I wonder if there are others who felt like I did over the holidays. Confused, frustrated and just plain tired. If you had an awesome time, I’ll just say thank you for bringing more happiness to the world. True joy without denial or pretense is a major gift elevating the overall vibe on this planet.
My weekend started with multiple miscommunications leading me to feel that I was on the low end of my friend’s and family’s priority list. Trying to feed my hungry soul, I went to the deli at the Port Townsend Coop and spotted some mushroom gravy. I overheard the deli worker gleefully tell a customer how she was vegetarian and could eat the gravy without remorse. The man laughed and said, “So, no animal was killed for this, that’s great!” It was one of the few times I purchased food without feeling the ever-daunting need to read the label. Arriving home, I took a closer look. Chicken broth. What do people think? Just because there’s no meat in it, it’s ok? Do they think the chicken just relaxed in a hot tub for a while, gave up some broth and went on with their daily life of scratching for worms? Someone was killed, that’s the reality. Next on the list was butter. It’s easier to imagine the farmer taking the milk, churning the butter and sending the cow back to green pastures to enjoy her day. Growing up on a farm, I know better. Calves are produced and separated from their mothers so humans can get the milk for themselves. And what happens to those calves is a topic for another article.
Decades ago, my dad lovingly called me a rare commodity. Meaning, a farmer’s daughter is quite the item for some young chap to get his hand’s on. The tone felt pleasing enough, but something about it always made me feel like a product. Something to be used. He meant well, I’m sure, yet these handed-down, unquestioned statements take their toll. When you’re young and impressionable, hearing dictates like ‘Go Forth and Multiply’ could be interpreted as ‘you’ll be useful on the planet and in God’s good graces if, well… you have babies.’
Farm animals were my friends. I shared secrets with them, told playful stories and felt a special bond with them. When I heard phrases like ‘spent hen’ it meant their reproductive systems could no longer be exploited for eggs. They were worthless. Off with their heads. When cows were unable to have calves they became hamburger. They had been ‘milked for all they were worth.’ These statements usually come with a chuckle, but they are powerful influences. I see now that my unconscious decision not to have children was an attempt to prove I was worth something. On my own. I desperately wanted to beat the system of being valued for what I could produce.
This holiday season I realized that resisting something only makes it grow stronger. Would my parents and siblings come to visit more often if I had children? Probably. But that’s not the point. Trying to get approval from the outside is futile and exhausting. Having or avoiding any experience to please others will only perpetuate our feelings of unworthiness.
The truth is none of us are commodities. There’s nothing we have to resist, prove or produce. When we know this in our hearts, we’ll naturally feel like creating something from a place of love not societal obligation. This could be art, earth-friendly products or children. We are free, sovereign beings. Imagine extending that to the animal kingdom. Chief Seattle said ‘whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man.’ Live by your own authority, wild and free. Let’s get out of the factories and the factory farms. Let’s live our innate purpose, not the purpose that others have chosen for us. Decide and create. Not out of resistance or complicity, but from your own personal inspiration.