Maybe the problem with the world today isn't just rising fuel prices, tainted tomatoes or the Bush Administration. Maybe drowning our daughters in images of malnourished models, wrinkless middle-aged women, and thousand dollar shoes isn't why things seem amiss. It may even be possible that our increasing time at work or commuting, and waning hours spent in the not-so-great-anymore-outdoors is not effecting our lives at all. After all, what's life really worth without a fat paycheck, low interest rate mortgage, and hefty retirement account?
I don't mean to say that 10 hours a day behind a desk kissing some fat, cranky rich guy's ass isn't hard work and totally worth it. Sure, you're not likely these days to end up running the company, and handing it off to your eldest son. And maybe you won't live to spend your golden years blissfully drinking brandy on the (hurricane-torn) beach, but that's really not what I'm getting at.
I've been working in the yard as of late, since the sun has finally decided to grace us with her presence. You know, getting my hands dirty….breaking a sweat…. And it reminded me of something I recently read.
"And when that crop grew, and was harvested, no man had crumbled a hot clod in his fingers and let the earth sift past his fingertips. No man had touched the seed, or lusted for the growth. Men ate what they had not raised, had no connection with the bread. The land bore under iron, and under iron it gradually died; for it was not loved or hated, it had no prayers or curses." (John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath- 1939)
Maybe we've forgotten our place here. That we, though we have advanced, and innovated, and "broken-through" with science and medicine and mathematics; have lost our place on the earth.
There was a time when we grew what we ate, we built our own houses out of materials we gathered from our own land, and we prepared the food we put into the bellies of our children. We didn't worry about pesticides or preservatives or active cultures. We didn't need pills to get us to sleep, because we tired ourselves by living. We didn't suffer from anxiety because we knew that God, or Mother Nature, or the harvest ruled our lives. We depended on the riches of the earth for what we had, and the earth received our blood, sweat, tears and honor in return.
When was the last time you gave thought to the animal that gave its life for your meal, or wondered if it was treated humanly before it did so? When was the last time you slept deeply after laboring over something you made with your own hands? When have you grown life-giving nutrients with care and patience, just as you would grow your children?
Maybe something has been lost on the world that we cannot get back. Maybe, like the tender blossom of a naive teen, we have lost our innocence, and in the pursuit of Escalades, vacation homes, and Hedge Funds, we have lost what matters most. The union of living things has become extinct, like the arctic creatures that will soon lose their homes to Greenhouse. And our ingenious cures for illnesses and disorders that we surely caused when we chose greed over knowledge will pay off in the end. We will die in multimillion dollar hospitals, with six figure balances, and almost no concern over the divorce of man and nature that we've left in our wake. We will have forgotten the days when sunrise was the only alarm clock necessary, and fun was little more than a favorite uncle with a gift for telling stories.