Just read “The Last Green Valley,” by Mark Sullivan, it was a historical fiction book based on a real story of a farming family who had to leave East Europe to find somewhere to thrive, which eventually they did in Montana.
I feel so many parallels to the book in my own life, that I can’t comment on it as a book.
The main characters are a couple, a man who doubts himself and feels a loss of control, a mother who is fairly consumed with taking care of her two children in troubled times without her husband. I feel like both people. I don’t know if it was intended in the writing, but the book seems to draw you into all the people as mirrors of yourself.
Since moving to the house I live in now we had slugs (gray, Cuban, semi-slugs, and leopard slugs), skip beetles, spiders, mice, feral cats, orb weaver spiders, plaster bagworms, hammerhead worms, fire ants, German cockroaches, and now fleas. I think the fleas are under control, with boric acid and salt, vacuuming, bathing the dogs, cleaning the baseboards with soap and water, steaming the floor and baseboards, but who knows. I also poisoned the slugs again today, but that is never-ending. We also have mosquitos, flies, and stray chickens, but for some reason, those just seem normal and inevitable.
So again I’m behind in my gardening and organizing, but that’s just life, at least the main parts of the house are useable and pretty decent looking.
So I’m trying to think of an inventory of what needs to get done and it’s so much I feel like I have to write it out this time:
Adult Stuff: Medical Form to Fax, Insurance Form to Fax, Additional ID Source to Get Before Appointment for Licence
Building Stuff: Mosquito Netting on Patio, Mosquito Netting by Pond, Drip Irrigation for Hedges, Filter for Gutter
Minimalist Stuff: Declutter: Office, Closet 1, Closet 2, Green House, Green House 2, Patio, Chicken Coop
Farm Stuff: Lawn, Fertilizing Hedges, Prune Veggies, Transplant, Build More Garden Beds, Mulch, Tidy Paths, Pathway Edging, Large Back Pond, Small Side Pond, New Pond, Aquaponic System Switch, Pest Control of Slugs, Mushroom Logs, Bonsai Area, Water System, Watermellon Trial Locations, Moss Garden, Weed Rasberry, Weed Ginger, Set Up Compost System, Source Clemintine Trees, Research Wasabi Root
I felt a little stupid that I have to write out what I’m trying to think about doing soon, but now that I see it, I understand why I’m overwhelmed and a lot of my life has shifted.
It used to be my problems with my daughter and enrichment of her education took up 70% of my mental energy, but today she is in kindergarten at a wonderful charter school we were unexpectedly able to get into via lottery.
So they are now my village and I’m able to do other things now that were really too much before, I’m able to start doing more enrichment with my second child, get the house “really” clean, think about cooking better food, possibly exercise, play cello, play piano, read, write, draw, work on projects…
Personal Stuff: Cello, Piano, Time with Child, Meal Planning, Cleaning Routine, Exercise, Writing, Art Projects, Reading
So, it’s a lot of things swirling around my head.
Adult Stuff: 1. Medical Form to Fax, 2. Insurance Form to Fax, 3. Additional ID Source to Get Before Appointment for Licence
Building Stuff: 1. Mosquito Netting on Patio, 2. Mosquito Netting by Pond, 3. Drip Irrigation for Hedges, 4. Filter for Gutter
Minimalist Stuff: Declutter: 1. Office, 2. Closet 1, 3. Closet 2, 4. Green House, 5. Green House 2, 6. Patio, 7. Chicken Coop 8. Bathroom, 9. Kitchen
Personal Stuff: 1. Cello, 2. Piano, 3. Time with Child, 4. Meal Planning, 5. Cleaning Routine, 6. Exercise, 7. Writing, 8. Art Projects, 9. Reading
So about 25 things on my radar right now other than my main responsibilities:
Responsibilities: 1. Care for 5-Year-Old, 2. Care for 2-Year-Old, 3. Clean Dishes, 4. Prep Meals, 5. Watch Fish, 6. Feed Dogs, 7. Let Out Chickens, 8. Put Away Chickens, 9. Feed Chickens, 10. Wash Dogs, 11. Shush Dogs, 12. Educate 5-Year-Old, 13. Prep 2-Year Old for school, 14. PCIT Training Each Day, 15. Reading with Kids, 16. Doing Laundry, 17. Pick Up from School, 18. Drop Off from School, 19. Constant Emails from School, 20. Sending Photos and taking Calls from Husband, 21. Picking Up and Dropping Off Dad and Sister from Airport.
So that’s 46 things on my mind, which is really too much for me to feel good about. For some people, it may feel productive, but for me, it feels horrible. I’m not sure how much I can handle, but that much is… past comfortable. Every little tiny change makes me irritable because I’m already overloaded.
Somehow writing it down feels good though.
I stopped watering my plants and some are really young, so that’s not good. It’s been since Monday, so today is day 4. I know I’m really overwhelmed when I stop watering my plants. I used to do it in the morning, but I can’t see that happening now with a school drop-off, we do a short language lesson, meal, getting ready, play time together for 15 minutes, and it just isn’t going to work for watering now. When I get home I feel like cleaning, but I should have watered then instead, doing it late feels weird.
The first day I left my daughter at school I felt so much separation anxiety there was no way I was going to be very productive, the second day she failed the temperature check in the check in and I educated her from home, so today the third day is the start of having time without her. I cleaned up a lot rather than play with my son, because I’m clearing out fleas so that they won’t be here anymore.
I think it’s valid, but my son so often gets swept under the rug.
Extra Issues: 47. Fixing pond leak, 48. fixing pond flow rate, 49. wondering if husband will move to my state or buy home in his state, 50. wondering how daughter will adjust to school, 51. wondering if I’m doing the right things in life, 52. wondering what my purpose is, 53. struggling to get along well with dad.
Then the pandemic has extra issues,
Pandemic Issues: 54. ethical questioning if I owe other to get vaccinated, 55. needing masks, 56. remembering masks, 57. needing to wash kids mask, 58. needing to answer questions to kids about COVID again and again, 59. needing to remind kid about mask, 60. fighting with family about COVID, 61. fighting with kids to wear mask, 62. hating COVID, 63. hating government, 64. hating hating COVID, 65. hating hating government, 66. hating COVID opinion oversharing, 67. hating the waiting feeling, 68. hating not knowing if things will ever really go back to being non-germaphobic again. 69. hating the stress of COVID with little kids together.
So 68 things on my mind. I guess it’s normal, but it feels like too many. Is there a way to be responsible without feeling the weight of being responsible?
Then philosophical issues: 69. Am I doing enough to help others, 70. am a decent person, 71. does it matter what an individual does, 72. does life go on, 73. is there more life in the galaxy, 74. will we leave Earth soon for Mars ext, 75. should I be more patient or am I right to be who I am as I am, 76. what meaning should I ascribe to my life, 77. am I living fully, 78. do I need to exercise for health or is it a waste of time when healthy, 79. should I be eating meat or not ethically, 80. should I be doing more for the environment, 81. should I be doing more for orphans, 82. should I have written a book as I committed to doing, 83. am I pushing myself too hard or not enough?
So 83 things on my mind… at each level I think, that’s all there is, then I realize there are more things.
In the past I would write “morning pages” maybe a mind like mine really needed that brain dump aspect of morning pages, which are two pages of anything on your mind.
My mind holds on to a lot, for good and bad. I don’t forget an average amount, yes a bit, but barely at all. So my life is a massive yarn ball, rather than a tapestry. Perhaps I’ll have to weave it into a story for myself, not because I want to or think it will be cool or inspiring as a story, but rather to get it off my mind so I can live freely as I imagine other people live.
I guess I’ve been holding onto too much mental clutter waiting for someday to clear it up.
“The Last Green Valley” it has a similar theme to my life, it’s the theme of trying to enjoy life and be grateful, yet it has a Christian take on it and I don’t that share that. I can’t quite put my finger on why or what the distinction is. It’s not as simple as, I’m not part of that group and they mentioned it, it’s more complicated than that. It’s more of a philosophical distinction, between the philosophy that God changes the world for people to suit their heart’s desires and my understanding that people compete or cooperate to attempt to get what they want largely independently of God. That’s why the story doesn’t resonate with me on a deep level. It’s a good enough story, yet the story of one family being successful during that dark time doesn’t to me prove that it’s because of their ability to dream, I think Ann Frank had just as much faith in God and the ability to dream. Ultimately I don’t believe in.
I thought about it for some time, it’s not that I don’t believe God does ever, or could help, I just don’t believe every little thing is destiny or God is concerned with each penny of each person’s income tax. I’m sure if God does help it’s more of a from time to time thing, that’s how I feel anyway. That puts me in a slender middle ground, there are many people who don’t believe in God or not a God who helps and many who believe God will help and should be involved in ALL things. I think it’s more like we are ground soldiers and sometimes we call in for an airstrike and we get one, and sometimes we don’t. I put off thinking about it for a long time because many people tried to push beliefs on me when I was younger and the whole topic got a bad taste in my mouth, but it feels better knowing what I think than it did as a cloudy unknown. Of course, I know there is no real evidence (that I am aware of) for any side, but even so, we have a guess deep within our hearts and whether we say so or not or know what it is or not, it does affect the way we think of the events that happened in history and in our lives. I think for a long time I didn’t want there to be a God, because I didn’t want a God that would let war and genocide and rape ext happen, yet they do happen, so either you blame God or have a God who is super mysterious so that you can’t understand why God allows those things or a God who gives humans free will and humans than do those things, without being stopped.
God is a distant concept for me, but there still is no way I can believe in a God who has a hand in everything who still has ethics I want to be a part of.
God if they do micromanage everything that happens is a force I don’t want to be personally involved with. I’m not angry at God, because I don’t really believe that God has a hand in every little thing. I think it’s us humans who make a lot of problems for ourselves and do horrible things when we act without thinking. I think there is a God, and they are involved in some ways with us, but I don’t think it’s in a way understood by any religion I’ve ever come across.
Writing this down has helped a lot. I think “The Last Green Valley” specifically brought the question of God to my mind, it wasn’t in a bad way, but they definitely drew conclusions influenced by and in alignment with Christianity more than is true for me.
I found the book uplifting, yet I found the beliefs some of the characters had to be understandable and powerful, yet not exactly true, the belief that if you hold a dream in your heart and work towards it, it will certainly come true, I don’t believe that. Yet I do believe that we can usually achieve our dreams. For example, I wanted to bring my miscarried baby back from death to life and see her grow up with her twin that survived, if I held that in my heart, it wouldn’t come true. It really wouldn’t.
So for me it’s a mix of dreams that can come true and dreams that can not and never will. Like in Full Metal Jacket, the Born to Kill, and Peace Symbol, I see duality in life, not dichotomy.
I was reading the book before bed, hoping to escape from the stress of life, but it caused me to question myself and become more present with life, so it was kind of a success and a failure. It was inspiring, but draining, when I was hoping for soothing.
It’s hard to comment on the book as a book because it was pretty accurate on many accounts and it was mostly an accurate life story, so it becomes really “uncomfortable” for me to say, “your life story sucks” or “your life story was great, I liked when you fought off rape and your relative’s legs got cut off…” it becomes in a sense awkward for me to comment on someone else’s life and family. Yet in a way war is better told like that, so it’s not 1 of 10,000 soldiers and 1 out of 8,000 civilians dead, but rather, my uncle who liked to laugh and fish, gone. Since they are real people on a massive scale, I’ve always liked real stories better, yet there is an awkwardness to being able to talk about them, there is a dignity it feels like the dead should carry that makes it awkward to consider them in the same way fictional characters can be analyzed and diced up into simple boxes. I think I understood why Mark Sullivan took so much time to be so accurate, I think even as an author, that he didn’t want to write this story, but just tell it, for the world to consider the true cost of war, the true value of life, the effect of government oppression, and the value of hope and goals and the cost of holding hate, particularly hate of God on a long term basis.