Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom): an understanding that what you already have is the starting point for building the space where you want to be. [Gather your resources and see what you’ve got. What you choose to use and how you choose to use them breathes life and form and definition into the Why you are already living.]
The Light of My Light (LOML) and I made some “What-Get Soup” again the other day. The soup is a throwback to younger, leaner scavenger days in our individual histories when we had to make something out of the next-to-nothing we had on hand to feed a crowd of hungry bellies.
The name of the soup comes from the Hawaiian pidgin phrase, “What get fo’ eat?” In regular English, that’s “What have we got to eat?”
It makes us grin when we remember how we each were able to “make do” back in the days of not-too-much-of-nothing. (I don’t recall it being quite so entertaining at the time.)
We looked at all the leftovers from our latest round of feeding each other goodies – dibs and dabs of this and that, all too good to throw out but way too much to assemble into just one more meal.
The LOML lives off the grid and eschews refrigeration so we don’t have the option of accumulating a hoard of cold, old, and hairy leftovers. When we get carried away with our creative cooking habits, everything we don’t consume sits around demanding to be used up now, now, now. (Sheesh!)
We call it the “Tyranny of Food” and, for real, we are glad to have it.
He did a bit of chop-chop-chopping of some garlic, ginger root, chili peppers, and such to liven up the taste.
I threw the assorted scraps into our favorite big old soup pot, threw in a mélange of freshly gathered herbs from the garden and some salt and spices we had hanging around, poured coconut milk and Mexican crema over all to round it out, and we let it all simmer for a bit.
We agreed it was our best soup ever.
Some young friends (who are among my favorite walking stomachs) dropped by the house and we gave them bowls of the stuff. They, too, declared the soup was most excellent.
AUDITING THE RESOURCES YOU’VE GOT CAN HELP YOU FIND THE DIRECTION TO TAKE WHEN YOU’RE AIMING FOR YOUR BEST LIFE
In the middle of all this cooking, it occurred to me that making “What-Get Soup” might be a great metaphor for figuring out how to build a life that nurtures you and helps you feed the world around you besides.
Most life coaches, gurus, and assorted pundits, philosophers and them will agree that all humans have resources that are available to them – the things they can use in their own life that help them walk their walk.
Often they identify the resources as things like time, energy (which could include money as well as connections to other people), personal skills (or the lack thereof) and space and the freedom to move around in it.
Some folks have a lot of this stuff available to them. Others have only a little. The experts slice and dice this pile of stuff in all kinds of different ways.
The Smarty Pants do all agree that if you don’t know what you’ve got available to you, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to use these resources to do anything. That’s a truth, I think.
One guy, Adam Sicinski, an Australian life coach, went a bit overboard with the thing. A great believer in the value of mind-maps when you’re trying to get on top of the overwhelming amount of information in the world, the guy founded IQ Matrix in 2008. It’s an attempt to use mind-maps to encompass and encapsulate all of the everything in Life-Its-Own-Self, it seems.
One YouTube video, “Building a Life Resources List,” which he put together in 2016, gives you a taste of what his sort of life audit looks like.
You can check out his website by clicking on the name of his company above. The guy has put together over 400 mind-maps, he says. He’ll even give some of them to you for free. His blog is very interesting, but the whole, elaborate mind-mapping thing really does seem like a mind-boggling, time-consuming bit of overkill to me.
THE STONE SOUP TEACHING STORY
There’s an old European teaching story that involves soup as well. Maybe you know it.
Some travelers stop at a village, get permission to spend the night, and set up a camp near a stream that runs past the settlement. The village is so poor that the people there are reluctant to share their meager food stores with the hungry strangers.
The travelers set up their camp and build a fire. They fill a large pot with water from the stream, place the pot over the fire and plop a stone into the pot. The villagers are curious, of course, and one asks what they are doing.
One of the strangers says that they are making stone soup. It will be a most delicious soup that they would be delighted to share with the villagers, but, he admits, it really could use a little something to help make the taste better.
The villager, who likes the thought of a good soup, contributes a few limp carrots to the effort which the stranger chops up and adds to the pot. Another villager asks what’s going on, likes the idea of the shared soup, and brings over a couple of withered potatoes. A third hears what’s happening and contributes half a cabbage.
As word spreads, more villagers bring some of the little bit they have on hand – some dried peas, a tawdry vegetable or two, a little bit of dried meat, some milk. Someone even donates a smidge of salt.
A little of this, a little of that, and the soup does, indeed, become a delightful meal for the villagers who have crowded around, bowls in hand, to watch their guests cooking up the soup.
The cook fishes the stone out of the soup and places it aside carefully. When they leave the next morning, the strangers give the stone to the head man of the village so the villagers can continue to make their own stone soup.
The usual moral to this old teaching story is the one about how cooperation and small generosities among people of good will can make life better for everyone concerned, but there is another lesson in there as well.
THE NATURAL CYCLES OF CHANGE
It seems to me that this centuries-old stone soup story also demonstrates how change and transformation can work. At the beginning of the tale, the villagers are locked into their feelings of lack and are unwilling to share what they have with the travelers.
The strangers and their stone sitting in a pot of water that has been set to boiling over a little campfire as well as their story of the marvels of their soup encourage the villagers to add their own resources to the pot in anticipation of a tasty meal they can all share.
Gradually, step by step, the soup in the pot changes as more and more ingredients are added to it. These gradual changes all come together and trigger a spontaneous transformation of all of the added small bits of nothing into a nourishing and abundant meal that feeds everyone.
All kinds of transformations seem to work that way – gradual small changes keep on adding up and eventually lead to a big, major change.
The coolest part of the story, I think, is when the strangers leave behind the soup stone. The villagers can repeat the soup-making process over and over again, now that they have learned how to get to a feeling of the abundance they have together.
The stone in the soup then becomes a trigger that can help to change the mindsets of the stingy villagers. Who knows where that might take them?
ONE FARMER AND HIS WIFE, ONE FARM
I found a 2017 YouTube video, “How to Become Self-Reliant in Thailand” that features Thai farmer Jon Jandai and his wife Peggy and illustrates how a person’s “Why” (their mission or overall purpose for being) can change as they keep working on finding better ways to live their own best life.
The video was uploaded by Aspeer, a “platform” which says it is dedicated to “sharing sustainable and tangible initiatives favouring a transition towards a new model of society.” They do a good job.
Jandai became internationally renowned when he appeared in a TEDxDoiSuthep Talk in 2011 to tell the story about how the organic family farm outside Chiang Mai that he started in 2003 has become the Pun Pun Center for Self-Reliance, a learning and self-development center that explores an older, more humane and sustainable way of living.
Among the center’s projects are:
- Practicing and experimenting with different methods and techniques of organic farming in order to nourish the people who live and work on the farm;
- Developing a research center and seed-production operation that models how to save seeds for other organic farmers;
- Exploring ways to build earthen homes as well as other alternative natural ways of building shelters; and
- Teaching one another philosophical stances that help to foster sustainable ways of living together
EVERY MISSION STARTS WITH LOOKING FOR A BETTER WAY
Each of these Pun Pun “missions” grew out of Jandai’s determination to find an alternative, more satisfying life than the one he encountered when, following conventional modern-day thinking, he left his village to seek his fortune in Bangkok at the age of 18.
After seven years of struggling to cope with the fast-paced and expensive city life with his limited knowledge and skills, Jandai realized that, for him, this was not the way to happiness and fulfillment.
When he returned home to the rice fields where he had grown up in the northeastern province of Yasothon, he began to understand that the realities of life as a modern rice farmer were not much easier than life in the big city.
Modern industrial farming techniques that had changed the more traditional farming methods had many downsides.
Not the least among them were the adverse effects these farming methods had on the soil and the water and on the farmers themselves.
Jandai worked on figuring out how he could do what he wanted to do more easily. He began growing as many as 50 different kinds of vegetables using the traditional, organic methods he had learned growing up. He also began raising fish.
Doing these things he could feed his growing family.
When he was growing more food than his family needed, Jandai sold the surplus produce and fish, saving the money he made until he could eventually purchase his own land in 1997.
Around that time, a friend invited Jandai to visit New Mexico. It was there that he learned about building adobe houses.
The earthen houses sparked an idea that he would continue to develop and grow when he went back home to purchase a 20-rai plot of land (about 8 acres).He decided he would build his own earthen house using the techniques his friends had taught him.
The house worked well for him and his family and Jandai became a vigorous advocate of the natural building movement in Thailand while he and his wife simultaneously also worked on making his own organic farm and seed-saving project a viable enterprise.
THE MISSIONS GROW AND SPREAD
Among other things the farm they started developed into what they began calling a “learning center.” People who came to visit the farm fell in love with the lifestyle the family had and wanted to stay and participate in it.
Eventually, people from all over the world came to spend time at the farm and to learn and share their knowledge and understandings about sustainable living and appropriate technologies that could also helped the family maintain their goal of nurturing themselves and their world better.
In 2020, the organization uploaded a YouTube video with the story behind the continuing evolution of the Pun Pun Organic Farm.
The center continues to grow and change as Jandai and his friends and family keep on learning how to live a human-sized, more natural life.
Here’s a poem:
THERE WILL BE JOY
There will be joy and obstacles dispersed,
Pleasure and delight will rise out of harmony
Between what is inside and all the rest,
But, first, you have to get through
Another glitch or two on the road to somewhere else.
Birthing is an opportunity after all:
Something new is entering the world,
One foot following another,
Step by step by step.
Order without proper arrangement does not perfect anything.
Having the recipe means nothing if you don’t do it.
And you need to remember it is necessary, after all,
To slip your hand into another strong hand
And walk in harmony
And let yourself be guided by
What happens next.
After all that, there will be joy.
Created by Netta Kanoho
HEADER PHOTO CREDIT: “Glowing in the dark” by Susanne Nilsson via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
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