It’s funny how Berry responds to his own poem here. He almost seems bummed out by it. He finishes reading the poem, and immediately rearranges himself in his chair, moving away from the microphone in the process.
Yesterday, I asked an open ended question of my Facebook friends.
“What bums you out about the world?”
Some people were bummed about our greed. Others were bummed about the state of rap music, Republicans, illness or scented lotions.
I specifically chose the phrase “bummed out” to keep the conversation from getting too heavy. “Bummed out” is not clinical depression. It is an abiding sense of disappointment that can be managed. The responses reflected that.
Why did I ask it at all?
I was sitting at my kitchen table that morning, thinking about how I was feeling, when the question popped into my head. I asked my girlfriend. I liked her response. She said she was bummed out that people are often difficult to like. I agreed.
At the same time, sorrow must be resisted. As Wendell Berry points out in this clip.
After settling back into his chair, he comments on his purpose.
“My whole life’s work has been opposed to that gloom.”
For those who keep their eyes open, opposing gloom is indeed work.
“Look & See” is coming to Los Angeles in August.
That weekend I will happily take the subway from Duarte to Santa Monica to see the film.
I haven’t spent much time with Wendell recently. I can feel it. His idea of community seems terribly distant right now. Instead of a solution, it seems like a threat. The idea of being accountable to more than just my immediate circle… yikes! The idea of giving up any of my individual sovereignty. •__• The idea of having to acknowledge all the people I pass in the street… no thanks. I’m feeling the Brandon who leaves communities.
And I have left more than one.
Apparently, I haven’t been all that interested in having one.
But I haven’t been satisfied without one either.
“If you begin to subtract from the things that are to be counted as living together, then you begin to invite the ruin that we have. So, we have to consider a community as a commonwealth of all the life that that place contains.” – Wendell Berry