It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since I was moving off of my old farm onto a rented farm in a different town. It was a transitional time in so many ways for me and it was hard to keep my ship headed in the right direction because of the dense fog that surrounded me. I was focused, but scattered. I felt strong, but also vulnerable. I knew change was a healthy thing, but I still felt fear. I was living in two places at once with animals to take care of at both places. My thoughts were traveling in circles, and my perspective was out of whack. Now, with a clear head, it’s hard to remember how that felt. Maybe I just don’t want to.
Perspective. Being able to see the circumstances we find ourselves in for what they really are. Taking steps backwards to get a bigger picture, or finding a new angle that provides a different viewpoint. When we are in the middle of some event, our feelings are the king of our actions. When I was a chef there was a phrase “in the weeds” that meant, overall, that you were working at full capacity and beyond, as the tickets piled up and the stovetops filled with sizzling hot pans. It meant that you were in the middle of total chaos that may or may not be under a little bit of control. In those times chefs can feel an adrenaline rush and clarity of mind, much like rock climbers or fly fisherman. There is a focus that we can get in intensely focused activities that push us beyond the self. The self becomes the vehicle being driven by something more primal, more unconscious. Sometimes in those moments we lose ourselves and become extremely happy. We become one with the world, and our problems don’t own us. We own our problems.
In a way, we are all “in the weeds” all the time. We just don’t recognize it as such. As soon as we are born we are in the weeds. Immediately we are gasping for air, craving comfort, food, and warmth. It’s pretty amazing that we survive and go on living after such a dramatic entrance into life.
We all made it to this point. We’ve become immune to the grand immensity of life after years of familiarity, but it is still an amazing thing, to breathe. When I feel that sense of wonder, my heart is filled with gratitude. Gratitude helps remind me that I am going to die at some point, and the cosmic mystery unfolding all around me day by day is unimaginably beautiful. Somehow, our minds ignore the beauty for hours, days, weeks, years at a time, but at some point, whenever it is that our eyes become clear, we see it. It is when we become conscious again that beauty arises again from the ashes of our delusions.
As I watched a violent movie last night I told my girlfriend, in jest, that I had decided not to die. This morning I found one of my newly born piglets cold and dead in the mud. Hundreds of thousands of animals will die today, and hundreds more will be born. The only thing that we can truly own is our bodies and each breath that we take. One day I will breathe my last breath and I will let go of my body. As much as I want to retain the ownership of my life for as long as possible, my death will be just another event that transpires in the universe and life will again form from my ashes.