• Mike Erkkinen

Size Really Matters!

For me, and for the people closest to me, 2020 has been a time of trying to answer an important question: "What is essential? What is essential for me, for my family, for the people who rely on me, for my community, for my tribe? Is social distancing essential? Are masks essential? Is government essential? Is mainstream media essential? Is school essential? Am I essential?

I find that these questions can quickly become overwhelming, and lead me to want to stay in bed and hide under the covers. Everyone seems to have an opinion, and many want to force feed their opinions to me. I've wrestled with this whole equation for a while, and in quiet moments I'm drawn to contemplate smaller questions that don't seem to lead to a familiar sense of overwhelm, frustration, and fatigue. One question that can open up some new terrain for me is: What is my right size? How BIG do I need my world to be? What size world does my body seem to crave?

One place that seems a bit obvious to start is: What size community do I feel correct in? I like my community to feel small enough that I matter and would be missed if I was gone, and big enough that I can constantly discover new aspects to it. I like my community to reflect shared values of humanity, compassion, and stewardship of each other and our natural and built environment. I like to have people around me that are comfortable in their bodies, getting their hands dirty in the business of living- achieving a nice balance of academic inquiry and practical application. Do you have a sense of the correct size of your tribe? Do you want them near you, or is it ok if they only show up on your electronic screen?

Within my ideal size community, I have some needs regarding the size of my personal world, my home. Mine are a bit of a contradiction - I like to live in a cozy space that nicely reflects my energy back at me, and yet enjoy a large workshop to create stuff in. I crave a natural setting and am thrilled that the nearest traffic light to my home is almost 20 miles away. My perfect home includes ocean and mountains within easy access. I need access to people in my home, but also loads of privacy. I enjoy that there is industry near me, in my case fishermen, and find that neighborhoods that are dominated by lawn care noises seem oppressive to me. What type of home environment brings out the absolute best in you? Inspires, comforts, and occasionally provokes you? How much home do feel good maintaining and caring for?

My methods of moving through the world are important to me. I notice that when I move slowly, in the fresh air, smelling the smells and noticing what is around me, I seem most present and in balance when I reach my destination. Modes of transportation that seem anonymous and afford me little personal liberty seems to scratch at my soul. Standing in the TSA line or sitting in a crowded airplane on a runway somewhere are aspects of modern life that I wouldn't feel sad about losing. How do you want to move through the world? Who do you want with you? How much do you want to move, and how much would you rather dig in for a while? How much baggage do you need with you?

As we move through this year that seems overly complicated, by historical standards, I will keep noticing what feels most essential and what feels "right sized." I invite you to join me in a deep inquiry of these questions.

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