Friday, April 3, 2009

What is an Organic Life?

One thing about having a puppy, I’ve discovered, is that you have lots more time to think. Someone has to take her out to pee nearly every hour. And then stand there and wait. That’s the new way to house train your dog, you see. I remember as a kid you just waited for the new dog to pee on the floor and then you rubbed its nose in it (hence the phrase…). After a very expensive trip to the vet this week, I learned that the new way to house train a dog is to take it out frequently (“after it plays, after it eats, after it drinks, after it sleeps” – does a puppy do anything besides these activities?). And once she does her business, we give her a treat. This training regime was great fun for the kids for about two days, now no one wants to take the puppy out to pee. So, I find myself with many opportunities to ponder the universe while watching Gracie out of the corner of my eye, treat in hand.

So this morning I was thinking about what to write and that led me to think about what exactly is an organic life. I’m afraid most people confuse organic life with how you eat, but it is so much more than that. Organic life is about living a life that is real.

The term organic, as defined by Webster’s, pretty much means “real or authentic”. So I guess what I’m attempting to do and attempting to promote is a life lived authentically. Close to the earth, close to my children, close to the heart. Things in this world have gotten much more complicated since when I grew up. All I have to do is read the school letters about the intruder drills or sexting. Or open up one of the multiple e-mails that I get each day offering me all kinds of sexual opportunities or discounted drugs or work-from-home-and-get-rich-quick schemes. If I had cable or satellite TV, I’m sure I could find even more evidence that life is very different from when I was a kid.

It seems to me that life has gotten very artificial – and not just the food. The food is where I started, but only because that part’s so obvious. Living an organic life means caring what happens to people I may never meet. It means feeling responsible for the part of the earth I inhabit and how I leave it when I am through. Living an organic life means sharing and not taking more than I need. It means giving what I can and not gathering so much stuff. Living a kid-friendly organic life means passing along these beliefs to my children, not by force, but by example.

Living an organic life means nurturing plants and animals and people. It means sticking to the basics and finding ways to help everything in our care thrive naturally. Right now it means agonizing over when to put the peas in the ground. The nights are still cold, but I’m itching to make my garden green. It means choosing not to spray chemicals on my emerging strawberry plants and trusting the dog to keep the rabbits away and my knees to hold out so I can keep weeding them. That way the ground where my strawberries grow will still be producing strawberries when my grandchildren visit (OMG – that is centuries away!).

It means collecting seeds each year and storing them to plant the next year instead of buying more and more genetically modified plants that are bigger and “better”. It means taking the time to make my own food so that I know what goes in to it. Organic life means listening and learning from others who know more than I do. Sharing ideas and seeds and support. Last night a friend came by and brought me pecans (hand-hulled, fresh pecans from her grandfather’s farm in New Mexico!) and I gave her a dozen eggs in return.

Organic life means being grateful for my blessings and generous with my time. It means watching the earth carefully and listening closely. Sometimes organic life means standing up for or against powers that impact this life choice. And sometimes organic life means taking a pass on some new gadget or gizmo that is guaranteed to make my life easier, knowing that it’s just more “stuff”. It means paying attention and not spending so much time in front of screens of all shapes and sizes.

Living an organic life probably means different things to different people. What I believe is real and authentic, may seem trivial to you. So, I guess living an organic life requires each of us to take stock of what we have and what we need and what is “real” for us. It asks us to pay attention – to each other, to ourselves, to this earth, and to the future.

Kid-friendly organic life is about living a life that is honest, practical, and at times, very messy. It is also incredibly rewarding and tastes great. Kid-friendly organic life is not a way of eating; it’s a way of living. I hope you have a wonderful weekend – go plant some peas!

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