Minutiae: A journey through everyday life
the small, precise, or trivial details of something.“the minutiae of everyday life”
The winters of my childhood were freezing. Our snow boots, hats, mittens, and gloves were in heavy rotation from December until springtime, snowstorms were common, and I can remember a number of terrible ice storms that turned the world into a beautiful, but dangerous, sparkling snow globe. Our old house had a poor heating system that the landlord couldn’t, or didn’t care enough to fix, so my resourceful father installed a kerosene heater in the kitchen that pretty effectively warmed the whole house, except for the upstairs bedrooms on the chilliest days. The seasons were predictable, they started and stopped at the same times each year, and behaved in exactly the manner everyone expected. My sister and I, along with the other kids in the neighborhood, dug elaborate tunnel systems in the piles of snow that sat in the neighboring church’s parking lot through the winter, glacier-like in their massive size and immovability. We went ice skating on the pond at the edge of town and the creeks were often solidly frozen by midwinter. In the spring we played in the mud churned up by the snow melt. The summers were boiling hot and humid, and the fall days reliably grew chillier and chillier until eventually winter returned.
I still live in my hometown. But it feels very different now. The winters are warmer, or alternate between unseasonably cold days and unseasonably warm days. The creeks rarely freeze, and the pond is no longer safe to skate on, if it has any ice on it at all. My four year old is still waiting eagerly for enough snow to build a snowman with and it’s the beginning of february. Many days we don’t need mittens or warm coats, and it rains a lot. The summers are still hot, but even more humid. The spring and fall tend to extremes- very dry or very wet, depending on the year.
The rhythms of this planet shape our lives, guide us, direct us, instruct us with their cyclical nature, and carry us through our own small and sometimes tumultuous lives by reminding us we are part of systems so much larger than ourselves.
So what happens when those rhythms change, and when the changes are caused by our own hand?
Our species’ poor decisions have destabilized our planet’s cycles and systems, and now we find ourselves in a world made unfamiliar and becoming moreso all the time. We are losing ecosystems and species at an ever more alarming rate, and the projections, speculations, models and predictions for the future are mind blowingly grim.
And yet, life marches on, mostly as though the very ground under our feet isn’t changing, mostly like the world is the same predictable place it always has been, mostly like everything is fine, like there’s nothing to see here.
But yet there are so many of us, who in our hearts know something is very wrong, who know that opposition with the planet’s natural systems is unsustainable at best, and doomed at worst. There are very many of us who know somewhere inside that our culture is very broken, and that we must find another way of being in the world. And yet that is so very difficult to find, or to create. To know something is wrong and feel powerless to fix it is maddening.
The thing about civilization is it wants us to be isolated. It needs us to be broken down into fragments so small that it can manipulate our pieces. Our civilization requires us to be alone, demands that we stay separate from other people, places and things, even while we ache for connection, even while our hearts cry out for more.
We are living in the disconnect and are suffering for it, seeking connection wherever we can find it, in glowing screens, in mind altering substances, in other people who are also lost and searching for the same thing.
But the emptiness is inside of us. Most of us were born into it, the result of many generations of ancestors doing their best, stumbling through a way of living that has never felt right for our species, but trapped in it nonetheless.
It is a sinuous opponent, this beast, in that it is difficult to tell where it ends and we begin. Born into it, born of it, raised in it, fed from it, and perpetuated by us, again and again we are tricked into being both abuser, and abused, the consumers, and the consumed. Our culture is killing us and yet there is no where else to turn. Our culture reaches to the end of the earth and back again, the sprawl of globalization, urbanization, gentrification, isolation, and heartbreak the tracks we leave in our wake.
Before, I was concerned about the knowing of things. The losses, the numbers, the faces, the grief. The fragments. The shards. The husks of a world once wild.
I wanted to hold them. Hold it all in my hands and not let go. I wanted to stop the slide of extinction, to turn back the clocks to a time when we had not left our mark like so many dogs pissing in the dust.
But desire is a quicksand. It’s a fire that will swallow you, and leave you burning for more. There is nothing to hold onto there, nothing to keep you from slipping into the depths of wanting, starving for things to be any way other than what they actually are.
Wanting is a kind of denial; a refusal to face the facts already laid bare.
I want the world to be different than it is. I want the water to not be poisoned, I want the air to be clean, I want the soil to be intact, I want the ecosystem to not be collapsing, and I want to give my son something better than what I have to offer him. And that wanting makes me restless. It makes me prowl the edges of my life like a lioness pacing the confines of her cage. It’s hard to rest. The wanting makes it hard to be still. The wanting makes it hard to find peace. The world keeps turning. It does not matter what I want.
Here is what I have, what I know to be true.
That I am a mother, and a wife. That I love very much and am ruled by emotion. That the nearest river runs from north to south, and orion stands guard outside my window during these long winter nights, undeterred by the streetlamps that dim his light.
Mostly now I am interested in putting the pieces back together. My pieces, all the pieces. I am gathering, bits of this and piles of that, sifting through the detritus of this civilized life to find the fragments that matter, the fragments that make sense, the fragments that have been lost over time, and forgotten.
I am tired of being broken. I am tired of being manipulated, I am tired of the pattern of being both abuser and abused. I want not to hurt. I want not to hurt others. I want to be healed. I want more than anything to be whole.
I want a different world, yes. But really, that means nothing.
The devil is in the details, the little things, the scraps. The work is in the day to day. The noticing, the connecting, the collecting, the repairing. The littlest things become the glue. The smallest bits can sometimes lead the way to the biggest change.
So here then, is my collection. The pieces I find along the way, the parts once lost to me that are finding their way home again.
Here is my new project and new blog. The theme is a loose one- this is merely a collection of small things, the snippets I feel like writing about, or rather can’t NOT write about. My little adventures, my day to day, my feelings about things. Part nature journal, part regular journal, part whatever it may be, the very act of writing soothes me, the reflection process helps to keep me sane.
I think journaling, especially nature journaling, can help us understand ourselves in terms of the wider world. It certainly does that for me. It also gives us a chance to connect with the wild places that surround us. Whether it’s a city park or a deep wilderness, we are animals and require a relationship with the natural world to be healthy and well. Journaling helps me pay attention, demands a certain focus from my days, reminds me to ask questions, and forces me to look and listen for the answers. Keeping track of the day to day, the little things, the nuts and bolts gives us a record of the passage of time, allows us to notice what changes around us and what doesn’t, and gives us a chance to look for new patterns and cycles in the ecosystem and inside ourselves. Keeping track of things helps me feel a tiny bit less helpless, a tiny bit more in control, even if that control is mostly imagined. It helps me feel like the world is just slightly less maddening, and just slightly more understandable, which helps me feel better about the state of things in general.
This project is a thank you to those people, places, and things who have taught me, held me, loved me, and for those who continue to do so, unfailingly, unflinchingly, despite my many flaws. And it is an apology to the people, places and things I have hurt, intentionally or unintentionally, the people, places, and things that, despite my best efforts, I continue to hurt, or to create pain for. I am deeply, deeply sorry for any and all suffering I have caused. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry.
I have become a little confused as of late. I have lost sight of my center- my balance is off. This is an attempt to steady myself, to categorize and clarify, to focus, refocus, pay attention, and wake up. It’s a wish to discover where I truly fit into this world, and to take comfort and joy from the spaces I already inhabit. Maybe it’s a kind of love letter to myself. “Hello, you’re ok, you’re still here, you’re fine.” that kind of thing. A reminder.
And it’s for sure a love letter to everything else. It’s the details that floor me, that take my breath away and sweep me off my feet. The spaces between Revel’s little teeth, the stripe on the sunflower seed, the depth in my husband’s brown eyes, the snake skin translucent and discarded on the bank of my favorite creek, the voice of a loved friend on the phone. There is so much here. So much. My heart is always so full.
This blog is a home for the the stuff that spills over. My life with my family, my work taking care of children, my work with plants and herbs, adventures in unschooling Revel, my four year old son, my love for my nephew Zander; my love of the natural world.
All my loves. My love. My love. My heart.
As I continue to search for ways to exact change in the world, as I continue to dream of a better world outside my door, I know I need to also look within, into my own life, into the things that make me tick, into the patterns and cycles that make me who I am, but also tie me to unhealthy habits I’ve dragged with me through life. There is change afoot, an unrest I recognize in myself and others, a deep dissatisfaction with the old patterns we’ve been locked in, personally, but also governmentally, economically, and culturally. So many of us are on a quest for something more.
The path to revolution is a slow one and many faceted, requiring careful steps forward, a desire for something different, and a willingness to do the work. Of reconnecting, of releasing, of healing, of learning, of listening, of loving, of being alive, on this beautiful planet, at this very moment in time. There is an uncertainty in the air that affects our personal relationships, our decisions, each minute of our lives. What will life look like in years to come? What are we willing to give up, let go of, surrender in order to find a new way? What are we not willing to part with, which parts of ourselves do we hold most dear, which parts of ourselves do we nourish and which parts do we starve?
And always, what does our relationship with our land, with the earth beneath our feet ask of us these days? Where, do I, and do we as humans, fit in the grand scheme of things?
I do not have the answers of course, but am ready to explore, the universe inside myself and out there. Which is all the same in the end perhaps, isn’t it?
So, welcome to Minutiae my friends: A Journey Through Everyday Life.
I started writing in the fall, so the posts begin there, and just continue on through the present. I also like to record some of the weather and other stats from the day sometimes, and include some of my sketches and paintings from my sketchbook, photos, doodles etc.
Please excuse typos and grammatical errors. This is more of a work in progress than a finished product.
As a wise friend recently said, a wolf howls in the night regardless of who is listening, unconcerned with where the howling might lead. She howls for connection, for communication, to express herself, and to allow her voice to mingle with all the other voices crying out to the wilderness. She howls to hear herself, above all others. She howls because it is what she does and she can’t NOT do it.
Here is my howl.
Thank you for listening,