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Grass No. 44 - What Is Worth?

Grass No. 44 - What Is Worth?
By Hudson Gardner • Issue #44 • View online

I have been thinking lately, and over the last year, and maybe longer than that; maybe I have been thinking for a long time about what matters most to me. As time has passed, over the last year and before, I feel like time itself has shown what does matter. And it’s a difficult lesson of patience, but it seems to me like time is really the only thing that can show what matters. What will matter to a particular person can’t be thought through, it has to be lived through.
But another thing: the living that happens as time passes cannot go unnoticed. It’s not for some future point that the living is done. It’s actually for the fact of living itself, day to day. At least, that has been the sense I’ve made of things.
And so like anyone who asks themselves a question, various answers from myself, from others, have appeared. Writing has become important to me, I think mostly for what it does for me internally. It is a good, simple practice. But it is also difficult.

Fire on Warren Island with Todd, Jo, Sammy, Joanna, Matt, Anna, and Anne.
Fire on Warren Island with Todd, Jo, Sammy, Joanna, Matt, Anna, and Anne.
I have written maybe eight or nine hundred pages (8.5 x 11 ) of writing in my life so far. But over the last year, I wrote almost two hundred, and it was a change for me, because it was almost all poetry.
The writing has been for a book, with a book in mind at least, and that has helped solidify and give focus to the body of it. Ninety-eight percent of it has not been shared with anyone. I have been keeping it to myself, allowing it to flow and congeal at its own pace. And I would be sharing it, being more generous with it, but because of the constraints of the publishing world, I have had to keep it private.
I don’t know if you have ever spent a long time alone, but many conclude after such an experience that they miss people. I think it’s easy to take the mere presence of others for granted; being alone tunes us into the fact that the presence of others is a gift. And communing with other people by sharing food, conversation, activities, memories is a furthering of that gift. So it has been hard to keep all this writing to myself, wondering, really, who I am doing it for?
The reason I began writing this particular newsletter was to work out my thoughts on the process of doing things for others alone, without expecting a result. And also the necessity of others to work for and to help the work continue. For now, I am hoping to find someone who will give me perspective on this large body of writing that I have been writing, who knows more than me, and can help prepare to share it. It has been strange to put hours every day into something that no one else may ever see, and that I’m not being paid for (in a strictly monetary sense).
I feel like there is a lot of work to do on earth. But I also feel like, as time passing has taught me, it’s hard to do good. It’s actually incredibly hard to refrain from doing harm. Doing good is another step above that. In fact, good is inseparable from bad. But inaction is also not an option (or is it?)
I am not sure I am strong or wise enough to do more good than harm in the world, because I’ve found it so complicated just to manage myself and my own idiosyncrasies. Maybe I am a more complicated person than some? But I feel like we all come into the world missing some pieces. And the quest of our life is trying to find where we are complete. To become a complete person.

An old poster for an ongoing problem. Allegheny Nat'l Forest
An old poster for an ongoing problem. Allegheny Nat'l Forest
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