Compost Time

It’s one of those mornings when I feel I ought to write but am unsure of the topic. I sit with the blank page for a bit and it comes to me. I am turning fifty in three days. My god, how is that in three days I will have hit a half century? It was only yesterday that I was curled up on the front porch steps imaging what I might do when I grew up.

Time is such a bizarre thing. I’ve gotten my wish for the white hair that my grandma and my dad both had, but I don’t feel any older than I did twenty years ago, at least not in my being. Sometimes my limbs can get a little stiff, but nothing that a bit of water and yoga can’t handle. I do wonder what it will be like in twenty or thirty or forty years from now. I look at the generation ahead to see where I am traveling and am thankful for how they’ve paved the way, how they handle age with grace, laughter, and acceptance. It is what it is.

I have begun to come to that time and place in life where I recognize that the places I once knew are gone now even if they are still there. I appreciate the memories and mourn for those who lose that bit of themselves. I also recognize that the memories are there simply as a sort of compost to feed the future. The farm I grew up on is a great example. Once it belonged to my grandpa, then my parents, now to my nephew and his wife. Generations of kids have grown up there, running and playing, and working too. The land and the buildings all have hundreds of stories to tell, and if you listen they will tell them. It’s a place of mostly good stories, nurturing, loving stories some with tears, a few with anger, but a lot with laughter. It’s a different place now than it was a hundred years ago or even fifty, but what it was then has made it what it is now.

Writing this makes me think of the Anishanabe idea of the seventh generation. I was introduced to this concept about thirty years ago by my friend Walt. He talked about imagining ourselves looking down a long tunnel. At the end of that tunnel we see a baby. That baby is the seventh generation. If we do what is right for that child seven generations (roughly 150 years) from now, we do what is right those around us. It’s not so different from recognizing the role of past as a compost for the future. Recognizing the seventh generation just understands that is true and operates that way. I wonder how our lives might be different if we were to recognize that each action we take will impact that baby seven generations from now? Would we speak with more love? Would we take pause to celebrate the simple being of those we care for? What would we do? Something to sit on a porch step or the equivalent today.

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