The moment I launched this website I started down a path towards raw hypocrisy.
I had no idea at the time that this was what I was doing, and it certainly wasn’t my intention. Nonetheless, looking back over the past year+ of posting, it is clear that hypocrisy was inevitable.
I have these ideals, you see. And, if you are a regular reader, they are ideals you likely share:
- Homegrown or locally produced, beyond-organic fruits and vegetables.
- Humanely-raised meats and sustainable wild seafood.
- Stewardship of home, health and land through responsible choices, day-in and day-out.
- Support for small, independent businesses and alternatives to the market economy.
- Stewardship of my family’s financial resources through frugality and creativity.
- Increased self-sufficiency and the management of a productive home.
- Sharing of information and building of community through this blog and other outreach efforts.
- Total backyard (and frontyard!) vegetable domination.
Ideals are good, but life is messy. Life has a way of kicking ideals, and people who cling to them with too much rigor, in the balls.
It is a great irony that attempting to gas up and start a life of quiet, slow-ish contemplation and homegrown living is often a more exhausting, overwhelming, noisy and faster-paced task than we might like.
When the ideals of home-cooked, homegrown, earth-stewarding meals crash against the reality of chronic sleep deprivation and lives that are stretched too thin, take-out sushi in little plastic trays starts to look really fucking appealing. Six-thirty spicy tuna salvation, with a side of wasabi.
Sometimes Homebrew Husband picks up burgers or market sushi on the way home from work. Often this happens when I am hip-deep in my bliss, hands dirty in the garden, living life on garden time. I’m so busy growing our food I cannot be bothered to stop and actually cook some.
It happens more that I’d care to admit, actually. And that’s where the hypocrisy comes in.
If I didn’t write about living life on garden time these inconsistencies wouldn’t be hypocrisies. I’d be quietly planting my broccoli and some part of me would be aware of the horrors of feedlot beef but I’d eat my feedlot beef burger anyway. These disconnects would be simple compromises.
But because I talk about how to grow your own food, run a productive home and cook the good stuff when you harvest it, that feedlot take-out burger is more than a compromise, it’s a failure.
It’s a failure when I see my recycling can full of those little black plastic trays and that fake plastic grass that comes with the take-out sushi.
It’s nagging guilt every time I buy a grocery item I could make myself, like beef jerky. It’s the conceit of an internal conversation rehearsing how I might justify that purchase, should I be caught.
I know this kind of thing is ridiculous. My readers wouldn’t want me saddled with the burden of upholding impossible ideals. But yet – and let’s be frank, here – no one reads this blog to learn about the mass market, entirely-non-grass-fed beef jerky I buy at Costco.
So we must admit, all of us, that there is a curated nature to the life-on-garden-time image.
This doesn’t bother me. It is good for us to seek out education and amusement that is inspiring, and that helps us achieve our own garden-time goals.
Besides, I enjoy writing articles that inspire readers to lift a shovel and grow a plant. I enjoy a good food politics rant now and again. I hope my readers come away from my how-to posts thinking they-can. That is the point of this whole sharing experiment.
And yet I fear that I contribute to lifestyle dysmorphia and make myself a hypocrite in the process if I do not periodically remind you, gentle reader, that my life – and yours, I suspect – is a giant ball of compromises.
I see this issue as a sort-of Venn Diagram. Let’s assume – and in my experience this is a very safe assumption – that everyone compromises on something, sometime.
If this is the case, we have three choices:
- Have ideals and stay silent. The repercussions of compromised ideals live only in your heart.
- Have ideals and speak out about them publicly, while privately compromising. The image of indomitability is preserved, but now the repercussions of both compromised ideals and hypocrisy live in your heart.
- Have ideals and speak out about them. When you compromise those ideals, speak out about that, too. Everyone will know that you are, for at least some small fraction of the time, a fraud. But you will be an honest fraud, honestly met. And if you are lucky – if I am lucky – a real conversation can begin.
Can we do this, friends? Can we get beyond the fear of others seeing us for the flawed and insufficient people we are and admit that sometimes just because we know better doesn’t mean we do better? Can our honesty convert hypocrisy to conversation?
Can we admit that in the great balancing game of life, sometimes things like sleep and sanity and not yelling at the kids win out over local, sustainable, frugal and organic?
Can we embrace the half-way path, the better-but-not-best-path, and be kind to each other and ourselves as we bumble through our own compromises?
Yes, I think we can.2