Writing is an Itch. This is a place to scratch.

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year's Reflection: The Life Lived Deliberately

By Rattus Scribus© 28 December 2009

" I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

I have recently written two lighthearted poems (some might say frivolous rhymes). One on the day before Thanksgiving here on Rattus Scribus, written in the desperate need for distraction. The other on Christmas Eve and posted on Rattus' Tales, written in a moment of sheer lunacy. So I rather feel a little small starting this New Year's reflection with the august poetical language of Thoreau.

But as I look on this past year 2009, and my dreams for 2010, I feel I need help from the big guns. You might ask what right I have to appropriate from Thoreau's Walden -- a work that called his readers to the "simplicity, simplicity, simplicity" that the woodland-cloistered Transcendentalist found infinitely more meaningful than the time-wasting, unprofitable pursuits and responsibilities imposed by the "chopping sea of civilized life."

What can I, indeed what can most Americans, possibly have in common with Thoreau?

In a phrase: the desire to live life deliberately. To assess honestly, even brutally, what things in this world are essential to develop my life to the full, and to excise all the parasites of the deliberate life.

As 2009 comes to a close I am grateful to know people not so far removed as Thoreau, from whom I draw inspiration. I am only going to focus on one person in blogland here, though there are of course other dear friends and family I could praise.

Before I do, it would be an injustice if I did not mention my wife Anita from Castles Crowns and Cottages. Hers is among the most authentically lived lives I have ever known: her love of life, of God, of nature and its creatures, of artistic creations, her tenacity to accomplish goals (even those which have made her feel painfully like an insignificant fish in a cosmic pond), and her "natural" kindness" have blessed my life in a way it would not have been otherwise.

Anita & me at my doctoral graduation,
Boston University, May 2008

To Patricia (Tita) Cabrera of WoolyTales Miniatures

Tita would never praise herself as I am about to do here. But she is a remarkable example of the deliberate life. Brazilian-born, she came to the United States and now lives on a working farm with her husband and seven children. Moving to a farm was a Thoreau-like equivalent of opting for a more deliberate life: a space where she and her family could "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life," instead of yielding to so much in today's culture that sucks the life out of us.

When Tita is not home-schooling her children, or helping and supervising chores like raising chickens for a poultry company, keeping bees, making honey, baking breads and other goodies from ingredients grown on the farm, making butter and cheese from their cows and goats, making wine from apples or blueberries, sewing clothes for her family and more, she is engaged in other truly magical skills, and her children are taught these skills and enter into the play. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

She and her children put on puppet shows in public venues (all marionettes -- wonders to behold -- props, stories, etc., are done by her and her children).

One of my Christmas gifts to Anita:
Wirehaired Fox Terrier, by Tita Cabrera

She creates the most amazing pieces of art (dolls and animals, of which Anita and I have three) and sells them to bring in family income. She draws and paints beautifully on fairy story themes. All these things and more are imbued with magic, an incredible attention to detail, and constant gratitude to God.

Perhaps the surest sign of a person living deliberately is that they share with others those things that bring them joy. Tita does that, constantly, consistently, deliberately: from a simple word of kindness or thanks, to the magical productions of her substantial imagination. If you have not visited Tita's blog, do yourself a favor.

Thank you dear Tita. Your religious faith, your artistry, your generosity (you blew us away this Christmas) and your life lived deliberately have placed before both me and Anita a new benchmark.

Your devoted friend,


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

This is a well written, beautifully thought out dedication to a person that has shown me that angels do walk the earth. Thank you for giving her such a gift that I am sure she will cherish. I so admire your writing my love. Moi

Patricia Cabrera said...

Dearest (((Ruben))))~yes in deed I am here writing to you in my cheeks blushed feeling that I do not deserve such praise. (((( Thank you Ruben)))!You know my broken English will not allow me to express my true gratidude and the sincere love that I have for you and Nita. You both are such a beautiful exemple of a marriage that is center in Christ. I just LOVE that,smiles.... your love for one another is also seen through your writings .... that is precious!*grin*
I am humbled to call you my friend and I am so very thankful for so many words of encouragments that you faithfully has blessed me with it.knowing that my *little* creations are part of your lives is also a delightful thought.Thank you Ruben. My entire family wish you a wonderful new year!Warm hug, Tita

Fete et Fleur said...

She is the true Proverbs 31 woman. This is a lovely reminder of what life could be if we take the bull by the horns. A simple life lived in the pursuit of the passions that bloom in our heart.

Thank you for sharing!

Debbie said...

Ruben, I wish I knew this lady. I will definitely check out her blog. She IS a true Proverbs 31 woman. Once again, a great post. I really enjoy reading your blog and pondering ... gotta say, you and Anita are such a beautiful couple. She has always been a real sweetheart.
As always, thanks for your comments on my, shall we say ... much more irreverant blog ... thank you for reading. I know I can be OUT THERE. LOL!

Debbie said...

Ruben, I just read your comments on my post about working in 1975. I cannot tell you how much I wish I could be one of your students!! YES - our experiences are similar. Entering 'THE WORLD' in the 1970's was an experience, indeed. Like your students, when I tell my stories to people they don't really believe me and think I have to be exaggerating. But it's all too true, as you know. This is why YOU are a teacher ... teaching is your gift, your contribution to the world. To help guide and enlighten younger people to think ... with their hearts. Again, I wish I'd had a teacher like you. But ... I'm glad you're my blogging friend!
Blessings to you and Anita ...


Patricia Cabrera said...

Happy New year , my dearest friends Ruben & Anita!!!!!!!*grin*

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Happy New Year my love! I am excited what this new year holds for us and for your own personal writing growth. You are blessed with the talent to write from both the head and the heart. You renaissance man, you. Moi

Bonnie said...

Happy New Year to you Ruben! I will do my best to live simply and in the moment for 2010. May I say that I enjoy reading your posts they are illuminating. So happy you decided to blog. I have enjoyed making your acquaintance and very much enjoy our friendship.

A most wonderful and joyous 2010 to you and Anita. And by the way, what a handsome couple you make!

Love to you both, Bonnie

Me....bunny said...

Ruben, Ruben Ruben,

I have heard so much about you from your adoring wife that I've talked myself into believing that I know you. But alas...I do not. This morning when I was cleaning out my closet I stumbled upon my senior year book..you know the one, white with black cameo images and a big O'
1973 on it...yeah! that one. I looked you up and I can honestly say...nope, don't remember you. But then again...what did you expect from someone who hung out in smokers alley...lol! I knew Ramon Rivera...any relation? Anywho...it would be my pleasure to blog with you and read your spin on things. I've actually looked back on your blog and I concur with a few ideas..hmmm, perhaps you were in smokers alley too...I just missed you..ha, ha!
I just love Anita and I am very happy that she found you and apparently you two share the same interests..that makes it a little easier doesn't it? Stop by again and I will surely visit you and perhaps we can have a meeting of the minds....blogstyle ~

Happy 2010...DAMN..just yesterday I was walkin' the streets of Pico..lol


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Cher Rattus,
Thank you for stopping by and visiting with me and Camus....what words of encouragement he left us. There is an eternal joy of summer for those who will it and live it! Bisous, Moi

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

MOST DEFINITELY EXCHANGE THAT SACK! Those teeth really are not my cup of tea!

Debbie said...

Ruben, once again, you so eloquently and articulately express the views that I feel. That IS THE POINT that I was trying to make in my feeble way ... many women struggled and fought to be seen as equal human beings under the law. It is 2010 and we still have bimbos who blatantly flaunt their sexuality to latch onto a man who will take care of them so they don't have to be grown ups. But, and there's always a BUT, there is no protection from life's struggles and disappointments. Especially if you are a woman. Women have the ability and the intelligence to empower themselves by being independent. Not man hating or man using. And the young men of this generation are just as scary who take pride in viewing women only as sexual objects. Are there more of them then us? It's hard to know.

My last paragraph says it all. Tamra, the women who is being divorced WILL probably get her own reality show making big bucks and continue living her life on television. And what saddens me even more than that is that I watch these shows. Why is that?! One reason is because I love commenting on them and I know friends who read my blog crack up at my observations, but still, what does this say about me. It says I'M A BIG OL HYPOCRITE.

Thanks again for commenting and reading my blog. You clarify for me, and help me see that there is a more articulate way to say the things I want to say on my silly little blog.


Michelle Shaw said...

What a wonderful tribute, Ruben. The world would be a much different place if everyone chose to live their lives deliberately. If I ever have kids, Patricia will be my inspiration to do meaningful and artistic activities as a family. It's amazing how many parents dread vacations because they don't know how to spend that time with their children.