Sunday, April 15, 2012

Aroostook County, Maine


Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum
Are throwing knives into the tree
Two big bags of dead man's bones
Got their noses to the grindstone.
The first lines from Bob Dylan's “Love & Theft” seem to be a jab at violent, capitalistic America and how ridiculous it is. I recently saw for the first time Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, and although the film fell into some narrative cliches, it reopened to me the world of Lewis Carroll, one of the original magical realists. I don't know if Carroll meant to poke fun at capitalists with his doddering Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, but Dylan certainly does. What good do they do echoing the words of someone else, parroting each other?

What good does it do them to keep their noses to the grindstone? What good does it do us?

These are questions I've been asking myself as I return to my triune vocation: adventurer, writer, and now farmer. Money is an idea that I return to repeatedly as I explore how to survive in that vocation. I keep thinking about money itself, what it is but slips of paper representing obscure and possibly irrelevant concepts. It represents nothing but calcified energy.

In my mailbox when I arrived here was a brochure from a retreat center in the Berkshires, the Rowe Camp, and I noticed that they accept the possibility of barter. The vegetables I grew last season, now briny and spiced in mason jars, are also preserved labor. Why does the work I put into those not have the same value as dollar bills?

These thoughts come to mind especially as I spend my inheritance, the prodigal daughter, on another conference, for the chance at finding an agent for my unpublished book. It's just money, I tell myself, just dollars in the bank. I have to follow these leads if I'm going to believe that I'll achieve success in this field. I want to believe that it's God guiding my steps, that the people I admire most are the ones, like Lin and Larry of Seraffyn (see above), who followed their dreams and didn't let any ostensible obstacles stop them.

But my heart quails.

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