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I was reading Wanton Tom's diary here and began to add a comment there. But as I thought about it on this rather gorgeous - although chilly, for here - day, it got longer and longer and seemed to be better suited on its own rather than invading the space there like some of the more insidious weeds we have. Follow me down the rabbit hole, if you like.

There are tasks I routinely perform manually - like hauling barrow after barrow of manure to refresh a bed, or using raw muscle to dig out a tree for its journey to a location on the property better suited for it to allow it to thrive. Even the beehives I relocated manually, albeit much more carefully than almost anything else I'd done, so as not to accidentally lose the queens.

It's a visceral connection to the world around us: sweat is good. Dirt is good. The feel of the mass of roots of a young tree as you carefully dislodge them from the dirt in which they taken root. The vibration of bees through the hive body against your chest, knowing that they know something is happening, but also knowing that the care you're taking means they don't be overly bothered and get enraged by the process.

I have too much property to use a manual mower, so use a lawn tractor for that; however, even then it's an opportunity to gauge what's happening in and around the place: a fresh gopher trail here, deer tracks or rabbit pellets there, wild blackberries moving into a space yonder (and left unmowed!).

These days when I look around at the next generation, I can see that the seeds of fascination with the natural world and the feel of calluses on one's hands has been, for the most part, lost, and I greet that with a sense of sadness. It is rare that they will understand the kind of satisfaction that seeing what your body can do when put to the test of doing even a simple thing that can now be done by machine. Small children are always gleeful about something new they've discovered they can do with their bodies - "Watch me dive! Look how high I can jump!" - but at some point many of them lose that in favor of easier, more instantly gratifying pursuits that are also far less physical.

If I could give those people one thing, it would be this: the gift of sharing the joy of the world as it exists outside the internet and video on demand and hours in front of the television. The amazement of watching a hummingbird flit from one flower to the next; the germination of a tiny tomato seed that becomes, with care, a huge, almost unwieldy plant that gives forth fruit with which no processed boxed food can compete; the salty taste of a drop of sweat streaming into the corner of the mouth; the satisfaction, with practice, of understanding the wind and clouds and what they will bring with them; the wonder of seeing the perfect symmetry of a spider web with dew clinging to it in the first light of the morning.

I firmly believe that it is often peoples' disconnect with the natural world that leads to their disconnect with their fellow humans. This is not to say that we all need to dance around naked in the woods, living outside via campfire, eating granola and whatever meal we can grab on the hoof. Even I have a great appreciation for indoor plumbing. But it's much more difficult to treat the world as a disposable commodity when you've discovered even a fraction of the beauty of what surrounds us every day. If just a tiny piece of that translated into a better awareness of the world around us and a willingness to engage it physically, rather than mechanically, I can't help but think we would all be better off for it.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I agree. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    carolyn urban, GDbot, Creosote

    I miss my garden immensely (and my home state of Florida even more so!) and am struggling with my first winter in Finland. I do have a few projects in the spring, along with some other interesting developments, but I long for spring.

    All I've ever really wanted was to live as a human being- another part of this intricate web of life. Instead our society forces many of us do divorce ourselves from nature - and denies some people any real connection from the start - in order to "make a living."

    There are many young people like myself who are interested in ecological farming, landscape rehabilitation, and other methods of regeneration. Unfortunately, we are landless and caught in the making of another lost generation. There are some very good things on the horizon, but for many of us, it is hard to hold onto the hope for a better tomorrow when a wage is hard to come by.

    Let alone a living wage, especially one that would allow you to accumulate enough wealth to afford property since we seem to have coupled the "value" of earth to the manipulative market value instead of what the land can produce...

    Ah, anyway- welcome to the club of publishing diaries on Daily Kos. Tipped and Rec'd!

  •  A beautiful diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FinchJ, GDbot, emidesu, Creosote

    and I agree with your observations about the value of good physical work, and the growing distance from the physical world in our culture.

  •  physical activity itself feels disconnected (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GDbot

    It's hard to do something when there's little or no connection between it and the rest of your life, especially when the only reason you're doing it in the first place is because you think you're just supposed to.

    That's the biggest obstacle I face: "Why am I doing this?"  Even something easy like riding my bike every day managed to to lose its hold to repetition and seeming irrelevance.  Something harder like weightlifting got there even faster, and it didn't help that I always felt so angry after each workout.

    But then physical activity born of need is a whole different animal.  I feel sorry for people who have to sweat in order to feed and shelter themselves.

    To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

    by Visceral on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 02:21:27 PM PST

  •  Nice diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote

    Connects well with another one posted today that begins: "Memo from the Department of Homeland Insecurity..." S/he talks about a hypothesis of rootlessness as a cause of many traumas.

    Stay fired up: now is the time to focus on downticket change! #Forward

    by emidesu on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 04:19:25 PM PST

  •  Thanks to all (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote

    For your kind comments. I've been lurking around this place for a decade plus, finally got myself an account, and finally decided to put something down instead of just letting it rattle around in my head.

    My primary job - the business I own - is actually all about the Internet. The physical heavy lifting is a nice counterbalance to the mental heavy lifting involved in that. Fortunately, being self-employed has certain benefits, not the least of which is to be able to work outside while my employees mind things. Then, when it's too dark to work outside, I get to switch gears and move back to my "real" job. Unfortunately for most, they don't have that freedom, but my wish is that everyone had at least a couple of hours per week where they could enjoy the great outdoors. It's been known to change peoples' entire outlook on things for the better!

    Cheers.

  •  Another independent contractor here (0+ / 0-)

    who finds my clients don't seem to mind my late-night schedule. First thing next day usually is fine - unless, as is frequently the case, it's a months-long project - and the hours seem to suit my work and physiology best. I really flourish in and count on the silence under the focusing glow of the lamp and screen.

    Because if it's daylight I want to see it and be out there - barring downpours.

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