After my last post I thought it might be useful to talk about our current M.O. in a bit more detail. Having given up our house, our jobs, having spent our savings and sold or burned the majority our things, having become intimately involved in the lives of local farmers, idealists and would-be social philosophers, and having experienced the invigorating loss of a sapping dependency on – and faith in – life as we know it, we have naturally been thinking a lot about self sustainability, specifically off the grid power and waste systems.
Post return to the US I have accomplished many things that should make me proud, but oddly I often find myself sullen, bitter, stressed, impatient, ungrateful, frustrated, and deeply worried that in the end, despite everything we are trying to do, things continue to revolve around money, or at least the perceived necessity of it. One thing that has struck me in regard to this is how far removed we have already become from the ‘rat race.’ In attempting to live without a total dependency on money and with no real grounding other than in each other, Sam and I have been forced to make exceptions in the levels of existence – hygiene, consumption etc – that we are prepared to accept. Having nothing in abundance really requires you to be economical with what you have – power, water, funds – however, while in a certain mindset this could seem limiting, we have actually found the constant considerations to be quite liberating. Through living this way, becoming accustomed to hardships, we have begun new habits and taken a certain degree of abnormality on board. But more than a compromise, it has been a genuine pleasure realizing all the ways that we can not only generate simplicity in our lives, but in doing so reduce our consumption and waste in the process. From simple things like growing our own food, buying minimally packaged goods, harvesting rainwater for dishes, and composting, to the slightly more demanding practices of maintaining and acting diligently upon a vigilant energy/carbon audit, we are becoming hooked on cyclical thinking – growth, harvest, use, fermented state, growth and so on. And while our collective indolence causes us to fall short of our environmental potential around the globe, at least we can happily report to be eating better for less money by growing/catching food and supporting cooperative produce groups, saving gas by hanging our jobless butts out to dry on the bus everyday and helping to close natural cycles by appreciating nutrient values in the strangest of places (see opossum compost and look forward to humanure post by Sam).
Even though our current ’situation’ is admittedly temporary, if we are lucky enough, invested enough, and by the end of our term, concerned enough, these experiences will galvanize us and temper our futures with a lasting conscientiousness. In fact, the permanence of this might actually be unavoidable…
It is now widely accepted that the human brain physically takes form through use of thoughts. Its a meta structuring system. Presently, the average Western brain is only just beginning to consider that we have previously lived in a very linear A-Z world – A/C and heating for example are linear things, you are just taking fuel and burning it for your comfort, nothing returns – and as a society we are only just beginning to understand how we affect the planet and even what natural systems, out there working in our favor, we are jeopardizing. When your mind gets into closed cycle thinking, however, a kind of paradigm shift occurs and you begin to appreciate nature’s complexity, an interspiralling fractal that just keeps getting tighter and deeper – thoughts move through structures, neurons, pulses through synapses in our heads, circular closed looped systems in our lives, patterns echoing patterns, pathways, branching systems, bridges to clusters of ideas, a gene rather than a fat, an innate and pervasive, yet fragile and delicate richness. And before you know it, conducting yourself in accordance with this ‘Word’ seems the only way that humans will ever be able to live in full secure abundance. At this point you kind of turn your back on our culture.
They say that Einstein had more surface area in his brain than most normal people. Through subjecting ourselves to this never ending camping trip, to the dirt, the bugs and the madness, we are able to find comfort in a lack of comfort. With this perspective, comfort and discomfort are now understood not only by comparison, but in terms of values and consumption, and, perhaps most importantly, appreciated equally. Now in the future if we choose to change our environment, raise our comfort level, we will know exactly what the ‘cost’ will be. E = mc2