Friday, August 20, 2010


I can feel my time in this apartment winding down in the way that a deadline bears down. There is work to be done that will not be much fun, but it will feel good to reach the end and move on. Ok, it won't feel good, because it would be an understatement to say that glenville has been an important part of my formative years. It will feel complete, finished, like when you close the cover of a long and arduous and great book.

I love my brother very much, and I realize more and more how much I want our lives to stay in close proximity, geographically and more importantly emotionally. He is Ore-gone tomorrow, and I am jealous of him, and of Papa who is already out there. I am missing the annual pilgrimage once again, as I have done several times in the past. It is not cliche to say that family is terribly important in so many ways, something that cannot be expressed enough.

The cooperative life starts for me in less than two weeeks, and it is something that I have been thinking about a lot. Talking with Mommy's colleague at her Editshare party last weekend about his experiences as a member of cooperative houses made me excited and more aware of the potential benefits and challenges. Delivering compost fodder every now and then to the compost orb in the backyard of my future home makes me excited. A backyard!!! I want a hammock, and a lounge chair to read in, and to have grill potlucks with friends. In my mind this next year will be an upgrade in many ways. It will take some work and communication and love and elbow grease to keep things running smoothly, but I have faith in the crew of BU students that we have assembled. Just think, in the coming spring we can plant a garden fertilized with the food waste that is in the process of breaking down now! The cycle will turn and turn full circle, the loop will finally be closed in some small way. We must start with small steps, and my ambitions of self-reliance must start somewhere, right!?

Self-reliance. What an interesting and appealing concept! I want to learn how to repair my bike, and can and pickle vegetables that I have harvested from my garden, and cut my hair, and repair appliances and machines and I could go on...I feel that I have already achieved some proficiency in the preparation of my food, so the next step will be to master its production. It's like the business model of vertical integration, except I am not a robber baron oil tycoon who gobbles up every step of the production of oil from extraction to refinement to distribution. No, no, I don't have such grand and greedy aspirations. I am one person who wants control over his life, and I think that the source of my nourishment is a good place to start.

I love weaving through traffic on my dear Maeve, sailing past cars stuck in traffic on the wind provided by two legs and a simple two-wheeled machine. That is self-reliance, right? Making cole slaw on my day off (this past wednesday) better than I have ever tasted, or even just bringing food to work every day. No, I don't want to order takeout, thank you very much!

Some quotes from Emerson's essay 'Self-Reliance,' as noted here.
"Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other."
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do."
"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles."

ps- the New Yorker is great! I know many people have already come to this conclusion, but it has taken me a while to reach it. Two very note-able articles in the May 17, 2010 issue that I very much enjoyed today were:
"The Inventor's Dilemma," by David Owen
"The Poverty Lab," by Ian Parker
The first is a profile of an 'eco-minded engineer'/inventor, Saul Griffith, his work and many projects and ideas. The second is a piece on Esther Duflo, a young french development economist who focuses on randomized statistical trials and experiments designed to alleviate poverty. check them out!

1 comment:

  1. Another great post (that I just saw), JD. I like the idea of self-sufficiency a lot. I know Hugh would be happy to teach you about carpentry if you two can find the time. At some point this fall he's going to be shingling the side wall (next to the yellow house) and maybe some of it could be done on a weekend day so you could hang out and watch and help some.