Hello, out there. It’s been a while. It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to ponder my thoughts through the movement of my fingers over keys in a manner that cultivates my mind rather than renders it seated.
Seated – in the bathroom, on the toilet, scrolling through my Instagram feed is when the news became apparent. My very favorite poet, Mary Oliver, passed today. I have not yet read a news article, I have not yet checked the news today for I have been working at my off-farm remote farm law job (which I love very much), so I do not yet know the details. I have not yet made time for the details.
All I know regarding the matter is that I read the news after scrolling mindlessly through posts without reading, and once I began to actually read I realized that I have gotten away from reading, writing, and myself, in part – the part of me that loves, requires, and desires to read and write, as I grow.
For those of you who follow the farm blog, hello again, it’s nice to be back here with you.
For those of you who don’t but might follow along someday and might be reading these words then: hello, welcome. This is a space of sharing and healing for me (relocated from my previous blog Our Hungry Food), as I write to share my muses, ponderings, and wanderings of life here on the farm.
When the New Year began, my partner Les and I made the seemingly courageous decision to break up with Facebook. I say courageous because we both are small business owners, he an artist and me a farmer, and breaking away from the main free resource that connects us with the wider world and drives traffic and support to our life’s work is a pretty stinking huge deal – or at least, that’s what social media culture has conditioned us to believe.
Social media. The way we keep in touch with family and friends. The way we share our thoughts on everything from our basic human rights to our favorite travels (with photos and sometimes videos, too). It’s the way we show off. The way we dump off steam. The way we network. The way we get our news. The way we obsess over each other as we obsess over ourselves in some way furthering our awareness but lessening our view.
What’s there to like?
I had decided I was tired of it. I didn’t make a big announcement on my page before deleting my Facebook account, I just did it. But I kept my Instagram. I enjoy the photos, farm accounts, and friends who seem to share more thoughtfully there. However, the discrepancy in my approach to cultivating a healthier relationship with social media became apparent – I was there but not there. I saw the photo of a hand printed card by a local artist that I love with Mary Oliver’s most famous quoted line:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
But I did not read the caption that shared the 13 words sharing the sad news.
How funny. Mary speaks to me now after having not read into and through this jarring experience of peeing while reading and realizing then crying. What exactly is it that I will do with this one wild and precious life?
Well, my intention is to pay more attention – to be more present. To do what I love, which is to grow, read, write, and teach.
As Mary writes, “You do not have to crawl on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
To which I hear, I only have to let myself love what I love…
Mary Oliver, I love your writing. Heartstrong Farm, I love your land and community. Les Caison, I love your creative spirit and heart. Family, I love you near and far. Teaching and advocacy, I love you especially hard. Reading and writing, my other loves, here we are.
In 2017, After the first couple of months living on the farm, I tragically lost our cat Archie to the pace of Highway 64. I loved that cat. He walked up to my aunt and uncle’s home on the Chesapeake Bay, innocently yet purposefully one Easter morning almost 9 years ago now. He was all fur and snuggles, with a good hunting habit and a penchant for warm bellies.
After finding Archie along the highway and cradling him back to and into the land, I read over him
A Pretty Song:
From the complications of loving you
I think there is no end or return.
No answer, no coming out of it.
Which is the only way to love, isn’t it?
This isn’t a playground, this is
earth, our heaven, for a while.
Therefore I have given precedence
to all my sudden, sullen, dark moods
that hold you in the center of my world.
And I say to my body: grow thinner still.
And I say to my fingers, type me a pretty song,
And I say to my heart: rave on.
This song seems especially apropos now, as I ponder the absence of someone I have never met who has shaped so much of who I know myself to be today.
Life is a complicated love, but thankfully to love it there is no one way.
Thank you Mary Oliver, for inspiring so many of us through dark and light – and speaking comfort and inspiration into your fresh absence. From your passing, a love of mine is reborn – and how lovely for it to be one of words.