Oct 28, 2011

Power Rick

The problem with coming out of hibernation too soon is that it's hard to settle back in for the rest of the winter. You stumble around gnawing discontentedly on green berries, unsure whether to head back into the cave or just stomp around in the snow until you've made a path and can go forward.

I triumphantly stepped off the career path three and a half years ago. Walked away from a great Executive Director post, powerful connections, and literally a world of development job opportunities to instead fulfill a dream of being a stay-at-home dad, farmer and writer. But always in the back of my mind I believed that I could relatively easily pick up an overseas job when the time was right again.

Now the time is right (or atleast coming) and it isn't quite as easy as I'd imagined. Three days of intense networking with former colleagues in Vancouver and Ottawa has me excited and exhausted and hopeful and realistic. On the positive side:
- I am still not only remembered but respected for my work
- I do still have good connections who are happy to help
- I still believe in my skills and capacity to do good, important work. If anything, my capacity has grown through my local FreeRange Consulting work, and my compassion/comprehension has deepened through farming

On the "realistic" side:
- budget cuts are more real than ever
- I've been out of the scene for over 3 years and am not at the top of everyone's radar when opportunities do arise
- While my skills have not rusted, my awareness of the latest trends, people and terms need updating

I can start to imagine what it's like for a stay-at-home mom returning after 15 years out! For me, it's not a matter of starting over; it's a quandry about whether to re-start the old engine. Do I really want to get back into that scene? Do I really want to be That Rick: the one who does the networking scene, splashes himself on such a wider audience, who projects an image of effectiveness and powerful confidence among carefully chosen colleagues.

Here in our beautiful valley, I've been able to establish my consulting business in a smooth, integrated fashion. I can network with my children, hand out business cards at an Occupy rally, go to meetings with the smell of fresh garlic on my hands. Becoming known and linked here has not (except time) compromised the lifestyle and identity we moved here to establish. The Rick who is leading your fundraising seminar is the same person who raised your grass-fed beef and entertained you at the raucous Who Knew show. I change my hats because of whims and weather, not titles and neighbourhoods.

I do believe that a move back into international development could be done with the same integrity and consistency. I sold or gave thank-you garlic at every meeting and seminar I attended on this Ottawa/Toronto trip, and people understood the link. I am a sustainable livelihood expert who understand food security at the producers' end; a gender justice specialist who stays home to raise his kids; a housing sector analyist who builds his own house out of local clay and wood. There's a whole new layer of hands-on understanding, and this dirt under my fingernails will be celebrated, not hidden.

But while I can do this without changing Me, there's a time investment that can't be avoided. Most jobs I've ever held have come through connections, not the internet, and connections have to be nurtured. How often can I pop over to the CIDA offices in Ottawa and NGO headquarters in Toronto and Vancouver? How many hours per night can I devote to reading industry journals and Globe & Mail op eds?

During the same week that I spent back East, I missed a community-building volunteer preparation for our school's annual Pumpkin Path (though I did get to dress as a turnip and let children repeatedly pull me out of a hole in the ground for 2 hours). While I spend 15 hours this week following up on those meetings and leads, candidates for our local elections will be holding campaign meetings that I would like to become involved in. I'll be rewriting my resume tonight instead of writing the Great Canadian Novel. And just the possibility of landing a great overseas contract will once again hinder my dreams of coaching soccer or joining a team or buying too many new animals requiring care in our absence.

As I struggle to balance this re-awakening with the person I've worked hard to become since starting this blog 3 years ago, I need to keep in front of me first and foremost that I'm a dad, a partner, a land steward, a community member, a writer, a friend. Somehow the way may open up for more, but that's more variety and scope, not more quality or importance. And even if I can't have it all, I can give my all to whatever I choose to invest in. Here's to dreaming big while living in the moment.

Oct 26, 2011

The Right to Pee

Downtown Vancouver, about to board the skytrain, no public toilet in sight. But behold, across the street is Trees Organic Coffee, where I enjoyed some good cheesecake and amazing apple pie back in the day. I slip right through to the back without meeting any eyes, but alas, one needs a key. As I sidle back up to the counter, the worker anticipates my request and points to the key on a hook.

Why is the key needed? To keep out unwanted people. Which means that country boy Rick, with purple pants and travellers backpack, is still on the Wanted list. Even though I haven't dropped a dime there in 4 years and have no intention of doing so today (though plenty of temptation.)

What would it feel like to be one of the people who are not welcome to use this bathroom? To have to find a quiet place behind a garbage bin in the alley and hope the police don't happen by, or walk all the way back to the East Side where a public facility exists? What would it feel like to be told that you're not human enough to be allowed to pee here?

This world is plenty welcoming and accommodating for an educated middle-class fairly-clean WASP like me. As I get on that train with no fears of making it to the end of the line comfortably, I'm thankful for my privileged position. And sad that a key has to exist at all; that the basic human right and dignity to relieve oneself is still considered a privilege.

Oct 24, 2011

Exciting is Exhausting (but not vice versa)

First day of a 6-day, 3-province road trip, highlights the amazing and whirling life of a consultant. After a final breakfast and endearing good bye hugs, hopped the Greyhound for an hour of reviewing documents and some more shut-eye. Then started the real work:

- training proposal on grantwriting and RFP bids for a new potential client
- introductory letter to send tomorrow to delegates of the Coast Waste Management Association, inviting them to visit the Cowichan Energy Alternatives prototype kiosk for collecting waste residential vegetable oil that we'll then convert to biofuel
- meeting with the Western Canada representative for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to explore my prospects for overseas consultancy work
- popped by Heritage Canada to thank them for 2 recent grants for our local "The Hub" community centre
- facilitated a final 3-hour fundraising training session with EMBERS, a non-profit client in Vancouver's downtown eastside
- facilitated a training-of-trainers for men who will be facilitating Dancing Star Birth prenatal men's workshops
- tea and Oreos with dear old friends (only one of whom reads my blog), on whose floor I'm about to crash for a few hours before their excited children find me in the morning

This is the stuff of consulting. Tonnes of variety, new interesting projects, an exhilarating list of new prospects - reminds me so much of my dating life in college. Sometimes I long for the stability and long-term commitment of a regular job, and sometimes I wonder how I'd ever thrive again without this stimulus. All I can really be sure about is that it's 11:27 and I'm one happy and tired traveller.

Oct 19, 2011

Boycot Santa (Occupy the North Pole)

I like the way the Occupy Wall Street movement is evolving. Not just the way it's spreading, but the way it's slowly finding a direction. Now it's time to make a calendar together.

It started out to be reactionary, or what one of my readers coined "victimism." I wrote that we needed to take more responsibility for our society. That same reader summed it much more poetically: "The voices are implying that the 99% are hapless victims of evil overlords, but we have all sewn many stitches in our economic straitjackets."

In Shakespeare's Henry VI, two would-be revolutionaries propose to begin their societal purge by killing all the lawyers. The sign telling Wall Street businessmen to "Jump, Fuckers" is along that same angry, reactionary, Other-focused stream. An energy that most of us feel, trying vainly to believe that if we only could knock off that evil 1% controlling us, that all would be well. But it just doesn't work like that - true lasting change begins from within.

But now I feel a shift towards action, arising naturally out of the initial chaos, organic and grassroots as squash in the compost pile. November 5 has been declared "Bank Transfer Day", an absolutely brilliant first move. It hits the corporate world where it hurts, but more importantly it is a positive step towards investing our resources in ways that align with our beliefs. And it's a permanent move, not just a temporary boycott that They need to weather. If we protest outside Wallmart they'll just wait until we go away, or have us arrested. But if we all simply stop shopping there, they lose their power.

So while we 99% are on the same page, what else can we do? What comes after the banks? Let's get going on a list of changes that We can implement, individually and corporately, that will just have us creating and living the world we want, marginalizing the 1% and the system they represent. Things like:

- tear up that Costco membership and join a CSA. What if Nov.12 we all mailed in our Costco cards to their head office, and that same day went to a centralized website to find the nearest CSA or farmers market?

- learn to can and dehydrate and freeze stuff from our own garden. Nov.19 isn't too late for an international Apple Preservation Day, with community gleaning then workshops all over the land to make homemade apple sauce and vow not to buy Del Monte products ever again.

- get all of our investments out of the stock market (even out of most ethical investment funds which are just a Best-of-the-Worst) and into local investments that fully align with our values. Imagine 100,000 people doing that on Nov.26.

- we could devote all of December to boycotting commercial consumerist Christmas. Make a collective vow to only give presents from local artisans or our own loving hands. Not do any shopping during the end-of-year sales. Eat that homemade apple sauce and preserves instead of Chinese oranges. Bake your own fruitcake (no-one eats it anyways). Be Santa's helper, not his customer.

- build your next house out of mud. OK, that's a bit hard to all do on the same day, maybe not the best example.

That's just off the top of my head. What else can we do, ideally all on the same day to simultaneously send a powerful message and to support/celebrate each other, to "be the change we want to see in the world?"

Oct 17, 2011

Acceptable Teen Violence

PARENTAL ADVISORY: West Side Story contains suggestive language and physical violence. Three killings are depicted, as well as an attempted sexual assault. A gun is fired. Parents might consider this production unsuitable for children under the age of 12.
- Vancouver Opera website
My eldest is only about to turn 10, but I still find it hard to believe that I'll want to expose him to 3 killings, a shooting and a sexual assault when he's 13. When I stay at hotels and do the obligatory channel surfing for a few hours (like any good simpleton with TV deprivation at home), my adult brain and soul are quickly disturbed by the vast proportion of shows centred on violence - particularly against women and children. Disturbed enough that I've easily stuck to my vow to not watch them (see below), not let them colour how I view the world.

What is our societal fascination with forensics, sex crimes, abductions and violence? And more to the point of this musing, why would we willingly indoctrinate our children into it? Note that the Vancouver Opera is even offering a family deal - just $25 for your child to not miss out on this important cultural learning.

Yes, West Side Story is fantastic, and a must-see for anyone interested in our Western culture. And yes, there will be a time when our children are emotionally and cognitively ready for such an experience, and ready to start processing the full range of societal experience, good and bad. I just find it mighty hard to believe that it'll be in 3 years.

Here's my own experience of horror movies, written a few years back:

Keep your eyes off The Girl Next Door

It’s 2:30 in the morning and I’ve given up on sleep. Horrible images from that movie won’t let me rest. Images I never should have seen.

Wrong Girl Next Door
I admit I was trying to watch an R-rated Risky Business kind of trash while my wife’s away, but instead of a voluptuous The Girl Next Door – “a sex-soaked teen comedy that actually has a heart” according to Rotten Tomatoes – I got assaulted by “Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door.”

Don’t ever, ever watch this movie. It is nothing but a graphic portrayal of child abuse. I am now stuck with images that make me afraid to go back to bed, afraid of giving my brain enough space to dredge them back up again. Why oh why did any person write, produce, distribute or watch it?

Why do we love horror?
I won’t say anything more about that movie that should be burnt. But why do we ever watch other shows that, like this one, can be classified in genres like “crime”, “drama”, “horror”, and “thriller?” What’s with our fascination with crime shows like LA Law, kidnap movies like Ransom - heck let’s even throw in Rambo.

Some are well written and produced, but that still doesn’t answer the question of why we watch them. “Unforgiven” was a powerful masterpiece probably deserving of its Best Picture Academy Award, but it still subjected me to 2 hours of violence, despair, rape, abuse and vengeance. Those just aren’t topics I want or need to be reminded of in such a powerful way.

Dead bodies don’t make a great date
Take a recent CSI Miami as another example, in which Spoiler TV promises “A serial killer who hasn’t been heard from in eight years seems to be back in business.” A self-proclaimed “CSI fanatic” eagerly anticipates this “entertainment”, writing “This one looks extremely intense! In the spoiler clip, we see that the entire team gets called to the harbor for a dead body.”

Just what in that description makes people want to watch it? “Hey honey, let’s spend some quality time together watching a show about a serial killer – it starts with a dead body!”

If it’s the challenge of figuring out a mystery, read an Agatha Christie novel or join a Mensa club. If it’s the pure adrenaline rush of the Bourne trilogy (my own past fixation), maybe I should have gone jogging. Anything to discontinue the self-inflicted exposure to the dark side.

There are better ways to learn about the world
No, we don’t need to close our eyes to the negatives in our world. We desperately need to know more and do more about the ongoing travesties in the Congo and the injustices to the homeless in our own streets. But not by exploiting it for entertainment value. Let’s go to CBC or NPR, whatever news source we trust for this research, not Hollywood.

Saving Private Ryan did heighten my perception of what that war might have felt like for some, but I don’t pretend that it’s contrived storyline taught me anything about the causes of war, how to prevent it, or anything that is of importance beyond a “Never Again” conviction.

Let’s treat ourselves better than this.

Immersing ourselves in horror and crime and violence just for entertainment sake is at the very least unhealthy, often exploitative, and ultimately damaging. It numbs us. It brings up energy in an unnatural way. And it makes us think things are more common than they are – paints such a consistently negative picture of the world that we end up scared to let our kids play outside.

Yes I’m ranting. It’s 3:20am and I’m still scared to go back to bed. I should have just watched Dirty Dancing or The Muppets or anything that makes me smile, makes me believe in goodness in the world, makes me have sweet dreams. Now that’s entertainment.

Oct 9, 2011

Thanks for Nothing

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and I am thankful for Nothing. On a 3-day romantic get-away in a haunted hotel on Saltspring Island, and Nothing is right.

Nothing on the To-Do list. Three whole days with just me and Sarah and sweet sweet time. We spent the whole Saturday morning enjoying the “farmers” market (82 artisans, 22 baked goods, 5 farmers). Long hike with views over the ocean to the East and West. Two naps (so far). Delicious dinners out and local produce picnic lunches. Long long talks and dreams and financial visioning from rocks overlooking the ocean, fish&chips joint flooded with the sunset, 5-Rhythms Dance with our incomparable dance-diva friend Shawna, hotel queen-sized bed with the TV cabinet closed (except for that really bad chick-flick about the Playboy centre-fold who becomes a sorority house mom.)

The awareness of this sweet Nothingness became poignant in the final half-hour of preparing to leave the house. As we scrambled to pack, close up the house and leave instructions for my mom and kids to keep the farm going, we rushed past all the Work we would have otherwise been doing this long weekend. Stepped over the broken doorsill, passed by the piles of garlic to be processed, walked under the falling insulation that needs ceiling board, and through the open doorway that really needs that new door hung. Covered up the apples to be canned, piled up the laundry to be folded, put all that FreeRange Consulting work back on the shelf to finish later. Walked through the garden that’s ready to put to sleep for the winter, through the greenhouse of tomatoes that needs a final harvest pronto before the frost gets serious, and out to feed the cow and water buffalo in the tub that needs replacing with a real pallet hayfeeder. Then drove down the driveway alongside the cabin that will get interior plaster on Monday, out by the farm stand that needs to be replenished with garlic and apple butter, and up the road past the mailbox that we haven’t collected in a week.

In so many ways this is the worst timing to run away. Just when we’re exhausted from the spring/summer farming and think it’s rest time, October is our busiest month – final food preservation, winter gardening, and this reno that’s so temptingly close to Done. But these three days have let us clear our heads, reconnect with each other and ourselves, rest, get some perspective. We’re the star basketball player who hates being called off for a breather, but then goes back onto the court with renewed vigour. That huge list of time-sensitive Things-to-Do now looks not only do-able, but enjoyable again – stuff we Want to do. And the circles that Sarah and I have been running in are at least concentric again, joined and overlapping and coherent.

So thank you Grandma for the chance to sit back and take stock, to breathe deep with my wife – out with the overwhelm, in with the appetite. We return this afternoon ready for our children, our land, this ambitious life we choose and thrive in and for which we are truly Thankful.

Oct 7, 2011

Wall Street protest

While my body (and romantic heart) are about to go on a 3-day Saltspring Island getaway with my beautiful wife, my activist brain and soul are down on Wall Street, marching in solidarity with a nation waking up and taking action against the ever-increasing corporate control of our society. At the G8/G20 protests last year we tried to engage or confront the governments, but it is perhaps speaking more to the base of power to go straight to the corporate sector.

What follows below is the first official, collective statement of the protesters in Zuccotti Park. While I agree with pretty much every statement and do believe they're identifying key pieces of the puzzle, I'm disturbed by the focus on "THEY." Corporations only have the power that WE give to them. Every time we shop, vote, select a media source, accept a job, hit a cash machine, sign up for flight miles on our corporate visa card, even choose an internet browser, we are not just giving THEM power; we are part of that energy. Let's first face up to where WE are in those THEY statements below, then let some solutions flow.

The protests are great and I truly wish I was there (instead of being "virtually there" through Avaaz), but the huge societal change that is needed will only really come when we are ready to invest all of our resources and energy, establish and meet all of our needs, and derive all of our Joy through ethical means. Which in my mind pretty much means local, organic, people you know and trust, small businesses who responsibly reinvest your money in your community: ie, not corporations.

Anyways, here's what our sisters and brothers down on Wall Street have come together to say (with my devil's advocate WE responsibility statements following in italics; "WE" meaning the majority of Canadian/American citizens, and, let's face it, a lot of us imperfect activists too - I went to Walmart yesterday):

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
WE chose to buy larger and larger houses, ignoring how it pushed us beyond our financial limits.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
WE still shop and invest there.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one's skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
WE still shop there.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
WE still balk at the cost of organic food at the local farmers' market - "i'd eat local and organic, but it's too expensive."

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
WE still wear make-up.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
WE still wear nike shoes.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
WE vote for governments who reduce funding to educational institutes, making them more dependent on corporations.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
WE still buy from them.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
All of these "they" statements are de-facto treating corporations as people, not recognizing the human beings behind them and our connection to them.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
WE vote for governments with a "lower-taxes" platform, ignoring the cuts that it will necessitate.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
WE use credit cards and sign up for flight miles and hang out on facebook and google and willingly give away or sell our privacy.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
WE still make CNN and Fox the most-watched news sources.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
WE still buy products from those same companies.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
WE just voted stephen harper back into power, and quite possibly will return george bush's party to power.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
WE still vote for those politicians.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
WE still drive much larger vehicles than most places in the world, and still don't fork out the extra money for biodiesel or electric cars.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
WE still rely on the conventional western medical system.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
BP still sells its products here.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
WE choose not to adequately use alternative media sources to find the truth out for ourselves.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
WE just gave majority power to a prime minister who wants to increase penal institutions.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
WE buy non-fair-trade products.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
WE still support the military.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.
We still support the military.

To the people of the world, We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

Oct 5, 2011

My skinhead kids

"Dad, I want to shave my head and join the army." Well, that's not exactly what the boys said, but that's how it felt. And like anything that evokes a strong gut reaction, there were some unexpected lessons to be learned; shedding assumptions and biases takes longer than shaving a bit of cerebral growth.

We have a long relationship with long-haired boys in this family, so it took a lot of cajoling to break out the old buzz cut razor. The kids were trembling with excitement at this new follicular journey; I was trembling with the fear that my boys would be lost in the frenzy, their quirky sweet natures swept away with the golden locks on the kitchen floor.

They weren't, of course, lost, but definitely harder to find. For the first days and even months we still had trouble recognizing our boys. Our perhaps more precisely, trouble distinguishing them from the crowd. Our precious protected TV-less Waldorf Quaker pacifist organic-eating gnome-knitting children looked just like any other kid on the public park playground.

So the first thing I had to let go of was attachment to my children looking different; to associating their special unique natures with the way they dress and do their hair. The photo still shows G's goofy antics and Z's raw excitement at life - much too pure to be disguised by any hair or lack thereof.

I also had to face up to the judgement I carry about how other parents' children dress and look. To assume anything about a child just because of her hair or school or logo on his shirt is a disservice and dishonouring of that child, who's every bit as precious and unique and extra-ordinary in the eyes of her parent as my children are to me.

Finally, and perhaps most challenging, I have to accept that it's OK for our children to run with the pack a bit, to be "normal" or "mainstream" in some ways. They like hockey cards, skiing, Elvis Presley, bike jumps, soccer, and many other "normal" things (a lot like their papa). There are still elements of a child's "typical" upbringing that I continue to shelter my boys from - mainstream media and internet being the biggest - but a lot of what's common in this world is common because it's OK. We spend so much energy teaching our children that it's OK to be different, unique, special, that perhaps we forget to tell them or ourselves that it's also OK to be a normal kid.

In the end, what makes my children special isn't a unique look or ability or school or music repertoire. It's their souls irrepressibly shining through all of that. How we guide them and shelter or expose them (while we still can) is important, but the way we love and honour and support them in whatever new Way they're trying on is ultimately the greatest gift we can give them.

I still prefer my children with longer hair. I still prefer them singing Russian folksongs in 3-part harmony (tonight's musical adventure) to Lady Gaga, and watching their nimble fingers dance over a violin or a cross-stitch project rather than on a video game. But I honour that somewhere nearby, some other Papa maybe watched his buzz-cut boy do a fantastic dance imitation of Justin Bieber and loved him just as thoroughly as I did my boys tonight.

Oct 2, 2011

Love is the Buzz

As I was almost falling out of an apple tree yesterday, watching half-drugged wasps lazily supping on some apples, I mused on what makes them do it. They're about to die, yet still trying to get just a little more sustenance for next year's brood. Their last dying acts, like their first, are to serve the group and their young.

Today as I stumbled through an exhausting day of construction, apple processing and the final lawn mowing of the year, I wondered if I'm so different. Life would certainly be easier and more comfortable with no kids. We'd have a smaller energy-efficient house, eat less, travel more, work less, and sleeeeeeeeep deeeeeeeep. So why have we chosen this difficult path, this extreme sacrifice for the sake of our progeny?

No doubt at some molecular level it's the same drive as my wasp friends (the ones in the apple tree, that is) - survival of the species. And of my genes in particular. I live alot longer than bees, but in the end it just ends unless my kids and grandkids are fruitful and multiply and come to dominate the earth. My old reptilian brain doesn't question, it just drives me to procreate.

But my over-evolved human neocortex isn't so sure. I am unwittingly part of this basic instinctual drive to spread my seed as if it's the only thing that matters, even though while picking apples I was wondering why I should care if the world continues after I'm gone. Really, why would it be a tragedy if this whole, brief experience of mankind just ended?

In the end, my limbic system and frontal lobe come to the rescue, over-riding all my instincts and reasoning. They flood me with the emotional experience of Love, and Joy, excitement, the pure ecstasy of being a parent. I chose to have children because I love children. I choose daily to devote the vast majority of my energy and focus on my children because I love my children. Sure it might just be some cognitive trick that our over-analyzing brains had to come up with to continue the species, but I buy it. I live it. Children are my drugs, the opiate of our masses.

As drop-dead tired as I was all day, it was worth it to cut that grass before the rains come so that the kids can enjoy playing soccer all winter on a field that isn't soaking with 3-inch grass blades catching water. Putting away enough apples and apple sauce to feed the whole valley is worth it to send our children to school with happy, healthy lunches all winter. I'll forgo world travel for a few decades in exchange for the vivid journey through our boys' childhood.

I still complain sometimes about not having enough time to Do Things because I'm so busy caring for the boys. But that is life, the life I've chosen and continually choose. The day doesn't start after they're dropped at school; the day was full and bursting with life during the 2 hours of being with them and getting them clean and fed and dressed and confident and loved and packed and there on time and hugged good bye. And while they're gone, I'm spending my day buzzin' happily, collecting nectar and making honey for when they come home to me.
In my sons' eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what shall be
And though they'll grow and someday leave
Maybe make a family
When I'm gone I hope you'll see how happy they've made me
I'll be there, in my sons' eyes
- one of our nighttime songs, adapted from a Martina McBride song