“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
– Robert A. Heinlein’s character, Lazarus Long
What a month! After the recent 50 degree winter in Michigan, I got to spend time in the garden. I refreshed the mulching and took the pots out of the small greenhouse and onto the shelves where I usually keep them. After that it was off to clean the Greenhouse, pick up branches our Maple trees no longer were in need of and finally moving the larger pots into position for when I do plant them. Along with all my other garden duties, I am going to have to get a soil sample so that I can better serve our soil supplementing where it is needed. Most of our veggies’ grew brilliantly, but it can always be better and since I and Joe have to be all things to the garden – soil experts, harvesters, planters, weeders, greenhouse keepers and insect savvy – We seem to always be in learning mode, taking on something new while staying open to understanding all things are joined in our lives and nature. The more information, the more we can live with integrity – a connectedness.
When I left performing, and because it really was at the top of my game – I heard all kinds of reasons why I left. My favorite continues to be that I am/was afraid of success. It is incomprehensible to many, especially musicians who crave big stages and big crowds, that leaving when you are successful, well, there just has to be something wrong with you. What never seems to be considered is that I had accomplished my vision. The group was fantastic, the crowds amazing, the music was the best that I have ever played in a live situation (Lucy Mongrel wins for recorded efforts) – but honestly, I had done it all before. I had accomplished what I set out to do. What was the point of doing the same thing over and over again? For applause? That becomes empty and meaningless quick. Besides I was teaching full time which was rocking my world and wanted to do solo recordings, learn to cook, have a huge garden, write books, poetry and songs, pursue my spiritual interests and well the list keeps growing.
To just do one thing, pursue one career, seems to me too specialized, pointless. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people who are perfectly happy doing just that. And I say bless every one of them. But I wanted to be a citizen of the world, the universe – which meant that I needed to “know” what was happening around me. How are all things connected? What am I really made of? I love sitting at a table with a group of people and not know anything. Wow! You mean an opportunity to learn something else? The more I know the closer I get to compassionately understand what makes people, the world and I, tick. If you have lived it, you can feel it. (Ask anyone who was a waitress if they ever get beyond over-tipping). I knew there were more questions and answers in acknowledging and understanding my responsibility in being increasingly aware of a bigger picture. Specialization would only cut me off from what I was truly seeking – being connected.
But the myopic thinking in coming up with cures for what goes on in our world, the specialization if you will, looks just like the illness that we are suffering from and trying to cure. A day does not go by in politics (for example) without legislation intending to fix one problem but ultimately affecting a host of other issues. It’s the principle of unintended consequences, and a fact of life in our complex world where everything has become so compartmentalized that the whole picture is not considered – creating more problems. To be a great Politician would be daunting as you would have to have true knowledge in industrialization, history, economics, environment, infrastructures, health and the arts – while being compassionate, intelligent, spiritual and a true artist. Wow! Know anyone?
When living on the island, I watched a non-indigenous plant pretty much eradicate the nesting areas of water fowl and so much more. It is an infantile approach of let’s fix this and see what happens before considering how it just might play out.
The toe bone connected to the heel bone, The heel bone connected to the foot bone, The foot bone connected to the leg bone, The leg bone connected to the knee bone, The knee bone connected to the thigh bone, The thigh bone connected to the back bone, The back bone connected to the neck bone, The neck bone connected to the head bone…..
But where it really hits home for me is in the world of medicine. In the book Dragon Rises, Red Bird Flies, the author, Leon Hammer, M. D. (along with being an acupuncturist) states that he gravitated towards Chinese medicine because it was the fulfillment of a search for a congenial system of healing that embodies the inseparability of body and mind, sprit and matter, nature and man, philosophy and reality. It is a personal, subtle, gentle, yet highly technical medical system, which allows him to be close to essence – the life force – both his own and that of others”.
I remember being on a gruesome road trip with a woman who had set out to make all of our lives miserable. Then to add fire to the hell we were already in, the guitar player went psychotic (we later found out he did this with every band) and I had to fire him, picking up players on the way. It was horrible. But in the meantime my shoulder was shooting non-stop pain up my neck. I could not get it to stop. Every town we pulled into, the first thing I did was see a massage therapist or a chiropractor and yes, even went to an emergency room where they told me to take Tylenol – I was way past Tylenol. The pain was intolerable. I lived in Seattle at the time where my main healthcare practitioner – Jim Dowling, RN and Acupuncturist resided. He was an emergency nurse and had a thriving Chinese Acupuncture/Herb practice. I called him while on the road, begging him to help me somehow. He kept telling me, “It’s not your shoulder, it’s your liver”. He knew that the rage I was repressing due to the circumstances, the emotions, were being held in the liver sending it up the meridian to my shoulder. Well, sure enough, as soon as I got home, I went to see him, he massaged, poked and cleansed my liver – it was incredible what was being released, oh and by the way, the shoulder pain was immediately gone. He was not a specialist but a comprehensive thinker/practitioner who held the knowledge of how the body works; i.e. energetically, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
Not all problems are this simple to fix or are we lucky enough to find the people that we need to help us out of our situations. I don’t profess I have any of the answers. But I do have some big questions. If we apply our focus on a more comprehensive/big picture solution, will it take us to not only a more profound result, but a long-lasting one? One that works? One that doesn’t have the impact to someone or something else’s expense? How connected is everything to everything? If we look at the whole, will more problems get fixed than just the one we are looking at? And will that open the doors of a totality of perception?
I return my thoughts to the garden – For me, the ultimate metaphor for life. I put my hands in rich soil, acknowledging an element that is part of me. I know as I smell, feel and see the growth around me, that I will better understand the connectedness of everything. I say the prayer to Mother Earth – “I’m here for you so you can be here for me. You, Dear Mother Earth, are here for me so I can be here for you. Show me the natural world I live in, a world where all elements of living life have been taken into account – from the smallest critter to an universal alignment – allowing earth to become a masterpiece of harmony, intricacy and movement. Show me my dear Mother how we may create the greatest masterpiece of all.
The Radical Gardener
From My Garden to Yours
May Your Garden Always Grow
Sending you Tons of Love
Nut & Pear Brie
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts or pecans
1 tbl. brandy
1 (14-ounce) round brie
Apple wedges for serving
Pear wedges for serving
2 to 3 tbls. lemon juice
Crackers for serving
- In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, nuts and brandy. Cover and chill for at least 24 hours or up to one week
- Preheat overn to 500 degrees F
- Place the brie on an ovenproof platter or pie plate
- Bake for 4 or 5 minutes or until the brie is slightly softened
- Spread the sugar mixture in aneven layer on top of the warm brie and bake for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until the sugar melts
- Brush the fruit wedges with lemon juice and arrange them around 1 side of the brie. Place crackers around the other side