By Arden Rosenthal, Farm Fellow
Right now I feel like a thunderstorm. The kind of thunderstorm the California girl in me had never experienced. A thunderstorm that causes flash floods on a sunny, eighty degree day. Like finding out abortion rights were stripped while making blueberry goat cheese pizza for twelve. I am many different weather conditions, many different emotions, all at once, that will hydrate and heat the land.
This week we had a communication workshop with masterful facilitator and moderator, Jonathan McRay. We talked together about how conflict is inevitable, necessary, and not inherently bad. Conflict is not stagnant, and neither are emotions. Anger works on a spectrum, and when managed is a source of “renewable energy.”
Throughout the workshop we were asked to describe our current emotions as a facet of nature. This prompted some to be trees, others rivers, some were animals. Me–I was a wave.
Waves are good for catching, getting caught in, swept up by. Notably, they are moving. My emotions are waves: fierce forms of water that build potential, sometimes wading in quietly, sometimes crashing down.
I am learning that the land, and the weather patterns, mimic emotions and communication.
As I am writing and moving with my emotions, I feel like droplets drip drip dripping from a tree speckling the pond below it. The water from above works with the sitting water below to create a peaceful cycle of movement. There is energy there, even from the slightest of movement from rains that already happened, ready to be utilized.
Being here at AMI, thirty minutes from the nearest town, it's easy for me to feel like the sitting water of the pond: solitary and serene, far removed from the life I previously knew and the larger cities and groups of people. When big things happen, like the supreme court (lower case for emphasis) overturning Roe v. Wade, it can seem like thats far away, and action is out of my reach. But, if you’ve ever jumped into the pond here, you know it is anything but solitary. While peaceful to look at, it invokes fear from what we can’t see beneath the surface. It packs the coldest punch when submerged that forces emotions out. That energy is grounding and emanates out, like the thunderstorms here that create earthquakes from the sky.
Being here, “far removed” from where I was before has been anything but isolating. I am the pond. Lying here, but not in wait. I am grounding myself in every seed we sow. I have become rooted in rapidly changing weather patterns. I am learning how to use my body and mind to translate my anger, my fear, my pain, my joy into nourishment.
Like a wave, I am a pattern of changing energy that works within a cycle of life. As my wave rises, my anger fuels me. When it starts to crash, my fear focuses me. And when it finally comes down, my sadness will ground me.
Fire kills but also breeds new growth. With the summer solstice, I can hold pain and joy as one, without feeling guilt for the joy. Joy, like fire, will breed strength and growth. I am learning from nature that I cannot utilize pain and anger without joy.
The tomatoes are allowed to wilt in the heat and revitalize in the rain. The corn can sway in the wind but remain tall. The crops and the land are teaching me that I can, and must, experience joy and pain. I can be whipped around, dried out, flooded, but I can use those conditions to become even more resilient, transferring into stronger fruits. Those emotions exist on a spectrum, and when used together can create a powerful, renewable anger.