Skimming Deep

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

Tag: simple

Beauty is in the Eye…

First thing– I've made it to post 100! Wow. I started blogging at the end of May, and I've come so far in just under five months! And who knew that I would kind of enjoy blogging. I mean, I'm a prolific journaller and emailer (ask any of my friends with whom I correspond!), but I was hesitant to start blogging, for the whole world to see.

Gorgeous tree peony from the garden of my current WWOOF host.

Anyhow, I'm here now. Metaphysically, spiritually, physically, mentally… wherever you deem “here” to be– New Zealand, Christchurch, a bed with an electric blanket, away from paid work, thinking about my present and future…

So I left Seresin (*tear) several days ago. Missing the great people there, the beautiful views, and the opportunity to cook my own food. But it was time to move on, and so here I am just outside of Christchurch.

Christchurch was the site of two big earthquakes about 2 years ago, from which the city has yet to really rebuild. I don't remember much about it from the U.S. other than just hearing about it. It was quite devastating to the city, especially downtown; and as I was riding the bus to get around over the past few days, I just saw lots of empty lots, rubble, fencing around condemned buildings which have yet to be torn down, orange cones galore, construction signs… This was something that someone told me about:

I guess what's been great about the earthquake (as with many disasters) is that the community has come together to create beauty out of the hopelessness. So there have been examples all around the city of people setting up public art or tossing wildflower seeds in the midst of the rubble. In the photo above, some young people brought this out and started making music together for a few days. One Mother's Day, there was a crowd-sourcing project where people sent out the word over social networks to put flowers in all the orange cones around the city, and it happened! It's amazing what happens when people come together to help each other out. There are endless examples of that happening in Christchurch after the earthquake.

I'm at another lifestyle block (reminder about “lifestyle blocks”– in New Zealand, people often buy plots of land, maybe 5-10 or more acres, and create their own lifestyles– farming, gardening, relaxing, admiring the scenery… Very different from a typical suburban development. They're just plots of land that the family will do what they wish with it.) which is much different from my first WWOOF host site.

I'll share a little more on this site in another post, but today I wanted to focus on the beauty of what I've seen here– lots of beautiful flowers (it is spring after all), beautiful garden, little bits of beauty everywhere I look. The family has really put effort and care into every inch of this property. And I've been weeding lots!

Upper left: cutest and tiniest cottage, a project of the man of the house. Adorable!! Upper right: tree house for the kids (built by the man of the house, I think). Lower: view of the garden (very limited, it extends beyond this photo by lots!)

Below is one area that I weeded– I'm looking out the kitchen window, so you can see a bit of reflection. There were weeds in all the seams of the bricks in the pathway, and there were weeds all around the areas where you see dirt. I keep forgetting to take before and after shots of my weeding ventures– it's amazing the difference. Before weeding there is a certain wild beauty in the plants. They're just left to their own devices, reproducing wherever there is exposed soil. After weeding, there is a cleanliness that is refreshing, like taking a shower after you've been all sweaty and dirty. But I feel like there's a little something missing, too. That wildness, the natural aspects are kind of… clipped.

I learned that nature tends to go from simple to complex. So when the earth and soil is bare and stripped down, what comes first is simple organisms– weeds. Then the more complex things will start to grow– this is if earth is left to be “natural.” Therefore, in some ways, weeding creates a canvas for more weeds to grow right away. So having some weeds around isn't always a bad thing. I've come across many gardeners who don't see weeds as the enemy but maybe just as a visitor that might not be welcome at the time. You would want to weed when a plant is just starting to germinate and grow, but once your desired plant (like a veggie or fruit) has grown big enough, then it's ok to let the weeds go because the stronger plant will prevail.

Nothing is really all good or all bad. I don't believe in “good” and “evil.” Everything good has a bad side, and everything bad has a good side. So nothing is fully good or evil, I reckon (that's a REALLY common Kiwi phrase that I'm loving!). Everything is relative and in the eye of the beholder at that time.

  • Mint is an amazing herb, but it's also a weed (in the sense that it grows prolifically with no end in sight!).
  • Roses are beautiful but they are a pain to prune because they're so thorny!
  • Eucalyptus trees (also called “gum trees” here) are great for wind shelter because they grow fast. They're also great for fire wood because they last long. But they shed their bark and branches like crazy and make a mess in the fields.

Just some food for thought that has been a recurring theme for me: that every pro has a con and vice versa. And in the meantime, I just keep trying to see the beauty all around me.

Beautiful lavender blossoming in the springtime.

H is for “Hubris”

I’ve never totally understood what that word “hubris” meant.  It’s one of those words that get thrown around a lot in the media but I’m not really sure how many people know what it means.

So here are a few definitions I found online:

from Wikipedia: Hubris means extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.

from Hubris is excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.

from Merriam-Webster: Hubris is exaggerated pride or self-confidence

Here are some headlines from the news today incorporating the word hubris:

  • Hubris on Wall Street: an article from Business Journal about Jamie Dimon and his abdication of responsibility in the craziness being uncovered at JPMorgan Chase
  • China GDP Hit Tells Story of Hubris Run Amok: Bloomberg article about the false sense of hope that Asia had during the 2008 recession in Western countries which is just hitting Asian markets now.
  • Protecting Twitter from its Own Hubris: Reuters blogpost about Twitter’s recent cutting off of LinkedIn where the author comments on Twitter’s overconfidence that it can stand alone from such entities as LinkedIn because of its own cachet and power.  Maybe they’re wrong!

This seems to be a common theme today in the excesses of the wealthiest of the wealthy, the CEOs of multinational corporations that are beyond the reach of regulations, regular human comprehension, and any kind of moral values.  How did we get here?  And how do we regain some humility and modesty in the midst of all this excess?

I see the anti-hubris in the little day-to-days:

  • someone getting up from their seat on the train to offer it to an elder, a pregnant woman, or just someone who looks like they’ve had a long day.
  • acknowledgement from youth that I’ve worked with about how much they have grown and developed because of the support of people like me and other youth workers and mentors in their lives.
  • backyard garden plots with the beautifully growing plants that give joy to the gardener and to the eaters of the bounty.
  • the happy faces of a group of friends at a meal together at a restaurant, in a home, at a park, sharing in the simple goodness of good company, good food, and good conversation.
  • the joyful walk in the early mornings or early evenings along a familiar stretch of sidewalk or road where I can see what I know but also experience a newness every time because of a new way the light hits those leaves or the different way the air smells that day.

Simple daily pleasures.  With loved ones.  Remembering why we are here– to build community with others and make positive contributions to building a better world.  The ultimate anti-hubris!

“We Real Cool”

What a great poem.  And a great reading by the poet herself. I heard this on NPR today, being read by Morgan Freeman.  So simple and so meaningful.

We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks

The Pool Players.

Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We

Left school. We

Lurk late. We

Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We

Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We

Die soon.

The beauty of spare words.  You can say so much in so few words.

So many people say so much without saying anything at all.  I catch myself often doing the same.

I’d like to be more sparing in my words and deeper in my meaning.

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