Justine C. Tajonera
It is mid afternoon, the bamboo hut is dark.
I can smell the soil and the grass from inside the shade.
Coming from nowhere I know that this kitchen is some place
I could live. The sign said "Organic Fresh Cow's Milk" but
I end up in a half-remembered dream where everything
is measured by hand, by barefoot step. There is some
smoke coming from the wood stove.
"When you're retired," she says when I ask about her life,
"and not on active duty." But why wait? The end of the world
leads here. Back here. When everything is done.
The lettuce, by the kilo, lies on the kitchen table, still
unwashed. The half-ripe tomatoes are not for sale.
She hands me several stalks of arugula and a brick pot
with a mint plant. I don't know if she sees our cramped
condominium life. But we do need a corner for herbs,
right by the window.
We find excuses to stay, buying a small bottle of turmeric
tea, tasting the fresh milk, breaking off a mint leaf and
chewing what tastes like a cool early evening.
When we leave, heading back to the city, we know
we will find ourselves here again.
I guess this is a moment to mark the end of my 2013 and the beginning of 2014. I was in a flurry of reading during the Christmas break starting with Crazy, Rich Asians on the 25th of December. But what really got me going were a series of books by Charles Eisenstein. I am still reading The Ascent of Humanity but I finished his Transformational Weight Loss in a day. I also have Sacred Economics waiting in my iPad. I am fully engrossed. He paints a picture of a world that has shed its obsession with (rapacious) growth and consumerism and separate-ness. I couldn't agree more. But instead of calling people to do something about it --too little too late-- he just says that what will come to pass will come to pass. All we can do is prepare for the aftermath: for a civilization that has abandoned traditional economics in favor of what he calls "gift economics," for a time when we will no longer be separate from the earth and ecology but intrinsically part of it. He does not hanker for explanations or answers (I've found myself always looking for answers) but he asks us to be attentive to what is. Because what is...is profoundly sacred.
I've never seen it this way before. But I've always known that it is what I have been looking for all this time. That biological gestalt that I saw so long ago in a Twilight Zone episode in the 80s. And there's no need to gather forces...the forces are already gathering. What I'm now deeply focused on is my own role and my own gifts that need giving.
So that was the end of my 2013. Towards the end of December, I began a frenzied search for answers. I bought a book meant for people in their midlife: Coming To Terms (edited by Lorna Kalaw-Tirol) and then I ended the year with a very peaceful bunch of books (Eisenstein). Not only did I experience peace in the books I was reading...I had a very lovely afternoon in Tanay Rizal at this little organic store where the poem above is based on.