We were just becoming comfortable with our friends in the Bay Area, before we had to leave… The last place I can call home, is… well my home with my parents. Beyond that it’s been a constant struggle to find myself, where I fit in, my place and routine in each different place.

Laura and I have been discussing the topic of spirits lately, namely how objects, places, and people have spirits, or if you prefer, characteristics that go deeper than their superficial appearance. For example, the spirit of the tomato, that demands that you use it properly, that you respect the tomato, comes from a place that few people know. How can you know the tomato unless you know the spirit of the tomato, where it came from, how it grows, does it come from a vine, tree, or bush? Is a tomato always red, are they always juicy and tasty? Why do they ripen? Who tends them? What kind of insects like to eat tomatoes? How do you protect a tomato from them? Who grows tomatoes, and how are the people treated that pick the tomatoes? Where do they grow, in what kind of soil, what kind of weather?

You see there’s a lot more to a tomato than just that red thing you put in a salad or your hamburger (now there’s something I miss). Of course you don’t need to know everything about the tomato to enjoy it, but to know more lends itself to KNOW the tomato and to fully appreciate it.

Hemingway has the great quote about The Old Man and the Sea and how people talk about the symbolism of the objects and characters in the story.

There isn’t any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know.

I think this carries over to how we Americans view our surroundings, nature, and each other. If we understood better the spirits of our food, our goods, our entertainment, and ourselves, we’d be better acquainted with how better to respect those things and maybe what they represent.

That is to say, a blender doesn’t deserve more respect than a human being, but it deserves some respect, respect for the designer, respect for the manufacturer, respect for the shipper, retailer, sales clerk etc. That thing takes on so much more intrinsically than just being a blender. It tells us about ourselves, what we like, how we live, how we use our surroundings.

We don’t think about were our garbage goes… it just goes away.

Things have a cycle, a state of being that goes through the same process we do. They have a birth, a life, and a death. Each of these things isn’t more important than the other. When a weed whacker dies, it goes to the land fill. We need to understand how this thing dies, and is that a proper end. Do we need to drain the oil from it, can we extract the metal parts in order to recycle? Will it decompose properly? Can it be fixed? With this thing’s death, come the birth of a new one. If we buy another, somebody somewhere had to make one extra just for us. How important are weed whackers to our society? Is the world better off that they are being born, living, and dying in our culture? Can we say the same thing for the multitudes of objects that adorn our houses? Do we respect them? Do we see their spirits?

So, that was just a little stream of consciousness there something I had been thinking about surprisingly enough because of the price differences between here and the US. Most interestingly, why some things that I know don’t cost a lot to manufacture were more expensive here, and vice versa. Maybe it all has to do with how each culture views the spirit of the object, how it was born, how it lives, and how it dies.

Wait, but there’s more, if you order now you’ll get… I was just talking with Laura, and I also was thinking about how we mystify ancient cultures like for example Native Americans. When the Christians came to the new world, they heard of spirits and mysticism. Maybe a cross cultural misunderstanding occurred because of the western view of the word Spirits. "What do you mean there’s a spirit living in the tree? It’s just wood."

To which the Native American would reply, "Yeah, I know it’s a cellulose structure useful for many things. But I’m talking about what else the tree is. You newcomers are single minded, you see the tree as a thing for which to make houses and furniture. You construct from it without understanding what else it is. We watch how other things use the tree, the woodpecker, the squirrel, the fungus… We watch the leaves fall, we watch the sap drip, we watch it heal itself when it is cut, we watch it grow, we watch it die. We watch it reproduce, and we watch it become sick. The many ways in which it lives and breathes give us new life as well. We depend on the tree for much more than houses, because we know the spirit of the tree, we use it to heal ourselves, the… and you will forgive me if I use one of your buzzwords.. paradigm of the tree is something that can be applied to most everything we do, the lessons we learn, the way we see ourselves.

Our brothers the Sioux of the west, know the Spirit of the Buffalo. Yes they kill them and eat them, but they are dependent on the buffalo. They do not JUST eat them, nor do they just KILL them. They are not vegetarians, they are not animal rights activists. They kill, and cook and eat the buffalo. They also use its feet, they use its eyes, they use its stomach, they use its hide, they use its Spirit, that which is the buffalo, to divine who they are and how they fit in on this planet. Part of the buffalo lives in them."

To which the Christians would understand that the Native Americans were part animal, and were therefore justified in killing them, sigh. Anyway, it’s possible that this common perception of the ancient ways was just due to the ignorance of the west. And you know we still place too much emphasis on outward appearances and not on the Spirit of the person. If we watched and waited a bit before opening our big mouths, maybe we’d finally after the centuries, learn something.