So what do we do?

It is entirely possible to spend an inordinate amount of time completely in the abstract, preaching to the choir about one’s perspective without ever really coming down to find some answer, any answer, to the ultimate question that plagues every social, cultural, and environmental issue:
So what do we do?

This past weekend began with a marvelous gathering of friends around tea and the ideas of Wendell Berry, one of my all time favorite authors, largely due to his unique blend of utter practicality and deeply rooted philosophy.  The group managed to stay somewhere near the topic nearly all of the evening, only minorly distracted by the lavender shortbread and homebrew brought by attendees.  We shared favorite Wendell quotes (“Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed.  Connection is health.”), passionately articulated our frustrations with innumerable systems and cultural norms (ie. garage culture, financial viability as an end all be all), and felt pleasantly challenged yet validated all around.  But the question continually surfaced:
So what do we do?

It’s all well and good to philosophize and commiserate, and I would argue the latter in particular is entirely necessary to both blow off steam and continually flesh out what it is one is truly passionate about and concerned with.  But until practical solutions for building a world different and dare I say greatly improved upon the one we so readily criticize, we are merely venting to one another.

So now what do we do?

I in no way claim to have any all inclusive answer to this all important query.  But here’s what I did with the remainder of my weekend that I think at least begins to create a world that is more holistic, more community-minded, more sustainable, and filled with more of the things that my circles and I are craving.

Ben and I spent all of Saturday riding around to various social gatherings on our tandem.  We built wheels while enjoying homebrew, stopped by our favorite local microbrewery, visited his previous community house to take part in their potluck, and then spent a couple of hours at a folk sing along before heading home, chilly and sleepy with full hearts and heads.

Today I read several more chapters of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle while cooking up homemade wheat tortillas for vegan enchiladas (above), the ingredients of which were nearly all local, aside from salt, spices, olive oil, and kale.  I walked down to our nearby park in the slowly fading sun, stopping en route to jot down a poem of noticings.

So what do we do?

Move more.  Consume less.  Sing.  Cook.  Bike and walk.  Pay attention.

There are days and moments when I feel as though I succeed at this almost extravagantly, and the ensuing connection to my friends, my food, my world is gorgeous.  And there are many more moments and days when I lose sight, get stressed, grasp so tightly to a desire for control that I cannot for the life of me remember that my soul wants simplicity, wants connection, needs the now and here and not the constructions that I fabricate.  So what do we do?  Question, live, and love.

Desert Island Albums

Over the last year and a half, Ben and I have amassed quite the album collection, thanks to a number of fantastic used record stories scattered across the Twin Cities.  Though no one album was more than a few dollars (and many were in the 50 cent section in fact), the entire collection is probably several hundreds of dollars at this point.  When we were talking about buying a house, a turntable and speakers were very nearly furniture item number one on our list of necessities, beating out a couch and likely a dining room table even.  Good tunes are essential!

This morning, lazily examining the selection for good morning music, I asked Ben what three records he would choose from the collection if it meant he couldn’t listen to any others for eternity (sort of a desert island assembly if you will).  Choosing merely three proved to be enormously difficult- how can one pick Rush in lieu of T Rex, Emerson, Lake and Palmer in lieu of Zappa?  But a selection of five seemed reasonable.

So here, for your judgement, in listening order (rather than ranked), are our choices of Five Desert Albums from our collection.

Ben’s selection:
Bob Dylan- Highway 61 Revisited
Frank Zappa- Apostrophe
Rush- Caress of Steel
REO Speedwagon- Hi Infidelity
Emerson, Lake and Palmer- Tarkus

My selection:
Kansas- Masque
Boston- Boston
Allman Brothers- Brothers and Sisters
The Guess Who- The Best of The Guess Who
Earth, Wind and Fire- All ‘n All

The most obvious choices were Zappa for Ben and Boston for me, though they actually weren’t the first records we pulled off the shelf.  Most amusing would be REO Speedwagon for Ben for sure (I still cannot for the life of me understand why he likes them so much), and probably Earth, Wind and Fire for me.

Any other Desert Island Album lists out there?