Ill Logic

May 28, 2013 § 9 Comments

Ah, late May in Vermont!

Ah, late May in Vermont!

Last night Rye and I slept in a tent next to pen that houses the boys’ goats. Rye’s doe, Flora, is due to kid any day (or night) now, and Rye, being of the caregiving sort, darn well plans to be there when it happens. So for the next unknowable quantity of nights until she comes forth with however many impossibly small creatures of the caprine variety she’s carrying, the tent is where I slumber. Which ain’t so bad, really, particularly on these cool, clear, bug-free nights, the rain fly left wadded in the grass so that we might see the stars through the tent mesh and wake in the morning with our faces damp from dew. I can promise you, there are worse things in the world.

I have been thinking a lot about logic, particularly since I posted a couple weeks back about how we’re not always particularly logical in our decision making. The more I think about it, the more I realize how wrong I was: We do think and act logically. It just may not always appear that way.

Here’s what I think (for now, anyway): Our culture’s definition of logic seems to have become linked to expectations set by contemporary economic arrangements. In other words, we determine what is logical or illogical based in large part on what the market tells us is logical or illogical. It is illogical to keep cows, because milk and butter and beef are so plentiful and cheap in every supermarket. It is illogical to spend two hours tromping through the forest in a fruitless search for morels, because of course time is money, the latter of which those hours could have been spent earning. And what do you have to show for those hours? A bunch of bramble scratches and a stubbed toe?

It is illogical to repair a tool or appliance, because tossing it and buying a new one is easier and cheaper. It is illogical to educate your children at home because to educate your children at home, you must forgo whatever income you might otherwise be paid. It is illogical to pursue your passion, because your passion does not pay. Better to make a practical career choice, and perhaps when you retire, well, maybe then you’ll get to do what you really want. Maybe then you’ll get live the life you truly want to live.

The definition of logic is reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity. Which makes me wonder: What are my strict principles of validity? It seems a worthy exercise to determine what these might be, for if we don’t even know what they are, do we not risk having them determined by external forces, and won’t those determinations be made with someone else’s profit in mind? I think we do, and I think they will.

So then. For the record, and perhaps to be continued, my strict principles of validity:

1) Time is not money. Time is life.

2) Ergo, I would prefer to retain control over as much of my time (life) as possible.

3) Ergo, I would prefer to not relinquish portions of my life to pay for shit I don’t really need.

4) My family is important to me, my children are growing fast, and I love their company.

5) Ergo, I wish to spend as much of my time (life) in their company as possible.

6) Ergo, I will educate them in a manner that enables this.

7) I am most satisfied in body, mind, and spirit when I am able to spend a portion of each day laboring or simply being on the land.

8) Ergo, I will arrange my life in such a manner as to make this a reality.

That’s a fairly short, off-the-top-of-my-head list. But already, I see how it transforms my notion of what is logical and what is not. Already, I see how I needn’t allow my personal sense of what makes sense to become a victim of forces that don’t necessarily have my best interests at heart.

Ergo, to allow others to define what is logical, my friends, would be simply illogical.

§ 9 Responses to Ill Logic

  • Jennifer Fisk says:

    That sounds perfectly logical to me.

  • But yes, time is the currency we are born with, and how we spend it down through our lives is probably just about the best measure we have of how well we’ve lived our lives. “That’s time well-spent”, a sentence we’ve probably heard countless times..but when you parse it, the core in fact reveals just how deeply embedded in us is, or should be, the understanding of time as currency. Currency…hmmm. How the words open up meaning. Anyway, this essay reminded me of a sign I have above my office door in NH (living in Indiana now taking care of my father-in-law so I haven’t seen that sign for six months). But I put it up years ago when I was having a terrible time promising myself, and others, stuff (time) that I was never able to make good on. The sign is simply “No Time Debt”.

  • Mike says:

    “Time is not money. Time is life.” Beautiful, simple and true. I just started checking in on your blog and my day began with this post. Thanks.

  • Ron Cook says:

    Lovell Dyett, a past talk show host (now deceased) with WBZ Radio in Boston, had this as his sign-off: “Spend your time wisely; it’s the only money you have.”

  • Kent says:

    Hi Ben – This post, poignant in deeply held feelings, brings to mind “Two Tramps in Mud Time” by Robert Frost. In the penultimate verse: “They knew they had but to stay their stay, And all their logic would fill my head: As that I had no right to play With what was another man’s work for gain.” To read this worthwhile poem:
    http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/robertfrost/772. Yes, what is logic to one person may be another’s folly. Thank you Ben . . . thank you!

  • Dawn says:

    Agree with every single word. Thank you!

  • Chris says:

    I’m glad you followed up on this. Good stuff.

    The example that came to my mind when I read your orrignial sentance was my kids. I got a lot of grief about not being settled. Seems it is very logical to have a 529 plan set up and the drapes measured in the ‘kid room’. You kidding me?… We proceeded with the illogical. What a blessing that was. I mean beyond breasts and love … it’ll all come together.

  • jsiegel115 says:

    I enjoyed this, thank you. So true. I do not understand why people spend SO much time doing things they hate to make money to buy things they don’t need/want/like. Seems like a stupid cycle to me.

    Congrats on staying off the bandwagon.

  • daveberlach says:

    “Taking stock of my life so far, I do not wish I had been more logical. I do sometimes wish I had been more passionate.” – Blaise Pascal

    I reckon you’re onto something mate!

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