I figure the Cavendish need a proper introduction. And where there is a will there is a way. It helps (sometimes) to be clear and concise when you’re expressing yourself. It might even help to be plainspoken when you’re creating secret code language to effectively communicate a complex idea with a single word. But I am going to begin in a backwards way.
There are choices that you make in your life that might go against the grain. Heck, there are even thoughts and feelings you may have that set you apart from “the common man,” as she is today. I’m talking about actions that don’t physically hurt anyone. I’m talking about decisions that aren’t harmful. And ideas, well, ideas are the stuff of dreams anyway, more insubstantial than Shakespeare’s pageant faded and “as thin of substance as the air, more inconstant than the wind”. Ideas never hurt anybody, right?
What I want you to remember is that though these choices set you apart, though these ideas may set you at odds with others. No matter what they say, you are still beautiful. And, believe it or not, if you can see clearly, the Cavendish are beautiful too. Think of them like your children trying to push your buttons and answer them with positive attention. Answer them with love. Answer fear with love. So, I’m not being plain enough, am I?
We’ve been watching this film at home called The Fruit Hunters, directed by Yung Chang (2013) and based on the book by Adam Gollner. It struck home with me on a number of counts. I identify with the dream that is inherent in their quest. To walk out your door to an Eden where there is always the choicest ripe fruit ready for plucking, it must be the dream of thousands. Certainly, it was in the imagination of the Okies as they “scattered wives and childrens” trying to get to the California Peach Bowl.
In the course of watching that film a stark difference was presented. Here on the one hand, they had these half-crazed people out in remote parts of the globe searching for unique varieties of fruit trees, going to great effort to preserve the genetic diversity of a 200 year old pear tree, or a 130 foot (40 meter) mango tree. And on the other hand, you had the ubiquitous grocery store banana. I learned from the film that this banana’s varietal name is, you guessed it: Cavendish. It is the only variety of banana used in the world export market. And the film shows the Cavendish in great green stacks in the supermarket, but you’ve seen them.
So here we are. Isn’t it a beautiful spot? We have before us a choice. There is the one hand and then there is the other. At this point, you don’t have to make value judgements. You don’t have to bring in notions of right and wrong. To some people, survival of the human species is not necessarily a good thing. And most times, I’m not inclined to argue with folks. Let’s just leave it as a choice, all right? Here is your ground. What are you going to grow? That’s the predicament we’re in, you and I. See? It’s our decision what we grow. Even if you let somebody make the decision for you, that is your decision.
Now I don’t know if you’ve been down in the jungle with me and my barefoot friends tasting the wild fruit that grows in the Greater Antilles. Maybe you’ve never seen a mango, let alone begun to imagine the hundreds of varieties and how they taste, one like a “warm bath that you don’t want to get out of” apparently. And the varieties cross pollinate to make new varieties. You never know how they’re going to turn out. They taste in unimaginable ways.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that they are just like you. You can be as wild and unique as you want. You are free. Or graft yourself on a variety that you are partial to. Graft on a variety that does not ship, if you want. Graft on a variety that is unique to mountain soils. It’s okay. And, perhaps most importantly of all, be a Cavendish if you want to. It is a beautiful choice. It is not my choice but beautiful nonetheless.
This brings me to the decision we made to homeschool/unschool our children. Was that an easy enough transition, or did you need something more there? To be clear, we’re not being fruit anymore we’re human beans again. We are human beings and we need our education (don’t listen to people who fly pigs, education is sure necessary (note the correct usage of a tautology in passing, not at all ironical). Actually, we’re gonna get our education it if we like it or not. See here. So I was ecstatic when, Ben ‘I sure as shit ain’t a hippie’ Hewitt, published a phenomenal article in Outside Magazine on the topic.
Take some time and read the article, if you haven’t. I thought it was a near-perfect encapsulation of a lot of the ideas on education (and I can’t think of any that I don’t support) that he’s discussed more disparately on his blog.
Do you see how these two issues are the same? Do you see how the institutional schooling and commodity export bananas is a very similar thing? (If you don’t, let me know. I’m happy to expand on the idea for you) Would you agree that these two things represent fairly well an idea of what some might call “the system”?
I remember when I was a kid and if you heard some song playing in a restaurant or shop, it was instant death. That musician had sold out. Another artist consumed by the system. And my friends and I, we were in a band, we’d talk about how we’d never sell out. Not selling out can be a difficult thing. It gives Banksy has a hard time when Angelina Jolie pays millions for him to take a piss. It’s all the same thing. You can get swollowed by the system, eaten by the Cavendish as it were, without being aware of it for goodness sakes! And how’s that analogy working out anyway?
But the Cavendish look different to me now than they did when I was a teenager. I see the soft edges and the hard edges. Sometimes you can tell when a Cavendish has lost faith. Things almost always look different when you’re on your deathbed. I’d say the Cavendish has lost a lot of ground since 2008, but that’s just my read on things.
So I don’t know if Cavendish is going to stick or not. It’s not quite as good as how the Amish call all of us “English”. But sometimes it’s nice to have a clean term to work with. Good words like intolerance or fascist can get used up quick.
The Cavendish jumped on my friend in the comments of his article in Outside Magazine. Poor guy, I knew how he felt. My family did the same thing to me when I was sitting by myself around this big banquet table on a weekend outing, them on one side and me on the other. Like Tupac, ‘it’s just me against the world, baby’. I was trying to make those arguments that Hewitt was making. It was a horrible experience. Things have not been the same with my family since and that was three years ago.
So after I read about how the Cavendish had been “angry and vitriolic” in response to his article. I wanted to do something. First, I wanted to take the fight to the Cavendish. But what am I going to do, eh? I’ve seen the Cavendish argue on websites before and it is sheer madness.
I’ve learned over the years, in my great wisdom and with a growing numbers of grey hairs, that a lot of times the best solution is to first love yourself and then love the other person. I remember when I lived in Boston and was going to see Thich Nhat Hanh for the first time and a lady got up and asked some question like, “What are we going to do about George Bush?” And Thay told her, “Write him a love letter.” So that’s what that post, “How to Deal with the Cavendish” was all about. If it was working for you before, I hope I didn’t ruin it.
When I was surrounded by Cavendish at that banquet table, when I was being attacked by Cavendish that I love, I remember one of them making repeated reference to “the real world”. That stuck with me. “But in the real world…”, he was saying.
So I want you to remember this too: Cavendish don’t get to decide what the real world is. (Cavendish can act like the cult to end all cults.)
I find it very helpful to understand at a deep level that, like Adya says, “I know nothing for sure except ‘I am’”. In most situations, I’m very prepared to be wrong, to give up my belief, to disbelieve whatever I’m saying. And if I’m not prepared to be wrong, then I remind myself: “100% of your thoughts are not true, but only 100%”. But this kind of thinking and talking is too much to get into with the Cavendish.
It is better just to look past the vitriol and anger. It’s best to look (sometimes very, very deeply) to the positive source from which confusion or fear is coming. And it is hard, but what you do is love that which is behind the fear. Like I said earlier, when your kid is seeking attention through negative behavior, you look past the negative behavior, you leap frog it and you give a loving response. The negative behavior is just a bit of confusion really. No worries.
Cavendish are important. We are a reflection of them. And they are a reflection of us.
Lastly, for some reason this song, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, was tied into all this somehow. Maybe it was like a theme song, playing in the background. Maybe it was just that I was associating the “anger and vitriol” with the word “negativity” in the wonderful first verse, where he says “negativity don’t pull you through”. So that’s how I’m going to end this. I’m going to end it with that song. Go throw it on the turn table you damn hippies!
“When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez, when its Easter-time too, And your gravity fails and negativity don’t pull you through. Don’t’ put on any airs when you’re down on Rue Morgue Avenue. They got some hungry women there and they’ll really make a mess out of you.”
And some quotes:
I’ve heard you say many times that you’re better than no one and no one is better than you. If you really believe that you know you have nothing to win and nothing to lose. – Dylan
We are what we are, that’s the way it’s going to be, if you don’t know – Bob Marley
Not everybody can be a slave of the corporate state – Banksy
Not everybody can be a Cavendish banana – Eumaeus
You’ll notice in the picture at the top that I ain’t even started getting my wings out yet.