Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sowing Seeds

The song that I have been listening to the past few days is "Sower of Seeds" by Pete Seeger. You can listen on Rhapsody at or you can read the lyrics at For me, the key part is the part that goes

Some seeds are trodden in the pathway;
Some seeds fall on stony ground.
But some seeds fall on fallow ground

In the sidebar of this blog, I have links to some blogs I like. One is Fay Campbell's blog, The Laughing Pantheist.

One day at the supermarket, I noticed that Seventh Generation laundry detergent is now being sold in compostable containers. When I saw that, I recalled that a few months before, Fay had written to Seventh Generation to express her concern about their use of plastic bottles. When I saw the compostable bottles, what I saw was that what Fay had worked for had come true. I thought, "That Fay sure is powerful."

It was only a few days after that trip to the supermarket that Fay wrote her post "Losing my ego or saving my religion?" In this post, she writes of her frustration that her effort to bring more sustainable practices to her workplace was not successful.

Two efforts made toward sustainability, one directed to Seventh Generation, one to her workplace. In one case, the result she desired came about. In the other case, the result she desired did not come about. But the effort was the same in both cases. It's not like she did something correctly one time, and something incorrectly the other time. And, even though she did not get the result she wanted in her workplace, maybe she planted the seed of an idea. Maybe her colleagues did not adopt her recommendations, but maybe if they hear the same thing from another person in the future, maybe now they will be a little more receptive to it.

We have our own willpower, but that is all. We cannot control the will of others. We cannot overcome illness just by willpower. We cannot stop the turning of the seasons. The world is full of plants and animals each doing what best advances their own well-being. Our own willpower is just one among an infinite number of forces at work in the universe. We can choose our actions, but we can't control how the world will respond to those actions.
Fay is a hero for standing up for what she believes in. It does not matter that in one case her recommendation was adopted, and in one case it was not. She doesn't control that. She only controls what she does.

We go through life sending out seeds. We can't control which ones will sprout, but we can make choices about which ones to sow, where to sow them, and how much to tend what we have planted. Sometimes I have trouble making those choices. If we see cement all around, do we keep dropping seeds on the cement, or do we journey in the hopes of finding fertile soil? But if cement is in all directions as far as the eye can see, how do we choose a direction? And how do we know if we ever will find soil? If the cement goes on forever, making the journey would be a waste of effort,

If we scatter seeds all over, just keep on moving to scatter more seeds, and never tend the ones we have planted, the ones we have planted have less chance of survival. But if we just sow one and tend it singlemindedly, then if it dies, we have nothing.

There is no answer. There is no guaranteed right way. We just have to keep putting our seeds out there, in accordance with our best judgment. Life will never turn out exactly as we planned or hoped, but if we're lucky, it will be an interesting and joyful journey.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Unhealed hurts

The liner notes of Atwater Donnelly's album The Weaver's Bonny say that the song "The Angel's Part" was written for a woman who as a child, longed to get the part of the angel in the annual Christmas play. Year after year, she longed for it, and year after year, she did not get it. The liner notes say, "Now in her eighties, she mentions it still."

I remember an article I read that was based on an interview with a woman who wrote a book about her grandmother. The grandmother died when her son, the author's father, was a child. All his life, he talked about how he did not have a mother.

These two anecdotes both tell of someone who still remembers a hurt from long ago.

The strongest, wisest people have lived through hurts. They have lived through them, and they have learned how to heal. They people who still tell the stories of long ago hurts have not found a way to heal.

I bear such hurts. I can think of five. Things I still think about. I feel like my life would have been better, I would have been a better person, were it not for these things. These hurts still hold me back. These hurts remind me of my inadequacy.

Can I heal these hurts? Can I take them out into the light, look at them, and then grow beyond them?

But you know, it's not always on us to have a positive attitude. If a man psychologically abuses his wife, and she believes his words, believes in her inadequacy, it's not all on her for believing him. We don't say she should just overcome the hurt. She needs to remove him from her life.

So, I take out my hurts and look at them. Some I can heal in that way. Looking at them. Feeling them. Making a dance about them. Others, I look at them and I realize that my current situation still perpetuates those feelings. Then the problem becomes not how to soothe the feelings but how to change the situation.

Maybe I can look at my hurts. Maybe I can grow beyond them. Maybe I can heal. Maybe I can grow toward becoming strong and wise.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Have I found what I was looking for?

I think it has been the past 11 years that I've felt something was missing from my life, although it was 6 years ago that I really hit bottom. In this time I''ve been searching for what is missing. I applied to numerous jobs, went to two job interviews, attended three conferences, took four academic classes,took a professional development course, looked at master's degree programs in two different fields, went on a retreat, volunteered at concerts, volunteered at festivals, became a DJ, started gardening, took up photography, got involved with two community organizations, started 5 blogs, became a pantheist, became a druid, studied trees, took swing dancing, took Nia, took yoga, and took tai chi.

Last night I went Morris dancing. I went Morris dancing, and I felt like, this is the thing I have been looking for. All those other things I did, were never quite the right thing. People told me to just appreciate what I have, and not always be looking for something, but I knew that my life was not right, I knew I needed to keep looking. I went Morris dancing, and I realized, those other things I did, I tried to make myself more passionate about them than I really was, because I needed something to be passionate about. Now that I have Morris dancing, I don't have to make myself try to be passionate about the other things.

Of course, things that look all glowing at first glance grow duller as reality sets in, so my initial impression of Morris dancing may be unrealistic. And of course, Morris dancing is not going to be my entire life. It's still worthwhile to continue some of the above-mentioned other activities. I still have to earn a living. I still treasure my family and friends. But in Morris dancing, I feel that I've finally found something that I've been looking for for a long time.