change, thoughts
Comments 2

the weight of the world

The food supply. The environment. Bees. The delicate state these things are all in and how it is all changing rapidly. Crisis.

These things have been weighing heavily on my mind.

I haven’t mentioned school in depth yet, but it has been a very big part of my life since it started this past spring semester. I keep meaning to mention it. Next summer when I graduate, I’ll add to my resume a Certification in Sustainable Food and Farming from The Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. I’ve had the desire to go back to school for a long time, but I kept mentally pushing myself to get an MA to extend my BA in English. I have a partial MA in Publishing and it is the natural progression, one would assume. I even tried dipping a toe in by taking a graduate course a few years ago at UMass Boston. It was a great course, but I didn’t enroll in any other classes after.

The name of the course? Ecocriticism. Quite telling, isn’t it?

So, I threw doubt to the wind and decided to study what I love. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been and always will be a book worm. I’ll always love to write. I love the publishing industry when it isn’t huge and corporate. This blog is an indication of the things most dear to me, really, as it combines writing with food, nature, sustainability, animal welfare, gardening and farming, family, and so on. Photography is another passion of mine and it goes hand-in-hand perfectly, don’t you think? My favorite subjects are pure: food, people, my garden, and beautiful places.

There is so much beauty in the world. Yet why is my heart so heavy?

Knowledge can be terrifying, as the old saying “What you don’t know won’t kill you” goes. The more I learn about our food supply, the more frightened I feel. Prior to this program, I naively didn’t realize how much I’d learn about policy, the USDA, genetic modification, and just how money-driven and political the industry really is, like every other. Why wouldn’t it be? It involves one of the few things we all unquestionably need: food. I just wanted to grow organic food and maybe sell it at a farmer’s market, you know? Yes, I’ve been following Monsanto and feeling deep hatred for the company, but I suppose I didn’t fully understand just how bad their existence really is until I had to write a paper on genetic modification. When you have to wade through article upon article and scientific paper upon scientific paper to find the nuggets of information you really need, you tend to pick up more information than you bargained for. I’ll save the whole “why GMOs and Monsanto are bad” conversation for another day (though I have discussed it in the past here), but I’ll leave you with this thought: you want organic food, no matter what the high cost is. Please trust me on this. I may be a bit of a tree hugger, but I’m also a middle class working parent who would like to reduce my food bill like any other. Also, before you fall for marketing tricks of bad companies, always remember that food in its most natural state will be your best bet.  If they have a PR campaign to tell you, the consumer, what an upstanding company they are (I’m talking to you, Tyson and Monsanto), they probably are not upstanding.

Add to this Isis, fracking, economics, the many stories of really horrific child abuse that have cropped up lately, racial unrest, animal cruelty, bad politics, overpopulation, and the list here could just go on and on. If just one thing at a time, we can process, learn from it, handle our emotions, and move on. All at once? It feels immobilizing.

A few nights ago, a friend said:
I give up. Everything just keeps getting worse. I honestly think the end of days is near. I really do. I’m not one of those nut jobs, I promise. But, I feel like the world won’t be here in 100 years. We’re going to extinct ourselves.

Another friend said:
I’m so down. I can’t shake it. The news is overwhelming. What is wrong with people? it feels like there are no good people left in the world.

Friday morning, I called my mother feeling pretty emotional because in my idyllic little town, on the path where I run, on a peninsula Anderson calls “The Island of Sodor,” the remains of a toddler were found by a woman walking her dog. The toddler was in her jammies in a trash bag. It was the last straw for me, and I wept for her and all of the suffering children out there.

Anderson at “The Island of Sodor.”
On Deer Island

My mother reminded me of this song because she knew I needed it. It is by one of my favorite singers and I’ve heard it several times, but today I listened deeply.

I’m gifting it to my two friends who feel like I do this week. I’m also gifting it to you, because I think you need it to. Listen deeply. Breathe. Then, find something beautiful and joyful to focus on today. The weight of the world is indeed not yours to keep.


  1. Congratulations on your bravery to go back to school! Not the easiest thing to juggle, ever, but especially with parenthood in the mix. It sounds fascinating and perfect for you. XO

  2. tbascom says

    we are on the same wavelength. similar concerns have been my motivation for most of the last 7 years, always with the sense that the end of the grace period was june, 2015. i fear 2016 begins to tip us toward significant trouble.

    david holmgren, one of the founders of permaculture, said we ought to judge what we spend our time, sweat, and money on in terms of whether our children’s children will benefit from it. he proposed that perspective as an antidote to our “just in time” consumer culture. we’ve been using that dictum as we’ve prepared our infrastructure to provide food, shelter, warmth, and water for 100 years. except for the root cellar, which we will build this winter, we are there. the next few years will be devoted to building out our food forest from the nursery plants we installed on our south-facing “food bank” this last spring, to tweaking our land for more complete self-sustaining resources, and to increasing our mastery of producing and preserving all of our own food, shelter materials, and firewood.

    that said, i don’t think we are in the “end times,” if that reference is biblical. i do think we are at the end of life as we’ve known it. a significant transition period is upon us. i don’t think i’ll like what’s coming out the other side of it, but i’m getting rather old and am anchored in a past view of the world. my youngest son, a producer of educational videos that explain science to students for the university of mass, amherst, is very knowledgeable about a range of scientific research and perspective, and he’s very optimistic about the medium- and long-term future. he’s anticipating it as a kind of new golden age. he sees a temporary period of troubles as the “old ways” of thinking and acting lose power, followed by a future in which technology goes a lot further toward defeating disease and even death, where knowledge is fully dispersed to promote more equal power and decisionmaking, and where “shady practices” are generally rendered null and void. i think he’s too utopian, but i do understand that what i see as the “end” can be viewed by others as the “beginning.” (my older son, a lawyer who works in virginia in the federal court system where he deals with new legal issues brought about by new technology, generally agrees with his brother, though he’s less sanguine. he sees the complications that are coming and how harmful it may all be, but he also sees an end to it all when we re-emerge with a new social and legal contract that better reflects the cultural and social changes current technology is forcing upon us.)

    hard times are coming. just when and for how long is, of course, unknown. but building an ark – or even just a rowboat – to tide one over that period of rough seas is a very good idea.

    and of course, i am completely convinced we are better off (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually) when living closer to nature and in accord with existing natural law and processes, rather than trying to refashion nature – and our own bodies, for that matter – to our high-tech desires. that is where my worldview and that of my son diverge. in the end, i think we can overlay the natural world with a veneer of technology, but i do not think we can “modify” nature very much. it is too big for us, and will spring back, and that can also cause a lot of suffering and pain.

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