004: Permaculture as a Peaceful Lifestyle
Permaculture has always meant heading in a direction – a direction toward sustainability, both in agriculture and culture. But what is it doing to us in the meantime?
As we move toward that common goal, each of us experiences many shifts in our perception; changes in the way we see the world, what’s important to us, and what we expect out of life. But what’s happening underneath is something much more subtle and (pardon my bias) something much more beautiful than just rewriting our coding or changing plans. It’s a shift toward a more peaceful way of life.
When we think of peaceful moments in our lives, we tend to think of brief moments of calm, usually after something has been accomplished. When we’re asked to think of a peaceful lifestyle, we can’t quiet get our heads around it, because we’re so used to a frenetic perpetuation of struggle, which is seen as a kind of requirement for success, and success with little or no effort is seen as either a kind of laziness or exploitation – not something to work toward, perhaps even something to avoid. But permaculture does offer us just that – that we can live quite harmoniously with nature, and have our needs taken care of with far less effort than we’re used to. Is that laziness? Is that exploitative?
Working with nature at first seems like a kind of utility; a sense that once we know nature’s patterns we can control and exploit her for all her worth, but in practice this attitude gives way to a more humble perspective – that we are just playing a part in the process, and that nature is much larger than anything we could ever control. With that comes a relinquishing – a lessening of our grip, as we begin to take part in those natural processes we once sought to control. To give up is something we often shun as a weakness, but, giving up our relentless struggle for control, we find peace.
As I look at the backyard, it becomes unclear to me how much of this was really me, and how much was nature having her way with me.