Thursday, January 13, 2011

Coming Home

The moment I arrived at my first rainbow gathering, I knew this was the place I´d been looking for my whole life. I felt at home in a way I hadn´t since my departure from Oneness into this Avatar called Meagan.

Just kidding (or am I?).

Seriously though, my time at my first national rainbow gathering, in the northern part of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, was a time of finding my place in the world, a sense of relaxation and fullness, maybe like how it feels when you find your true love or life purpose. The paths all intertwined in completely off-the-grid type ways, winding back into one another and leading you straight to your camp just when you though you were lost, or possibly guiding you to stumble upon pizza made in a stone and mud oven, or hippies singing naked on top of a wooden pirate ship. Here you could sit in the middle of the path asking for donations of small crystals, chocolate, or other valuable goods, and no one would arrest you or tell you to move it along. People would smile and make friends, and walk around you on the path.

I spent two and a half weeks at my first national rainbow gathering. When I left, my first shower lasted at least an hour before a fellow traveler knocked on the door saying it was their turn, and I didn´t know what to do because I´d never got out of a shower before with dirt still coming off me. I longed for a place like this to be always, a tribe and village following the philosophy of live and let live, where the paths aren´t based on cars or even bikes, but our very own feet and their relationship with the forest.

Little did I know at that time that permanent settlements of this nature really do exist in the world, and that one day I would follow a message from the Mystery to a small and sacred collection of them. This place is Lake Atitlan, or more specifically the towns nestled on the edge of it, with varying proportions of locals and foreigners looking to escape the western grind.

No, there aren´t many naked hippies (the influence of Catholicism here might hinder that), but there are people sitting in the streets bartering their wares (like a giant trade circle!). There are paths where no car tired can tread, where even tuk-tuks or bicycles find it difficult to pass. A few days after my arrival I discovered that this town is not nearly as big as I thought it was, because it winds back on itself, and I thought I was on drugs until I realized that this place knows no grid, it has grown organically, as all Earth-creations are wont to do.

Yesterday I cried as I walked through San Marcos, where the first path you walk on upon arrival by lancha is so obviously made for humans, not for cars or other machines. The cobblestones wind through the scattered restaurants and spiritual retreat centers like a peaceful stream, flowing through the path of least resistance.

Aaah surrender. This place isn´t perfect. The pollution here is devastating, but surely no worse than in the States. Its just hidden better in the States. There are lessons to learn from this place though, and I don´t know how I will return home now to the grid. What can I do? Surely the only logical thing to do is stand before city council and cry, sobbing that we must learn to organize our lives in ways that nourish our souls.

Who knows if this passion will still be that alive when I return, but here is one small record of the innate human response to living even a little closer to the land we are made of, set forth because the energy needed somewhere to go.

I post this as a prayer that all our souls may be nourished by the place we live, more and more each day, and that we remember our ability and response-ability to co-create that nourishing environment.

Amen, Blessed Be, Auuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Health & Healing

It seems like years ago that I was laying in a hammock talking to a young woman from Canada on Guatemala´s Pacific coast about health care.

The conversation brought to mind an idea I once came up with, that if a group of people wants to organize themselves into a cohesive body, inherent in that organization is that all members look out for one another´s well being. Few hunter-gathererers would stay with a band of people who didn´t share their food or look out for each others safety and health. There would be no point.

Somehow this quality of looking out for one another, intrinsic to human existence, has come to be called `socialism`, or sometimes `communism`, and is treated like the plague in the more ignorant parts of the world (coughcoughunitedstates).

Leaving aside the idea that we are one human family for a moment, its completely understandable that someone living in Texas or Miami wouldn`t give a rat`s ass about the health and well-being of poor liberal children in California.

However, if you don`t see yourself as responsible for someone`s else well-being, neither are they obligated to make or follow social agreements with you.

You can`t have it both ways, simultaneously telling people that you are all one nation, under God, and must abide by the same codes of living (called laws), and that everyone is accountable to the so-called justice system, and then treat people like they aren`t part of your tribe by denying them food, health care, or other assistance while you have more than enough. Its hypocritical.

However I got really jaded about this whole concept as I started thinking about the toxicity of so-called healthcare in the States. People drugged up on pharmaceuticals they don`t even need, women being told they can`t have their babies at home, kids misdiagnosed with learning disabilities because they`re being driven crazy from being stuck in a dreary classroom all day when they should be out climbing trees. Who wants this kind of universal healthcare? Not I.

So, the solution is to totally re-vamp all aspects of our healthcare system, making it holistic and truly accessible. Simple, right?

Monday, January 3, 2011


For some reason I had decided on fries at the bus stop forty five minutes out of Los Amates, and as the Chapin woman in charge of this food station began to hurriedly scoop them into a small cardboard box, a large roach (well, large for my hometown. Small for around here) crawled out from under the metal pans holding sandwich fillings.

Despite my nausea, this six-legged appearance couldn´t have been timed more appropriately. On the way up to Finca El ParaĆ­so, from which I was now returning, I had shared with my fellow traveler Michelle my thoughts on the conflict between anthropocentrism and the pest-like behavior of my species.

¨What is the meeting place between these two conflicting ideas?¨I asked. I felt like I was on the edge of something big. I had two opposing perspectives mapped out in my head. On the one side is my basic opinion that civilized humans are a scourge on the Earth; we act in many ways just as cockroaches, bed bugs, termites, cancerous cells, or any other infestation of small and noxious creatures does-- over-breeding, over-crowding, and generally polluting our environment with toxic waste, concrete, and plastic.

On the other hand, I love my species, and watching the innocent glowing smiles of Chapin children reaching up through the window of a shuttle (a mini-van designed for maybe ten but filled with twenty or more people, if you include those on the roof) to squeeze their departing relatives´ hands is enough to make my heart ache. This love and appreciation of our species had led many people to believe we are somehow superior to other life on the planet, and, in some minds, not even regular animals but creations of God, made in his image, meant to have dominion over the Earth. This dogma of superiority justifies our endless use of other life and the basic elements of this planet for our own pleasure and luxury.

I knew that somewhere in the friction between these seemingly opposite perspectives was some greater Truth, and Michelle´s response deepened my understanding of this situation, although it turned out to be much simpler than I expected. She said that the halfway point between anthropocentrism and human-as-pest is that we are just animals--not superior, and not inferior, but just animals like all those other animals around us.

Contemplating this I thought it was problematic, because our status as animals, who are therefore natural, has been and is used to justify our destructive behavior as also natural.

What this did help me understand though is why many humans have so much resistance to seeing themselves as animals. In our superior state, there is no point in comparing ourselves to animals, because we are governed by a different set of rules. But if we see ourselves as animals, then we might start to compare ourselves to other animals, and see a lot of room for growth.

We might see how we act as ants, running around in cities barely acknowleding each other, all interactions having to do with the distribution and exchange of resources (commerce), mostly for the queen (the elite few who hold most of the global economy´s wealth). We would see how little of the things we say we value so much about ourselves--compassion, mercy, ability for connection and intimacy-- are actually played out in every day encounters, at least in places that have been industrialized -- ¨developed¨, as the capitalist adherents would say.

We would see how, as Edward Abbey so aptly put it, we have adopted the philosophy of the cancer cell in aiming for infinite growth, and that hoping to colonize other planets when we destroy this one is sickeningly selfish.

I´ve been reading a book involving doing shadow work for the past month or so, although I didn´t bring it with me to Guatemala. The basic premise of this book is that we reject the parts of ourselves that we don´t accept, but this exacerbates them and is one of the main sources of the problems in our lives.

Civilized humans wage war on pests. We bring in toxic chemicals to rid our homes of insects that have found a niche to live in, exposing children and pets to carcinogenic compounds. Then of course we also wage a war on cancer, fetishizing the victims of this civilized disease to distract attention from the cause of it - the poisonous artificial environment we have created for ourselves. I now believe that at least part of why we do this with such fervor is that we are scared of the mirror these beings hold up for us, revealing our infestious behavior.

I also want to add that cities are a special breeding place for many of the creatures that have been labeled as most disgusting. Wherever humans have congregated in close proximity, we have been followed by pests and plagues who thrive in such conditions.

My proposal? First of all, to do the shadow work of acknowledging and accepting the infesting, defiling, verminous aspects of our nature. Once we cease to fear these aspects of ourselves and can look them square in the eye, they will no longer rule us.

Then we can ask ourselves what qualities of we want to cultivate, from the animals we admire. The wisdom of the owl? The profundity of the whale? The grace and joy of dolphins as they leap through the air? Whatever it may be, we have much to learn from the living community of which we are a part, and it is time for us to do so.