birthday missive 2013

Tomorrow I turn 35. As I delivered CSA boxes to the Cities today in the humid heat, I reflected on my 35 years of life on this planet. It has been an interesting journey to get to this point, to say the least. One thing that was a recurring theme in my head was my friend JB, who died of cancer just a couple years ago.

He was one of the only people I could talk to about anything. We were kind of on the same wavelength, and now that he is gone I have missed that connection. In the past few years I have learned that the connections are what make life move forward, not just the plans you have laid out so carefully or the intentions you create with deep feeling. Whatever happens, seems to happen because of the connections. You could say karma creates connections which keeps the wheel-o-life movin’. Permaculture also reinforces this idea – our designs are only good if they make multiple connections across all the elements in the system. That’s when life starts to turn up the juice.

So when somebody dies or goes away, that connection, that incredibly important link between your life and another life, seems to fade away.

Maybe that is why the worlds major religions are so focused on the afterlife – to deny that sad inevitability when a life disconnects for good. But I don’t think denial makes for a healthy relationship.

I have learned a lot more about engines this past year or so then I thought I ever would, but it turns out I love mechanic work. The most striking thing to me about any machine is that usually, if you take out only one part, the whole damn thing will grind to halt. Without all those parts in rhythmic & synchronous motion, the machine does not come to life. That’s what it feels like when somebody dies, like all of a sudden that part, whatever part it is, is gone and the whole machine of your life doesn’t seem to work.

And then you stick another part in there and it might work really well, not at all, or sort of differently with a strange sound.

You might think it is soulless to think of our friends and family as just parts in a machine. I don’t think of machines as soulless hunks of junk. In that case, we are just thinking chunks of meat. The beauty of the mechanics of a tree are as beautiful as that of a pouncing cheetah or humming bicycle. The difference between living and non-living things is probably smaller then is thought, in my opinion.

In any case, 35 years later, this machine is getting a little more worn down, some wires are crossed and its getting a threadbare seat. But that is all fine. I want to age like a good tractor, still as useful as I was off the factory floor, with a lot more blood, sweat, and tears that make of me what I am.


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