"There is no 'try'...there is only do, or do not." ~ Yoda

"There is no 'try'...there is only do, or do not." ~ Yoda

Preparing myself, my family and my friends for the Fourth Turning.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Faith and Reason

I awoke depressed today, for no good reason. It does get lonely here.  I don't yet know many people, and certainly don't know their habits and schedules, and so don't yet know what opportunities for social connection exist.

I expect it will take some time.  Perhaps more so than for most people, given my solitary nature.

And I've been doing some thinking lately, and that can sometimes do it - the kind of thinking where I am gravely concerned over the manner of world my children and grandchildren will inhabit, and I then become infused with a sort of parental guilt at the behavior of my generation and the one previous.

What have we wrought?

The weather, of course, is challenging; this boggy, clammy, soup of a week or so we're having, interspersed with brief respites of sunlight, crisp air, and brilliant vermillion waves cresting atop the ridges and sloughing into the valleys of the autumn sea.  Like swimming in a lake of despair, with but brief breaths of hope.

The sheer volume of work necessary and remaining to transform this wonderful house and our property nearby into the vision we have for our home and our livelihood is astounding.  Doing as much as possible by hand and by myself, without cost to our cash, can be exhausting and isolating. 

Even certain minor political considerations have arisen unanticipated, and unsettlingly:

When the gentleman arrived to inspect and connect my wood furnace, I inquired as to the possibility of placing a wood stove in the dining room and connecting it to the existing, original chimney and taking the oil furnace off line.

He informed me that would likely not meet code, as a wood stove alone is deemed insufficient to heat a home.  I'm still finding pieces of my jaw when I sweep the dining room floor.  Why ever should the state care, much less dictate, the manner in which I heat my home, save a legitimate duty to ensure, for the common welfare, that it is poses no risk to others within the community, and to a certain extent, minor children (if any) within my household (the State has no legitimate right to be concerned with risk to myself, but I welcome its informed opinion should it perceive one)?

The tentacular nature of the state is becoming alarming.

It should not be so challenging to be a compliant citizen; indeed, when the burdens of compliance with abstract, meaningless, and punitive rules that add no value to society's general well being become so onerous and contradictory that compliance is impossible, it then becomes not only the best interest of, but also the duty of, each citizen not to rail against them, but to ignore them, wholesale.

And if they should do so, all of them, at once, and those charged with upholding the law, yet realizing that the law is absurd, where to at the same to cease to enforce absurd lawitry, and choose instead only to enforce those laws that were beneficial, then we might have a world that made sense.

In the meantime I must endure the despair of having encountered yet another obstacle.

But to heap scorn upon injury, the final irony arises:  my oil furnace, the duct work recently cleaned, has now taken on a loud humming when in operation; something is amiss, and I shall have to have it remedied. This will entail more time, more work, and more frustration. 

Yet I am told by the state that I must prefer this noisy, smelly machine lurking in the bowels of my home, itself requiring scores of square feet of sheet metal in the form of piping to carry its product about, and electricity to feed its noisy fan to assist it in doing so, to the quiet comfort of a near-to-hand wood stove, radiant and comforting to arthritic bones, provisioned by my hand alone, serviced by my hand alone, and quite capable of warming the home with no mechanical action whatsoever.

And this in a region that seeks to pride itself on its green efforts, in a state that offers subsidies to consumers to promote reduced energy footprints.

Dear State:  Will you please get out of my way?

So being depressed, and injured, and scorned, and feeling more than a little sorry for myself, and quite lonely at times, and rather poor compared to my accustomed lifestyle, I mope.

This, then, is the call to discipline that I am today given, that I must match my challenges not with toil and endurance and strength and a grim, quiet acceptance of pain, as when a soldier.  Nor must I employ the odious tools used to navigate the Machiavellian halls of banking, that corrupt and stinking corpse in the living room of our society, in which I was until recently employed.

That second set of tools I am loathe to ever employ again, and suspect I am therefore forever unwilling to accept corporate employment again, unless some substantial move towards a genuine ethic were to spontaneously arise in corporate America. The first may aid me somewhat in my toils, but are not equal to the task before me.

I am not given the opportunity to simply bull on through; I must have faith and employ reason. I must have faith in myself and my purpose, and in those whom I know stand with me.  I must keep to reason, and not be lulled by stochastic events that appear to counter the trend.  I must have faith in my own ability to reason; in my independence graced by my presence in a community; and in my ability to discipline myself.

Each day I must recall the reasons I have chosen this path.  Each day I must review the progress.  There must be some physical labor each day, and on most days, a full day of labor is expected.  Each day, I will remind myself that this thing I call the Jupiter Project is my attempt to build a safe and secure place for my family and my community against the storm I know is coming.

And what if I am wrong, and no storm comes?  Then no harm has been wrought: if successful I will have established an independent small-hold farm capable of sustaining itself and its denizens, with appropriate support from the community and with appropriate returns to the community.

My food will be healthy and self-produced; my days and evenings my own; my labors directed so that the profits accrue to me, and not to some distant chief executive and his crony shareholder.  Were I capable of prayer, I would pray that this outcome should occur.

And if I am right, then I will have built a place secure from the worst of climate change, at least as secure a place as I am able to achieve given the limitations of resources and my place in space, time, and history.

As for poverty, I am yet hopeful that I am this winter, barring some future misfortune, as 'poor' as I am likely to get.   Next year, if all goes as planned, the work on the home will be finished, and the work of producing food will begin in earnest.  I will at that point be wealthier than I am now, for having invested my time and toil in the preparation of this place to that end, with comfort beckoning at the close of each day, to be shared with my wife, herself isolated in her toils far away from me, striving toward our common end.

For what is wealth, but an amount of capital available to one that exceeds one's immediate needs, accumulated over time, so as to improve ones' life and measures of ease, and the closeness of family?  I am too accustomed to thinking of wealth as money and the ability to get things on a moment's notice, by walking into a store.

True wealth is the possession of resources sufficient to ensure one's survival, and then some.  It is the possession of the means of production of food, shelter, and all of the necessities of life, embedded within the community of which one is a part.

The wealth of man has grown endlessly since the first hominid chose to carry with him (or her, for that matter), rather than abandon after use, a rock he picked up as a tool.  On some distant square meter of ground, at some moment in deepest history, that rock found itself in a place where it was useful, and where it had value for the simple fact that no other rocks were around and a rock was needed.

At that moment it ceased to be a senseless burden, and became wealth.

Like that primitive creature who reasoned the usefulness of the rock and kept faith with its own decision until proven right, I will hew to my faith that I am right, that this is necessary, and that it is my task to prepare this place for my kin.

These things shall keep despair from my door during this long winter and into the spring, when I will offer to my beloved wife this house as our home.

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