I have loved the way the One Small Change series has introduced me to new voices and friends on the Internet. Rivikah is one of them. It’s not quite farmers market season here in Minnesota (though the snow is finally starting to melt!) but I think this could apply to lots of places, lots of moments.
Every Saturday in the summer a downtown intersection is closed all day to accommodate the farmer’s market. It’s an established event, the market’s website boasts of hundreds of vendors and decades of history. There’s a good variety of vendors: fruit, vegetables, bread, meat, prepared foods, soap, clothing, and many displays of what my husband calls ”trinkets”. There are buskers and streetfood trucks and a clown making balloon animals. In the winter the market is a little smaller. They move inside the lobby of a nearby public building to avoid the weather but not all of the vendors make that transition.
And every Saturday I just show up.
There are a few things that I sometimes buy at the market (my weekly luxury item is a bag of market apples) but for the most part, I browse the stalls of fruits and vegetables and trinkets and then I stop at the grocery store on the way home.
It turns out that, as much as I might like to be the person who eats lots of fresh local food, uses handmade soaps and supports local fashion designers, I simply don’t have the resources. It’s not just money, although the $18 box of cherries is definitely outside my budget. There’s the time issue as well – I have an 18 month old and a thesis that still isn’t finished so…Let’s just say frozen peas in the microwave are faster than anything that requires chopping.
So I just show up.
I hope that my showing up is a little bit useful to the market. If more people are there it becomes more of an event and then draws in more people who don’t want to miss out on the fun and might have deeper pockets than me, right? And when the organisers have to renew their agreements with the city to be allowed to close streets or take over that public building they can talk about how many people use the market, right?
At the same time, my being there at the market is something that I’m doing entirely for myself. When I decide to go to the market on a Saturday morning, I’m not doing it with any big ideas of justice or ethics or environ- mentalism or sustainable agriculture in mind. I’m there for entirely selfish reasons. It’s because the market makes me feel more connected to the city I live in, because it gives me a sense of how the seasons are changing, and because I’m almost out of apples.
It’s because I enjoy listening to the buskers and browsing trinkets that I’m not going to buy, and because as long as we’re moving and there are things to see the Trorg will be happy in his stroller. In a sense, I’m using the market to keep myself connected to (certain parts of) my city and the world at a time when it would be easy to just hide in my own little bubble of thesis and Trorg.
It seems to be that way with a lot of things these days. Since I switched into thesis writing mode pretty much everything else in my life is just left coasting. I simply don’t have the energy to really get involved with anything. As much as I might want to get involved, to volunteer, to organise, to change the world, I just don’t know how to fit these things into my life.
All I can do is show up.
Even showing up is not easy these days. We missed some of our favourite local events this year (anything with a specific date involved we seem to just kind of forget about). Our church attendance has become sporatic (it’s a long cold walk in winter and the Trorg hates the nursery).
This is a temporary phase. There are all kinds of changes coming – big and small.
But for now, I just show up.
Rivikah lives in a city that gets more than its share of winter. She has a 21 month old son who doesn’t know how to sleep and a PhD thesis in a technical field that is almost finished. Nearly everything else that she used to do has been put on hold for now.