The Serpent Bites Her Tail
I’ve always known that I wanted to be a member of a sustainable community; it was my mother’s dream also. For many years my little sister, my mother, and I moved around from farm to farm, living with very little, but learning a great deal. My mother and her closest friend created a booth where they sold hemp clothing at festivals. My sister and I ran, barefoot and free, with matted hair and adorned in home-sewn hemp smocks, in a timeless dream. But with my mother’s open awareness, it was not long before I also became aware of the world’s dire situation.
I remember my mother explaining globalization to me. In my innocence I asked “but isn’t that good, that we will all be together, all over the earth?” It seemed a beautiful thing to my gentle child’s mind. She told me that it could be, but that many laws were set in place, and some of them were not meant to benefit the people of small nations. I began to question authority.
Like many of my generation; I observed the rise of the tech era, the beginning of the bush administration, 9-11, the Iraq war. But unlike many of my peers, I was told from the beginning that 9-11 was very likely an inside job, that our government had done this many times before, to fuel many wars. I learned that wars were less often for freedom, and more often for control. That the ‘no child left behind’ bill, a grand project of the Bush Administration, requiring strict curriculum and testing for all public school children, was not meant to stimulate growth, but to stunt it. That the Great Recession, in which my father, who lived in Oakland and was a member of the sheet-metal worker’s union, found himself unemployed for two years, was not due to their being no money, but instead due to the money being siphoned out of the pockets of the people and into the pockets of the ultra-rich.
I came to view 21st Century “Western Civilization” as a great monster. It infected the souls of the people with fungi from which to feed and ate away the tree like neurons of their minds, to be replaced by monotony. It labeled humans like my mother as lazy drugged up hippies, as centuries before we would have been witches. It utilized the collective conscious, through media, to crush up the unique, colorful crystals and stones of imagination and cement the mixture down into unquestionable facts and hard lines of understanding. It utilized education to turn geometry into linear equations, ancient knowledge into historical dates. It utilized agriculture to disconnect the people from the plants and from the animals. Not to bear life but to deplete the soil and propagate poisons. It isolated the men, women, and children in the nuclear family. It left the elders lonely, afraid, and abused. It silenced creativity behind mental walls of fear. It silenced minorities behind physical ones. It privatized prisons.
Needless to say, I became a very depressed, nearly hopeless child. The earth, the animals, the life that I loved so dearly was being mutilated, raped, torn apart and dried out. The plants from which we had evolved were replaced with microwaved meals of tortured flesh. The water from which we are created was chlorinated and fluoridated, mixed with a cocktail of pharmaceuticals. Apartment complexes and shopping centers replaced the land that we cared for. There is nowhere to grow in a world of boxes. And I was only eight years old. And everybody thought that we were crazy tree huggers. And my mother gave up on her dream of community. She stood alone. We were hungry and cold. We needed a home. And so with the birth of her third child, she put a mortgage down on a house and there she remains. She works nine-hour days caring for pre-school children. She struggles to pay the mortgage every month. She has little savings, and at this rate she will never pay off her home.
So I set out to change this story. I went to a garden homestead, nestled between the roots of the grand Redwood Trees. The same year that my mother bore her last child; her closest friend (the woman who we’d had the hemp booth with) acquired this land. And it was within her dream that I lived and worked. The land is straight out of a fairy tale, and behaves as such. The tree’s fruit, the garden’s greens, the goat’s kefir, the hard work, and the colorful souls of the motley travelers who came there all helped me to heal, for I was very sick. After eight months of residing there I had the strength, the support, and the imagination to travel farther. And so I did.
The garden did not leave me when I left, though. I see it now, everywhere that I go. At every turn I encounter people who share this dream. They spot me in the street, and the reflection twinkles in our eyes.
We will make the earth a garden once more. Eden never left; there is as much life as there ever was. We’ve just been convinced that we don’t deserve it, or that it’s scary, dirty, or unsafe. Many justify inaction because they believe that it is too late, we have already gone too far. I don’t think there is such thing as ‘too late’, perhaps because of my relationship with time. There is only now, and what you are doing now. That is what paints our world.
Indeed many people have bitten the Apple. Their eyes glazed over with gluttony as they gobble up the newest Iphone (The irony in this is ridiculous). And indeed, many have lost Eden. But this is an individual choice. The more of us who choose to return to the garden, in the timeless, growing dream, the more loudly those who are lost will hear our call.
There is no war that must be fought. We must only make a conscious decision to relinquish all things we’ve been conditioned to believe we need. This may seem scary at first, but one realizes that she is much more content without such things holding her down. I have been living off-grid for nearly a year now. At first I relinquished a great deal; my friends, my partner, my routine. I felt very sad for some time. But if I had stayed, as many times I wanted to, I would be accepting a dark fate for them and for myself. Now I know that I am capable, and determined, I will make a place for all of them, and for their children to come. Not only for those I have known, but for All. And I feel more whole with every waking.
So let go, and you can go anywhere. You don’t need to do this alone; the community is massive, international, and welcoming. Find a farm online; there are many networking websites available. This is happening, now. Don’t be frozen in the city when it crumbles, for as all unsustainable things, it will not last. Make the conscious decision to exist for the betterment of all, and all will be better. Heal your body, and you will heal the world. What is out is in.
Written by Ria Rice-Lawson April 2016