Yesterday morning while I was watching the birds finding things to eat on the frosty ground, I was struck again at how crippled by convenience I am, in the sense that, for much of the year, I am cut off from the activity of getting food. The time spent in direct contact with the earth, the energy used, and the attention and involvement required in an endeavor that yields varying results — all of the mental and physical benefits that are part of this necessary and sacred process are lost. Is it any wonder that when a bird sings, it really sings, and that when a man pushes a cart through a grocery store with his ears full of electronic music piped in from headquarters, singing is usually the last thing on his mind? The simple and obvious truth is, I would be far better off outside gathering wild greens, or sitting at a stone grinding corn. The more primitive my daily life is in this regard, the healthier and more in tune with my surroundings I become. During spring and summer, when I plant and work in the garden, I am touched by the earth’s gentle, restorative sanity. If I am not made whole, I am at least pointed in the direction of what that wholeness might be, in a way that is similar to sleeping under the stars and being out in the elements. I am enough aware of this the whole year around, of course, that I do my best to meet life and the world part of the way. I am barefoot or in my simple sandals all of the time. I expose myself to all kinds of conditions and weather. And perhaps this is why, when I come inside and close the door behind me, I feel a brief sense of loss. The squirrels and birds never ask to come in. Rather, their presence outside is an invitation to join them. And as for civilization, not one of them is homeless, and all of them are healthy, vibrant, and clean until life comes to reclaim them. Wild life has its challenges, to be sure. But lack of energy, bewilderment, addiction, sleeping disorders, and constipation are not among them. This is why, when I sit down to eat, I pause for a moment to notice each of the things I am about to consume, and trace them back to their origins. I think of the rain and the sun and the wind. I think of the hands and the labor that helped make such a lucky moment possible. And I am grateful.
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Categories: Sweet Sleep and Bare Feet
Tags: Attention, Awareness, Bare Feet, Birds, Civilization, Cold, Convenience, Eating, Energy, Exercise, Food, Gardening, Gratitude, Health, Life, Mind and Body, Music, Sandals, Sanity, Simplicity, Singing, Sleep, Spirit-Health, Squirrels, Stars, The Earth, Work