Finding a seat at the table

The best part of our family having carved out a niche through farming, writing, and the creation of fine art, by far, is having a seat at the community’s dinner table, which enables us to join the larger conversation. This brings immense joy, particularly when our contribution is the least important part, but somehow remains indispensable to the overall experience.

Leif Enger has been enjoying our Spring In Your Step micro mix, for example, and took the time to share his enjoyment of the product atop a hamburger…

It makes me so happy to see him appreciating this tiny contribution to his life. The respected author has left a major impression on me through his one-of-a-kind offerings. The thought of sending even the smallest fraction of the imprint left on my soul back in the other direction, well, it means the world. Fact is, we never would have become friends if we hadn’t met at the farmers market, where he bought a book and regularly purchased microgreens. I’ve continued bringing him greens in the intervening years on occasion, which has merely served as an opportunity to catch up with an interesting fellow. The greenbacks offered in exchange have been an afterthought, removed from pockets filled with other inconvenient ephemera at the end of the day.

Not only would our mutual esteem, rapport, and solidarity have been impossible to achieve if I hadn’t produced a product for sale, this friendship would’ve faded away if it weren’t for my week in and week out habit of growing more. And now, even though he’s knee-deep in his own project, I’m fortunate to have him reviewing an early manuscript of my next book. He might hate it, love it, or have very little critical input to add to my messy process. That’s fine, however, because the conversation is continuing. Man, how I love an ongoing conversation with people who are wildly different from me!

For some reason this all makes me think of an incredible Indie film I just discovered on Netflix: Captain Fantastic. FYI, this isn’t a family movie, and it’s not for everyone. It’s intense and graphic to the point of a naked man standing in a public place completely unashamed of himself. For me this uncomfortable scene was a metaphor for being comfortable in your own skin and choosing a life, lifestyle, belief system, etc, and sticking to it regardless of how it appears to a watching world that often espouses an appreciation for diversity and differentness, but in the end prefers gray and beige to anything wholly other. The family depicted is just about as radical as they come. And while their deeply held Marxist beliefs and aversion to Christianity lack appeal for me, they’re an incredibly interesting family unit that challenges me.

What kind of courage does it require to pursue such a radically different lifestyle? I mean, I’m a highly unconventional person who is similarly different from everyone around me regardless of setting (church, neighbors, or any group of humans gathered together in time and space), and yet our family life remains remarkably conventional. Without boring you with details, it has often been easier to flow with the river rather than paddle against it.

The scene where the family essentially crashes a stuffy funeral resonates powerfully. I’ve similarly felt a strong aversion to conventional funerals, while being attracted to the home funeral and green burial movements. But, when it comes time for me to make such decisions, will I have the wherewithal to live so utterly counter-cultural during a difficult time? Honestly, I doubt it. True radicals, those imbued with an indomitable spirit of hacking their own way through the jungle, are incredible specimens of humanity. Their unique take on the world adds so much to the ongoing conversation around us. Life becomes more interesting, and they have the power to pull us ever so slightly in their direction when we approach them with open minds and a bit of admiration. Their perspective and unique take on the world is rarely 100% wrong. By engaging with them, delighting in their courage and differentness, we not only endure less boredom in life, but can become better people.

I’ll never achieve full expression of my God-given humanity on this side of paradise. I’m ok with that. The journey is worthy of the effort in and of itself, so full of adventure, discovery, and failure.

Friend, carve out a niche that can only be filled by someone with your one-of-a-kind perspective on the world. Join the conversation, and refuse to shut out those who seem so different. Rather, seek out the radicals and weirdos. They make life interesting!

I’ll leave you with this simple charcoal drawing of Shawna’s, which she played around with while becoming mired in a painting project that is stretching on for months on end. What kind of being can come up with such strange and whimsical ideas? The conversation rarely becomes stale with her. Are you regularly exposed to weirdos and radicals? Learn to not just tolerate their differentness, but delight in it.


2 thoughts on “Finding a seat at the table

    1. Thanks. I reckon it is. Mainly, it’s nice to simply make another friend. The fact that he reads books and writes well renders him remarkably rare among fellow menfolk.

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