An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
of May 15, 2005
issued from the Sierra Nevada Foothills east of Sacramento, California, USA


Thursday morning Diana decided to make bread. She began by pouring several cups of red wheat and white wheat grains into her mill and grinding her own flour. The fresh flour issued a hearty, wholesome aroma. In fact, I'd like to expose someone having a nervous breakdown to that precise odor. I wouldn't be surprised if it brought peace to the poor soul. And if that didn't becalm the person's spirit, then we could try the next odor, that of freshly baking homemade bread.

The funny thing is that when you do something like make your own flour from freshly milled grain, or do some hoeing in the garden, or mend your clothing, not only do you end up saving money but also you find your life enriched, your health improved, and your effect on the ecosystem much diminished from what it would have been if you'd done something like watch TV or run down to WalMart's.

In fact, I'm not aware of any great philosopher, religious teacher, prophet, guru or generally happy, well adjusted person who advocates the kinds of lives being chosen by most people nowadays.

Sometimes in the evening I sit overlooking the canyon to the west, gazing over the shimmering, hustling Central Valley, and I remember how once I was firmly embedded in the outside culture. I've been thinking about what advice I'd give anyone who wanted to simplify their lives and feel better. I've come up with a three-step program, and here it is:

STEP 1: Replace addictions (drugs, food, hankering for status, money, fame, power, sex, etc.) with a program of eating properly and exercising.

STEP 2: Figure out what the Creator programmed you to do in life. You can be sure that you possess one or more unusual talents, passions or innate insights critically important to share in any healthy, just society.

STEP 3: Spend your life working hard at those things you believe in, and feel happiest doing.

I find it enormously comforting knowing that life is hooked up in such a way that just by being true to what's inside ourselves we magically increase the possibility that from time to time we'll smell the wonderful odor of freshly ground flour, and home-baking bread. Facebook Icon.