your feedback

One of the most wonderful things about writing this blog is the steady stream of emails, comments, and other feedback that I get from so many of you.  Writing a blog can be a lot like yelling into a chasm, and you can get to wondering if your words are just bouncing off the cliff walls, or if they're actually reaching people's ears.  So it's a joy to find that writing this blog has reconnected me with childhood friends and with colleagues I met along the way in academia, kept me close to friends and family who are far away, and strengthened connections with new folks in my life, who I've met since setting out on this food/farm/faith journey. 

Your words have affected me, not only by providing me that little boost of confidence, but also, more importantly, by collectively serving as a prism through which I can view myself.  Many of you have written to say that you're cheering me on, even following my adventures with a little envy, like my fellow Grad Center friend, who wrote: "Don't most of us secretly fantasize about leaving the hectic mundane for a more serene and simple life..."  I've been chewing on that sentiment for these last four months, since I began hearing it when I left my job.  It's held me to account, as I wonder: "Am I getting the most out of this experience, this privilege?  Am I working hard enough, learning enough fast enough?"  That's been a good dog, nipping at my heels.  

When I first began hearing this sentiment, back in July, my impulse was to urge everyone to quit their job, to find another way to make a living, to step out of the consumer culture.  Why should any of us be unhappy, unfulfilled?  And while I think that's true, at one level, the persistence of that sentiment has pushed me to reflect on my happiness level on a pretty regular basis.  Over the last few months, I've come to better understand that happiness is not achieved just with a change of job title.  I think that happiness is achieved when we act with intentionality, and when we are fully present in whatever we are doing; I know the happiest moments I've had here have been when I've paused and breathed and looked around, and realized: the world is shimmering with life, and I am part of that shimmering.  

I've written in earlier posts about how my worries about money have taken me out of that intentional, immediate space, and so I assure you, even in a more serene setting, it's possible to imagine yourself into stress.   And I've gotten stressed out by various gardening and cooking tasks, only to realize, later, that I was worried about how much, how fast, how long--that I was caught up in some strange internal race or competition.  In an important way, I think that the feedback I've gotten from so many of you has helped me realize that the city/country dichotomy is really just a kind of gauzy, imperfect shorthand for a deeper division: the split between appreciating the present moment and clawing/projecting at the future.  I can see now that a person could be joyous and intentional, no matter the location or circumstances.  That's the lessons of the mystics and prophets, right?  Although, I have to say that, for me, it's a bit easier to be in the present when my walk to work is about 30 yards, and there are four built-in opportunities for prayer and meditation each day.  Maybe I'll learn to be a mystic city dweller someday...

But for today, I'd like to ask you for your feedback about the development of this blog.  I would like to create a Guides to Yumminess (aka "recipes") section for this website, and would like your input.  What would you like to see there?  Are you looking for simple, easy dishes?  "Farm-to-table" ideas?  Vegetarian and vegan food?  Food-health connections?  Dinner-party ideas? Raw food?  Getting a better idea from you all will help me know how to focus my time in the coming months...

In addition, I'm going to write more posts about food and it's relation to our health and to the health of the environment.  There's a lot out there to cover, and I'm sure many of you are already familiar with some of the territory.  So I'd like to know, are there particular questions you have about "the good food revolution"?  Such as: Why some people argue that the label "organic" is not enough?  What's the deal with raw milk, pastured butter, and kefir? How to know which fish to buy? What's the problem with industrial agriculture?

Let me know what you'd like to see, both in terms of recipes and food/health posts--send me your ideas by writing them in the comments section just below, or by email.  Looking forward to hearing from you!