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It Is Real Nonetheless

Sometimes a butterfly bandage just doesn't cut it. Heh. "Cut" it... get it?
Sometimes a butterfly bandage just doesn’t cut it. Heh. “Cut” it… get it?

It’s nice that it’s a little warmer now. I dally over chores, stopping at each species to stand watch for a minute or two. I like watching the ducks drink after I chop through the ice in their watering hole. I like watching over the evolving relationship between Web, our pet duck who chooses barn life over communion with her kind, and Rye’s goats, Flora and Monkey. We moved Flora and Monkey from their usual winter shelter because the deep snow had made their fence superfluous, and they’d become prone to wandering.

Their relationship with Web did not get off on a good foot (hoof?): There were head-to-head standoffs between the duck and Monkey, and I’d have been worried if I didn’t know how fast that bird can move when it suits her. But at some point in the week after being introduced, the three made their peace, and now Web is forever preening her former adversaries, perhaps having decided that antagonism was getting her nowhere, and she might just as well annihilate them with kindness. The goats lean into her while she works her way up and down their backs with her bill. The goats are shedding in the changing season; the preening must feel good.

We’ve lived with animals long enough now that it’s hard to imagine a time we didn’t live with animals. I understand why most people don’t want to live with animals (I’m not talking about house pets, which for the most part are so adapted to the human environment that they demand relatively little of us); the commitment is not inconsequential. There’s no question that our lives are defined by our relationships to our animals, both in regards to our day-to-day comings and going, but also in how we perceive the world around us, and even how we perceive ourselves.

I thought about this yesterday, after reading Charles’ recent account of his encounter with a toddler. The piece spoke to me, in no small part because I understand full well what he means about grappling with criticisms both external and, most affecting to me, internal. I suspect this is a common phenomenon among writers or anyone else whose work exists in the public realm. Or maybe it’s straight up common to humanity. I also agree with Charles that part of the value of my work – it’s value to me, at least – is that I sometimes question its value. It is important, that questioning, the same way it’s important to occasionally question just about everything we think we know or believe. I have learned that the people most deserving of my trust and respect are not those who claim to have the answers, or who claim to know what answers I should have, but rather those who leave room in their hearts and minds for the possibility that the stories they cling to might not be as important as they believe.

Our animals do for me what the baby in Charles’ essay did for him: They remind me, on a daily basis, that my written work is merely one aspect of who I am, it is merely one medium for expressing what I think is important to me. And on those days when it feels as if I accomplish nothing else, they provide me the opportunity to know that at least I accomplished this: I fed them. I watered them. I tended to their needs. I stood for a moment and watched a duck preening a goat, something that only a few weeks ago would have seemed an unfathomable kindness between two arch enemies. I watched one cow stretch her rough tongue to scratch the hard-to-reach itch of another, and I wondered how this need is communicated. I stood over the pigs sleeping in their hay, their soft bellies rising and falling with each porcine breath, and I challenged myself to fill their trough without waking them.

I think these interactions – both between myself and our animals, and between our animals themselves – are worth more than any casual observer might understand. Perhaps worth more than even I might understand. Maybe because, as Charles posits, they are in some manner redemptive, almost an atonement for the myriad ways in which I fall short.

Or maybe they are worth so much for an entirely different reason: They are something that no amount of criticism, either external or internal, can sully. There is no viewpoint expressed, no belief espoused, no argument made, no position defended, no status to be attained or denied, and therefore, no ego to be inflated or deflated. There is not even a verbal acknowledgement of appreciation.

There is merely one creature meeting the needs of another, and the minutia of the interactions necessary to the task, so fleeting and routine that it’s easy to lose sight of their value. This is particularly true in a culture that does not acknowledge or even understand this value. For what is gained? I cannot show you. I struggle to even tell you. But I know it is real nonetheless.

 

68 thoughts on “It Is Real Nonetheless”

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Ben! I know that trying to take it would probably spoil being in the moment, but boy, it would really be something to see a photo of that duck preening the goats!

  2. Really enjoy reading your posts. Recently discovered your book Home Grown and loved it. Currently reading The Nourishing Homestead while my hubby reads Home Grown. Yes at bedtime we look like a Ben Hewitt fan club 🙂

    We have a one year old, he loves being outside and exploring. So refreshing to read in your book about how you allow your boys to be part of everything, and have done from a young age. Some people think we’re mad but the little guy just loves pottering along side us.

    Thanks for all your inspiration and sharing your experiences and your thoughts. Good luck with the build.

  3. My drake is in full territorial mode. I’d love to know what happened to stop the face-off. He’s been chasing my dog for probably 6 months now.
    What’s the wound from?
    I’ll have to think more when I am doing chores and contemplate the relationships. You make some good points.
    You keep threatening to slow your blogging… You’re gonna be the boy who cried wolf!

  4. Ouch!

    Keep it clean, which might be a challenge given your environment, and remember that there is no such thing as “too much” Neosporin.

  5. This blog has everything….gore, gentle moments with animals, rock ‘n roll, and wisdom. As for that picture, GROSS.
    I think animals, kids and nature can pull you into the moment much easier than say…WalMart. For the small city dwellers we have to rely on crows, groundhogs, seagulls, and the 5 million squirrels that surround our black walnut lined yard. Beggers can’t be choosers! But those moments are still there, they’re everywhere if you take the time to experience them.

  6. Thanks Ben. This was inspiring. So I offer what this guy said. It has always stuck in my mind and made me look at animals in a completely different light.

    “We need a wiser and perhaps more mystical concept of animals. Remote from nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”

    ― Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod

      1. That’s what I’m thinking. Ben’s would probably be all loopy-looking…

    1. We made him do it himself. Handed him a shot of bourbon, a needle, and some thread and told him to harden the fuck up.

      1. whew. Thank goodness you thought I was joking!

        (no, seriously, Penny took him to an express care facility)

      2. Hey, you disappoint me once again, I though you were not with the “system”. Just kidding. You are taking the stitches out yourself, right?

  7. Nice stitch work, who did the stitching? On the most important finger. . . 🙂 I will show my 4 year old, he is overly overconfident with his knife. 🙂

    Thank you for the article, nice one.
    Sadly reminded me of our neighbors grandma, who watches her grandchildren same age as my kids, and we play outside together a lot. Many times, I feel bad, she tries to do as best she can with both kids parents working in the city, and I watch how she scolds and restricts in various unnecessary ways those kids endlessly, yet their unbreakable souls are so strong and free, it is amazing to what they adapt. And when we play for just a few minutes, relaxed, you can see grandma changed as well.

    Beautiful thoughts on animals, and I learn a few new words from comments as well. Thank you!

    1. not sure I follow… wouldn’t that mean domesticated livestock would become superfluous? Thus eliminating the possibility of the experiences described above…

      1. Yes, no more livestock to care for. But all the rest of the animals in the world to be good stewards for.

      2. I remember Scott Nearing refusing to have animals because “I don’t want to be a slave to ’em” (or words to that effect). Don’t know if he wrote about that.

      3. Killing and eating animals is a choice in this day and age. There’s plenty of other things to eat. But if you’re going to raise livestock for eating, at least do it humanely…which I have no doubt you do, Ben. That’s much better than the awful life industrial animals are forced to endure.
        I don’t know that much about Hinduism but apparently cows are sacred and not eaten, at least that’s the story. Indians do try to live in harmony with their monkeys and tigers, etc. But not that India’s a utopia. Ironically, violence against women there is horrifying.
        I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. That would be impossible. People ultimately decide for themselves.

      4. I forgot to mention that quote by Henry Beston that referred to animals as their own nation. They’re not our equals as brethren and they’re not our underlings, but they’re their own nation. Nations are sovereign. Meaning you don’t mess with them. Unfortunately, though, animals can’t speak for themselves.

      5. I have never figured out how you kill something humanely, but a shot in the brain seems seems to make things instantly dead.

      6. Sandra,

        Regarding the people of India living in harmony with tigers, I wonder how the Indian people who were killed and eaten by tigers and leopards felt about their harmonious situation. I guess that there are so many Indians that they expect that it will be the other guy who gets killed and eaten, until it isn’t. The late Jim Corbett’s book “Man-Eaters of Kumaon” is an interesting read.

        Inshallah

      7. Swami Nona, The Nearings primarily lived off of what they could produce themselves, a diet that never included animal flesh.

      8. Jeff,

        The whole animal/human relationship is fraught with difficulties, no doubt about it. I don’t think Indians are big game hunters, I’ll give them credit for that. But of course I believe in self-defense if you’re being attacked. And I have seen PBS programs about tiger attacks in India. Thanks for the book recommendation but I think I’ll pass.

        I lost my taste for meat after reading a couple of books on CAFOs – concentrated animal feeding operations – and on slaughter houses. And then there’s the way calves are treated for veal production. Eating an animal that’s been tortured does not appeal to me.

        I remember back in the 70s when mostly women were protesting against the killing of whales and they were roundly ridiculed – the women, not the whales. Thank goodness times have changed.
        We’re mixing apples and oranges here, talking about killing wild animals on the one hand and raising livestock (a euphemism for real live animals) for consumption. But I bring up the whales just to show that attitudes can change.

      9. Sandra,

        I guess that you’re unaware that I manage ranches, where beef cattle are raised for market, and farms, where corn and soybeans are raised to feed livestock that is on its life’s journey toward somebody’s dinner table. I sure hope that not too many attitudes toward eating meat change during the next couple of centuries, as I’d like to think that somebody will be raising cattle and farming small grains on that ground long after my ashes are spread over Cannon Mountain.

      10. Jeff,

        I had read some of your earlier posts about your activities but had forgotten. Sorry. I realize that eating red meat is in the DNA of most Americans and is likely to remain so. I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Not sure though if it’s been established for certain whether eating meat is good or bad for the cardiovascular system. Probably exercise trumps diet.

        I admit to being happy to see cattle grazing in the grass when I drive out into the countryside in Missouri. It’s a lovely sight. And I don’t think you see nearly as many as you used to. Ditto for chickens and hogs. I’m assuming you’re not involved with CAFOs since you use the word ranch. Or is ranch a euphemism? And I think in one of Michael Pollan’s books he talked about corn and soybeans making cattle sick. That’s what I remember anyway. I mean they’re ruminants.

        Really, Jeff, my comments are not meant to attack you or anyone. It’s just a civilized discussion I hope.

        In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that my daughter works for Farm Sanctuary which is a non-profit that promotes a vegan lifestyle and works to change some of the cruel practices in the treatment of animals these days. My own line of work as a court reporter could be described as litigation enabler. How scuzzy is that? So probably I shouldn’t be throwing any stones, huh?

      11. I seldom feel threatened, so we’re cool.

        Since moving west, I have come to think of ranchers and farmers as the best conservationists. Since ranching and farming are ways of life, most ranchers and farmers see themselves as stewards of the land that they want to pass down to future generations.

        There are a few things in the world of agriculture that I find offensive, with egg and veal operations at the top of that list, but as long as there is market demand, there will be abuses.

      12. Living with tigers in India, sorta like farmers and ranchers living with tractors and combines, they are always gonna eat someone else’s arms and legs… Jeff’s response, we need tractors and combines, we don’t need tigers… My response, but we need our arms and legs…
        To all vegans, untold huge numbers of birds and animals suffer and die when forests are bulldozed to plant vegies and make Pop Tarts…
        And fish suffer and die also when the water is sucked from their streams and rivers to irrigate the corn fields to make ethanol so we can drive our F150’s that i would venture to say that kill more people than tigers do…
        Can you tell me where we’re headin’, Lincoln County Road or Armageddon?

      13. There’s a simple solution to that, Sandra: Don’t feed them soy or corn (which is toxic to the cattle anyway). Let them eat grass, a perennial which grows sustainably on terrain other than perfectly-flat farmland (e.g., hillsides, slopes, much of the land around me here in New England, etc.).

        As a human, I can’t eat grass. If I try to grow annual food crops on these slopes, I will erode and destroy the land base. If I grow grass, let the cattle eat the grass, and then eat the cattle, I have a sustainable operation that improves the health of the land base. It also allows me to eat locally, on what grows right here.

        For what it’s worth, I eat plenty of meat. But I will only, ever, buy meat from animals who were raised humanely, outdoors, eating their natural diet (e.g., grass only for ruminants).

      14. David, that’s good as far as it goes if you’re a meat eater but obviously it doesn’t satisfy American…or China’s…demand for CHEAP meat. And I understand the so-called externalities, the uncounted costs, that underlie the fiction of cheap meat. Personally, I just got tired of searching for humanely raised meat and wondering whether what I was eating was really what it was supposed to be. So vegetarianism seemed simpler, and it is for me.

      15. Sandra
        Thanks for the link, for more civilized discussion may i suggest Sally Fallon.— From her book “Nourishing Traditions”
        “Proteins are the building blocks of the animal kingdom. The human body assembles and utilizes about 50,000 different proteins to form organs, nerves, muscles and flesh. Enzymes-the managers and catalysts of all our biochemical processes-are specialized proteins. So are antibodies.
        All proteins are combinations of just 22 amino acids, eight of which are “essential” nutrients for humans, meaning that the human body cannot make them. When the essential amino acids are present in the diet, the body can usually build the other “nonessential” amino acids; but if just one essential amino acid is low or missing, the bodyis unable to synthesize the other proteins it needs, even when overall protein intake is high. Of particular importance to the health of the brain and nervous system are the sulphur containing amino acids-methionine,cysteine and cystine-found most plentifully in eggs and meat. Some individuals cannot manufacture amino acids considered “nonessential,” such as taurine and carnitine, but must obtain them from dietary sources, namely red meat.
        Protein helps regulate the acid-alkaline balance of tissue and blood. When protein is lacking in the diet, there is a tendency for the blood and tissues to become either too acid or too alkaline, depending on the acidity or alkalinity of the foods we eat. Improper acid-alkaline balance is often a problem among vegetarians.”
        Just offering a civilized suggestion, much more (i think) helpful info in her book…Sadly, to have wholesome meat or vegies we must grow them ourselves. Praise to your daughter!!!

      16. NeoNoah,

        I rather like Tigers and don’t have a problem with their predation of humans, since I don’t live where Tigers live, so I’m far out of their range. Tractors and combines do kill a few people every year, but nobody ever said that farming wasn’t a potentially hazardous occupation. Maybe is just Darwin taking the weak or the dumb out of the gene pool to make the body human stronger.

        I use some 10% ethanol blended gasoline, but think that unblended gasoline is a better value. I prefer to burn soy based diesel, but it isn’t always available in a winter blend. I don’t irrigate any corn or soybeans with surface water, mostly from wells that draw from the Ogallala Aquifer and distributed via Reinke and Valley center-pivot irrigation systems, a couple that do an entire 640 acre section. I love technology!

      17. Noah, I will definitely mention Sally Fallon’s book to my child and I intend to read it too. Since she became a vegan she does have her B12 level checked periodically since the only way vegans get that vitamin is from tempeh, fermented soy. I eat plenty of eggs, milk and butter and yogurt. And peanut butter which I’ve always believed is one of the few foods that contains all 8 essential amino acids. Unfortunately, my daughter used to eat peanut butter but stopped for some reason. She is a purist so she found fault with it for some reason unknown to me.

        She also says we Americans eat way too much protein. And that plants contain protein, which I believe they do, just lower levels than animal products. But I’ve never delved into the specifics of which plants can offer us which proteins. So thanks for taking the time to get me interested in this topic.

        As an aside, nutrition is a complicated thing, isn’t it…small wonder most MDs don’t know much about it.

      18. Sandra
        The book is mainly recipies, think you will be able to put it to good use.
        Chickens that are allowed to free range and get a lot of green plants will produce eggs high in omega 3 fatty acids. If you don’t have your own chickens spend the extra $. But you know all this, and butter, yes maam. I fell for the margarine thing for years, was that MD’s pushing that crap? Dumped the last bit on the compost years ago, stayed there for weeks,starving possums wouldn’t even eat it…

      19. Wow, the whole vegan vs meat discussion happening here. 🙂 I absolutely second the Nourishing Traditions, ironically this book was suggested to me by my vegan friend, but is my favorite reference and cook book. I thought it was interesting how it mentioned that “vegans” in India for example, get some of animal proteins (just enough for vitamin absorption) by eating veggies because of food not being sanitized like the food in the stores here. E.g. salad leaf will have tons of bugs, apples will have worms, etc. (you know how many worms and creatures a vegan eats unknowingly!) But in the West now sadly, vegan diet is mainly based on soy, corn, wheat protein, rice, really all the bad stuff. Plus, if you worry about harming life, plants are alive, seeds are alive, yeast in the bread was alive before cooked and killed..

        My best friends being vegan, we adjusted many recipes with replacements (e.g. coconut oil for butter) and learned to cook more creatively, which was good. But as far as animal treatment goes… If you are eating coconut butter imported from Thailand, be assured, monkeys that picked the coconuts were abused and beaten to climb the trees… And there are other examples, Like Noah mentioned. So much for vegan beliefs their diets are not harming animals or the planet.

        If I had an ideal choice, I would keep eating some meat protein, mainly gathered and hunted in form of bugs, fish and forest animals. I find hunting wild life more acceptable than farm raising animals for slaughter, even if they are raised humanely.

      20. Man, so much good info (food for thought) here. One theory has it that animal protein is better because they ingest so many bugs, larva and living mycrobes while grazing. Maybe do like farmchick, keep a salt shaker in the garden and -maybe too- not even wipe the bugs off our vegies…
        Amazing graceful people y’all are!!!

      21. Ha! When I am munching away in the garden my husband will sometimes say to me, “You might want to wash that before eating it. You do remember there is poop in there.” Yeah…well…(though he dies it, too!)

      22. Thank you, Karen, good article. Yes, there is much info on the net now about sustainability of bugs (hmm, gives me some ideas). They sell crickets here in Morton Arboretum, and my 6 year old always asks for them, eats the whole package and asks for more. 🙂 They are crazy expensive, we need our own bug farm.
        I do not get people’s ewww factor about bugs. Why is it not gross to eat beef flesh but gross to eat crunchy cricket.
        Cricket energy bars or pancakes anyone?: http://www.theverge.com/2014/9/16/6096821/crunch-time-canadian-farm-wants-to-put-crickets-in-your-kitchen

      23. “Culinary roads less traveled.” Be kinda weird to get a cricket leg stuck between your teeth. 🙂

  8. Great post. Slightly off topic but related to livestock…we want to get 2-3 lambs for the summer to follow our cows in the grazing patter and help clean up what they don’t eat. I’m reading Nourishing Homestead (which I love!) and am intrigued by your Jacob sheep…think they’d get big enough over a summer to butcher in the fall or should we pick a “meatier” sheep breed? I’m really drawn to the rugged, heritage breeds because it seems like they would thrive on grass alone. Would love your thoughts!

    1. Our Jacobs generally dress in the 30-40 lb range… we tend to slaughter late fall or even into the winter, just b/c we have so much going on in fall.

      You can find faster growing breeds, I’m sure. But as you know, we’re pretty biased toward the Jacobs.

  9. Animals, like small children, force me outside of myself. My relationships with them are never superficial and I know they can “feel” past any pretension on my part. Once they get to know you, it’s amazing how their behavior reflects just how relaxed they are around you!

  10. The partnership with livestock is a special thing. I feed and care for you and you do the same for me. I’m sure most people see pets as having more of an emotional role in our lives and don’t realize that livestock animals can and do just as much for the soul as the body. Maybe that’s another result of people being so removed from agriculture and farming. Not only do people not understand how food is raised and produced, they don’t understand the relationships which exist in a homesteading endeavor. But, then, I talk to my vegetables so my opinion is suspect according to most, I am sure.
    Hope whichever boy is attached to that finger feels better very soon. Imagine he’s probably figured out a way to use his knife even with the injury.

  11. Animals and small kids have one thing in common; they do not pretend.
    The like you or they don’t. They’re happy or they aren’t. They’re grateful or they’re not. When they laugh or show affection, they mean it. No masks, no hidden agendas. I guess that is why so many feel so at ease around them, because they themselves want to be like that too.
    I found that very same thing in people with down-syndrome for instance, when I had the privilege to work with a group of them for a whole gardening season.

  12. So I’m reading Nourishing Homestead. I was inspired by your book, Ben. Then, lo and behold, I get an email from AARP that states the long cherished notions held by everyone that fat and cholesterol are really bad are not true. How do you like that? (Gave me an excuse to make liver and onions. We’re lucky to have neighbors that grow and sell beef.) Anyhoot, given that article I wondered out loud to my husband if this may change beef growing practices? He rejoinders that even though grain finished beef tastes better (IHO) it is also true that grass fed is cheaper to produce.

    Ben, do you have any opinion about grass versus grain? Given that you guys are adhere to “natural” systems I would guess that you would stick with grass fed.

    Jeff, are your growers strictly grass fed and/or both?

    1. We were on a 1880s period German farm here in Chicagoland today and lady kept insisting that even back then they did do grain for cattle too… which is very strange to me because from what I recall, neither one of my grandparents farms ever used grain for milk or meat cattle or horses. Never. But I suppose we never had corn until maybe Krushchev got fascinated by feed corn in America and started fields in the USSR.. Homesteaders would only use grass and hay.

      1. I remember when Krushchev came to Iowa to Roswell Garst’s farm. I know he was thinking “Where is all that corn going? I don’t eat that many corn flakes!” Just like 6 year old me. He and I didn’t get it was going to all the cattle in the feedlots.) April Fool!

      2. Just so you know, we had no corn products in Soviet Union, there were no corn flakes. It is all potatoes over there. 🙂
        Yeah, I just read K Blows the Top book and there was a good picture of K in that Garst farm. But I remember they took us to some Collective farm fields to do work (instead of school days Soviets would sometimes pull kids to work on Collective farms), and I was maybe 12-13, it is the first time I saw corn growing in the field, and we took and tried some ears of corn. You would never see an individual farmer growing corn. Potatoes, wheat, linseeds, barley, buckweat, various beets were main crops. No soy, no corn.

      3. You should have been eating Potato Flakes! Ha!

        Mom had this thing for “Wheaties” and oatmeal. We never had cornflakes. No, seriously, for the longest time I couldn’t figure out why there was so much corn. I was not a questioning child. All my family were Illinois corn farmers, too. I didn’t figure out what all that corn was for until I read “Diet for a Small Planet”. By then I was a vegetarian. We ate a lot of beans and brown rice and had a sign on our apartment door that said “Beware! You are Entering Borborygmi Country”.

      4. Most American farmers of the mid-19th Century grew corn for both human and livestock consumption. They also grew soft wheat for human consumption, but large scale wheat production didn’t come to America until the introduction of hard winter wheat and the machinery to efficiently grow, harvest, and process it during the late 19th Century.

        The large expanses of relatively level and rock free farm ground from the Mississippi Valley west to the Rocky Mountains made crop cultivation much easier than it was in the eastern U.S.

  13. This statement made me think of my absolute favorite time of the day – rocking my baby to sleep each night.

    “There is merely one creature meeting the needs of another, and the minutia of the interactions necessary to the task, so fleeting and routine that it’s easy to lose sight of their value. “

  14. Oh, goodness, what a terrible slip of the fingers. My response to Neo should say “he DOES it, too.” Good grief!

  15. Hi Ben,

    Thank you for this beautiful writing and for sharing your life, thoughts and words so freely. Your final two paragraphs, in particular, resonated deeply with me. You seem to be indicating the limitations inherent in thinking dualistically rather than simply being in that moment where duck preens goat. While there is surely great value in that interaction (e.g., itch relief), putting a value on it is the difficulty. And, I would argue, completely misses the point. If any value exists in this interaction, I say it lies in not gaining, in nothing to be gained and not holding on to anything to tightly. And if any truth exists, its that place where there are no opinions, no fixed views, no arguments made, no beliefs espoused, etc.

    This thinking and writing reminded me of some early Chinese Ch’an (Zen) buddhist writing by Kanchi Sosan (died 606) who wrote the following in the “Song of Trusting Mind”:

    “If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinion for or against. The stuggle of likes and dislikes is the disease of the mind.”

    and

    “The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from the truth. Stop talking and thinking and there is nothing you will not be able to know.”

    The reason I love this writing, and yours in this essay, is that it points towards that something that is unknowable, un-valuable (not without valuable), ungainable and is most certainly real. In fact, because it is a direct experience, it is more real than that myriad of surrogate-experiences that seem to define our lives these days.

    Cheers Ben!

    Dave LaFever
    Arcata, CA (formerly Cazenovia, NY)

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