Just imagine my husband’s reaction when, upon asking me in the early weeks of my permaculture design course, “Whadya learn in class tonight, honey?” I sweetly smiled, looked him straight in the eye, and replied “That you are a major BUT-HEAD!”
Watching his face fall, I quickly added “It’s okay, I’m a but-head too!”
It’s true. Probably the most valuable thing I’ve learned thus far in my PDC course has absolutely nothing to do with soil, water, or plants—but rather applying the principles of “observe and interact”
and “apply self-regulation”
to MY OWN MIND. “But-heads” like me (and my hubby) fancy ouserlves as intelligent, productive, practical people. We like to get stuff done. Though we long for change, we don’t like to waste time entertaining grandiose idealistic visions that could never actually be implemented at a mass scale. We are quick to notice flaws in this sort of fantasy thinking, the obstacles inherent in our systems of government, culture, and the mighty dollar, and the insanity of fighting against them….Admittedly, our first reaction to a truly wonderful idea (even our own) is often a “Yeah, but…” Hence, the name.
The PDC class has provided me wonderful opportunities to challenge my jaded, reactionary thinking. When some of the more daring permaculture solutions presented in class (humanure buckets? moneyless economies? eating weeds?) I inevitably find myself dropping out of the external discussion and moving into a rich internal dialogue whenever those pesky ‘but’ thoughts rear their ugly head. It goes something this:
Can I just sit with this “but” thought—without judgement—holding it, lovingly, like a child?
Can I acknowledge this sort of thinking as a potentially useful mechanism in some situations?
And can I now put it aside for a while and allow myself to open fully—to imagine creative solutions that might build momentum toward reaching this goal?
Perhaps. Well, I would hope. Let’s try.
This certainly takes practice, something I’ll surely be working with long after class ends—probably my whole life. And let me tell you, it takes more than faith for us “but-heads” to authentically shift into positive thinking. Cynicism is really just an accumulated sadness over powerlessness, so for me, narrowing the focus to “small and slow solutions,”
helps tremendously. I find I am always capable of taking some baby-steps
that hold the promise of some immediate tangible results] without having to orchestrate a revolution. Hopefully, Im on my way to getting my head out of my “but”.