24 May 2017

The World Is Perfect. It’s A Mess. Living In Joy.

By: Jon Katz

The World Is Perfect

We are called upon, I believe, to participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.

In The Art Of Living, which is valuable to me in anxious times, and which I am reading once more, Joseph Campbell writes that when we talk about the world's problems, and when we talk and fight and  obsess about fixing and setting the world's problems, we are wasting our precious time and energy and strength.

The world is perfect, he writes. The world is a mess.

Historians and mystics know that the world has always been a mess, every generation from the first says so.

Since human beings began to evolve, the world has been a mess almost all of the time, getting better in some ways, worse in others. I am not gloomy about life, but I have long believed – like many of the prophets –  that it is the destiny of human beings to eventually destroy their Mother, the Earth, in one way or another.

It seems a part of the human condition, of our genes,  to succumb to greed, domination, violence, envy and hatred. And also to search for peace and love and hope and compassion.

All of these feelings are a part of us, and always have been.

Perhaps through war, perhaps through the greed and plunder that is ravaging the planet,  the mess grows. This sister  now cries out to us because of the harm we are inflicting on her.

This may seem gloomy to you, but it is not gloomy to me. It is liberating, honest and profoundly spiritual for me. Like many times before, this seems like especially troubled times to many thinking and aware people. The world is a mess. It is comforting just to say it.

Campbell cautions us to open our eyes, and accept that we are not going to change it.

It is too big for us, too much for any human to take on.

We can live in joy or succumb to argument and despair.

In our lives, all of the problems of the world are brought into our head, a hundred times a day.

We don't hear about the slaughter of innocents days later, or for one or two days. Tragedy and horror are embedded into our neural systems, into our consciousness.  They become us.

The suffering of the world – always profound and widespread, is no longer distant or remote  –  it shapes the way in which we look at the world and feel. The seers and exploiters love to tell us this is bringing us all together, but it is also tearing us apart.

We are not going to change it, at least  not by looking outward, by watching the news, by arguing in front of a computer. Our job is to straighten out our lives, do our own good, bring meaning to our lives.

The world is perfect, the world is a mess. Being alive is the meaning.

It has always been a mess, and  history reminds us that it will always be a mess. I accept that, it is liberating, and it frees me to do good in ways that were not imaginable to me to just a few months ago. That is my joyful noise.

My job has been to straighten myself out, and I have accept that task and work hard at it, and will be working at it until I drop. I am willing to get rid of the life I've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for me.

Posted in General

Almost Ready: The Round House Cafe

By: Jon Katz

The Round House Cafe

The new Round House Cafe is especially beautiful, Scott Carrino and his workers cleaned and shined up the beautiful old wooden floor this week, they are beginning to fill the beautiful old shelves with coffee and aprons and other neat stuff. Scott, who is exhausted,  expects to have a "soft" opening – coffee and muffins and pastries and cookies – sometime in the next week or so.

Moving into the old general store on the ground floor of Hubbard Hall has been complex and time-consuming. Expensive, too. But they are getting near the end. This space is beautiful and atmospheric, a destination all of its own, on top of the food and soups and wondrous desserts.

I worry a bit about Scott, he is just so tired all the time, but he is also living his dream – a community cafe right in the middle of Main Street. He and Lisa have fought long and hard for it, many of you have helped. Life is about dreams and dreamers, I think. Scott will take his dream all the way, and quite soon.

Posted in General

Red Meets Summer

By: Jon Katz

Red Meets Summer

Red was visiting with some of the Mansion residents on their back porch Monday and he turned his head and noticed Summer, a stray cat who has adopted the Mansion, sitting behind a rocking chair watching him.

Red is the Dean Martin of dogs, he is Mr. Cool. And he just glanced sideways at Summer before deciding to ignore here. She sat by the chair as we walked into the Mansion and Red didn't even waste a glance on  here, although she kept a watchful eye on him.

Summer will be spayed and given her shots and bloodwork this week, it is not possible for her to move into the Mansion right now. One of the residents has a serious allergy to cats and the Mansion staff said they could not put any patient at any kind of risk.  It might be possible for her to come inside at some other point.

Summer has made a good move coming there, she is fed regularly and has warm and dry shelter outside of the Mansion. Several people in town and on the staff would happily take her in if it became necessary, but she is doing very well where she is. She has lots of people loving her and caring for her.

The residents can visit her outside if they wish, and she has a fine life.

I'll keep you posted on any Summer updates and thanks again for helping to pay her medical bills. She will be a healthy cat as well as a loved one.

Posted in General

Garden Friend

By: Jon Katz

Garden Friend

Some of the big men in trucks here are pretty tough, many of them dread snakes and hate them, and kill them every time they see one. Maria is fond of snakes, and is glad to see them in our gardens. They eat rodents and aerate soil and are a valuable part of the eco-system here.

We dug a new garden Sunday, a wildflower garden in front of our lawn chairs, it is the first new garden of the year, but perhaps not the last. We have seven or eight new gardens that Maria tends lovingly, and they have ringed the house in beauty and color. Every time Maria spots a garden, she picks it up and comes to show it to me.

I do not hate snakes or fear them, I don't have the ease with them that Maria has, she talks to them, visits them, puts them back in the garden where she thinks they will do the most good. I took this photo of her holding a garter snake the other day, and it was a portrait of strength to me, something one of her goddesses might do.

I could not imagine touching or talking to a snake in my other life, living in nature and among animals has opened me up in so many ways. We don't mind snakes here, they are not poisonous and go good. They move in the most beautiful ways, and this one wanted to pose for his portrait.

Maria put him back in the garden and later, he kept popping his head up between two rocks to stare at us and scold us for bothering him.

Posted in General

Preparations. A Big Weekend. Big Smiles.

By: Jon Katz


Emma asked me where she might change the baby when she comes tomorrow, and I think she was a little startled when we said the dining room table would be fine. We aren't really very formal here.

Maria got the car seat into my cars yesterday, a major achievement I could not ever have managed by myself. She also put the crib and high chair together. We have to assemble the baby monitor and I think we're set. Emma send her own choice of ecologically acceptable diapers and wipes.

I've been stocking up on food – cheerios, fresh eggs from the chickens, bread, apple cider bacon, some greens, grass-fed beef. I think I better get some beer (a new micro-brewery opened in our town last week). I'm excited, we have never had a baby staying in the farmhouse, let alone my grandchild.

I suppose I'm a bit anxious, at least Maria says I am. We also have the refugee soccer team coming on Saturday, and we plan a full afternoon for them – sheepherding, art lessons, stress and movement lessons, pizza at Pompanuck Farms, a tour of Ed Gulley's dairy farm. I hope Robin and Emma come along, it's up to them.

I just noticed strange sounds coming from the plumbing and pipes, have to go check for septic trouble. And I have to go and sign more books at Battenkill, they are closing in on 1,000 copies sold there. My head is spinning a bit.

Posted in General