Happy spring, and happy Easter! This weekend I had a serendipitous getaway to a beautiful blue house on a sandstone bluff overlooking the Cumberland Plateau. I was house sitting for a professor, and was blessed to be writing my honors thesis amidst glorious mountain views and with the company of 3 very fluffy and very loving dogs. The house was pretty far out into the woods on the Jump Off Community Land Trust, but I embraced the quiet isolation with open arms and a hungry heart. I needed space. I needed quiet. I needed this time alone. I spent the weekend with my thoughts, mulling over books and papers for my thesis about intentional communities, notions of utopia, and the potential modern day communities have towards influencing more widespread sustainability initiatives.
During pauses from work, I thought about a lot. I normally attribute my tendency to think in ways akin to a roller coaster ride to being a Gemini, but right now a lot more than usual is going through my mind. I’ve been overwhelmed with the future that awaits beyond my university’s gates – a fantastic summer apprenticeship with a sustainable meat aggregating business, grad school in the fall, and an upcoming conference for which I’ve been asked to speak, but, still I find myself a little confused. I find myself searching for answers to questions I haven’t yet asked yet, for experiences that have yet to be had, and for more time in the present to linger in the ones that have. I’ve been getting so caught up in what’s felt like constant health issues, school work, endless to-do lists, and scheduling (actually scheduling) time to meditate, journal, blog, and knit, rather than just doing the damn things, which are all things I love to do.
Why? Why am I doing thing? Why when I put so much effort and so much attention to being present and involved, do I find myself still just moving along through the motions? I realized today that I haven’t written any of the blogs that I’ve been planning because I’ve been waiting for the perfect time – for when the “other” things that I “have to do” get done. But, while strolling through the trees, I thought – instead of searching for the “perfect time” or for any time really, I should just do it. My generation (at least my peers) tends to attack things with intense amounts of ambition and with full force. It’s all or nothing, baby. But that approach has found me with a constant flow of tasks, that I put my whole heart into, but once they’re completed I find myself depleted, and weaker as I move on to the next, and the next. And the next.
In today’s sermon, Rev. Thomas Macfie spoke about all the hardships and trials that we face through life. In dealing with periods of anguish, anxiety, frustration, and hurt, we do the best we can, brick by brick, to soothe the pain, to heal wounds – learning throughout the entire process. This notion of “brick by brick” stuck with me. What if instead of task by task, I lived moment to moment. What if, instead of planning for blogging or writing in my journal, I write a little bit when it comes to mind, or I journal my thoughts on whatever piece of writable object (napkin, post-it, index card, etc.)? Brick by brick. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m adding a new section to my blog, called “Today’s Thoughts” in an effort to write more a bit about my day, or even just share a photo. Brick by brick.
For my honors thesis, I’ve been pouring over books about New Harmony, Oneida, Brook Farm, East Wind, The Farm, and many other communities. Though I’m mainly interested in the ways that today’s intentional communities are focused on sustainability and environmental stewardship, I’ve realized that I am intensely drawn to the idea of community building. I love that these groups of people, who were not related in any way, came together through shared ideologies and intentions to create something beautiful – a family of sorts. I have several good friends who have lived in community and some who still do, and their energy and outlook on life is so refreshing and so deeply inspiring that I’d love to hop in the car with them and join. But, who knows, check in with me in 10 years and I may be living in one myself. Any suggestions on related readings are most welcome!