Saturday, June 06, 2009

Living on in memory

When my mom died, people sometimes told me that she would "continue to live in our memories". That sounded like a load of crap to me. She was dead and gone, and pretending that she still existed just because we remembered her was false comfort.

Today I had some different thoughts on the matter.

They start with a question of the nature of self: are we each distinct, separate, isolated beings? Or are we an expression of the ecosystem, and our relationships with the rest of the universe? For as long as I can remember, I've had the first perspective, but since reading The Ascent of Humanity I'm asking myself if the second makes more sense.

In the first, Mom was contained exactly within her body. She ended at the "skin boundary". Everything inside was her, and everything outside was Other. Or maybe her body was just a host, and her Self is some mote that is hosted inside the body. I'm not sure, but I was sure that the Self is complete contained within the body.

In the second, Mom is the expressions of the ecosystem that created and grew her (her parents, her food, her intestinal microflora, the air she breathed, the people and animals she loved, the woods she walked in). That includes our memories and thoughts of her. When she died, the body began to decompose, and our memories changed to incorporate that knowledge, but all the "outside the body" aspects of Mom continued to exist.

In the second, perhaps we would say that her existence was largely diminished by her death, but not eliminated.

Lessons from agriculture vs. hunting and gathering

I'm channeling The Ascent of Humanity here:

We learn about the nature of the universe from our experiences. What does a lifestyle of agriculture teach, compared to a lifestyle of hunting and gathering?

AgricultureHunting and Gathering
I get by because of my hard workThe world generously provides me with my needs
There is only as much food as I growThere is as much food as I need, just waiting to be found
Work hard today for results in the futurePlay today; do tomorrow's work tomorrow
Nature is cruelly indifferent, destroying my food without reason or purposeNature is generous and kind, providing my food without asking anything in return
Food (and everything else) is finiteFood (and everything else) is infinite

In conventional discussions of primitive living, our descriptions sound a lot like the first column: The life of uncivilized man was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short"; our pitiful ancestors had to struggle every day just to get by, "let's blast those fuckers back to the Stone Age". However, that's only because we take our precept ion of the universe and project it on to our perception of prehistoric life.

The good news for us isn't just that the second column is possible, but that the second column is true. The universe is inherently generous and kind, and we live in it as it is. Our only mistake is to believe that the first column is the truth.

We live in abundance.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Sienna convention

A friend recently opened a coffee shop here in Port Townsend, called "Better Living through Coffee". He takes his drip coffee very seriously.

Apparently his business is an attractor of Toyota Siennas. In red.

There's another, non-red Sienna just out of frame on the other side of the street.

In the woods

From Reid's wilderness classes.

A perfect forked stick for making a grilled sandwich:

Young people climb trees.

I took the twins with us one time. Here they are enjoying lunch.

Camera phone pics

The camera on my phone produces low-quality pictures, which is better than the no pictures I would get without it.

Apparently this water fountain is perfect for their purposes:

Dylan and Carcassonne:

Zephyr and I at the county courthouse.

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