Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Under Construction

It's hard to acknowledge our progress on the homestead. We've been consumed with life off the land lately (read: working). What little time we've spent on the land has been spent responding to immediate needs (read: ant infestation, failing refridgerator, and integrating duck flocks).

This means the things that can wait to get done, have waited. We still have incomplete floors (they are missing the molding and some transition strips) and half-painted walls. I'm not sure I've even unpacked everything. As one of my dear friends noted on her brief stay, "you really haven't decorated or anything yet!"

Our yard. Oh our yard. It's on the verge of becoming one of "those" yards in the "country" with overgrown vegetation and random junk in piles throughout the lawn. Really, all we need is a rusted out car and we'd achieve the image.

"starts" from earlier this summer. we'll see how they grow.
Somehow I've been able to close my eyes, hold my breath, and have our friends and family over despite its imperfection. I cringe reflexively as soon as someone I love comes driving up. I try to remind myself that I truly cannot fix our house to the standard I want with the time and money that we have right now. Then I remind myself that part of this process I'm involved in requires that I put people first and connect with my community before saving my own pride or slaving to my own perfection.

I'm grateful to al our friends that have come to visit, come to help, come to stay the night and ultimately come along with us on this journey. It's worth the vulnerability to have you along.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Death & Taxes

I shy away from controversial topics. Unless you count things like recycling, water conservation, living off the land, and eating meat. Which, really aren't all that controversial in the Pacific Northwest. Except the eating meat one.

But faith is something that I'm realizing is embedded more and more into every day life as I continue my journey so  I find it cropping up here, though not in a way I could have predicted.
It's strange because I used to think I lived my life walking by faith. I wondered why a mustard seed or any other smidgeon of faith was so hard to come by for the remainder of the population. 
Turns out, I used to be a person of certainty--not faith. I knew what I liked. I knew what I didn't like--even without trying it. From the time I can remember, I knew what I wanted my future to look like and set about achieving it. I knew what I believed. Sheesh! I even knew that what I believed was right. 

It was so easy. Life went like this: Something predictable happens. I respond in a predictable way, with confidence that this particular way is the "right" way. Predictable event ends. Repeat.

For years, this is how life played out. Sure, things occassionally deviaited from the predictable plan, but for the most part I got what I wanted and I wanted what I got. Certaibly there were times, large periods of time in fact, when things didn't happen the way I wanted, but they happened the way I expected. Even in the worst of times, I knew they were coming, and had a detailed plan on how I'd handle it according to my familiar set of rules. "There are advantages to being a pessimist," I'd tell myself. "Expeccting the worst means you are prepared for the worst. And never disappointed." It felt good.

Do you know what I am talking about? How can I articulate the safety and comfort that comes from  the rigidity only certainty can provide? It's cautiously wonderful and, dare I say, beautiful? For those of you concerned, I say "beautiful" fully knowing that beauty is only beauty to you when it is subdued and possibly sedated. After all, when you are that guarded against pain and surprise, you are equally guarded against the pleasure and goodness you can take in. And for good reason: When you live within the columns of a tightly controlled spreadsheet, where all inputs are automatically tabulated and summarized at the end of the page, you come to believe that beauty rests in the order and that all pleasure is best when muted. Anything more than that might impact your tightly calibrated system in unanticpated ways.

All of this goes along smoothly as it always has. Maybe you go to college and concentrate on your already decided major. Or maybe you've done your research and know that "higher education" isn't needed for your career of choice, so you save yourself the debt and take pride in your risk-benefit analysis at the ripe age of 18. At some point you may choose to find a partner (or not), start a family (or not), and maybe take on your own flock of ducks (or not). 
Then it happens.
A small, unexpected thing. A huge NIMBY. A series of events that individually wouldn't matter, but in sum amount to more weight than you can handle. A repition of the family cycle you worked so hard to avoid. A birthday or milestone that snuck upon you in a way nothing else has. Whatever it is, it wedges itself beneath your foundation, pushing itself under the fulcrum of your grounding and tips you over into a new reality.

Then suddenly you are left with the profound shock that you have nothing you can truly count on. Something as simple as turning on the light in the kitchen requires a trust and faith in electricity, your light bulbs and your ability to flip the switch, and something as natural as ducks laying eggs is as out of your control as the length of harvest. Death and taxes are likely occurances, not certainties.

I wonder if most people started out where I've ended up or if others go through a transition like this at some point in later in life. I'm still learning what life looks like on the other side of the mirror, and mostly, how to cope with it.

"The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty." Anne Lamott