I want to grow carrots not because agribusiness is a filthy, greedy, heartless beast, but because rooting in the dirt is fun, worms are groovy creatures, and you can’t buy the sweet satisfaction of a fresh carrot at any price. I want to live a simple, rooted life not because a place of privilege feeds on other people’s poverty, but because meals of venison, potatoes, and berry pie fill our kitchen with gratitude-crazed grins. I want to leave the car in the driveway not because the carbon spilling from the exhaust will tip the planet into an inferno, but because a bike ride puts wind in your face and birdsong in your ears. It pumps blood through your veins and reminds us that life is a dizzyingly splendid idea.
I heard activist Cynthia Jurs say the words be in the conversation, not the fight earlier in the spring, and I think that they can’t be said enough. The destruction left behind by big Ag and the fossil fuel culture, as well as the premise of living simply so that others can simply live are all great reasons to change our ways. But Hank speaks of living true to his values because of the joy he feels because of his actions. He acts from beauty and a love of life, not from fear or anger or revenge. He is in the conversation, to be sure. But he’s not in the fight.
What if we discovered that changing our ways could lead to more beauty and more joy than we thought possible? What if life really is a dizzyingly splendid idea? I wonder what would happen if more of us grew carrots and felt the wind on our faces and let birdsong be the soundtrack to life.