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“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation & perfection of human beings.”

Masanobu Fukuoka, from The One Straw Revolution
In farming & parenting I often return to these words.

“The cultivation & perfection of human beings.”

But what does it mean to cultivate & perfect a human being?
I still don’t know exactly, but I suspect it may start with learning to live beyond ourselves & closer to who we really are
Parenting on a farm these past five years has offered me this opportunity
(At least on the when I let it happen, when I didn’t cling to myself,
When I didn’t get in the way)

My approach to parenting is founded on doubt
Where every step invites a careful consideration of its opposite
Not to decide which is best but
To accept the necessary co-existence of a myriad of choices,
Not all of them mine:
In everything I do, other possible actions are present, too
(When I am not in too much of a hurry to notice)

Though we live & work on a farm, our “natural life” is not necessarily predicated on the usual tropes of nature or farming

(identify an insect,
find a medicinal plant,
milk a goat,
fish for your dinner)

Though these are good & fine & even enjoyable activities
For me they have no more intrinsic value
Than picking up a magazine,
Or making a pizza,
Or creating video animation on the computer,
Or just spending the day indoors

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I want to see a natural parenting book that doesn’t have
A photo of kids trudging through a rainy forest in the mud

But instead

Sprawled on the couch, laughing at cartoons & eating canned ravioli
A way of parenting that does not offer judgment of the world in the process:
Parenting for the children, not the parent

We like outdoors & indoors
Middle paths, tame & wild
Each as a point in a continuum of unreality
(For outdoors is no less illusory than indoors)
Avoiding anything that is thought to be automatically right

Natural parenting is simply the art of living in real relationship
Letting things settle, watching & waiting & acting in a way
That disturbs the observed situation as little as possible

Comfortable in this place, too
Easily breathing with
A soul that slides into the present

Living as we truly are

(Not what color is the room but how many books it will hold)

I am reminded of the phrase “attainment beyond attainment”
from the Heart Sutra:
What we attain through our children cannot
Be measured in things
& ultimately it is a losing proposition

What we attain is each moment
Lined up like dominos
Precarious, careful, played together for a moment
Somehow impressive when they fall
Put back in to the box
The box itself eventually forgotten
On a shelf, not taken down again for many years

Days free of anger & impatience, free of anything
Books strewn everywhere, wi-fi connected
Plastic blocks, boxes, rooms, the ephemera & geography of youth

More words, fewer snapshots
Living expressions that grow, gain weight, keep pace with loneliness
Not afraid of despair

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