During our most recent Dwell retreat, we were asked to take the framework for Wendell Berry’s “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” and adapt it into our own version.
I was intimidated by the challenge, because I didn’t want to cheapen this poem, which is so prophetic, inspiring, intellectual, and yet still deeply relatable.
However, as each of Berry’s phrases churned through my mind, I felt a spark of creativity igniting. Creating poetry within an already carefully established framework forced me out of my normal way of thinking, which was uncomfortable at first, but ultimately very empowering.
Manifesto: The Unplugged Wanderer
Love the free wifi, the “go home” button, the twitter following
Want more customization. Be afraid of losing your memory, of turning off location
& you will have a constant supply of suggested searches.
Not even your thoughts will be a mystery any more.
Your mind will be a glowing blue dot on a map, lulled into complacency
when they want you to feel something, you know they are aiming to sell
when they want you to show up, they’ll first convince your friends
So, friends, everyday do something that won’t be immortalized
Love the Lord. Love the world. Be kind for nothing.
Take all that you have achieved & let it float away.
Love someone who teaches you presence
Denounce unlimited data and embrace the endless energy of life
Hope to live surrounded by the warmth of hardwood floors and the scent of spring breezes
Be content with all you cannot understand.
for what we have not experienced with our bodies, we will not remember in our souls.
Ask questions that demand action.
Invest in the community. Host potlucks.
Say that your main accomplishments are intangible
that you cannot see them
that you will not live longer than these ideas persist.
Say that their purpose will be realized when they have spread to the next generation.
Call that success. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the strength of shared human energy & ingenuity.
Listen to the wise—put your ear close, and hear the strength of a heart which has loved.
Expect that yours can too
Place your hand on your chest. That life beat is immeasurable.
Be joyful though you have failed to feel this precious, driving force until this moment.
As long as money grasps us in its powerful hand, please the kind more than the rich
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy the hunger of those who yearn for justice?
Will this disturb the sleep of the complacent who needs to rise?
Go with your love to this space
Take up the cross, let those who have done so rest.
Do not feel the need to walk alone.
As soon as Google maps can predict the direction that your feet are moving,
run a new way.
Leave it as a sign to mark a false trail, the way you didn’t go.
Be like a wildflower in your beauty and unpredictability and resilience.
To read the poem upon which this was based, Wendell Berry’s “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”, follow this link: http://www.context.org/iclib/ic30/berry/
**Looking for more drop-dead awesome poem suggestions; please send them my way!**