Worlds

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You’d think one world is enough, and ours is complex enough as it is. And maybe there is this one world only (you know, inhabited etc.), although it doesn’t make sense. But within this world of ours I think of many worlds to which we belong, to which we give different names and that intersect in ways that make us aware of each other. To give one example, I met my husband because the world of religious observance (going to church) of one friend intersected with the immigrant world (getting those of one language to come together and eat, drink and be merry) of another friend. My husband’s landlady belonged to the first world (she went to the same church as my first friend), I came to eat, drink and be merry with my second friend. These friends knew each other and decided that my husband and I really should get together. So those worlds intersected. The consequence is my present 🙂

The food we eat (vegetarians, Paleo, allergies, intolerances, ethics, food miles, religion), what we do (art, crafts, gardening, library, trekking, history, travel, pubs, museums), the work we do (government, NGO, community, science, corporation, academia), the way we think and what we believe in (politics, religion, activism, culture) create worlds and we move from one world to the other, changing subtly on the threshold of each, meeting different people, behaving in specific ways that are recognizable to our group and belonging to each one of those worlds with different parts of ourselves.

We tend to judge people not only by the number of worlds they belong to, but also in regards to the actual belonging. The number of worlds is an indicator of wellbeing, for example. A workaholic would belong to maybe two worlds (the work and the home) while participation in society (how many worlds you belong to) is a common question in health and social services.

Actual belonging is harder to define but makes up the bulk of first dates, getting to know each other sessions and team building exercises. People seem to define themselves by the worlds they belong to eg I am a Christian/engineer/Liberal/cornet player/vegan/refugee/Cuban etc. etc. and that narrowing down is what starts the conversation, the selection and determines much of the communication afterwards.

Belonging to these worlds comes usually with the sense of security people crave. We therefore gift those worlds loyalty and personalize them, sometimes to extremes. They become “the way” and we resist changes. Sometimes it even becomes difficult to move between those worlds and we are shocked when we come in contact with unknown worlds (changing jobs, travelling to other countries, joining a club). We are at our most alert (for good or bad 😛 ) when we are in between worlds.

These worlds are human creations, of course. We live in complex societies and there are too many of us for one world only to be feasible. But we are, as a species, adaptable, with a reasonable tolerance for stress and with a brain that thrives on challenges, so we move between those creations of ours with ease, grace even.

Now, what about our big world? What about planet Earth?

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Forest

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Personal taste is an interesting thing not up for discussion as prescribed of old (de gustibus…).

But each of us has at least one thing that we can discuss until the cows come home and beyond. My understanding is that clubs and other organizations have been created for the salvation of each member’s family’s sanity 🙂

And it usually involves a dream as well.

Mine is to plant a forest. Far away from a day job I happen to like, and still this dream would require that job as well.

I like and use annual plants, especially vegetables and flowers. I can tend them and enjoy them and cram them in wherever I see a spot available. But reading about permaculture I have become sensitized to the unnaturalness of this. It says that fallow earth tries to get back to the forest it was once covered in. And if you happen to find a piece of land that has not been used for a few years, you see what I mean by this: the first couple of seasons grasses and weeds prevail. After that though woody shrubs take off and, in time, tree seedlings make their way up, first of all short lived trees and then the giants. People seem to like the Earth solely juvenile, despite long-term effects.

But going back to the dream (if I may pontificate 😛 ) there is something satisfying for me when I see trees and, thinking of my current solid preference for edibles, I realize that this is only a result of not enough land.

You see, a forest requires space to grow and that requires some sacrifice. Not a lot, mind you, as outlined by the edible forest descriptions, but in terms of land allocated, time, money, work invested at the beginning… it’s daunting for a single person to say the least, and even for a family. And then there’s maintaining it, especially pest management… so you get people to help you, volunteers and those who would benefit from the environment, the goal, the tasks, the work experience… ah, but I am getting into the day job now 🙂

So what would I plant? Everything that would grow, really. Edibles would have a place, natives their own, sheer beauty throughout. Flowering trees and autumn leaf colour, summer shade and winter sentinels, dwarfs and giants, everything. I would pay attention to the water and to the summit, to the valley and to the rocks, I would have paths and bridges and benches and clearings. There would be a house with a huge kitchen (those volunteers need to be fed) and outbuildings with bunks in them (those volunteers also have to be housed). And there would be at least one if not more specialists, paid handsomely, to plan with and argue with and who would know where to plant what and in what way and what I can expect… should I just go to school and study all this? That way I can pay myself for making real my own personal dream.

And then, when it’s at least a piece of land with slender saplings barely visible under the grasses and nursery plants, I would put a sign on the gate saying “come on in” to all… for a forest does not belong to one person only… it is the Earth in its prime, made manifest.

Whoever…

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…tinkered around to pipe hot water in a shower deserves a special place in heaven.

… was inspired to put certain leaves in water and then experiment to get the innumerable types of tea deserves for even his nightsoil to be put to good use.

…says “women drivers” with that special eye roll deserves to read history and discover who created cars, road rules, traffic lights and other accessories of modern driving (hint: it’s unlikely it was women, they were at that time supposed to do only feminine things, whatever those may be).

…drives in December deserves a good hot cup of tea after that to calm his/her nerves down.

…will invent a good contraceptive deserves the love and gratitude of many (hint: it must not interfere with hormonal balance, body function, health, desire or fertility… hmm…. Santa!!!!).

…will invent a permanent (preferably painless) depilation system deserves at least a good kiss from whoever uses it.

…cares for the Earth in all that they do deserves to be helped with his gardening.

…looks up at a beautiful sunset deserves to stop the car and get lost in the moment.

…finds out that love is a good substitute for food, drink, air and other necessities deserves to be called human.

…went to the trouble of perfecting chocolate deserves a place in the heaven of hot showers.

…picks up a much-read book, curls up on the couch and starts smiling deserves a couple of hours of free time.

…takes care of others deserves to be taken care of as well.

…decides to approach a long-lost aquaintance at Christmas time deserves to get at least three words back.

…has worked for others deserves to enjoy the fruit of his work and a hot cup of tea.

…makes a conscious decision that housework can go to pieces while they curl up on the couch reading to a child deserves an interesting story to be found.

…is braving emotions, thoughts, facts, health, accidents and obstacles deserves to be shown a way and given time.

…gets into the spirit of the holidays deserves a present 🙂