I took a photo when we made our first coq au vin, not because it was a gourmet dish but because properly it’s a humble dish, even with the wine.
When I last wrote, I was preoccupied by the disruption of rhythms. The death and perversion of seasons, the probably disruption of life on earth. At the time I knew I sounded humorless at best, bombastic at worst, at least to anyone whose feelings weren’t so bleak. In retrospect I abide by every thought, even every word, but all the same, those were only the paths where my mind walked on that particular day, because it was a day meant for such meditations. Since then, life has wound onward for me the same as it’s done for everyone else, and the seasons are not over yet. I don’t pretend to be an expert on resistance, a word I would rather not use because it’s disturbingly insufficient; but from what experience I do have with struggle, in many senses, I can say one component of surviving dark times is to not meditate too frequently.
All of which might be a long way to observe that I should stop berating myself when I don’t write here very often. A lot of what goes here constitutes meditation. I like entertaining the notion of myself as an essayist, and I’ve gladly spent plenty of time on essays in the past, but since the end of January I’ve done many things that I have to do more. Of course, usually when I say I have to do other things, I mean that regretfully. This time, I don’t, and it’s freeing to realize that.
Among the duties that do still distract me, I’ve simultaneously made great strides in the research for my current fiction project, and I’ve been committing myself to other activities of equal personal value. The latter have received my attention for anywhere from months to a couple of years, and results so far include the fact that I’m more connected with the kinds of people and art that matter to me, and most of all, the fact that I’m more connected with the earth.
Rhythms. I have always needed them, so it’s come as no shock that as I finally come to consider myself a real adult I might simultaneously come to recognize the impulse that pushes humans out into the wild. Wild does not mean aimlessness or lack of structure. It refers to authenticity, and in its best moments the term manages not to ironically romanticize itself. Here I should reference Thoreau, or Tolstoy, but at this point I would feel cheap. There aren’t enough stories about women who become witches in the woods. Not the kinds of stories that everyone knows, and when they do, the stories aren’t good enough.
I am hoping to do something that isn’t like the dreams of 19th century colonists and counts. I wonder if it’s closer to the dreams of today’s urban farmers and privileged homesteaders, the people who disconnect from the current systems of production because they have both the awareness and the ability. On most days I can’t help laughing at that archetype of the Brooklynite with the rooftop chicken coop and the indoor greenhouse for homegrown kale, but my real concern lies in how such individuals continue to support exploitative industries (often by starting their own, having as much capital as they do) or blithely further gentrification. Likewise, it discomforts me to discover people “living off the land” as if for subsistence while understanding none of the challenges faced by people who have no choice but to live that way. But I simultaneously believe in the raw impulse, because it’s what keeps giving me purpose.
By no means am I dropping everything in my life to garden and hunt as a recluse. It’s more important to live by a code than to live wildly. Of course, I increasingly suspect that the more wildly I can live, the better I will be at living by my code; but such commitment requires readiness, or it’s no good. I’m still not ready.
So I’m starting just with rhythms. Marking the stations of the sun, with greater devotion than I’ve ever shown. Following the moon. Worship. A kind of worship. Cooking. Keeping a house, not because of rules governing my body, but because it gives me pride to do so.
I can’t imagine these thoughts being altogether easy to follow or terribly interesting. But I have tried for several hours to write here, and this is what I’ve come up with. I’m not going to worry about it. This is just where I am. Rhythms.
D. Llywelyn Jones