Farm Raised or Wild

One difference between the natural world and the virtual world is that in the natural world you are somewhere. You can be there and do something. You can stay where you are, or go somewhere else. That may be obvious. But it may not be obvious that in the virtual world you are never anywhere. You are always on your way somewhere else. Somewhere better, more interesting, alluring, more important. Always. This is not good for you. It is good for content providers, persuaders and manipulators. But it is not good for us.

If you are farmed, you depend on your farmer for food and shelter.

And your life depends on the beneficence of people who may not be very kind at all. Or who have their own interests at heart, while appearing to care for you. Farmed turkeys are safe and fat and happy, until Thanksgiving. Then the benevolent farmer, providence in human form, sells them to the slaughterhouse, or rings their necks, and makes his or her money. 

Along the way, the food may not be good, or plentiful. It may be late, or laced with chemicals, medicines, additives and contaminants. Any day a raccoon or a wolf or a dog may jump the fence and get in there with you. There is nothing you can do about that. There is nothing you know how to do. You never learned to and you couldn’t do much anyway in there. Can’t hide, can’t run, can’t fight. You or your friend gets torn up and eaten, cancelled or fired, your neighbors stand by or run off, frightened, mourn, recover and feel glad it wasn’t them. You live in a world of hope and worry. You learn to stand by and get by and take what you can. 

If you are wild your world is different.

You look for nourishment. Sometimes there is plenty. Sometimes it is scarce. You learn where to look. You learn the contours of your world. You appreciate what you find. You learn to do without. You explore and discover, as a way of life. You find a good place to rest where you and your family are safe protected from predators. Where you can see the world around you and stay alert for danger even while you rest.  You teach the next generation what to do and how to do it, just as you were taught. There is danger in getting it wrong and joy in getting it right. You never really know what the day will bring, or what you will need to do. But there you are. 

In the modern world most are farmed.

It seems natural. It seems to be just the way things are. In an airconditioned pen, barn, cubicle, apartment or studio. You enter willingly. You are admitted, verified and validated. It feels good. You get used to getting weighed and measured, rated, evaluated, incentivized, subsidized, penalized and paid. 

The wild world is far away.

As if it existed only in a distant age, when, you know, there were no phones, planes or antibiotics. But that world still calls out to you, when you least expect it. And in the fleeting moments when it does, it does not seem so far away at all.

There the air is fresh, the sounds alive, the ground always changing under your feet. There the quest relents, the machines vanish, and you are somewhere.

Would it be better to use all those trillions of dollars to teach right from wrong, to bring concord between people and peace to hearts? To incentivize virtue instead of control people, crush them, force behaviors, and annihilate them? How naïve. 

Training as we do, training for life, not bounded by the artificial demands of organization or ambition, not mistaking growing big for going deep, the dojo is where we are, wherever we are. We become independent and united. Adhering to natural form, we get strong, and are free to pursue happiness. 


Post by Jeff Brooks, author of the influential book True Karate Dō, instructor, Mountain Karate, Saluda, NC

Post and photo copyright © 2023, Jeffrey Brooks

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