Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Words words words...

Above, a quote from one of my all-time favorites, My Fair Lady aka Pygmalion.

Still, as dismissed as words are in Shaw's masterpiece, their importance is stressed in the Inkheart trilogy from Cornelia Funke.

It was a story of words within words. Of stories within stories. Of characters made of flesh and of ink. And to a girl who used to read in her closet with a flashlight; who's best friends growing up were Caddy Woodlawn and Abigail Adams - these stories and friendships were close to heart.

Over 1800 pages I grew to know and love Mo, Meggie, Resa, Dustfinger, Farid and, yes, even Fenoglio. I discovered why I loved Jasper and respected Rosenquartz. I imagined the Nests in the Trees and believed that the White Women are the closest humanity will ever come to understanding Death.

So, yeah, I've spent a lot of time in the Inkworld. And, while I cried publicly at the end of the tale (not a popular activity in Gloucester), it also left me thinking about the impact of words.

We say them every day: "I'd like a coffee." "Let me get that for you." "Bless you." "Fuck off!" "Fuck you!" "How are you?" "What's happening?" "Are you shitting me?"

So many words. So many ideas. Put together, they have so many meanings. Torn apart, they have even more.

I used to scoff at people who played semantics. But maybe, just maybe I'm starting to believe it's time we started paying attention to what we're saying, how we're saying it, and why.

I'm not encouraging an outrage or an uprising or a flashmob. I'm CERTAINLY not advocating for uber-"PC-ness" - I'm just saying ... words mean a lot. They can make things reality and unmake things. Not unlike the Inkworld. It's just a crazy theory from a woman who was once a girl who read books in her closet by a flashlight.

Yet, as the Inkworld showed me, even words meant for good can cause unknown pain. And sometime the words we pay the least attention to can save our souls. But above all, if we mean them for good, good will come. Eventually.

It cycles me back to a theme I've often revisited: We are all but drops on a sunlit sea." The words we utter - and the energy behind them muttered - can change the whole of the world. Not just OUR world. But THE world.

I have the privelege of knowing my friends mutter good words. And I hope that I do so as well.

It's like one of those pay it forward games. I give to you good words, given to me by wonderful people. How will you use those words?

Yes, it's theoretically and philosophyical and blah blah blah. But it makes me feel better. When I ask someone "how are you?" and they seem surprised that I mean it. I like it. And when I offer a sneezer a "bless you" and they look up surprised, it makes me happy. And, yeah, I don't mind I'm doing a good job and its appreciated.

Words help us. They are emotional ties to the things we've done right and the things we've done wrong. They are no match for the personal and/or physical reassurance we as humans need. But they help. Everyone needs, at the end of the day, a pair of arms to wrap around us. But if they know the words that we need to hear, that might prove just enough.

Be kind to your brothers and sisters. They may just be hearing those words for the first time.

The difference between law and reality

Today was another wonderful day of pimping Alfalfa Farm Winery at the Middletown Farmers Market. Sun, fresh food, good company - I've always said that's the best way to spend a day.

Today, I got a visit from a certain GM from a certain burrito joint which shall reman anonymous but rhymes with Chewpotle. Said GM was very friendly and maybe (?) was trying to keep the conversation going... Be that as it may:

I mentioned that I prefered Chewpotle over its competitor KewDoba because it was organic, but that said, competitor had more vegatarian options.

Wherein we began the discussion: to be labelled an "organic restaurant" means to use only certified organic ingredients. So, even if GMs know the local foods are, in fact, organic but not necessarily certified, they, by needs, must import certified organics. Ergo, to offer additional vegetarian options, they needed to have a local organic supplier who could meet demand.

And this is where my issue lies: Many moons and lives ago, I worked at a local CSA which was organic (I KILLED potato bugs for allsake) but not certified (way tooo expensive for a small community farm). The restaurant I was training at was "certified organic."

So in order to be legit, it had to have certified organic produce. Which meant, from a legal perspective, should buy from an orgainc farm in California - a continent away from Vermont - instead of buying from a local, hand-cared, non-certified organic farm.

So, said GM and I had an interesting discussion about pro's and con's of local vs organic. And the answers are still so unclear.

As for me, I prefer to keep buying from local farmers. Some use all organic methods. Some use only "mostly." But at least I know who runs the farms and I know they eat the fruits of their labor. So, they might not be certified, but they can be identified.

What does that mean for "corporate" organic? And does that not become a complete oxymoron?

These are REALLY import questions - which often spiral out of control. But with the world the way it is, I think it's time we at least start thinking about them... I don't have answers. But hopefully asking the questions will open the issue to insight.