Friday, July 25, 2008

a habitat for humanity

I've decided to keep this blog to help me with a little project I'm embarking on with my family. The title seems a little bombastic, but it does not mean that I plan to create a habitat for all mankind. Mainly, I just need a little habitat for my own humanity. Let me explain: the other day, I was walking around my neighborhood grocery store, and that creepy 80s song, "wild, wild West" came on. You remember this song? "She's so mean, I don't care, I love her eyes and her wild, wild..." You know the next word. Admit it. You know all the words to this song, just like I do. So, there I was, reciting the lyrics in my mind to this really terrible song that I hate and looking for some yeast. I walked up and down the aisles, looking for what seemed to be the most simple, fundamental ingredient, but I was lost in the FOUR aisles of drinks, THREE aisles of chips, and TWO aisles of candy. Finally, I found the one tiny space on the shelf for yeast, which, I found out when I got home, was dead and probably 5 years old. Have you noticed that there is just a corner of most grocery stores partitioned off as "health food"? What does that make the rest of the grocery store? Hmmmm. Later that night, I wanted to watch tv, but after flipping through the channels, I had just had it. I've had it with our culture. And, hey, I'm really not a snob! I'm not! I'm normal. But, c'mon man! Are we still listening and watching and eating and spending the most significant amount of our time and money with this stuff? What about that other stuff. You know, the good stuff. The good music, the good art, the good books, the good food, the good life?

I know that there are a lot of people who agree with me on this. I've been inspired by conversations with friends and books and blogs and community events that support the good stuff. But, I also feel this general reluctance from the world around me to embrace what good culture that we Americans have out there. There's a stigma I have noticed around it: "Classical" music is for snobs, going to the art museum is boring and confusing, homemade food is too expensive and too time consuming, making things with our hands is old-fashioned and hard, and life is just too, too busy for that kind of stuff anymore. And then there is the biggest stigma of all that is attached to these things: guilt. We all think, "I SHOULD"; I should listen to classical music, I should read more, I should finally learn how to cook. And we feel bad and inadequate and like we should be different than who we really are. I know, really. I know.

When I had my son, Peter, almost two years ago, I felt many different responsibilities placed on my shoulders, but lately, a responsibility I have felt most keenly is helping Peter experience the good stuff first. While I still have Peter's full attention and his friends don't, I'd like to help him feel right at home with the best of humanity. Thoreau famously stated, "Read the good books first, or you may not have a chance to read them all." In the same vein, I'm going to try to live that good life first, with the good books and music and art and theatre and people, to create in our family a habitat for humanity.

I'd like this blog to be a place to keep notes from the field on this project. As I imperfectly attempt to incorporate the good stuff into my day-to-day mothering, I'd like to remember what worked and what failed, what adjustments come as our lives take new directions, and really, just write it down for once. How many times has my mom asked "Did you write it down?" when I've talked to her about new projects and philosophies that I have for parenting? Ok, mom, ok. I'll write it down!

So, thank you, blogspot, for letting me have this space to write it down and remember. Big breath! Here we go!