Friday, June 27, 2014

Staying present...Show, don't tell

We have always tried to follow through on what we say, and do what we say we will do, so I owe this post to Dmitry Orlov who asked four questions recently here:  http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-four-questions.html.  Thank you Dmitry for opening a much needed dialog.

Though it’s a very busy time for us, we both felt driven to reply with our answers as brief as they are.  Much can be written about the subject and we have tried over the years to post some of our thoughts while in the midst of building, whether its infrastructure or relationships with family, friends or community because nothing is more important to us right now.  But…we also know that it takes all sides to be ready, willing and able.

Dmitry’s first question is one we have asked ourselves many times over.  But, our answer is probably a good answer to all four questions, live like you speak about, do what you can and stay in the moment.  We have found it's easy to get stuck in the past or persuaded into the future, so we try to live each day to the best of our ability.  When we stay present,  others tend to pay more attention.

Especially now when there is little we can do, why risk losing touch with those we love?  And why waste our energy with those who think we’re nuts?  We try hard now to take the approach of answering when asked and not before.  This is especially hard to do when those you love do not care to see the reality of our current crises.  It’s easier when adult children say they already know these things and they don’t care to discuss them as it removes the guilt we sometimes feel as parents for not being truthful and it relieves some of the stress of letting go, though I have to constantly remind myself not to share.  It’s become easier for us to deal with reality one day at a time while practicing doing what we say.  Our words have always come with action and our actions have not changed for over 10 years.  It’s hard to accept that even though we do what we say, we haven’t earned much respect from those who turned away from us. 

In my previous post I mentioned the fact that we haven’t had a relationship with our youngest daughter since 2006 when our gloomy, doom behavior pushed her over the edge and for that I’m sorry.  A relationship that in my eyes was beginning to blossom as she reached adulthood and could support me as I her.  I can’t begin to answer how I get up in the morning knowing that I have a daughter who is alive and well that refuses to talk to me.  A beautiful girl inside and out whom I can’t talk to about the most important things in our lives, which include living.  Now I only want to hold her and love her, I would never risk losing her all over again.  Soon enough she too will understand the predicament as life will certainly change for all of us as time passes.  Perhaps the loved ones who have turned away from us will never be back, perhaps they will die with their pride attached and this I find horribly sad. 

How can I begin to offer answers when I have failed at the most elementary level?  I would begin to answer this by saying that when I first discovered that things were not the way I thought, I got depressed.  Some people get severely depressed when discovering the truth is something different then what you believed for over 20 years.  This news is depressing when you live in a fantasy world and I would worry about those who don’t feel this way.  It took me a good couple of years to find my way through the horror of what I learned.
How a ripple can change a reflection.
Today I acknowledge more fact based information and I try to keep my personal emotions out of it.  Before I may have only looked at things as how they affected me, now I try to go beyond and look at a bigger picture.  Some days are better than others.  Early on in my journey, I remember reading, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and now when I’m “stuck in the mud”, I try not to stay stuck for too long.  I acknowledge that I’m stuck and DO what I can to get out.

Now I have a better understanding of how powerful the punditocracy is, and how alert I must be in deciphering what is real.  I ask who is saying it and why?  Critical thinking is needed if one wants the truth.

Here are the questions that Dmitry asks and our answers.

1.  How can we communicate the reality of collapse to family and friends in ways that are constructive rather than destructive and find helpful ways to reflect our “endarkenment” in our everyday behavior?

Communicating a reality that family and friends are not ready or willing to see is very hard to do by talking.   We started down this path in 2003 if not before with some members of our family and friends.  At first they may have listened but as time went on and they began to think about the implications of what this information means to their individual lives, they resisted hearing it anymore and some made themselves unavailable.

We assume reflecting our “endarkenment” means delivering what some feel to be bad news.  This becomes problematic when others view you as “glib” about the dark forecast of our future when in reality we’re only trying to make the best out of the time we have left.  We have had others ask us how we talk about news like it was all in a days work while we discuss it over breakfast, then go about our daily chores?  I’m not sure if this is a conditioned response learned over time, or if it’s just who we are as people.  If we still want to enjoy what is left, then we must go about living as joyfully as we can.  Reality based facts are just that, our minds make up what is negative and what is positive. 

Unlike “positive thinking” one deals realistically with the present moment, makes their decision on what to do and proceeds to do it while letting go of the so called “problem”.  Again it’s the “stuck in the mud” that Eckhart Tolle writes about.  We feel what needs to be felt then we move on.  For  our relationship we can recognize if one of us is “stuck” for too long and we kindly nudge each other along.  One wouldn’t stand on the side of the road waiting for their tire to gain air; instead one would either call a tow truck or fix it oneself if one wishes to continue to travel further.

It’s been a long struggle to get the message out and we’ve written about some of it on our blog.  I don’t think anyone wants to feel like the odd man out, but as time has passed, we’ve found we could do nothing but embrace the reality of it.  This is our choice as others choose their own coping mechanisms.  Unfortunately denial is one of them.

For us it’s been easier the last 4-5 years to accept how others view us.  Most who have chosen to put up with us can see more today as the situation (collapse) evolves and have chosen to speak more about it and some have even asked questions as to how we live.  It’s easier for them to ask us as we’re happy to share then for us to tell them when they’re not listening.  Time and energy is precious to us, so we choose now to reserve it.
Planting Beans
Beans beginning to climb
Rattlesnake pole drying beans, results from doing.
The simple answer for us is to stay present and live by the example you speak of.  
Like a good story, 
Show, don’t tell.

2.  How can we form personal relationships with people that can survive the disappearance of official life support systems based on finance, commerce and centralized authority? 

Good luck with this one.  Trying to find people who can is the first problem, then just because they can, doesn't mean they will.  We have met many who are in the position to step down but choose not to.  Until it affects them directly, we don’t see them volunteering.  We would feel extremely lucky to accomplish this but rather think it will most likely happen by osmosis, if at all.

Again living by example of what we talk about and sharing our personal experience(s).  We listen to what others say, but watch more to see what they do.  Words are easy to come by,  so many are talking and not doing anything that backs up what they’re saying.  We walk the talk.  We are not so arrogant to think there isn’t more we can do and we welcome what others can teach us.  We’re never too old to learn.  

Since marrying over 36 years ago, our lifestyle changed very little when we became even more frugal.  We only had a short distance to fall unlike others who fear they will never stop falling.   Our debts were payed before anything else therefore we haven’t traveled as much as others or shared in the fun that they have had.  Like many boomers, we or should I say “I” believed in retirement and working towards the goal of fun.  I now understand how selfish that was as I have lived as a Queen compared to most and if I die tomorrow, I have lived a good life.

We have been trying for several years to form relationships with people of our community by educating them on what they can do now while they still have a choice.  Collectively put our finances together while we still have money (and it’s still worth something) to build something of value.  So many empty buildings where leases are sky high as owners wait for the economy to pick up.  We need serious conversations at the Grange Halls as well as our bars, libraries, food stores, gas stations and wherever else we can communicate our concerns. 

Our community is worried once again about the fire season.  Last year was a summer of smoke in the area and many were lucky to escape with their property still intact.  We remember being evacuated from a fire in 87.  We saw what a small community could do to help one another when we agreed to do so.


So what happens when there’s another disaster and the nearest Costco is over 25 miles away?  Maybe we should think about that money that won’t be worth anything and invest in a local food co-op?  Maybe we should be having conversations with the local businesses in our areas about what their plan is when disaster strikes?  How about getting local people together to order bulk supplies, if not for the good of community, then for their own families?

3.  How can we transform our physical selves into ones that will stand a chance, by eliminating lifestyle diseases, bad habits, luxuries and comforts, and by finding maximally independent and resilient ways to provide the necessities?

As Nike put’s it, “just do it” .  Dig deep and find the fortitude.  How many know anymore what “real comforts” are?  How many know the feeling of starvation?  Cold showers?  No water?  We know luxury, unlike a bomb ridden war zone.  Where does individual compassion come in? 

When I was little and I didn’t finish my food on my plate, I was reminded of how other children were starving and maybe this was used as a form of guilt but I think otherwise as I now know what my parents intentions were.  They taught me something that I keep close by. 

The head and heart need to come together.  When that happens amazing transformation can and will take place if we nourish it.  Our personal health has always been our responsibility, we’ve just become lazy and complacent in taking care of ourselves.  As things start to affect more of the population, people will be forced to give up luxuries and will live to be depressed or rise to the occasion as they have done in the past.  Just as we wrote about in our post “Time to Find a Dance Partner,” we need to buddy up and start sharing and caring about one another.  Much like our elementary school days when we practiced fire drills, tornado drills…and even later in my career there were those of us that volunteered to stay behind with those who were physically impaired.  Though I’m sure many would call me idealistic, but I would like to think that without the support of many, the few would not survive.

4.  How can we make use of ritual and spiritual practice to transform a group of individuals into a community?

Think this comes from within and has to be felt individually.  Spiritual practice means many different things to different people.  I can commune with nature and feel a sense of spirituality recognizing how much I am a part of it so I care for it as it cares for me.  I believe we can evolve but I also know there are others who think we’re nothing more than “heads on sticks”.  I’ve been through the Tower of London, it’s just an ugly reminder for me.  

When I’m one with nature I notice the changes of the outside world and I feel the effects on me.  There are so many things right in your face when you’re looking. 

People who visit our homestead hear about the differences we’ve noticed over the years.  Some later come back to share what they have noticed after watching and it’s a start to a new dialog.  The differences are right out our doors.  I remember driving to work and noticing things over the years.  Less wildlife, trees dying, less water in our streams and creeks, do we think if we ignore it, the reality will change?
Magnificent Oaks on the property

Both of us practice yoga and incorporate meditation while doing so in order to focus better.  We also read.  Many of the books are by authors who speak of “mind chatter” and how it prevents us from doing, as well as adding unnecessary stress to our lives. 

In a recent video of Robert Jensen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48qZGQfOv3c, he speaks of attending church and how he is has learned to be more respectful of religion for the sake of building community. 

During the depression, bars were meeting places and gossip was shared not in a “nosey” way but from a deep concern about others in the community.  Those whose health was failing or maybe someone in need.  Too often now we lock the door, pull down the shades and hope that the neighbors don’t call or come by.  This is not what we consider to be spiritual in nature and we try to keep communications open with those close by.

Ritual behavior is behavior that is done over and over.

Early onions 

Onions 

Results from doing

Again we seek to live by example and not by mouth.  Even if it’s once a month, breaking bread together on a regular basis becomes a ritual that community members can do together.   I once belonged to a “spinning group” where we shared news of people who were ill and did things to help.  We taught each other new skills, offered help on projects and shared in events that were happening in our area.  We gathered once a month for a pot luck in the afternoon and took turns hosting at each other’s homes.  These are not new ideas, they are tried and true from days of past. 


Years ago I read Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable and Miracle.  It reinforced many things that we had already been doing but it also reminded us to get more involved with community and it prompted us to make appointments to talk to the “movers and shakers” as well as city officials (ie: city planners that had only heard of the term, “peak oil” this was in 2008), who we knew were only playing “in charge” but thought we could open their eyes a little, perhaps enough to see that they too were being played.

Not sure if any of our answers will help, but if we don’t try we’ll never know and even then we may never hear.  It’s what we do and how we live that will make  a difference for tomorrow, it may be the only day left.
Enjoy the beauty and take time to smell the flowers.