Generativity ~ it’s a word that I learned from the psychoanalyst Erik H. Erikson and one that has been on my mind as of late. I quite like the sound and meaning. It’s broadly defined as “creativity” and “productivity” but also more specifically in Erickson’s book as “the interest in establishing and guiding the next generation.” So we’re not only talking about making babies here although implied, but something much greater I think.
Enter the word “values.” Doesn’t have to be a nasty word. They are important to all of us. However, I am particularly fond of those that don’t require exclamation, proclamation, or defending. I prefer values that are simply lived, learned and passed on through observation. No words required. Pretty powerful stuff if you ask me.
How we live and the quality with which we live it is, I am learning, is more formative in shaping our little one’s hearts and minds than mastering the helpful hints offered in any parenting how-to book. Parenting (or mothering/fathering in any form not necessarily biological) is a creative endeavor. An art, not a science. This of course is MUCH easier said than done.
So, what do I hope to model to our little one? There is the obvious: empathy/compassion, the ability to laugh at one’s imperfections, that there are many “right” ways out there, and that all questions are welcome (at least they are under our roof). But there are also some little things that are important to me. A couple as follows:
1. Homemade bread. (I have this fantasy that Milo, years down the road opens up his lunch pail alongside his buddies at recess and to his horror and his mom’s delight, discovers that his is the only PB&J made on really grainy healthy homemade bread).
2. Fresh Flowers. From the garden, preferably.
Why the bread and flowers? Could be because they give me joy or that bread and flowers carry a symbolic meaning much greater than their component parts: flour, flowers, yeast and water. I think it’s more of the latter than the former. I take that back. It’s both. Generativity isn’t limited to character formation but also the preservation of lost arts. Interesting the resurgence today of so many of these lost (home) arts: beer and wine making, knitting, canning…I even surprised myself when we walked home from the library a couple of weeks ago with two quilting books stowed safely in that handy compartment under our boy’s stroller. Perfect for books and other delightful free finds along the side of the road.
Milo will undoubtedly make his own conclusions about things such as: homemade bread sucks where’s the Wonder bread? The kid may even have terrible allergies: no gluten, no peanuts, no pollen. What a dud. But I must remain flexible and respect that he is in fact different from me. But I can only hope that the little things we do count somehow. That fresh bread and flowers communicate something deeper and more lasting. Such as, although life can be at times terribly burdensome it is also peppered with bits of joy.
Or more broadly, how we live matters and the quality with which we live it can be passed on by people big and small.
“Give me one word…”
I don’t know about you but sometimes I find it difficult to communicate what I feel or what I am experiencing and I’m talking about to people who WANT to know. Sometimes it’s because I don’t know the answer. Other times it’s because I feel so many things I get overwhelmed and find it hard to reduce my answer to its simplest form. That’s when I often ask myself and others who struggle with the same thing – this: “Well, let’s just begin with one word. What is the first word that comes to mind…?”
It’s a fun Rorschach-esque little game I like to play not only with others but apparently also with inanimate objects. Like the above. One word to describe this scene?
I love my neighborhood. We might not have sidewalks but we do have great statuary. It does really help you get a closer looksee at what’s growing or in this case, gathering…under a camellia tree.
This garden vignette is chock full of intent, in my opinion. No, hipsters this would not be featured in DWELL magazine but I love its earnestness. I mean, someone took the time to arrange this lovely assortment of woodland fauna (+one gnome) into a community.
Makes me want to go play. Lighten up a bit.
To be earnest. Live with intention. It’s not one of the adages in the 4 Agreements, is it? It should be. Pairs nicely with not taking your life too seriously because let’s face it. For some of us, intention could get the better of us, its shadow side squeezing the spontaneity out of things. Like the pleasure of not being productive. Like getting stuck in traffic (Why God WHY?). Or say taking naps. Then again, I think my husband approaches every nap with a heavy dose of earnestness don’t you dear?
And to think this all began with one word.
Be earnest. With others. With yourself. Or whatever you create in the garden or otherwise.
Now I gotta go get me some of my own woodland creatures, however, I do in standard Greenwood fashion own one garden gnome. I will have to take him out of hiding.
Just a little report from the weekend. We had a lovely family outing on Saturday to the Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair. It had been a couple of years since I’d gone and boy has it expanded. No longer is it only a soiree where you can meet a few city chickens with names like Harriet, pick up a sack of potatoes (local of course), and oh some useful information on this thing called “composting.” So old news.
It’s hip, folks. Almost too hip. I’m just sayin’. I kind of miss all the dreadlocks. But it was fun nonetheless and helped me get in the Fall spirit. I fancy looking at the gardens the best and of course snacking on all those delicious earthy eats. And watching all those kiddos make flower crowns. If you don’t know anything about Seattle Tilth, you really should check them out. Makes me proud to be a gardener and resident of Seattle.
My highlight though? Sitting under the shade of an apple tree with my boys, noshing on a freshly harvested Macintosh and playing the game: “Hey Andre, just for fun, why don’t you tell me all the things you love about me…”
He is really such a good sport.
There are indeed some stresses of being self-employed. But also many joys. One being: husband works from home so his wife can take a little breaksky from making sure their newborn baby is still breathing and spending oh about an hour to do as she pleases in the garden.
Finger under the nose test. It has waned. Some. Just enough for me to plant these ruby-colored rudbeckias in one of our perennial borders. Rudbeckias. Also known as the quintessential American prairie flower, the Black-Eyed Susan. Call me crazy but do their centers not remind you of a Golden Retriever nose? I am weird.
Anyhow, I am partial to BES not only for their shot of sunny color and garden resilience but they are champs in cut arrangements. Most common variety you might see splashed about your hood is rudbeckia ‘goldsturm.’ Goldsturm being German for “gold storm,” I learned. How apt. I plan on transplanting some of my own goldsturms to our front garden come fall so they might gain a bit more admiration. My hope is that they will complement some burgundy foliage I got going on.
Now if only I could get Justin Townes Earle’s Black-Eyed Suzy song out of my head. Probably not good parenting to be singing a song about a hooker to your newborn. But it is quite a catchy ditty. And a great album to serenade the eve of fall planting and keep you company while staring admiringly at your new tiny farm hand.