Excerpt from Judy’s autobiographical farm book, Proust and Thyme. 2010
I chose to put thyme in the title of this book. I was thinking about the thyme plants that survived heat, drought, and weeds, and will winter well, whereas most of the garden is now quiescent, the soil resting until spring. The thyme is alive. I also like the pun on time. Proust was obsessed with the destructive nature of Time. Somewhere in the back of my mind I sensed it has Greek roots. Of course, it’s from thumos = soul, heart, spirit, passion, desire. That essential Self, which we must have to feel that we are okay, no matter what happens to us.
How often we undervalue that essence, that breath of Being we have from birth and so need all our lives. How often we think we can ignore its messages, betray all we stand for, in order to be safe. Or, because we think we’ll be happy, or we’ll get what we want. Our Self calls out, and we run as far away as we can. How lucky we are if we can’t escape that call–to listen and heed our deep, real Self.
In some ways, it is all I have and all I need. Of course, I have this small Hoganvillaea Farm, this comfortable home, which I have created around me–my nest. I have good friends, and my children love me, despite the ups and downs in our relationships as they take on their own life dilemmas, and work out new connections to me. Out there in the wider world, there is big trouble. The climate change experts say that we are at the tipping point.
I’m thinking about Proust’s idea that one self dies and a new one replaces it. To me it’s so different. True, we change, but we have a thumos that can keep us alive and flourishing, even as Time rings us through the changes that aging brings. We don’t last forever, and yet we have that in us which is not disturbed by Time.
Proust thought it was our hidden memories that preserved our real life. I attribute even more power to this deep, real Self. I believe, if we take care of It, that It connects us to other people, to the world and its creatures, with which we are surrounded. It soothes our hurts, reassures us that we are, for all our difficulties, on the right path, the path we are meant to take. The path our thumos knows lies right in front of us all the time. All we have to do is follow it, one day, one step at a time.