I wake with a foot planted on me. I am immediately angry. So is the owner of the foot. Who’s to blame: me for sleeping on a trail or them for stepping on a sleeping body?
I narrowly avoided the above situation. We had just come back from caves filled with tragic stories of indigenous exploitation and deep darkness. I was tired, so I dipped out, dodging camp prep to hideaway in my sleeping bag.
You see, for the 3 nights before our camping trip near Lava Beds National Monument, I had stayed up far too late talking. Talking is good and I’m often conflicted about bedtime as the best conversation seems to happen late at night, under the blessing of the stars. This week I’d thrown caution to the wind and now it had caught up to me.
So I slipped away and settled down on a trail. I’d figured there’d be less bugs around there and that no one would use said trail.
What I didn’t see then, and I see now, is the irony of my chosen spot. In my lack of care for myself, I had blocked the trail for them..
In my time here at the Oregon Extension and our reading about mushrooms, I’ve realized our inter-connectedness. We are not, and have never been islands.
In our modern lives we can delude ourselves into thinking this is not the case. Two summers ago I had convinced myself it was. Selfishly suicidal, I figured my life had little impact on anyone else. If I took my life or continued to live as if my life did not matter to others, I felt there could be no impact.
Here I see clearly the fallacy. With chores spread across us all to keep the place running, any absence or laziness must be made up for by another.
If I decide I don’t want to wash dishes today, my roommates bear the burden. If I neglect my farm chore, someone else must move the giant compost pile.
Here, I cannot skate by under the impression that I am independent of any other.
In modern life, it seems we can. A book we read, Nature’s Metropolis, broke down the fallacy that is the separation between the city of Chicago and the surrounding country. Often, they are viewed as entirely separate.
But a catastrophic crop failure in the country or paltry demand for food in the city will quickly expose this faulty premise. In fact, we see a parallel here. If the country is treated poorly and fails, then so too does the city.
So we come to a paradox. In order to care for others, you must first care for yourself. After all, a sick Jimmy can hardly move a giant compost. Nor can a sick Jimmy do without lots of tea and hot herbals and naps, none of which are very productive (though they are all enjoyable).