I’m sitting in my new office, the space that used to be the summer kitchen back when electricity was just lightning and the ownership of human beings was tragically normal.
My tuckus is in the cookstove’s former location, the ceiling above me tinged by smoke and grease of decades.
My view skims over the garden, which is tucked in terraces below my line of sight, a grace since I might be up too much to weed if I could see the ground ivy creeping in from here. Beyond, the orchard, the unfortunate power pole, the pasture, and then the neighbor’s farmhouse, empty but tended by the son of the couple who passed some time ago.
It’s everything I love about the country – open land and people who need room but tend each other like the most tiny of garden sprouts with a gentle watching over and a fair amount of space.
I’ve been reading Wendell Berry’s wonderful collection of essays, Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food. He engages questions of community and fertilizer and diversification and animal husbandry and solitude in a balance that I can only hope to achieve in my words . . . and my life, too.
I used to scoff at Berry, his unwillingness to own a computer, his insistence that he hand-write his manuscripts (which his wife then types.) But the longer I live and the more pervasive information is, the more I feel the weight of “being informed” and “involved” in every pressing question of life on earth, the more I get Berry’s choice. The more I shift that way, too.
I’m not going to be discarding my laptop or severing the Internet connection to the house. But I am slowly beginning to let go of the idea that to be uninformed is to be uncaring, to let something go by is to say that something is unimportant.
I’m getting rid of the feeling that I must stay awake or I might miss something. I’m so so tired of being punch-drunk with information fatigue. I need rest.
Out the office door, I can see our orchard, the tiny stand of fruit trees that someone wise planted decades back. The apples are just flowering and the cherries and pear are already saving up their sugar in fruit. I sit and watch them be just what they are made to be. As Merton says, when a tree is being fully itself, then it is most in worship.
I’m aching to be more like a tree. . . rooted in this still place, sharing what I have with those close enough to grab it and taking in what I need from the soil at my feet.
I’ll learn to ignore the power pole when I need to and see beyond it to the lumbering cattle, the green hills, and my neighbors not yet gone.
Do you ever feel overloaded with information and connection? How do you manage that feeling in your daily life?