Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Reflections on the year: Where I live

It is coming up on a year now since this project started, and I want to reflect on what has made this project possible. I have had the continued support of friends and family and colleagues, and discussions with them have been the largest source of content for these writings. Yet I cannot help but wonder what it would have been like had I been living in another part of the country, or even five miles away from where I live right now. I live in a place where a river flows one hundred yards from my room window, where the farmers' market and the food coop are just a good golf drive away, where I can walk to go out with friends, where accessibility is not an issue. Everything caters to living such a life; the options have been all around me since I moved here seven years ago, I just had to choose to make the leap into this project. I live in Ann Arbor.  How I am so lucky to be here, I do not know.

Reality is what we make of what surrounds us. One can choose to look at a tree and think, "Oh, that will make a nice table to replace the one I have already." Or one can think, "This tree is the home for the woodpeckers and the sparrows, and even though its leaves have graced the soil, they will come back next spring harboring new life." Many people have mentioned to me about how the town is too small, how there isn't anything going on, how they can't wait to leave to a bigger city like Chicago or New York. Yet in my experience, this town is full of vibrancy and vigour. Natural beauty is embedded in it, just as Ann Arbor is embedded in the natural beauty of Southeast Michigan, and is surrounded by the Great Lakes of the world. (Okay, the first colonisers clearly messed up a lot...but let's forget about that for now.) At the same time, this town provides each one of us the option of choosing to live experimentally and experientially. This town makes it easy to live so. Undertaking this project has been incredibly easy. This is the reality that Ann Arbor has shown me.

Yet other places just down the road are not like this. I don't know how I would live in such a place, and only my embedding in those places will allow me to make my reality there. I would hope to learn about those places from others. I am not in those other places. For now, I am here. Given what Ann Arbor offers, I can have no excuse to live any differently, and any encouragement that I may provide is grounded in my being here and having experienced here. But most importantly, it is essential to believe you can undertake a project mentally. If you do, the reality you create for yourself instantly changes its nature.

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