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Decisions, decisions…

I really need to get more work done on my dissertation this week.  I have now collected a number of excellent articles for the chapter I’m writing, and am starting to read through them.  Very interesting stuff, which will likely inspire me to compose a few posts here. I am presently researching the definition of the concept  of ‘sustainability’ – a word frequently used (abused?) in just about every context.  Sustainable food, sustainable living, sustainable economy, sustainable technology, sustainable fuel, sustainable GMOs… the list is endless.  With such constant use, does the word even mean anything anymore?  This is what I am exploring. In the process I came across this particularly interesting site on Critical Sustainability, which asserts that the concept is a social construction put forth by those in power to maintain the status quo.  I’m afraid I tend to agree with this, but there are definitions that try and do otherwise.  I think.  I’m not sure to be honest.  Maybe the word is not helpful.  Perhaps no words in the English language – the language of the Imperialists and global hegemons – can be used to effect fundamental change in this system.  I guess that’s what I have to try and figure out.

I’m sure struggling with such abstract concepts sounds perfectly boring to most of you, and to an extent it is.  I enjoy it, but I also am easily distracted by more practical uses of my time.  Such as training my dogs, or doing my food gathering and prep for winter.  And for summer.  Yesterday I picked strawberries at my CSA; lovely organic ones.  I now have 10 quarts in my fridge that absolutely must be processed today.  It will likely take me a couple of hours.  I also have several pounds of rhubarb, and three huge bags of spinach.  Oh, and four loaves of bread to bake (my gas got cut off yesterday due to construction next door, and I had to put them in the fridge to retard them while I waited for the gas company to come back and turn it on again), and three liters of milk to turn into yogurt.  I am leaving town this evening and none of this food will last until my return on Sunday.  I’m glad I won’t be traveling again for a month after this, as it is very difficult to stay on top of my food processing at the best of times, let alone when I go away for chunks of time.  Summer is simply not the time of year to travel if you put food at the centre of your life.

So now I am faced with the dilemma of deciding how to prioritize on a shorter day than usual.  I also at some point need to pack!  I think the food is going to have to take priority.  The dogs have had good exercise lately, and it’s too late to run them this morning anyway.  By now the conservation area will be busy.  I should have left 45 minutes ago.  I will just have to play ball with them in the yard, and do some brainwork with them.  Tomorrow we will hike the Bruce Trail by my parents house, and that should make up for today.

I have just done a couple of hours of work, mostly reading through that critical sustainability site.  This has given me food for thought, so perhaps I can spend some time cooking now while mulling it over.  Then back to some writing in a couple of hours.  Yes, maybe that will work.

As I’ve written many, many times, finding time – no, making time – for food is a constant challenge.  Our society simply does not value this work, and in fact tends to look down on it.  There’s even a voice in my head nagging me to keep working rather than dealing with my strawberries. Heck, I shouldn’t have spent 2 hours yesterday afternoon picking them.  After all, I can always go to the store and buy some if I need them.  Even in winter.

That’s the problem.  We are not starving here.  I could survive quite easily without going through all this fuss.  In fact, that’s the point.  Our economy depends on cheap, easy, fast food.  It needs people to spend time working at their jobs rather than working for themselves.  This is the only way to keep the economy expanding.  If we all stepped off the treadmill and spent our Tuesday afternoons hulling strawberries, the economy would grind to a halt.  And then the world would stop spinning.  It would be a catastrophe.  Or so they – the all powerful ‘they’ – want us to think.

Regardless of the risk to the future of civilization, today I will bake my bread, make yogurt and hull my strawberries.  I’m even going to make a big batch of spinach & corn chowder (the only recipe I know without having to do more research, that uses a lot of spinach).  Then I’ll pack and hopefully find time to do something with the dogs.  And do a bit more reading and writing.

If the world stops turning at some point this afternoon, you’ll know it was my fault.  Apologies in advance.

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4 Responses

  1. I just checked outside. The rain has stopped and the plants are enjoying some sunshine. And it’s still turning!

    I prefer travel away from home during the fall. If I were to leave for a week right now, months of effort obtaining heirloom tomatoes, the right compost mix, preparing containers, transplanting and then attentive watering, would all be wasted. They, like animals, need attention.

    At some point I believe planetary life as a whole will become conscious and actively aware. I hope humanity will be seen as more than a cancer, and maybe the keystone to that consciousness.

    • I’m so glad my afternoon spent rebelling against capitalism didn’t have any dire effects on humanity. I do hope, however, that it contributes towards positive change. To that effect, I will continue my revolutionary activities 🙂

      Regarding planetary consciousness, this is exactly what Sahtouris is arguing is happening. She believes that we (humans) are Gaia’s consciousness emerging. She makes some really interesting points, such as how our communications systems are the neural pathways, which are becoming rapidly more complex. This is indeed what happens when nervous systems in individual beings develop – with gathering speed and complexity. The parallel is very interesting…

      However I find the idea that we are Gaia’s consciousness to be very depressing! Sahtouris thinks we’re just in a teenage phase, and teenagers are often very self-destructive and arrogant. Again, makes sense. But if this is indeed what’s going on, we’d better grow up. And quickly!

  2. I find myself with the same issues with my days as you do, it seems. Sometimes (okay, often) the dissertation work gets displaced by taking care of food and other important things (although, if I’m honest, sometimes taking care of other things first leaves me feeling like not working so much later in the day, which I need to work on a bit more). I agree, though, that work with food is not valued in the way it should be (and food isn’t either, but that’s a whole other rant for me), and I often feel guilty while I’m taking time to cook a good dinner that I’m spending so much time on that and not enough on other work.

    • Hi Jenn – it’s great to hear from another dissertation writer/farmer wannabe! The struggle around prioritizing is very painful indeed. Just trying to find time to keep up this blog leaves me feeling guilty, let alone forgoing writing to hull strawberries (or pick them, for that matter). I have the most energy in the morning, so that is when I like to work on all my projects. But like you, I think fade and don’t have energy to work later in the day. Plus that’s when everyone else is free to be social. I am trying to start my day with a few hours of dissertation work, then switch gears. So far this is not working very well. Maybe it will get easier with practice! (or panic as time runs short!)

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