what do you want?

This seemingly innocent question can be a challenge to answer. Even something simple like, "What do you want to eat?" A cascade of thoughts and reasons and resistances can come crashing in.

When we get out of the automatic, deferring or indifferent habits of not feeling deserving, catering to another's needs or the more frightening…not knowing what we want, we get real.

When I was young my father was a personal development trainer (in one of those "You can't go to the bathroom until I say so" kind of situations.) Over the years I attended many of these intensives, I say 12 times by the time I was 12, but this could be a story I made up. it was many, let's just say that.

I loved being with my Dad.

One of the exercises at the core of these long weekends was the "What do you want?" dyad (two people working together.) One person would ask the other, "What do you want?" and an answer would come and the same person would continue to ask the question over and over and over again. For my young mind, it seemed to last the entire day.

As you can imagine this can generate lots of things, anger for being asked something repetitively, sadness for not knowing what the answer is, or (what I imagine the desired outcome) to really know what is at the core of what you need and long for.

For most I would guess it comes down to love.

I recall this particular exercise caused a lot pain and crying for me. I was maybe 10 in this memory. But even today when someone asks me "What do you want?", I can feel myself at a loss. This does not apply to food. I know what I want. But in the mid-level view (personal needs, desires) that can feel like an echo chamber.

I've got a lot of preferences (low-level view) about what I don't want in the moment "Can you turn off those fluorescent lights?" "I'm allergic to your perfume, I'll need to find another seat" "Do you mind not spraying windex on the table?" I'm very versed in these areas.

But to answer the deep, esoteric pointing question, "What do you want?", not so much. But I'm getting the opportunity to practice more and more.

In the big-picture view? I know exactly what I want. A world where we all can eat sustainable, locally grown food, drink clean, pure water and breathe air that heals us.

I have spent much of my life focused on ecological solutions. Creative thinking to get us back to the basic common sense view that everything and everyone is connected and our behaviors matter. There are so many places this is needed, where life is chosen over corporate returns.

But the simplest place we can all make a difference everyday, many times a day, is food.

Growing food at home, buying food from farmers that treat the earth and animals with care and knowing where, who and how things are produced when coming from far away, makes for cleaner, air, water and healthy food. All of my big-picture desires met with this one act.

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No, it's not everything, but yes, it's more than you probably think.

Gary Heine, my business partner, and I love community building, helping people change their lives for the better and love growing food. it makes me a better person. Makes me more grateful for the farmer who grows the gorgeous produce. It brings me closer to the cycles and fragility of things so I'm less likely to feel entitled.

We are putting on the Food Growing Summit 2014 now. Conversations with incredible global heroes (Vandana Shiva, Joel Salatin, Paul Stamets, Will Allen) and our local community here in Louisville that is helping to create a world I want to live in.

I hope you join us.

So, what do you want?

Valerie KausenComment