My friend I grew up with grows organic vegetables as far as the eye can see. He puts stickers on his boxes of cabbage that state, “Let’s get our heads together.” On his boxes of beets another sticker reads, “Beet the system!”
We grew up in a time where we did not like what we saw going on around us. People were marching and demonstrating and making peace signs with their fingers and wearing flowers in their hair. We headed north where it was greener and simpler, and the open road led to open land and so many possibilities. We both became farmers. Growers of food. Purveyors of hope.
One of my teachers said that his uncle Joe taught him the only time it was ok to look down at someone was when you were reaching down to help him up. We each have so many chances each day to lift someone up. I recently have been experimenting with less complaining and more helping people around me. This helps the world directly, and it also feels like I am doing what I am meant to do. Small things like singing a song to someone. Telling someone they are looking great. Reminding the person working in the store that they are making a lot of people’s lives better, because they help them find what they need that day. We are all modern troubadours travelling about in our time and in our neighborhoods spreading our song of the day. All of the energy we could spend sharing what annoys us about a politician could be transformed into listening to a friend and giving them encouragement. Or sending a poem by letter or email to a friend we know could use it.
What is the system, anyway? I am part of it, and I will beat it by the way I say hello to the mailman. When I see the rain coming in, instead of only seeing my picnic is cancelled I see it nourishing the trees and the roots of flowers. My parking ticket fee is helping the sidewalks to get plowed in the winter and the crosswalks to be painted. When someone comes for a plant from us and I see they are having some challenges, I can gift them that plant or give them a much larger one than they would get for that price.
Imagine if the first things we were taught in kindergarten were to be kind to each other. If something does not feel good to you, don’t do it to somebody else. We beat the system by living a life that is inspired by what we can bring to it each day. Following through on the ideas coming down just to us. Hugging the moment that is here right now. Not being afraid to be different. Or being a bit afraid and being myself anyway. We are all artists of our own life. Whether you feel your best in a garden or in the theater. Give it your best. Whether you play an instrument or not, the beat goes on.
David Fried is the propagator and grower at Elmore Roots Nursery and is very proud of his perennial vegetable rows.