalist zen borders I am learning to propagate cuttings so that I have more, more and yet more of every single specimen I encounter. No, I am not looking down at those others, I like all their gardens, I just… dream of a forest.

Because it takes all sorts, the native gardeners and the foliage gardeners and the ornamental gardeners and the orchardists and…. And forest people. Like I want to be.

Day time is easy: finish with the mortgage, set the little one up, find a piece of land that suits and go forest.

Night time is hard. I am human, after all, on a different timeline than trees and getting… younger by the day

I would like to see that forest…

Cliché – different

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My life seems to be all about clichés at the moment, and I am not talking about love, either!

I have just finished half of one of the two courses I had on the go. I have decided the other half of this course will be done next year after I finish the second course of the two mentioned above. Sounds complicated? Uh-huh! Why did I do it? Because I can! Why will I not do it again? Because even if I can it doesn’t mean I should

Due to the two courses on top of my already unquiet life I am tired, as in I am burning the candle at both ends… strike that, I cut the candle and was burning it at four ends

And now that one course is done with I am still in study mode, still waiting for the punch line… surely there is still more I need to do… no? You mean I can just go and crochet?

I was also pondering a few invitations extended but not taken up…you know, they’re just not that into me type of thing, and a few projects that are out of my control so I am just waiting for the grass to grow, really!

There is something comforting about clichés, or so I tell myself in my saner moments. I am not the only one who bit off more than one could chew. In fact, I had things easier than many others.

So I could focus sometimes and realize why my head was all over the place, why I was amping up, why telling myself to chillax would have gotten me exactly nowhere. I knew I was on borrowed time, but also that it would not last forever, that I will get through this in the end!

You see what I mean? Clichés have this thing about being perfectly true at all times, which makes them as frustrating as anything could ever possibly be!

Because the truth is I don’t want to be different – just like everyone else. I want my share of originality. I want to make my contribution off the conveyor belt of everyday life. I want to shine in the dark, not in a glitter pack. I would rather be sodalite on gold foil rather than a diamond in a pavé setting.

It sounds a lot like competition, even though the one I am competing against is myself, striving to do things better and faster and stronger than I used to. The contrast is as sharp as the insights I get into the way I live my life because it has been challenged by others.

In the meantime, my little one tells me I am the best mother in the entire world, the entire forever and the entire universe…. I am happy with that!

Garden – adverbs, adjectives and other qualifiers

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Around here we’re talking spring and that means priorities. I mean prioritizing the garden

I am apparently not the only one who feel an almost overwhelming desire to be outside in the garden come end of winter. Seemingly important things fall by the wayside in the rush to get things done for the new season. Some feel a sense of peace at this point, I have never felt that in the garden, I must admit. My reward is a sort of exhilarated rightness, like a boss jubilant that your work has done the company proud

Another observation is that I can get downright irritated at what seem to be small issues. Like not having a seedling house fit for purpose. I was upset at several of my seedlings dying when the wind ravaged the existing improvised housing areas (what flapping plastic will do to tomato seedlings cannot be borne or described!). It’s not even so much not having the seedling house but not having the materials to make one at a time of the evening when no shop is open anyway. Grrr!

The other thing I found is that I can be very intolerant once fully converted to an idea. The current idea is that if you only have a small garden then make it productive! I walk on the street looking at gardens, and I do so in a state of mild irritated boil-over (it’s ok, I have low blood pressure!) at how many ornamentals that are not even ornamental are gathered on places where a fruit tree or bush would at least soothe the above-mentioned growling beast in me I find myself nodding in approval when I see the almost ubiquitous here lemon, grapefruit or feijoa bush, as if it were any of my business, really!

Does that sound like I really should get over myself already and maybe not get so irritated with things that are at best out of my control and at worst uncontrollable?

You can blame it on my abundance mentality, fostered by the course I am currently completing. Grow a lot of food that is fit for divinity, is the motto. That still sounds mildly OTT even when considering external divinity, let alone when you are encouraged to nurture the sacred part of yourself…

Which only gets me more irritated… yes, truly! Have we really become so entrenched in the systems, so defeatist, so relativistic (is there even such a word in the vocabulary?) that we take our lives for granted, that we consider that inner spark our due, or worse, that we think it is nothing special?

Are there really so many of us that we cynically consider ourselves just replaceable cogs in the big wheel, that our lives and deaths will be utterly useless, eminently forgettable and no big deal to begin with? Do we truly not feel part of history?

Gardens are dangerous, especially in spring…

Energy

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I was completing an assignment yesterday on metabolism, as one does

If there was one thing I took from that assignment (ok, ok, it was quite interesting, so maybe not just one thing!) was that life requires energy. In the absence of energy there is no life. Maybe life is energy… I don’t know, not going there at the moment.

But we need it and each drop of it is parsimoniously eked out to make it last and drive as much activity as possible. The body even uses the waste product (heat) to maintain energy production and storage. The body is also more efficient at utilizing energy than anything we’ve been able to come up with.

So far so obvious. Now we come to the nitty-gritty: how in the world do we mobilize all this energy to serve our purposes? Oh wait, do we have a purpose? Quick, get back to the drawing board and get thee one

But other than being cheeky, it’s not just the purpose that we need energy for – I use enormous amounts of energy for waiting!. The body uses most of the energy just to stay alive (you know, allowing our big brains to control breathing, heart pumping, digestion); in contrast, we use most of our energy for the little things in life, for the non-essentials. Or rather, we have set up our world so that we need to perform lots of non-essential activities in order to maintain said world. Let’s see, we need to use a lot of energy (dig some ore to make into components of a car and the roads, work at a particular job) that will allow us to drive to the supermarket to buy something like food which we then need to store, prepare and cook in order to eat. The last bit is the only one truly essential. The rest is inefficient at the best of times. We have less leisure than the animals we don’t want to compare ourselves with. We ruin our health by specializing more and more when I believe we were meant to be generalists. We also think this is normal and pity the ones who don’t have the “conveniences” we do.

And yet we dream of the simple life. Which wasn’t that simple, as it was brought home to me by reading to the little one about prehistoric life.

Because I am not really complaining as such… my rant is more around the wastage of energy. So maybe what I am looking for is a simpler life. Yeah, I want to have my cake and eat it, too! I want to spend less time (oh, the links between energy and time need another blog article for sure!) for the basic needs ; that means having shelter, water and food close to home, being knowledgeable about health care, paying taxes for the systems I use. Basically I want to arrange my life so that I have most of the conveniences but not so much of the consumption.

So that I can concentrate more on being human…

Beauty

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You know that assumption you are making when you have a little knowledge and it seems like a lot of knowledge and you don’t know what/that you don’t know?

No? Let me elucidate

I was browsing in an op shop, as you do I saw this painting, of a girl looking into the distance from a window, over a body of water. It caught my eye because of the simplicity and the beautiful lines and the colour (blue). So I picked it up and got the shock of the day when I saw the signature: Salvador Dali. No, I didn’t think I got an original, it was just that as a young teenager I read his autobiography and saw some of his more famous works, and there was not much of what I would call ordinary in either Which meant that I thought a mad genius could only possibly create the same type of work over an entire career. Presumptuous, much?

So I bought the painting; it will join the growing body of paintings and prints and art books that start to clutter my house. And I started considering beauty.

I make this difference between natural and human made beauty. A quirk, I am sure, but one that sees me in rapture seeing mountains but indifferent to paintings of the same. Or loving the description of Yorkshire moors in “The secret garden” but unsure whether I would like them if I actually saw them… I plan to put this to the test one day!

It’s difficult when you can’t describe beauty. Words come easy for paintings and books and people and nature. Music though… I just can’t find them. And I can’t get into theatre, although I have watched several plays on TV that have changed my life… to see the play on the stage with other people around feels embarrassing – another quirk 🙂

I pay attention to beauty. It has never occurred to me not to, probably because I started young. I had help, of course. My house growing up had art books and stamps and china and crystal. No, we didn’t have that much and not luxury items as such, but enough to look through a porcelain plate to the translucent world beyond. Enough to listen to the sound of crystal. Enough to figure out I really like figurative art. And then again, I lived in a country that had both natural and human made beauty galore (ugliness, too, just for comparison). So it wasn’t difficult to admire fields of wheat with poppies, corn flowers and corn cockle. Or a crisp winter’s day with hoar frost sparkling under a bewilderingly blinding sky. Or cathedrals with avenues of scented roses, perfect for a best perfume competition. Or paintings that would move one to inspiration. The first blooming tree in spring, the lime green new foliage of oaks, magnolias in the inner courtyard of the university, night near the sea and people when you get to know them… and still so much more to see, so much more beauty to experience!

A story I once read said that that elves were immortal because they fed on beauty…

Hobby

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Interesting to note the link with horses and names… why am I so fascinated by the root and original meaning of words we use nowadays? Is it the connection with the past I am looking for? Is it just curiosity?

Let’s talk frequency here though.

Connecting with people, reading and thinking are activities that I perform every day, both at work, before and after it too Isn’t it strange that work (in the sense of “job”) relegates everything else in second place? Isn’t it sad that, while I chuckle at the absurdity of doing my job without that triad, there are way too many people who have to? Is this why we have been given life and minds and souls and spirits?

But I digress.

Second tier are the activities that, with short interruptions, are part of my life. Listening to music, being outside in the garden/bush/forest, writing. Sometimes I stop these because I am stressed out – I am reliably told that’s unusual because they are supposed to help with de-stressing; it’s just that for me they are my normality, and stress is taking me out of it. The only other time when I stop these activities is when I am involved in one of the third tier activities.

These last are varied, short lived, intense and cyclical. I get interested, I start researching and accumulating materials, I get very involved very quickly in performing that activity… and then it passes just as quickly, only to reappear in a couple of seasons or years’ time… which means that I tend to stock up equipment. Let’s see: loom weaving, sewing, mosaic, crochet, dancing (oh, wait, that might have to go up to second tier… I don’t do it because I don’t have time or a partner), de-cluttering, jigsaw puzzles, food experimenting, preparing natural skin products and medicine, looking at architecture and house decorating, learning to play an instrument etc.

It hasn’t escaped my notice that I tend to become fascinated by activities with very much visible potential results, whereas my usual activities tend the other way. I am also very much aware of the short and cyclical nature of them. I am starting to use this to my own advantage – shameless opportunist that I am! For example, I am currently in a decluttering phase (my husband thanks you, Marie Kondo! 😛 ) so I am pushing myself every minute I can spare as I know it won’t last long and I want to get as much done as possible. But there is this pink cotton tape that might just become a very pretty dress for the little one just as soon as I can get my hands on a crochet hook that thick. And there is that keyboard piano I saw going cheap… and those old decorative tiles I hid under the bookshelves…

Did you know that at least one course assessment is due this week?

Mayhap I am just procrastinating?