This was my fourth summer growing a balcony garden. And I’m feeling a little guilty about it.
My roots are on two Midwestern farms, where I spent my childhood summers watching cows graze on quiet hillsides and riding in the tractor cab with my grandfather. I spent hours shelling peas and snapping green beans into stainless-steel bowls, pulling dinner – or at least part of it – from the earth outside. I learned about how the land fed us, how in turn we tended the land. How our hard work and care, combined with rain and soil and light, produced the vegetables and meat that ended up on my grandparents’ table.
These days, the most I can manage is a row of pots on a balcony.
I’m a city dweller now, living above the land instead of on it, in a second-floor flat on a suburban street in a bustling town just south of Boston. My husband and I have yet to own any of the places we’ve lived; we are renters, tenants, temporary residents with a lease, not a deed, to our names.
There are perks to this way of living, of course: when a faucet sprouts a leak or an electrical circuit shorts out, we call the landlords (who conveniently live downstairs) and let them deal with it. But since we live upstairs and don’t own our place, the yard – the land – doesn’t belong to us.
Most of the time I don’t mind, but sometimes I wish we could have a garden. I wonder if it would help ground me, help me feel connected to the city I’ve lived in for three years but still hesitate to call home.
Posts Tagged ‘connection’
I’ve taken half a dozen online classes in the past two years. And I’ve finally learned: they don’t usually work for me.
More specifically: it is difficult for me to invest in an online course (or any course) with little accountability, little or no face time, and the feeling that I’m just one person in a sea of faceless class members.
The fault doesn’t lie with the course content or the instructors – I’ve enjoyed some of the lessons on writing or photography, scrapbooking or yoga, from women like Jen and Andrea, Marianne, Jennifer and Ali. I am in no way criticizing these women or the content of their courses. In fact, I’d heartily recommend all of them. The problem is mine.
Sometimes the problem is my motivation for signing up. I’ve signed up for several online courses run by bloggers whose work I enjoy, because I didn’t want to “miss out” – because I was, in effect, trying to “keep up” with others in the blogosphere. And, tellingly, even with access to deep stories and thought-provoking questions, or useful yoga poses or photo techniques, I ended up disengaging within days.
Sometimes I simply wanted the course to do something it couldn’t do (similar to the root of the gift-giving anxiety I struggle with around the holidays). I am always – and especially since I moved to Boston – searching for connection and real community. It’s hard for me to get that in a big, anonymous-feeling online forum (though it often comes easier via blog comments, tweets and one-to-one emails). And when I start to feel anonymous and/or ignored, I shut down and withdraw. (This is true – oh so true – in my offline life, too.)
Let this be a lesson to me: there are some ways to connect online that really work for me – and I’m grateful for the community I’ve found in those places. But there are some ways that don’t suit me as well. And next time I’m tempted by an online course, I’ll think long and hard before clicking the “Register” button.
Have you taken any online courses? What has been your experience? I’d love to know.
I think I’ve decided what my dream job would be. (Aside from writing wonderful books, of course.) I’d love to earn my living by keeping all my friends in touch for the rest of their lives.
I just sent an email to Jake (in Houston for the summer) and brought him up to date on my life and Jeremiah’s. I emailed my dear Charity (in Austin) this morning and gave her bits of news about several people we know. Every Sunday night I bring the Lifeteam up to speed on Jeremiah, and vice versa…he gets to hear all about everybody’s kids and jobs and lives during the Sunday edition of our nightly chats. It’s not gossip, because these are all people about whom I care deeply, and it’s all information that they would want their friends to know. I treasure relationships above all else, and I love seeing people I love connect with one another. I want everyone to know that Dawne just moved into a new house and Jacque got to go see the British Royal Ballet at Kennedy Center this weekend, and that Jamie has a new boyfriend and that Kara and Dani and Tori and I are still trying to find jobs. I’m thrilled to know that Robert and Jodi are doing a great work down in the New Orleans area, and that Jake gets to make a CD with a group at his Houston church this summer, and that my friend Erin had a beautiful baby girl on June 2. I want to help foster that connectedness within my network of friends. I love being the connection point, but I don’t want to be the only one. I want them to know what’s going on with each other.
Too bad you can’t get paid for this. But then, I wouldn’t want my friends to have to pay me for that privilege. Isn’t there some kind of a non-profit organization that exists for the benefit of helping friends stay connected? And I don’t just mean cyber-connected, or connected via Facebook. I mean really knowing what’s going on in each other’s lives.
I guess it’s just called friendship, huh?