I know that my letters can seem insincere, but there is a lot of my heart in them. I tell you the truth that I am ordinary. I say this with confidence having read the last paragraph of The Bad Tempered Gardener by Anne Wareham.
Listen to this.... 'We wander the earth as restless tourists, searching for who knows what, full of puritanical injunctions about everything but with nothing in the place of a true moral ground. And all that contradiction and tension is here in my garden, expressed in it, experienced in it and never giving peace.'
I identify with that statement. On Thursday I was bombarded by a man selling what seemed to be a 'better' system of driving up the 'quality' of the service we provide to those with chronic chest problems in our surgery. Everything in this life is about betterment, better gardens, better cars, better houses, better lives...which is OK except life, soul life - the quality of actually living with all its risks, its joys and failures is being eroded by this endless pursuit of perfection.
Now, I would not want to inflict a desperate state of poverty on anyone, but a hard life is one that is fought for and is a keener/sharper life than our present numbed existence. ( I know...speak for yourself Paul.) But am I the only one who feels this way ?
My day job (the reality, not the fantasy) is full of tick boxes and a kind of pseudo scientific measurement in order to prove 'outcomes' and provide reward for the GP's. This system crams people into diagnostic boxes labelled with this or that disease, with this or that drug to treat it, with this or that outcome (or so the statistics would say). Everyone is put into the boxes...but we don't neatly fit in boxes except perhaps when we are dead.
I know that knowledge and understanding will always improve and I do not advocate living in a dark age...but I believe this imbalance we now have brings its own darkness masquerading as light. This drive to improve seems to separate us from the experience of living and takes away our ability to manage - to cope with the difficulties we face in our daily lives. Our expectations are high but the reality is often far from our expectation - and it is that distance which is growing and causing a new type of human misery.
I tell you Monty that I have derived some comfort by reading both your books which bind gardening to the experience of living and Anne Wareham, who gardens against this trend. Gardens are an expressive form of art in my view, they are intimately part of us. This pervasive insistence on us all being scientific in our approach to life...in order that we have 'better' gardens or 'better' lives is not the whole truth. Knowledge is power that is true...and that power was wielded over me by the salesman....I felt like an ignoramus despite 24 years of caring for people.
Monty, I am ordinary. I have no special knowledge. I just share this planet, touch its soil, breathe in the same oxygen produced by our trees and plants, I am connected to it, and I know that it is alive, so I am alive. Who will rescue us from this tyranny ?
Who will give us the peace that our endless search for perfection cannot give ?