So yet again I find myself blogging about moving, but this time it’s about moving BACK to a place: New Orleans. That’s right, dear WordPress readers, all five of you. I’m packing up my boxes in Florida – for real this time – and driving them to Louisiana on Monday. Saturday will be my last day of work at Satchel’s, and my new job at a landscape architecture company starts next week.
It feels crazy, uprooting again and returning again, doing something new yet old, progressing yet regressing, zigzagging back and forth across I-10 like a logger truck. It feels crazy, going back to a place that I had once needed to escape. It feels crazy, having to say goodbye to this place just as I’m beginning to get in the groove.
And perhaps I am just crazy. But I’m starting to think more and more that NOTHING in life goes according to plan, and it’s good – necessary, even – to abandon what’s not working. It’s good to embrace opportunities that spontaneously arise, the things that might be scary and difficult at first but serve well in the long run. Diving back into building and planting and physical labor is going to be HARD. Leaving here so quickly is going to be hard. But learning about sustainable and ecological design, waking up early and working in the elements, working in a community I love, living in a city I love — this, I believe, is a worthwhile investment of time and energy.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the nature of work, especially in light of the UTTER MADNESS going down in our country. More and more I think so much of living is about working – and what we do to feel useful, what we do to contribute, and what we put into and gain from our work. More and more I think that so much of what we work on defines our lives. “Constant work is the law of art as it is of life,” Balzac said, as Michael Dirda reminds us in one of his great essays, who adds: “If you hope to accomplish something worthwhile during your time on earth, you will have to work.”
No matter how much our country is founded on freedom and liberty, at the end of the day EVERYONE has to work to be a functional human; whether that’s showing up to a job, or cleaning a house, or contributing to a community project, or reaching out to people who need help, or suffering a little for the sake of something bigger than you. It’s all “work,” it all takes energy and time, and it all literally and physically shapes us.
And amidst all this political madness I’m finding myself more and more wanting to do good work – to do good work for my body and mind, to do good work for others, to do good work for our soil and water and planet. And I’m finding myself wanting to settle, plant some roots, and really invest in a community. Fortunately I know that I love New Orleans – time away from it, and visiting it in spurts, has confirmed this for me – and I can envision putting in work there for a couple years (at least). “You make sense here,” my sister told me when we visited NOLA together last winter. Somehow I think this is true. And it’s time to recognize I don’t make sense in Gainesville, and that’s okay.
The next four years under He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named — and perhaps beyond – are going to be exceedingly challenging, that much we all know. But I remain optimistic that we can and will put work into positive places – in combatting greed and oppression and inequality, in nourishing and nurturing our selves and land, in lifting each other up through focused, steady hands and hearts. It seems like there’s a great shift and priority toward this, beyond just me and my friends and family, and across the nation and even the globe. Let’s keep up this momentum, everybody. These times are crazy, and nothing is going according to plan, and we might have to take a few steps backwards before we can go forwards. But let’s launch ourselves into the places we know – or believe – we can thrive and make a difference. Let’s get to work.
p.s. For everyone who has made my life here in Gainesville as lovely as it’s been I THANK YOU and will wholeheartedly miss you. A final tribute to G-ville coming soon….