I once said to a friend of mine, with the crystal clarity that hits you sometimes in the middle of winter when you are 15 and laying in the center of an ice rink, staring at the sky: “If you don’t do anything, nothing happens.”
It sounds to me now like some kind of mystical aphorism, but it was really just a plain-as-day observation I happened to be making in that moment about that moment. Of course, as any mystic worth his weight in aphoristic simplicity will tell you, there really is no difference. Simplicity is mystical.
I mention it here on the Story Farm page, because, well, I’ve not been doing anything lately – Story Farm related, anyway – and, gee whiz, nothing has been happening. Sure, we had the penultimate East Bay Soup and Bread Thing last Sunday. Sure, Andi and I made mention of the Story Farm on a walk in Berkeley’s Cesar Chavez Park last Saturday (walks seem to be where the Story Farm comes alive most). But, ‘taint like it was, way back when, in those heady days of our Wisconsin mini-moon, the hour it was first conceived, when we made beautiful, long and detailed lists of what we’d need to make it come alive.
And, the way my mind works, this absence of peak energy for the project absolutely, positively has to mean something – more precisely, something baaaaad.
The Story Farm was a bad idea to start with.
It wasn’t meant to be.
It was never really going to happen anyway.
But does it mean any of this? Objectively, no. Of course not. That’s absurd. But, then, why does the mind, my mind, have to go there so suddenly, so certainly, so strongly? Why does it have to be so grandiose, so fatalistic? The answer, I suppose, is buried somewhere deep in my psyche – in the causes and conditions of my life – and I’m not at all convinced that if some kind of direct cause for such thinking could be revealed, that it would automatically prevent me from having doubts.
So what is the appropriate response to such doubt? Do I have to chant each morning that the existence of the Story Farm is fated or inevitable? Do I have to protect myself with the view that things like this fail more often than they succeed? Do I just have to lighten up, let go and let whatever happens happen. None of these approach satisfies. The first is pollyannaism. The second, cynicism. The third, irresponsibility.
Realism works best, I think: The Story Farm might one day come into existence. It also might never come into existence. Furthermore, I could probably guess what sorts of things I might do to increase the likelihood of its coming into existence and what things I might do to decrease the likelihood of its coming into existence. Maintaining the blog would fall on the list of things to do. Not maintaining the blog, on the other hand …
Loving the Story Farm, loving that idea, that original vision, doesn’t mean that I should be in love with it all the time. Loving, after all, is what you decide to do after the natural state of being in love has worn off. In other words, if I just waited around for the feeling of being in love with the Story Farm, or any idea, to befall me, I would be in trouble. I have to put energy into The Story Farm if I want it to generate energy for me.
I mean: If I had a brilliant plan for a garden and, in my enthusiasm, planted the thing, I wouldn’t really have the luxury to debate whether or not it was a good idea. I’d be too busy tending to the thing, giving it what it needed and protecting it from what threatened it.
This idea that I’ve been walking around with – the passive philosophizing farmer – isn’t really cutting it anymore.
And so I sat down to write this post. Now, let’s see if something happens.