Like every Saturday I stood at the stall with a friend of mine while the world went by. Oxford was flooding with tourists, from Spain to Japan and even the USA on this fine summer afternoon. Even the breeze was calm so that it didn’t blow the papers away. The Palestinian flag would blow gently, occasionally slapping someone in the face as if trying to grab their attention; sometimes it worked at other times it didn’t, but it sure was funny to watch.
My mind had been preoccupied with thoughts about life and the meaning of it all, because that is what happens when I get a lot of free time. But then I turned to my friend, a grey haired matured man who worked as a software engineer, I remembered how he talked about planting vegetables in his allotment and I asked him.
“You know, I think I want to get into gardening” I realize how strange that sounds for a twenty year old so I correct my self “…what I mean is, I want to know how to grow vegetables”, that still sounded weird but what the hey!
And so he told me all about it. How he tried and failed the first time, how potatoes are the easiest (and probably most useful thing) to grow, how you have to get personal with the soil as you dig it up and weed it out. How the soil itself is a living thing and that you are working with it. He told me about farmers cooperatives that he saw in the USA when he lived there and the ones that he sees in the village of Abingdon where he lives now. He told me a lot, but then I asked him.
“Why does it feel…right, that I should work and labour to produce something for myself?”
Because that is what it feels like to me. All this talk of “selling yourself” to corporations at University, of “developing skills” which are just vague made me realize that the real world is rushing towards me fast, and I didn’t like it. Because when I look at us, the human species, as animals it all seems so strange and so disconnected. We do not forage or hunt any more, we just do these jobs that give us money and then we go to a big building full of food, it is there that we exchange this money for the food that we need to survive. It just seems so strange. But my good old friend hit the nail right on the head, he simply said.
“Because it is work that makes sense! You produce something for yourself and you aren’t working for anyone else.”
And I remembered what that thing at the back of my head was, and it formed into the phrase “having control of the means of production” as said by a famous fellow called Karl Marx.
Maybe that explains why I felt more alive and awake when I weeded the garden out. Even a simple and menial task like that felt good to do for me.
…or I am just a freak. And that is why the world is an interesting place.