I want to be a chicken at Worlds End. Here's some reasons why:
1) Structure. You get let out in the morning and you go in at night, all at the same time everyday. So already there's a lot of decisions made for you.
2) No Boys. There are no boy chickens or roosters at Worlds End and I think the girls are maybe better off for it. They go about their business without obligations to male-ness or female-ness. They've never encountered a male chicken in their entire little bird-brained lifetimes. A half mile down the road, our closest neighbor has a gaggle of rough-rider roosters that go about raising hell around 3am. If our girls hear this, swaddled in their lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous white clapboard coup that Eric lovingly handcrafted them, they are likely to interpret the racket as a distant dream; a mythos of chicken creationism, not to be taken too seriously.
They just can't think about it too much.
Like the riddle of the chicken and the egg.
I was off the farm mostly for the last 6 months, working in the city to get our new store and studio up and running and my life has been different. I don't want to talk about a lot of it because it's too personal or tender in a lot of ways. We could frame it broadly in a conversation about change.
The one thing in this life we know with certainty. You either watch change happen or you make it happen - but regardless of your involvement it occurs. I pause here, imagining what it would take to stop the tides. I distract myself from painful moments by reading physics or trips to the Met or Barneys. I am reading about symmetry in the universe; change without change. A circle, rotated on it's axis continually changes but also doesn't.
I drink tea now.
I am looking for the perfect black cashmere turtleneck.
I am particularly interested in the intersection of science and the spiritual realm.
Lets start with love. Somehow the feeling of love is equal to certain arrangements of sub atomic particles in the brain firing off at certain times. There is science behind feelings, it is all arguably nature and nature is ruled by physics and chemistry. Then I think, lets sort it out; lets find the love particle (except their won't be just one, there will be many -- plutonic love, romantic love, maternal love, etc. -- infinite types of love particles!) And then lets study and sequence the shit out of it -- figure out how the various bits skip through electron orbits in the carbon atoms of our brains when the feeling of love is present. Then we'll synthesize it! Mix it up in a petri dish and distribute it to people who need it. I'd diagnose myself, as head of this study and swallow a pill stamped: SELF LOVE.
Then I'd make a pill stamped EMPATHETIC LOVE and I'd slip it in the drinks of Rudy Guliani, Steve Bannon, Chris Christie, Donald Trump and the other members of the newly forming axis of evil. Then we could get on with the real work of this world...
But there is of course the other side to this. The real reason we'll never mix love up in the lab-- the spiritual realm. That which happens in between the air...where no particles or measurable physical forces are. A sentient force field. I can't always figure out how to touch it, but occasionally I do. For seconds at a time with flowers, with strangers at the grocery, with coffee alone staring out the window, with animals a lot -- and then I snap back into being a robot. The most efficient version of myself; a picture of pseudo feminist success - running my company, raising sheep, growing food and flowers but never touching laundry or children.
Lets add some philosophy to this meandering.
The Allegory of the Cave is a well known though experiment devised by Plato in which one imagines a world in which people have been trapped underground in a cave since birth. They know nothing of the world except the shadows they see on the cave wall. When they are dragged out into the 'real world' they resist and run screaming back to the cave. Maybe I'm trying to talk about freedom...
You might pass a truck of chickens stacked hundreds deep in cages on the highway. Trucked from birth, to life to death. Ultimate confinement. You might let yourself go down that road for a minute thinking about all those little chickens... it might conjure a wellspring of emotion. Imagine operating with that sort of tenderness more often. This isn't a conversation about meat birds and how they are produced. It's a conversation about compassion and how far we can get from it living our everyday lives. The sadness of our birthright; it is a gift to warm up to it. That sentient ocean that is between all the air. The symmetrical other - the spiritual half of the reality we are trained to see and know…
You know those chickens know nothing else - the ones in cages on the truck. They were born in the cave. I try to tell my chickens how lucky they are but they still just glare at me with angry, impatient chicken eyes. These girls have it so tight - they won't even touch compost scraps unless I lace it with sunflower seeds or berries. They're on a 1 month plus laying hiatus and when I bought $40 worth of layer mash the other day I considered that it's likely time for a new batch of layer hens. Over dinner Eric and I dance around the conversation of retiring the chickens. For Christ sake, we are buying eggs at the grocery.
But we keep kicking the task down the road.
On the farm there are lessons encrypted everywhere for me. Most of them come painfully slowly. In hindsight its obvious that I needed to break myself down in order to move forward. There are some pieces of myself I don't need anymore. I've been reorienting myself, getting ready for the next phase of work at Saipua which has to do more with education and offering people an opportunity to connect to nature. If you've been to Worlds End you may have seen and felt a certain sort of strange power that lies quietly in the air, on the surfaces. We have one large piece of infrastructure left to build here at the farm so that we can get more people here working and learning and experiencing.
Has every generation felt their time was critical?
I feel there is so much work to do…
I'll be over here hustling; that won't change.
And perhaps trying desperately to adjust to life outside the cave.