I was recently profiled in Ascent Magazine’s sustainability issue. This article is the result of one of the best interviews/conversations I have ever had the pleasure of taking part in. I kind of wish we could read the interview although I’d imagine it would be a hard one to follow given how much I hemmed and hawed over language.
Ascent is a yoga magazine that is published by an ashram, so it naturally has a strong bend towards the religious side of yoga. I have haphazardly “practiced” hatha yoga on and off since I found a book for a quarter in a used bookstore cheap bin back in 1991 but I am not a religious person and have always kept that side of yoga at a distance. So I have to admit that when I was first approached by the magazine I was a wee bit timid about where things might go and how my thoughts might be framed. We did talk about “spirituality” as it relates to the garden but the writer, Roseanne Harvey, understood my need to choose my words carefully. The interview was more eye opening than I’d like to admit because I was able to see where our perspectives cross over but are separated only by semantics. Many gardeners experience a sense of awe and connectivity in the garden however where a religious person might call it god, I prefer to call it wonder. Most likely a very similar experience, just a different way of framing it. I’m not saying that my beliefs have changed, merely that I am a little more open to where others are coming from when they talk about religious experience in relation to the garden.
While I’m talking about the magazine I want to mention an interesting article about environmental activist Derrick Jensen called “The Complexities of Hope.” What drew me to the article wasn’t as much about his perspective on where we are headed environmentally (although that is interesting too) but in how closely the ideas in the article connected to thoughts that have been swimming around in my head for the last few years. In my recounting of the most recent garden incident I spoke a lot about hope and being able to feel everything no matter what. So I was interested to read about Jensen and the way he willingly breaks a cultural taboo by expressing the hopelessness and despair he feels while also turning that around and rethinking our cultural definition for hope as “a wish without agency” into something we can be actively engaged in achieving.
“There’s this idea that if you really recognize how bad things are you have to go around being miserable all the time. But the truth is I’m really happy, and I am full of rage and sorrow and joy and happiness and contentment and discontent. I’m full of all those things. It’s okay to feel more than one thing at the same time.”