Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jump, We'll Catch You

     My journey into collapse began with a viewing of Michael Ruppert at the McDonald Theatre in Eugene, Oregon in 2005.  I didn’t realize how cutting edge this was at the time and when I left the theatre that night I had no idea how my life would change going forward.  I remember being one of the few that raised my hand when he asked how many had credit card debt of less than $10,000 and how many had their hands up when he asked who still had a mortgage payment.  Though I felt relieved in many ways, I felt sadness and fearful of the future. 
       Three years later after reaching my 30-year career goal I retired and began to work towards another goal of living simply or simply living.  Being use to taking orders from the upper echelons of empire, I soon felt comfortable following orders from those who not only knew the systems in place but also could help navigate with their maps into the wilderness that we now live in. 
       After several years of physically challenging work, my husband and I know jumping was just the first step; we now seek to network with others who are building “working models” and ask writers such as Ruppert to help.  They have a captive audience in place to help those who have moved ahead, so why should we reinvent the wheel?  
       Just as a syllabus helps to know what’s to be expected, these working models will lead as an example of how life after empire works.  I remember asking, “is there life after work?” what I didn’t think to ask is who will be working?  Those who write about collapse may learn something more by working the fields for a few months, hell take a sabbatical it may get you prepared for what we all face.
       I want to hope that some more are beginning to see through the lies that are now a necessity of everyday life in empire, but I know that hope is not a strategy, as my husband says so often.  Lately though, we have seen an upsurge in responses to our advertising of living together and sharing resources.  This has helped us refine what we’re looking for.
       Since retiring in 2008 after 30 years with telecommunications, I’ve learned that most people have a hard time focusing, their communication skills are lacking and the slightest bit of detail makes them run the other way.  In trying to find others whom you can trust, work well with and depend on, one needs to ask questions to begin to build relationships.  I’m not sure what it is about our culture that makes most shy away from any type of sharing, whether it’s information on where they buy their food or if they know of a good dentist.  I wonder then why they give any thought to responding to an ad to live with others.  Could it be people are running out of options and time, or maybe some are beginning to envision a better way of life?
       Each day our lives become better as collapse takes hold and we find another authentic attachment to nature, but working with our own species can be quite challenging when they don’t want to open their eyes or listen.  After so many years of trying to network we became despondent and started to advertise our homestead for sale over a year ago.  Like a “Hail Mary” we thought it couldn’t hurt to look at other options, though we knew our chances of selling were slim and it wasn’t what we really wanted to do.  The winter rains didn’t bring much traffic through but spring has blossomed once again and like the habitual creatures we are, people are again looking for a home in the country.  A call came last week from a couple who wanted to see it, and after a long, heated discussion we decided this would be the last time to show it but before we managed to pull our ad, we had three more people interested. 
       It definitely has a bittersweet flavor and is quite tempting to give up and try something new but neither of us are quitters and since we believe in what we’re doing and know eventually it will be worth more than gold, the decision was made not to look back and get to work in the garden.  We’ve had to be patient so many times before in our marriage and we need to put it to practice once again. 
       In meeting others through our networking as well as those who have come to buy, we’ve found that most people who have visited are looking for the same reason; to get out of the city and grow food, but they don’t realize the task they’re taking on.  We know from our efforts and the discipline that’s needed, they won’t be able to go it alone.  There are big differences between growing enough food to get you through another season and having a few crops to eat during the summer months.  For some we helped to open their eyes and understand sharing not only the benefits but also the work.  One favorite comment we received in an email after a visit was "I love how you spoke of "sharing, this is a word we rarely hear as adults.”
       Many comparisons can be made to the types of people that we’ve been in touch with.  Some who are scared shitless letting fear rule their choices, wanting to leave the system for a simpler life while gripping on to the only security they know.  First time I ever heard the term “cubicle monkey” to describe how one feels at work.  When I look back on my working days in the system, I see the character Jurgis from Upton Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle.  I did most anything that was expected of me and more.  I was always recognized for being such a great employee swinging from position to position seeking higher pay and more responsibility.  Now my rewards of satisfying food, herbs that heal, and a soft footprint help to ease the guilt of giving so much to a system that is setup only to take.
       While some fear the risk of taking the plunge, others can’t wait to feel the splash but have no resources to do so.  They can’t see the trees for the paper and while reams of debt stifle them, they desperately seek what they know they want, though it may be too late.
       Some of the young people we’ve spoke to are creatively thinking of ways to partner up, though most have not left the fraternity type of life.  With the student loan debts that they have, they’re aware that they need to share to make it, whether it’s college or life after.  I still don’t see many with enthusiasm about doing the work; after all it’s much different than reading and writing.
       Unfortunately as we continue to plough ahead answering emails and phone calls, arranging visits and feeding people that have heeded the warnings from those such as Michael Ruppert, Carolyn Baker, Richard Heinberg, Jan Lundberg as well as others, we know there is no network in place for after you jump.  Some of these pioneers continue to ride the wagon that they told us to jump off of while we blaze a new trail alone.  I’ve taken time to write and explain our dilemma to these writers asking for any suggestions on networking or help in doing so, but have received little to no response from them. 
       We’ve been growing more, storing more and learning more which is really beneficial to us, but what good is a few people who have their shit together when we’re spread so thin?  What happens when everyone is on board and awake?  Eventually the lifeboats will need to leave the shore.  Our advice to others who are looking to jump is simple and sincere:

Know what you're up against and the situation we (humans) are in.
Take in as much information as possible.
Ask lots of questions.
Learn from others.
Be open to other avenues that you may not have thought about.
Make an intelligent decision using both head and heart,
knowing that you don’t have the luxury of time
to make the mistakes that we have made.
Take help from those who are willing to lend you a hand.
Stay focused, one step at a time.
Don't look back.