It has been a while since I've written, due to no lack of trying or interest on my part. I have started many an entry, only to call it a draft and let it age with the others. It's been difficult lately to settle on any viewpoint or to quiet my mind enough to figure out what exactly I am thinking and feeling. It hasn't been bad, just weird. But as I find myself settling into this weird state of mind, one impulse has risen to the top of my brain. As usual, it started as a twinge, a feeling, a random thought here and there and seems to have coalesced into a huge itch I can't seem to scratch.
I really became aware of this impulse when I went with Josh to visit the Growing Power. Located in Milwaukee, WI, this 2-acre farm is the only farm/greenhouse in operation in the city. From a total of 15 green and hoop houses, farmer Will Allen along with numerous employees, interns and community volunteers produces vegetables, fish, honey enough to supply numerous local restaurants, schools and businesses. There is much to talk about regarding this fantastic business, but what really struck me was their Aquaponics system. Basically, Will and his team have created this amazing system that incorporates the growing of vegetables and fish. To keep the water clean for the fish, it is pumped into gravel beds growing watercress or other plants above the fish ponds. As it drains down the subtle slope toward the ponds, the water is filtered through the gravel. Bacteria from the plants breaks down toxins in the fish waste which aid in plant development. Clean water is returned to the fish pond and the cycle continues.
This, to me, is the perfect illustration of human creativity. It is problem solving to the extent that we are not forced to invent extravagant machines that bring with them more problems. This is such a simple example of working with what is natural and normal and right. It uses simple materials and the laws of nature. Standing before these crude yet complete systems, all I could think was how much I want to work like that. I want to be an inventor, but in such a way that allows me to return to the laws of nature, return to the earth. I want to start with a passionate hypothesis and then use my life to, step by step, test and learn and discover solutions. And I want all aspects of my project to be working together, feeding off each other, a perfect balance of give and take.
I really want to be a scientist. I envy the scientific process, the clear step by step guide that always lets you know your next move. I'm sure that this has been largely influenced by my obsessive listening to RadioLab; I just can't seem to get enough of interviews with people who work in such a focused and intentional manner. I hope this does not mean that I am becoming jaded with the creative design process. Rather, I am taking this as a clear sign that I have become unbalanced and unfocused. I have always craved having one big project. I have craved obsession. I want to be like the many people around the world who spend their life perfecting the making of cheese or wine or rice paper. I want to be an expert. Being focused does not limit creativity, right?
This does not necessarily mean I need to stop what I'm doing. I just need to find a way to work from the ground up. I can't seem to get excited about raising animals for leather, so how else can I approach this? I am really excited to not write this off as "just another phase" but to use this itch to move me to inspired action.
Oh, and check out: www.growingpower.org.