“Everything we do is built on something somebody else did in the past . . .Building on others’ work-that’s the only way you can start making progress.” –Mat Kolding

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, I set goals and miss the mark all year long.  The only two meaningful resolutions I have set and achieved in my life were to stop working too hard and to stop caring what other people think.  Being as those were deeply ingrained in me I still feel rather successful at having dug them out and permanently disposed of them.  Except of course for the occasional relapses.

As I reflect back on the last year and look forward to the next one I try to keep everything in perspective, and when that fails, I continue on as my truest self requires and over-analyze it all.  Were the hurricanes that blew us here the sign of a true calling from the Earth Goddess, or an easy way to get out of the perpetual rebuilding required of Gulf residents?  Are the moments when heart and mind and instinct struggle against one another the true crossroads of our lives, or just feelings of self-doubt that are better off ignored?  Is spending New Year’s Eve alone a blessing, or a curse?

The surest remedy to a frenzied brain is music.  No, I certainly don’t mean Brahms or Beethoven and especially not Heavy Metal, all which are sure to make you even more peevish and muddled.  With Country you risk depression on the one hand, or over-simplification on the other.  I prefer the fun café tunes of the French, and my favorite is On n’a pas besoin by Paris Combo, described as “swinging cool jazz.”  When I sing and dance along with these lyrics on our big deck overlooking the gently rolling hills it all makes sense again.  I’d like to share them with you now and maybe they’ll help you too put your new year into perspective.  The actual English translation is not that great, so here is the gist of the song’s meaning:

You don’t have to look too far to find what you want
You can find it right next to you–the smiles, the confessions, and the hangovers

Which make you languish and rot and make of your brain a pretty little piece of scratch paper.

But the love, the love of your fellow man,

We’ll have to see about that tomorrow.

After all, you have to bother with his little personality.

Others, with so, so, so many faults

That in all that my little ego

Is going to drown, my God, I fear the love of my fellow man.

And on it goes in that way for a spell, until the end, my favorite verse:

No, we mustn’t let ourselves be persuaded
Life is not a great mystery

It’s in the love of our fellow man

That we must envision tomorrow

You’ve got to hand it to the Francophone for their knack in turning profound thoughts into simple sing-along lyrics!

While I no longer attempt New Year’s resolutions, I do adhere to an optimistic attitude of gratitude for the past and progress for the future, and in reverence to that I make a Reading and Research List for each coming year.  This year it includes, but of course is not limited to:

Deeply Rooted:  Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness by Lisa Hamilton (already nearly finished and it’s so fabulous you’ll get the full book review next week!)

American Farmers:  The New Minority by Gilbert Fite

First the Seed:  The Political Economy of Plant Biotechnology by Jack Ralph Kloppenburg Jr.

The Revolution by Ron Paul (continued from last year’s list)

The Green Pharmacy by Dr. James Duke

Plant Spirit Medicine:  The Healing Power of Plants by Eliot Cowan

Strange Bedfellows: The Surprising Connection Between Sex, Evolution and Monogamy by D. Barash

The Ethical Slut:  A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures by Dossie Easton

I’ll bet these last two titles have surprised a few of you, and maybe even confounded a couple of you, too.  But to me they make perfect sense being on this list of otherwise strictly homesteading-related material, because anything that seems so unsuitable to so many, like the superiority of industrial agriculture and Western medicine and monogamy, yet still persists in the mainstream practically unquestioned, I find fascinating.

I will also continue to make my way through Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, slowly but surely, if for no other reason than to be reminded that there have been many others like me who have routinely questioned everything relentlessly, and they were misunderstood by most in their own times.  Some were philosophers, some were doctors, some were pioneers, and some were simply women with nothing else to do.  I find that fact very reassuring.

Happy New Year to Y’All!