Now, for a moment, I want you to see things through different eyes. I want you to see things filtered by some category or another and I want you to lose yourself in that perception. I am used to disappointments. Here's the thing: I am here digesting the contents of an imported beer, contemplating the idea of getting up and brewing up a 5 gallon batch of brown ale. I'd use the water from our well, our new, deep well. So the beer would be digesting malts and such using local water and local minerals. It would have a certain dialect. That beer would sit in my basement for a week or three, and then I'd be drinking it, rather than one imported from England. I like England. But I digest.
Over there, sitting on the couch which was made in Denmark in the 70's, eating her crunchy sandwich and thinking about school, is my sister-in-law. She's digesting food made somewhere between 100 and 3,000 miles away and shipped through an armada of vessels allowing us to have lettuce in our sandwich.
Outside I can see a little red squirrel eating the last of a corn cob. His stomach can handle what the stomachs of the jays could not. Actually, his intestine is processing the cob through the actions of some little critters about a cell wide, or if you get technical you'd have to admit that even at that scale there is a lot of sub-contracting going on, so they are about two cells wide. They are unions of specialists, each able to do a limited set of actions on something pressing against them, like a slurry of cob, seed, dirt and maybe suet. Like an assembly line the stuff that passes is added to or subtracted from, and the final product becomes food for the next down the line. The sunflowers that the squirrel favors are flavored with poop from the squirrel that favored them. Neat. But I digest.
Now see me at my table, my sister-in-law on the couch, the red squirrel on the tip of the elderberry shrub, just those three entities. Ah! Now see, in a simultaneous shift, just the intestines with the sub-contractors and digesters all working in such a way as to create heat, housing, employment, raw materials and social intercourse. Ah! It's slimy, I suppose, but still those wriggling tubes of shit and workers are analogous to a string of small towns and strip malls alongside a freeway or local highway. The people aren't the same color, but hey, what the hell? See those struggling worker unions, those hardhats and picket lines. That's our body, but that's our body expanded to relate to everything else. That's our local environment imprinted on our own DNA from drinking the water, eating the eggs and walking the walk. We aren't what we eat so much as we are what eats us, as well as how we handle the changes.
So now, looking at those twisting colonies of entities you should be able to notice the patterns of correspondence re the squirrel, the two humans AND as we refocus our eyes to acknowledge the earth beneath the squirrel is teeming with those unions, the couch has billions of entities working in and out of tandem, just getting by. My skin, my hair, my dog, all teem with workers changing one environment into another. We're getting beyond surfaces here. We're seeing our reflection on every facet of our environment. When the sun shines we are blinded by our presence. Except it is also the presence of the red squirrel, The earth itself and all the faces turned to behold that which holds us. It's fascinating.
I saw a red squirrel with a corn cob in it's mouth, chasing another red squirrel who had none, no doubt proving Darwin was squirrely. Who was directing the fight, the flight, the request and refusal? Who was it, the two sacks of little bitty workers hungry for more stuff to process, or the little squirrel brains which handled the chattering and scratching? Was it deeper than that? Do molecules crave carbon and oxygen? Do they whore themselves if needed for a nice oxygen fix? The earth, the Earth, Urda, all consume mountains of us all, taking us all in and changing us into nice oaks and poplars. That “sack” of critters is my Mom, I'll have you know! She's everything a boy could need, and more. She's everywhere, she will never stand you up. She might let you die. In fact, she most certainly will.
I could never eat a corn cob, neither could my sister-in-law. Our guts would not stand for it, the unions would go on strike. If you want to eat a corn cob, wait a bit and eat a squirrel, it's the same thing. It will taste like chicken. But I digest.
What would a sustainable life feel like? What if the critters eating that beer knew that in about 30 years the whole neighborhood would go to shit? Would they be long dead, or reincarnated into some other living entity? Would they just move into the Earth and start digesting there? Eventually the region would start to show promise as more minerals and critters died and were reborn. One day some being would harvest the wild fruit and make a fine beer or wine and have a moment when they realized how every living thing was related directly and indirectly to a common source of life and sustenance. Our old pall David Korten failed to name Her, but She has so many names...