Loneliness and Clouds

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Ah, Skunk Cabbage (above).  Anyway, I went on so many snowy walks over the winter that it is strange now to be walking without whiteness all around.  Without the snow, many more people are out and about, and all the places I like to walk in the woods feel accessible and exposed.  The trees no longer feel like my own special little world.  The walks are less magical.

That being said, it is lovely to have the tender colors of spring.  I love the greens and the spring rain.  The trees tiny buds are swelling, and our daffodils are starting to burst open into vivacious yellows and creamy whites.

I always think of William Wordsworth in spring.  He roamed the English countryside with his friends, writing poems against the industrial revolution and “progress.”  He also wrote copious amounts of romantic poetry about the little delights he found on his long walks.  One such delight was a whole grouping of daffodils:

  

 

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

 

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

 

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

 

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

 

-William Wordsworth

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Hepatica flower (above).
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A Boy’s Will is the Wind’s Will

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American poet Robert Frost did not publish a book of his poems until he was nearly 40.  This book was titled A Boy’s Will, taking that name from a line in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  According to Frost, the first few poems in A Boy’s Will demonstrate how Frost turned away from people and society, and the second part, beginning with the poem titled A Tuft of Flowers, shows how he turned back to them.

 

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My Lost Youth by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Often I think of the beautiful town  
  That is seated by the sea;  
Often in thought go up and down  
The pleasant streets of that dear old town,  
  And my youth comes back to me.           
    And a verse of a Lapland song  
    Is haunting my memory still  
    'A boy's will is the wind's will,  
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'  
  
I can see the shadowy lines of its trees,            
  And catch, in sudden gleams,  
The sheen of the far-surrounding seas,  
And islands that were the Hesperides  
  Of all my boyish dreams.  
    And the burden of that old song,            
    It murmurs and whispers still:  
    'A boy's will is the wind's will,  
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'  
  
I remember the black wharves and the slips,  
  And the sea-tides tossing free;            
And the Spanish sailors with bearded lips,  
And the beauty and mystery of the ships,  
  And the magic of the sea.  
    And the voice of that wayward song  
    Is singing and saying still:            
    'A boy's will is the wind's will,  
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'  
  
I remember the bulwarks by the shore,  
  And the fort upon the hill;  
The sunrise gun, with its hollow roar,            
The drum-beat repeated o'er and o'er,  
  And the bugle wild and shrill.  
    And the music of that old song  
    Throbs in my memory still:  
    'A boy's will is the wind's will,            
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'  
  
I remember the sea-fight far away,  
  How it thundered o'er the tide!  
And the dead captains, as they lay  
In their graves, o'erlooking the tranquil bay            
  Where they in battle died.  
    And the sound of that mournful song  
    Goes through me with a thrill:  
    'A boy's will is the wind's will,  
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'            
  
I can see the breezy dome of groves,  
  The shadows of Deering's Woods;  
And the friendship old and the early loves  
Come back with a Sabbath sound, as of doves  
  In quiet neighborhoods.            
    And the verse of that sweet old song,  
    It flutters and murmurs still:  
    'A boy's will is the wind's will,  
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'  
  
I remember the gleams and glooms that dart            
  Across the school-boy's brain;  
The song and the silence in the heart,  
That in part are prophecies, and in part  
  Are longings wild and vain.  
    And the voice of that fitful song            
    Sings on, and is never still:  
    'A boy's will is the wind's will,  
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'  
  
There are things of which I may not speak;  
  There are dreams that cannot die;            
There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,  
And bring a pallor into the cheek,  
  And a mist before the eye.  
    And the words of that fatal song  
    Come over me like a chill:            
    'A boy's will is the wind's will,  
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'  
  
Strange to me now are the forms I meet  
  When I visit the dear old town;  
But the native air is pure and sweet,            
And the trees that o'ershadow each well-known street,  
  As they balance up and down,  
    Are singing the beautiful song,  
    Are sighing and whispering still:  
    'A boy's will is the wind's will,            
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'  
  
And Deering's Woods are fresh and fair,  
  And with joy that is almost pain  
My heart goes back to wander there,  
And among the dreams of the days that were,            
  I find my lost youth again.  
    And the strange and beautiful song,  
    The groves are repeating it still:  
    'A boy's will is the wind's will,  
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'



 

17 Roses

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This post is for those killed in the Parkland shooting one year ago today. This is for their friends and family. This is for Parkland and for all people. This is for the world.


To Alyssa Alhadeff
To Scott Beigel
To Martin Duque
To Nicholas Dworet
To Aaron Feis
To Jamie Guttenburg
To Luke Hoyer
To Chris Hixon
To Cara Loughran
To Gina Montalto
To Joaquin Oliver
To Alaina Petty
To Meadow Pollack
To Helena Ramsey
To Alex Schachter
To Carmen Schentrup
To Peter Wang

The Woods are Lovely

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Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

-Robert Frost

Our Construction of Reality

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Dear Reader,

In the past couple of years, I have been partially falling into posting about topics that I think will please or interest my readers instead of writing about what interests me.  We could say that the fault here lies in my own weakness to pleasing the public, but although I do feel as if I should have worked harder to avoid that, I think that most of the fault does not lie with me. 

As a society, we have brought this “advertisers heaven” on ourselves.  Most of us probably didn’t do it on purpose and probably weren’t aware that it has been happening, but it has, and here we are.  I think many of us simply don’t care that marketing has become a mainstay of modern society.  We think that that’s just the way it is.  Maybe we don’t even notice it at all or think about it ever.  That’s fine, but I, for one, want out. 

I am tired of trying to interest my readers.  I am tired of trying to compete with other writers and bloggers to get myself heard and my blog read.  I am tired of feeling the need to market my opinions and package them in such a way that people are intrigued and hooked and left wanting to read more. 

This feeling has been brewing for several months.  I started going out on long walks in the woods with a neighbor whose family has been in the area for five generations.  As I’ve been learning about this neighbor’s family, the history of other local families and the history of the land, I’m becoming more and more tired of the way we make the modern world work.  I am fed up with our construction of life and reality. 

This address to you, my readers, is sort of an explanation and sort of a goodbye.  Since I am tired of marketing myself, my life and my opinions, I have decided to take a break from blogging the way I have been.  I will probably continue to post semi regularly, but I will no longer be trying to cater exclusively to popular interest.  From now on, my posts may take the form of photos, poems or letters—I’m not sure. 

I hope though that you have read my letter to this point and that you will read my future posts as well.  I’ve had this blog for close to three and a half years and have amassed 40 followers.  I hope that some of you will stick around. 

Love and good wishes to you all,

Jonah

Minimalist Living: Focus and Freedom

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The term minimalism was popularized in mid 1900s to refer to trends in art and music.  The goal of this trend is to pare down to the essential artistic theme of a piece of music or art.  As people came to appreciate the focused aesthetic, the term came to refer to lifestyle movement as well.

Here are some common ideas of minimalism.  Minimalism should not be confined to these conceptions, but these are some images that often come up in people’s minds when they hear the word minimalism.

 

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When people think of minimalism, they often think of this black and white, sterile, industrial-looking style of living space, like the one above.

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And this one.

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I actually like that one a lot (above).  I think it’s the plants and the off-white paint.  They make the energy more inviting.

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So if minimalism isn’t only found in those conceptions of it, then where can it be found?

For many people, minimalism is about focus.  It’s about focusing on what’s important and essential to them.  Some achieve this by owning only 100 personal possessions while others focus on bringing intentionality into their purchases so that they are buying only things they need, things that will bring value to their lives.

Many others use minimalism as a way to bring their cost of living down and achieve financial freedom. Some find financial freedom by living in tiny houses which tend to cost less than the average sized house.

Mostly though, minimalists use minimalism as a way to reconnect with their own dreams and take back their lives from the dictation of the American Dream.  So basically, they use minimalism to escape the distracting complexity and speed of modern life.

**

Success in America is often equated with making a lot of money at a corporate job and owning a new car and a fancy house.  Many people, though, feel that this American Dream actually limits freedom with its expectations of consumerism.  People feel like they are constantly trying to live up to the standard set by the richest people.  People also feel like advertisements persuade them to buy things that they don’t actually need or want and maybe can’t afford either.

In minimalism though, people often find awareness.  Awareness that their cost of living doesn’t need to be so high.  Awareness that they can free themselves from corporate work and consumerism.  Awareness that they may be able to quit their unfulfilling jobs and take back their time/life from the American Dream.

**

For many too, minimalism is about economy, both of time and money.

Nate Klemp, a political theory teacher, advocates for simplicity because he says:

The things we buy don’t just cost money, they cost us time, effort, and sacrifice.

They cost us our life.

Klemp uses the example of an $80,000 house.  He says that instead of thinking about the amount of money that the house costs, people should think of the house as costing the number of months or years that it will take them to make the $80,000.  So, you should think of buying things as trading your time and life for those things.  Think of your currency as time instead of money.  This approach to buying things can help people avoid unnecessary purchases so that they are buying only the things that they truly need and that will bring value to their lives.

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Okay, so what is minimalism?  Minimalism means different things to different people.  There are many different variations of minimalism out there, and all are valid.  In weeks of research, I have decided that minimalism can be found in any lifestyle that is intentional, focused and essential.

 

 

Sources:
Amanda. (2017, May 26). What is minimalist living? [Web log post]. Retrieved from             https://thetinylife.com/what-is-minimalist-living/
Danielle, M. (2017, August 28). The history of minimalism and what minimalism means as a           lifestyle. [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://miadanielle.com/what-is-minimalism/
Hefford, K. (Nov.-Dec. 2013, p. 19). Mainstream minimalist. This Magazine.  Retrieved from            http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A352038074/GPS?u=lom_kcc&sid=GPS&xid=554cde11
Klemp, N. (2011, May 18). Thoreau’s guide to living more by spending less. Retrieved from            https://www.dumblittleman.com/thoreaus-guide-to-living-more-by/
Minimalists, The. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.theminimalists.com/
Quitting a steady job for adventure in North Carolina wilds. (January 2, 2018). Retrieved from            https://www.nbcnews.com/leftfield/video/quitting-a-steady-job-for-adventure-in-north-carolina-       wilds-1127670851794?v=raila&
Shi, D. (1986). In search of the simple life. Layton, UT: Gibbs M. Smith, Inc.

America, Consumerism and Garbage

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In 2017, China came in second on the World Bank’s list of the world’s 50 largest economies with an economy worth a little over $11 trillion.  America ranked first  with an economy worth $18.6 trillion.  We know that China is catching up to our gigantic economy.  In fact, the Chinese, whose country is swiftly industrializing, have now surpassed the United States in the amount of energy they use.

If we, America, had the world’s largest economy last year, then that means that we are huge consumers.  America has, after all, been termed a “throw-away society.”  Okay, so our society is very consumeristic and most of us throw a lot of stuff in the garbage.  Isn’t it nice that most of the rich people, the people who can afford to consume a lot, the people who help make our economy so large, don’t have to deal with the fruits of their consumption?  Undoubtedly it is nice for them, but it’s not peachy for everyone.

A lot of times, the environmental burdens like landfills and garbage dumps get put in the poorer parts of our cities and country.  The inhabitants of those areas are unlikely to put up much of a fuss about it, at least much less likely than the rich consumers.  But our garbage also gets “exported” to other poorer countries like India and China (although China has severely limited their intake of our garbage and recyclables).  Those countries get paid a pittance for dealing with our trash.

Electronic waste had an especially hard impact on the countries who take it from us.  Often in these countries, poorer people sort through trash and  pick apart the electronics for tiny bits of precious metals and other valuable components to be recycled.  These metals are usually toxic and dangerous, so those people in foreign countries are paying the price for our consumerism.  

Perhaps if the environmental burdens were distributed evenly between rich consumers and the poorer people, our country would be better.  Perhaps if the rich had to deal with the effects of their own garbage they wouldn’t consume so much.

Sources