Paper towels and brown sugar

I don’t think I’m completely delusional (although it’s possible that I am, we are our own biggest blindspots), but I lived a pretty pared down life. My household is mostly vegetarian; I don’t use cosmetics, shampoo or conditioner; I eat predominantly in season; we made a lot of tomato sauce this year; I re-thought my survival-wine-drinking habit last year. Doing a big emergency shop, in case supply chains collapse, isn’t really a thing. But I still felt the urge… and so, on my way past the store, I stopped in, to stock up on… brown sugar and butter. It wasn’t logical. (My emergency preparedness isn’t, really. I’m not in logistics. I’m in a creative field. Most of what I do is based on a vibe, and wouldn’t keep anyone alive for long. Luckily, I partnered with someone practical.) It was emotional. If the world as we know it is ending, I want to have chocolate brownies. My practical spouse came back from his most recent grocery shop last week with the usual list, nothing excessive, apart from a giant pack of paper towels. We already have one pack. Now, we have an excessive amount of paper towels. If the world as we know it is ending, he will have the last supply of paper towels. He will wipe up the spills of the apocalypse with super absorbent and horribly wasteful paper products and I will comfort bake and eat sugary treats (with no black beans or zucchini or spelt flout, just plain old chocolate brownies.) Neither chocolate brownies nor paper towels are a necessity. In fact, there’s many reasons to argue against their continued existence full stop – pulp and paper industry, cacao farming… and yet, we find ourselves clinging to these totems, as relics of some former innocently indulgent way of life, like some kind of life raft.

You may have observed that I’ve been on a Pat McCabe kick of late, and one thing she said in the For the Wild podcast has stayed with me. We might not be able to save everything. It may be that our task is to create life rafts of coherence.

“In Joseph Chilton Pierce’s The Biology of Transcendence, he talks about, you know, maybe the goal isn’t to try to create global change, but the goal maybe is to create lifeboats of coherence, and that if we create these lifeboats of coherence, that when structures fall, when chaos hits, that the new will begin to coalesce around these lifeboats of coherence.”

I don’t think chocolate brownies and paper towels are particularly coherent… in fact, I suspect they might be little blips in the field of coherence, little incongruities… so our emotional clinging to them is really weird. But you, dear reader, dear community member, you are part of my lifeboat of coherence. So if you find yourself in a spot, and a chocolate brownie (or a paper towel) would help, give me a bell. Together, I think, we can be building something that life can coalesce around. Something supportive and absorbent and sweet and kind.

Photos courtesy of the Losee clan, who model life boats of coherence perfectly.

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