Wendell Berry spoke in 1992 with Michael Toms. I found their conversation recently when searching Berry’s works and enjoyed the entire hour:
…an hour of stirring and straightforward wisdom from one of the most highly respected of modern American writers and poets. Using words like “affection”, “satisfaction”, “care”, and “joy”, Berry calls for a re-evaluation of the basic values and practices of our lives. He illustrates his ideas with glimpses of his own life and those of his Kentucky farm neighbors, and describes a future where we can learn to find love, wisdom and meaning in the people, the places and the work of our own daily lives. “Abstractions don’t work – abstractions are abstractions,” he says. “You have to realize that finally you must do something.”
There was this particular exchange that I transcribed because it was arresting to me:
I thought to myself that health is so much more than just physical.
Yes. It is, of course, physical. But physical health doesn’t exist apart from the health of other things. Health ultimately involves the community, and the community ultimately involves the place, and natural life of that place, so that real health … is harmony with the world. Nothing is left out of health because health always implies wholeness.
And harmony with the world in the sense not of the planetary world out there, but harmony with the place we’re experiencing here.
Yes, the world as it’s represented to you immediately where you are.
So often I think that there’s this projection out there somehow that disconnects us from our ability to manifest creatively or to do something.
Yes. It leaves you with nothing to do. The universe, and even the planet, are ideas with respect to this conversation, anyway. They don’t immediately exist. And being right with the universe doesn’t propose that you do anything. Whereas being right with your local place and community and household—that task proposes many little jobs of work and some big ones.