How easy is to settle into complacency? To throw ones hands in the air? To succumb to inertia while time slips by unimpeded by friction?
After contemplating the spring cleaning, the garden weeding, and the barn mucking that has to happen over the next month, it became clear that the answer to each and every one of these questions is “very”.
The next few weeks around the farm, before all of the new leaves and new grass are fully on display and before the mud that remains from the winter thaw has dried, Schoharie County enters what I refer to as “the ugly period”. But as our “seasonal living” philosophy dictates, the dreary must exist. It allows us to more fully appreciate the sublime.
Opening the door to The Beekman after a month away, we were greeted to a black carpet of cluster fly carcasses, a fine coating of dust over all the furniture, piles of unwanted mail, and a couple of dead mice in the attic. I couldn’t help but think about Grey Gardens and the slow decline into insanity and squalor. At that very moment, surveying the work that needed to be done at The Beekman, insanity and squalor seemed like a perfectly rational response – tantalizing, even. The situation even has its own diagnosis: Diogenes’ Syndrome.
Diogenes was once a pupil of Socrates, but his life took an unusual course. He lived in a large tub rather than a house and walked through the streets carrying a lantern even in the daytime (claiming to be looking for an honest man). He pursued a life that was self-sufficient, natural and not dependent upon the luxuries of civilization (eg he did not wear deodorant). He believed that virtue was better revealed in action and not theory, and devoted his haphazard and unkempt existence to debunking the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt society–one in which it was illegal to wear red shoes on a Tuesday, no doubt.