A Gift to Myself: Personal Reflections on Being Human

This winter I’m enjoying spending time reflecting on my human journey, which is fully entwined with my homesteading journey.

I’ve written that “homesteading” is the most useful word I’ve found to describe our lifestyle and the culture we want to contribute to. But I could just as easily say:

I’m doing “life” with an emphasis on re-connecting with nature and rediscovering what it means to be human as a small part of a million trillion trillion [1] individual life forms on this planet.

(We live in a world with somewhere between 8 million [2] and 1 trillion [3] unique species of life.)

I knew that gardening was my life’s passion right from start — my heart told me so with the joy bubbling up from within my being as I witnessed life spring forth from seeds, flowers bloom and food generate itself. Miracles!

This heart’s recognition of beauty, mystery and love has been with me from the beginning of my human life. But truthfully that recognition had been fairly stunted by my perceptions of myself and the world around me.

As the protagonist in my own life’s story, a climactic turning point came when I volunteered on a number of small urban farms and saw how happy, generous, cooperative and loving small-scale organic farmers were, as a general rule. They were driven by purpose and heart, not money, power or security. My hearts’ recognition of this love, which was suddenly so obviously missing from my work life, pointed me towards a journey of consciously following my heart from garden to garden.

I followed that green heart thread into farming, which eventually brought me to homesteading. Back then many of my reasons for wanting to homestead were very logical and practical, but still, a crack had opened in my culturally appropriate defenses, allowing my heart to shine through so brightly that even my logic could not deny the calling to a deeper way of seeing and being.

But where would that thread lead me? The unknown was both the source of excitement and fear.

About a decade later and the world is seemingly more awash with significant global cultural problems — many of them continue to support my practical reasons for choosing homesteading as a more resilient lifestyle — climate change, global debt, anxiety, disease, greed, war and much more.

Its surprisingly easy to convince myself to take those problems all onto my shoulders to prepare for the worst (the world’s going to hell in a hand basket), to change the world I live in (because who wants to live in an unjust, crippling world?). Or if it all feels too much I may stuff the problems out of view, which ultimately leads to suppressed feelings popping out at difficult times (its unbearable really).

Its of course inevitable that I, at times, become saddened by and angry at humankind. But as a fellow human myself I, often quite elusively, end up directing those feelings toward myself.

Luckily my heart shines through brightly again, as it will, and reminds me what I am looking for is already inside me. The answer to all my hard questions about “Why?” and “How come?” already live in my heart.

My heart showed me that all of these problems stem from many broken hearts, from disconnection.

In this way of knowing I am reminded that all hearts live in my heart, in the same way that I am capable of all atrocities — hate, disgust, infliction and greed for example.

While I continue to grieve in my own way for suffering and loss that our species is burdened with, I do not invite the world’s problems to perch on my shoulders. Instead I am reclaiming heart connection to this world because that is what I understand my most precious task to be in this moment.

I accept this responsibility of healing my relationship to this world as a human and remembering my heart, our hearts.

As I perennially forget why I am here, I again eventually remember what I need is already in my heart, a nourishing comfort in light of an unknown road that lies ahead.

Through unknowing, this platform Homestead Culture has become a muse where I can express my personal healing through homesteading and explore the question that is coming up for me lately:

What is the medicine that I have to offer to this world? How is my being here medicine?

Perhaps that medicine comes in the form of words and musings, reciprocating excitement around plants and gardening, teaching homestead skills, sharing seeds, something else I haven’t realized yet, or all of the above. Rather than defining what it is, I’d rather make an intention to share gifts from my heart both to myself and whoever else needs them.

I believe — and I deeply know — our human world needs great healing. I see a connection between my own need for healing and our collective need for healing. Even though we all come from different backgrounds, walk different paths, face different challenges, have different understandings, and belong to different cultures — we are of one heart.

Rather than naively seeing “healing” as a problem to ultimately solve (world peace) or as a destination to arrive at (fully healed), I am embracing and delighting in the mystery and beauty interwoven in the challenges and comforts I face as a modern human.

This past year writing for Homestead Culture has been surprisingly helpful for me in my human journey. It has brought me out of my shell as a writer and allowed me to explore this medium by wrapping this heart’s delights and insights around some words.

Words that are helping this mind to understand, to make sense of, why this heart is drawn to homesteading (read: life) at such a deep level.

For me, homesteading still has to do with resiliency, nutrition, freedom and survival.

At a deeper level it also has to do with my connection with nature as member of the human species. A connection when intentionally followed ultimately leads me to a great sense of peace, awe, inspiration and wonder about my spatially and temporally minuscule existence on this breathtaking planet. I suppose I am talking about being alive!

Homesteading has become a grand, ever present gift in my life, a self-defined way of living, a beautiful nourishing home, and among other things, a way of re-connecting with my heart of hearts.

Two white oaks holding hands 💚

4 responses to “A Gift to Myself: Personal Reflections on Being Human”

  1. Avatar

    Good thoughts Noel. I wish you luck and love on your next step…whatever it turns out to be. ;~) GB

    1. Noel

      Thank you so much Gene! I appreciate your love and encouragement as I always do :)

  2. Avatar

    I truly enjoy this post.
    For a long time I do know that I want to live closer to the nature and love gardening but I do not know why. Your post helps me to realise what is inside my soul and heart.
    Thanks a lot for sharing.

    1. Noel

      Hi Ly, thanks for taking the time to reply! I am glad that you relate with some of these words. It feels good to be drawn closer to nature… we are lucky to recognize that and have the opportunity to re-connect!

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