I read all the evidence around climate change and learnt a lot about the history of our species and our planet. I was startled at where we are, and the consensus about what is happening to our planet.
Feeling the need to address this situation, and after a lot of thought, it seemed that the best response, for me, was to live as simply as possible and do something that does not damage our biosphere, and something that would help to create a resilient community.
So eight years ago I started farming on a tiny patch of dirt with nothing but a rake and a shovel, with a dream of the simple life — I pictured myself in the garden among the organic produce with the birds singing and the insects humming, pulling carrots from the good earth…then maybe jumping in the dam.
And just a month ago, after another peak season even busier than last year, I was knackered. My partner gave me a heads up that she’s kind of tired of never seeing me, and when she does I fall asleep. I had to do some thinking.
I thought about exponential growth. Plants grow exponentially also —especially annual vegetables — days to germinate, then weeks to grow to a small seedling, then suddenly boom you have a vegetable ready to eat
But then what happens? (if you don’t eat it!). The plant makes a flower, sets a fruit or a pod, makes a seed or produces a tuber or rhizome, then it dies, contracts, the end of the road for that vegetable.
So plants have that exponential growth quite specifically aimed at death and reproduction, like breathing, a matched process of expansion and contraction. Whereas our current mode of living is just never ending, limitless unchecked growth, like a continually indrawn breath.
And that was kind of how I felt at the end of summer—tight with stress like an indrawn breath.
So after eight years of always choosing to work harder, grow more, sell more, make more, thinking I’ve been increasingly successful I’ve found that I am increasingly trapped! Trapped by endless expansion.
So I’ve been fulfilling our society’s expectation for a business: grow or die. Exponential growth. Of product, of profits, of consumption, of population. Of effort and labour.
So for a month or more now I have now been breathing out and taking a look around and trying to act more like a vegetable….thinking that there is a space for expansion, but it needs to be balanced by contraction, to even things out.
I’ve been thinking of the seasons themselves, how spring is like the seed, germinating slowly and putting out feelers, how the summer is the time of exponential growth, of breathing in, then a long, easy exhale as autumn ripens and winter settles in.
And how we as a species need to heed this lesson as well, to work on slowing our headlong breath and releasing a little, breathing out and equalising.
For me I think it means that for next season the focus is not for more expansion. The focus is on working with the seasons, not pushing so hard, making a little less money and a lot more time, time for me, and Christina, and my kids, and for sailing, and for just being in the garden with the birds singing and the insects humming…maybe I'll pull some carrots just because….or go jump in the dam...