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“Research from linguistics demonstrates that the metaphors humans use to speak about time are profoundly embodied. Human bodies are directional, meaning our physiology has a direction: it faces forwards. Consider the positioning of our eyes or limbs, which are all oriented toward one direction. This embodied reality means that we are more capable of moving and acting on objects in front of us than behind. We also think about time in a similar way. Consider expressions like ‘we are going into the weekend’ or ‘we’ve left the past behind’. In both sayings, we move forward into the future and away from the past. These are examples of what is known as the ‘ego-moving’ metaphor, in which time is construed as unidirectional, with the future in front of us and the past behind us.”

The concept of time is fascinating – to misquote: “The past isn’t gone – it isn’t even past.” If we live rooted in the past, can we truly move forward? If we all live as forward-looking, are we truly living in our present, in any meaningful sense? We have to look out for our future selves to some degree, but we can’t avoid living well for ourselves (sometimes it’s okay to eat a donut, ya know?).

“From the front porch, you could say hello to passers-by, exchange a few words with your next-door neighbors as they came home from work (no big garages to drive into in those old neighborhoods!), wave at the school kids on their way to the middle school across the street, greet the postman. And if someone stopped to ask about the irises in the front beds, or to pet the dog, or to ask directions, the porch was a place you could invite them into; a place visible enough to mitigate major risk, but homelike enough to offer comfort and care.”

Practical tips are always at the root of tradition. In this fun brief piece, the author notes how porches are simply practical for hospitality, and, thinking back, I do recall being more at ease just in people’s clearly more open spaces, especially porches, than say anything private like a bedroom. There is a distinct sense of ease that evades in any alternate-functional places.

“It’s hardly surprising, then, that many homesteaders also advocate localism, whose goal is to build resilient and sustainable communities by prioritising local resources and production, and instilling a kind of civic pride of place and belonging. According to Lasch, what he calls “particularism” was an antidote to the progressive idea that we could or should love every citizen of the world in the same way we love the members of our families or communities. He pointed to people such as Willa Cather, who spoke to the particularities of place, attributing ‘Nebraska’s vigour and prosperity to the presence of Bohemian, Scandinavian, and German immigrants’.”

Increasingly I am of the opinion that the US needs a blatant Homestead Act 2.0. As progressives and conservatives alike bemoan the hollowing out of small towns, we have to acknowledge the typical American won’t want to live there or farm or do the hard work necessary to keep them alive. But you know who would? The millions of impoverished desperate people in the Global South, that would jump at free property on at least decently healthy soil, in a peaceful country.

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