Valentines Day reminds us of matters of the heart, and hopefully, that the heart really matters. What we feel is important. Suzanne's especially good at bringing concerns of the heart to the fore. Many of my listeners know my wife Suzanne as the gardening fifth-grade teacher from Bridgeport, as a passionate grower of garlic, and as a fantastic cook. That's just the beginning.
Her brilliant editing is an important part of each of these radio essays. They are more like collaborations really, except that Suzanne prefers not to write. She would much rather edit. And, she does that exceptionally well. "What are you trying to say?" she'll ask as she dives into a first draft of an essay about some complicated aspect of the global situation. She makes me work in a way that greatly benefits you, our listeners and readers. From the beginning, her insistence on clarity and on good English has played a large part in the success of "Living on the Earth." Suzanne adds humor, a lightness, and always asks, "What can people do about this?"
I began writing "Living on the Earth" in the glow of a passionate romance that bloomed from a seventeen-year friendship. Suzanne and I first met at a town meeting to protest a regional dump that was proposed for some of the land between our houses, which were about a mile apart. We kept the dump away, and kept in touch as our children grew and our career paths meandered. Her daughter baby-sat for my son during our first marriages. We even worked together for a year in a CETA program at a Valley non-profit agency that gave us the opportunity to focus our artistic backgrounds on educational and community work.
Then, after a decade of various individual endeavors, we discovered in 1990 that we were both divorced with nearly grown kids. She was just beginning her new career as a teacher. I was beginning to turn my energies more toward writing and education. We both loved to garden and to turn what we grew into delicious meals. She came with a wonderful big shaggy black dog and a charmingly eccentric mother. It was a perfect fit. Besides, I'd quickly grown dependant on her editing skills.
We were married in the garden the next summer, and began discovering the pleasures and wonderful synergy of working closely with a kindred spirit. We have been lucky to be able to share so many projects: our kids, the farm and farmers markets, a variety of educational challenges and innovations and these essays. Thanks, Suzanne my love.
We live in a world which is trying harder and harder to impose the fiction that numbers are all that matters - that all decisions can be reduced to the figures on the bottom line.
It's very much like the problems with those double-blind medical experiments. Even after we've discovered that the mind is so important to the healing process that the placebo effect works for one out of three people, we still test medicines without acknowledging the potent healing effects of the human mind and its emotions. Human feelings and emotional needs are important to the big picture, but are little acknowledged.
What makes the biggest numbers for the stock market and corporate profits may not be what human beings really want or need. It certainly isn't what the Earth needs.
Suzanne and I have found that frequent contact with nature, on our farm and in urban gardens and parks, provides a reservoir of joy, power, beauty, and elegant design that is both humbling and comforting, as well as inspiring and nurturing.
Our work with children brings excitement and hope for the future engendered by young, questioning minds. Their problems and challenges, however, help keep us focused on some of the more important issues in our society. The numbers game just doesn't work with the kids.
The integration of our lives and our work enriches all our relationships. We benefit from being among the one percent of American households that don't have a television. We frequently cook meals together from foods that we've grown together. We've gotten better at keeping the increasing drivel and clutter of mass market magazines and newspapers out of our lives.
We hope you find and follow your passion, informed of the needs of the world, inspired by nature's beauty and above all in tune with your heart.
Suzanne had a hard time editing this piece, but she did it!
Happy Valentine's Day.
This is Bill Duesing, Living on the Earth
This page and its contents are copyright © 1997 by WSHU-FM, Fairfield, CT, and by Bill Duesing.