"A blank spot on the map is an invitation to encounter the natural world, where one's character will be shaped by the landscape. To enter wilderness is to court risk, and risk favors the senses, enabling one to live well.

...The time had come to protest with the heart, that to deny one's genealogy with the earth was to commit treason against one's soul."

-Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Evolving with an Open Heart and an Open Mind...

        Thoughts on a Monoculture vs. Permaculture Existence:

Monoculture in America

        Monoculture is the agricultural practice of producing or growing a single crop over a wide area; the mode of modern agri-business.  Permaculture, in opposition, is a more holistic approach to agriculture based on bio-diversity and modeled on the symbiotic relationships of different species found in nature.  Even a brief look at modern farming illuminates the pitfalls of monoculture in spades.  Monoculture farms have limited, less multi-faceted arsenals of immunity, so they are uniquely susceptible to a host of ills that biologically diverse, permaculture systems are not.  This is why big monoculture farms need all the herbicides and pesticides and other chemicals, that, in turn, adversely effect the land and the water and the workers.   The sheer size of these farms too, is a major reason why they are not sustainable; the bigger the land, the more machinery needed to work it; more impact on the land, on the environment in general, on resources, on the farmer her/himself.   Permaculture's essence is being appropriately-sized, working with Nature.  The results of this method are unavoidably sustainable, giving more to the land, to the animals that rely on the land (us included!), enriching it, rather than taking from it.    

Permaculture in America

  It is clear which style of farming is preferable and will actually survive the test of time and truly provide for humans and other animals, as well as the land which sustains all.*  These opposing methods, these two different approaches, can be applied to life beyond farming.  This is what I want to talk about: A monoculture existence versus a permaculture existence.  For optimal mental, emotional, and physical health people must choose their jobs, orient their professional and personal lives, align their hearts and their minds to the wisdom of permaculture, and, in doing so, give themselves to an eternal open-mind, to a life of diversity.  In terms of athletics and physicality too, following the permacultural-minded path will be more sustainable, supporting longevity of health and physical ability.   
        *-(I acknowledge that I am vastly simplifying the huge and complex issue of food/world hunger, etc...because it's simply too large an issue to grapple with here and besides, that's not specifically what I wish to address.)

  In a profession setting and generally in life, monotony (hmmm...sounds like monoculture) doesn't breed contentment.  Sitting at a desk all day, staring at a computer, making the same small motions and movements over and over again, is not sustainable, not optimal for employee, or employer.  Even at a great and stimulating desk job, (of which, needless to say, there are many) the physical stresses of those postures have been proven to cause all sorts of harm.  Most people know the frustrations, and repercussions in the rest of life, of having monoculture jobs/desk jobs (think Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, bad posture, back problems, sore eyes, trouble sleeping, stress, disconnection with nature, potential disconnection with family.)  So cultivate a permaculture job!  Doing what you love or something you are passionate about will instantly provide a more engaging work environment and if you're engaged and happy with your work, the results will be better, and everyone involved will benefit, especially you.  

  Multi-task, be multi-faceted; move around, and work with your hands sometimes.  Monotony of task is mentally draining, reducing our brain functions to repeating only a few well-trod pathways, so diversifying thought and motion is therefore improving the ability of our brains, allowing us to use more of it.  Specialization is good, often necessary, and appropriate in moderation, but switching things up, breaking out of the patterns as often as possible, is key to wellness.  

  So it is too with athletics and movement and general physical ability.  Specialization here too is necessary (especially at the "elite" levels) and appropriate in moderation, but more important is being well-rounded, an able-bodied and all-around athlete, of sport and life.  Over specialization and the ways our muscles develop accordingly, creates clear deficiencies in others areas, often leads to serious imbalances, some muscles over-developed, while others are sorely under.  But you must train with narrowed intent, with a specialized focus, to get to the highest levels of a given sport or activity!  This, as I said, is very much so, although it questions the wisdom of doing one thing, all the time, often to the exclusion of nearly all else (no time to read, to write, to cook, to watch movies, to be attend political protests, to be a part of your local community, to be with your lover/your friend/your family, to indulge, to read the paper and eat pastries and drink black coffee at a buzzing little cafe.)

  Being an all-around athlete of life increases your chances for physical contentment, for health, for survival; it develops your ability to adapt to whatever may come, to whatever twist or turn that life demands, whether that is running 100 miles, dancing in the club, busting a kick flip down a 5-stair, or throwing a ball to your granddaughter, or all of the above. 

  So cross-train, and be a cross-trainer of life!  Do what you love the most, the most often, but do other stuff too.  Remember that there's joy and beauty and pure, meditative focus available in all pursuits, in all conscious action, whether it's reading a book or painting a picture, making music or listening to a friend, running in the mountains or playing soccer, or basketball in the park, cooking a meal and sitting down and enjoying it.  

  Break the shackles of the monoculture world and live free, evolving with an open heart and an open mind...   
(drag queen!)

Lots of love and thanks for reading...have fun out there!

Here's a wonderful music video to a great song, check it out...