Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The first nail in the coffin..

We frequently hear that old cliche "the last nail in the coffin" and it certainly has its place, but some recent events got me to thinking: "What about all of the rest of those nails?"

A group of which I was a part until recently has a few members who appear to be dead set upon killing the organization through bullying, intimidation, and by shutting off all discussion of issues. Now you are probably saying to yourself: "yeah, what's new" and you could not possibly be blamed for thinking this way since this sort of behavior shows up all too often especially given the move to organizations being predominantly on the internet. Still, we should not be so jaded as to be unwilling or unable to recognize such individuals exist and are a very serious problem for any organization in which they are allowed to run wild.

But that said, I would not call the existence of such persons the first nail in the coffin, because after all usually mild control used by the administration will keep such bullies in check. No, the first nail in the coffin for any such organization is when the administration opts to support such individuals and their behavior. This is the first and perhaps strongest nail.

Such is what has happened recently to one of my favorite organizations. One individual in particular took to using personal attacks and insults which were overlooked by even the ones attacked for the sake of the organization, but sadly also by the administration whose sole purpose for existing is to prevent such activity. Still, mature individuals can live with a bit of this uncivil and uncouth behavior, though of course we should never be asked to do so.

No, the problem arises when the administration then lashes out at the behest of such uncivil dishonest individuals at those who dare to not kowtow to those individuals. The moderator who chooses not to moderate, but rather to be the weapon of the uncivil and dishonest, is the first nail in the coffin of any such forum, and eventually the organization if no changes occur.

The one remarkable element of this particular case is that the reasons cited, and the posts which were used as excuse for this use of force, simply called for civility as a necessary element of honest intellectual discussion. It was not the insults and personal attacks which the moderator took issue with, but rather with the requests for calm, civility and honest discussion.

The organization? Kitchen Gardeners International. The immoderate moderator? Roger Doiron. The idea upon which this organization was started was a good one, the behaviors endorsed, celebrated, and promoted abhorrent. To all of my fellow gardeners, whose love of growing one's own food is strong, do not be fooled into giving to this organization, for if they will actively lie to founding members and engage in direct personal attacks, certainly their objectives are not those shared by all who have a love of gardening.

This first nail, is but one of many to come, and I can only hope that a honest, civil, reasonable group of individuals survives to take up the idea of spreading the love of kitchen gardening but leave behind all of this nastiness, dishonesty, and antagonism to civility which now is so celebrated by this organization, its founder, and the sad scared individuals who choose to attack others instead of discussing issues like adults.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

One step closer

This weekend I will experience the shift of mine to yours... I am adding some of my stuff to a garage sale of a friend. It will be interesting to see what is valued by the near random sampling of people who happen to come by.

Most of my clothes are boxed up now, trinkets gone through, and wheat separated from chaff.

So what will I really be leaving behind? Well the easy and just shy of glib response is "my past," but this is too quick despite the degree of truth in it. I am leaving behind myself in some ways. I am leaving behind a comfortable, relatively easy (by my own standards) life, full of fine wines, very nice scotch, even wonderful bourbon, aged cheeses, delicacies I never imagined I would enjoy. I have managed to find myself wined at the finest homes worth more than I ever thought to earn myself, yet without me they would not be the homes that they are. They would be less regal, less comfortable, and less an expression of the spirits of the homeowners. I leave behind customers who are much more than customers, even though perhaps not quite friends in the conventional sense yet still quite important.

I leave behind the hidden spy holes into lives I will never lead nor fully understand, but which I can still appreciate. I leave behind much of the association with the movers and shakers, though I was never really one with or of them.

I leave behind the rugged beauty of a landscape which shapes the people even more than the people shape it. I leave behind the sweet and savory prickly pear, the crooked and stately live oak, the heat and heart of the the real Texas, the only place I ever felt at home as a child, as well as much of my adult life.

I leave behind an era of my life. I leave behind my business time. It was here alone that I truly tried my hand at business, to some degree of success. It was here that I was convinced to create a corporation, and here that I abandoned that corporation as inappropriate for me, to discover that my business is my own knowledge and experience. I created my remodeling and design company which has provided me great rewards, only some of which has been financial. Most times the rewards came in the faces of those who saw their dreams and desires given life in their own homes, sometimes even better than they dreamed. This is not a trivial thing to leave behind me, but I leave knowing that a great deal of joy can be found in my footsteps on this limestone laden land. Leaving more than footprints is good.

I am not crowing about my accomplishments, merely examining the reflection I see looking back at me. Mostly good, but not without flaws. That is what I leave behind but what do I take with me?

Experience, knowledge, and hope are the easy answers, but surely there is more. I take with me a greater understanding a appreciation for the land and the seasons, which I believe can only come from living where life is not easy. I take with me the beauty of the struggle to live, to survive where life is not given half a chance.

I take with me the friendships I have been privileged to enjoy from the happenstance of time and location, combined with the intention and deliberate nature of each of us. The individuals may stay here for now, but they remain with me as well. My door will always be open to them, and I expect that they will one day join me again even if not in location. These ties will not be broken by the miles or by whatever flag is waved on the pole.

On the same note, I know that I am severing many social ties which are more like anchors than buoys. People to whom I am polite, but who add nothing to my life, yet I still feel the social pressure to tolerate and associate with. I leave behind the expectations of specific others in this regard, while realizing that new expectations will arise, though hopefully less binding ones.

As is clearly evident, I have not central point in this posting, rather I am simply revealing some thoughts I have had about this decision and this choice. While I am clearly of mixed emotion on it, rest assured that I know that this is the right move for me now. The mixing of emotion comes from the respect of what I have experienced, the love of the land here, and the appreciation of the people who have helped shape my life while here. This is merely a glance back, probably not the last, at what it is that I am not choosing at this time. It is a grateful look at what has been, at part of what has made me the me of today.

It is the beginning of a thank you which may never be fully spelled out, but is none the less for that.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Reducing the load (Pt 2)

How many clothes do you have? Have you really thought about this? When was the last time any of us actually went through every item we own with a critical eye?

Well this is how I spent a portion of my day today. I have never been a fashionista, or a clothes horse, but even after getting rid of a good amount of clothes over the last couple of years, when I went through my closets and dressers, I found that I still have many more than I need. So, as many as possible are going away to hopefully serve someone else well.

With this, packing is progressing fairly well, though slowly. I have ended up with more books than I really wanted to move, but I just cannot see getting rid of those I have packed to move with me. I still have probably three or four boxes of books left to pack yet, but they are essentials which I will access even during the transition time.

On a different note, I have begun using up my Freebird's credits.. two shirts and five burrito's later, I still have almost two burrito's worth left to spend before I leave. Strange to think that I will have to leave behind Freebird's.

The schedule for the last of the work here in town is starting to come together. as of now, I believe that I have four jobs to knock out, plus some work on the house I am living in right now before I leave. Not a bad load given that I will be in Colorado for a week in the middle of June.

So for today, no profound insights, not epiphanies, just the mundane aspects of leaving behind one place to start out on a new path. They say that the waiting is the hardest part, and right now this seems to be true. I would almost rather be on the move, than wait for that time to come.. Still, I have learned, or at least I am trying to remember, that wishing time to pass is one of the most foolish wishes we can make. So I will appreciate where I am while I am.