Sunday, January 17, 2010

Viewpoint: Imperfections

As I get older, I know less.  I know that's an old saw, but as I'm experiencing rather intensely, it's a new saw.  I discovered it and I claim it.

One thing I'm bumping into a lot is the concept of image--my image as a mother, my image as an ecovillage resident, White Hawk's image as a place to live.  My ideas around image spring from the I-know mind.  This is how it should be, and you're not measuring up!

I remember touring EVI years ago and noticing Tide in their laundry room.  That image sticks with me to this day.  Tide, I thought!  How could they?  Oh, but they did.  What did I think?  That they were going to have some kind of laundry police enforcing standards so I could feel comfortable with my idea of an ideal?  Tide was not pretty enough for me.  It didn't fulfill the image of harmlessness I so badly wanted to accumulate and project.

They didn't have enough solar panels to please me, either.  I smarmed about it with Joe later.  (Yes, I made that word up.)  We talked about how we would do it.  Better, of course.

Now I'm living in an ecovillage in a house without solar panels.  The shame.  Where is my image?  I almost feel naked here without my solar panels, the ones I imagined having on my house, the ones that would make me okay.  If I came into a bunch of money tomorrow, I'd slap 'em on the roof.  It would give me great pleasure.  What are my motives?  Very good question.

I had to live the ideal to know it wasn't the ideal and never would be.  But it's better.  It's real.  That puts you and me and everyone out there on equal footing.  Sometimes I'm very uncomfortable with the notion that living here is "better" somehow.  I want to do something to hammer that down and equalize it.

Here's what living here is.  It's a natural and easy expression of who I am.  I know that because I'm here.  Other natural and easy expressions of who I am: composting, homebirthing, buying and eating local and organic food, cloth diapering , living in a space others would consider small, planting lots of stuff outside in a generally permaculture-y way, baking vegan and organic.  And yet other natural and easy expressions of who I am:  drinking Coke, hopping in my car any damn time I feel like it, consuming incredible amounts of sugar, using a lot of water, munching on Cheez-its, thumbing my nose at BPA.

I'm not proud.  But I'm not ashamed, either.  That's the wonder of it.  Living in a place that labels itself with implications of virtue has brought me face-to-face with all those images and labels that construct my self.  It helps me realize that change will happen exactly when it does.  Forcing any kind of virtuous change from the outside, in my experience, uses up so much cerebral and judgmental energy that it kind of sucks the sap out of life.  Vital, real change has a momentum of its own and unfolds perfectly.

The antiperspirant story is a good one.  I keep antiperspirant handy for those times when I believe you people out there in the world will make me sweat.  I notice I don't "need" it at home.  When we first moved here and people were coming by, several times I moved the antiperspirant from the bathroom shelf into the medicine cabinet.  I could not allow the green home tour folks to see that hard plastic bottle full of chemicals that must be bad, bad, bad.  The deodorant crystal nestled in a basket?  A winning image-maker if I ever saw one.  That stays on the shelf.

Anyhow, silliness.  Come on over and I'll make a pile on the table of the stuff I've hidden.


  1. Awesome...Thank you for that! I feel the same way, and it is nice to hear it from someone living in that 'ideal' place that I hope to live one day!! Hopefully we will be neighbors!

  2. Hey, neighbor! Hope to meet you someday. :)

  3. my deodorant is in the medicine cabinet for the same partner hides his empty coke bottles underneath the organic raw goat cheese packages at the bottom of the recycling bin for the same reason. life is balance. look forward to meeting you all one day :)