- The Farm
- The Alliance
A Zen story: The monk asked the master, “How do we practice in difficult times?” The master replied “Welcome.”
Suggested direction from an email exchange: “At last, a challenge worthy of our intelligence and abilities.”
The people thriving in this time are those made alive by throwing themselves into the collective change needed. Whether they are registering voters, doing legislation, fighting fires, consciously building the new society, or offering hospice as old ways and hopes die, they find meaning in their lives through engagement. Not everyone can do such things – many people need to take care of their health, their families, or something very immediate – but I wonder whether it might be possible to connect those necessities with the energy that moves toward life – to find the sense of completeness that comes from engagement.
In the Gift of Fearlessness group, we are having increasingly interesting conversations, working with an article “How to grow liveable worlds: Ten (not-so-easy) steps for life in the Planthroposcene”
The writer’s proposal is about our relationship with plants, about decolonizing, and much more. I suggest that you read it as a poem or a fantasy, then think that it’s utterly real and ask how life becomes different with this thinking. Reflect on the last line: “Whatever you do, conspire with the plants to make art like your life depends on disrupting the colonial common sense that would leave us all to die in the Anthropocene.”
We honor the firefighters who risk their lives, yet we don’t do the actions that would prevent the necessity – taking care of the forests in advance, the small fires, indigenous wisdom. When Australia was burning, lands under indigenous care did better. It’s still climate change (caused by human/ colonizer hubris) but it’s also aggravated by human/colonizer ways of ignoring the natural ways of forests.
I don’t know what term to use, and I’m choosing colonizer to indicate the kind of mindset that looks at a land and sees only resources for exploitation, or things that get in the way. It looks at people that way too, and enslaves or kills them. It’s happening now, ask any Black or indigenous person, any refugee. It’s not new – just read some history.
Related books: Thus Spoke the Plant, by Monica Gagliano, and Greening the Paranormal, edited by Dr. Jack Hunter. Apparently there are many more books of this sort, stories or research or analysis about the world not being quite the way we imagine it, and how that might open up our way of living.
We are in fear, appropriately, about climate change, about the virus (and likely future ones), about economic collapse which includes probable food shortages and personal disasters for millions of people. Our politicians are failing us – actually many of them are actively hurting us. Those of us who always trusted the police are having second thoughts. We wonder whether the election will happen, whether it will be honest, and whether its results will be respected. We imagine a coup. While among us, Black, brown, Red Nations, and poor people are thinking, perhaps saying, “told you so.” There’s nothing new here except an unveiling – becoming visible – apocalypse.
For me, the missing piece in all this work is the matter of asking for help. All the attempts at solutions are attempts by humans alone. Often they’re by colonizers alone – indigenous wisdom in forest care and everything else has not even been considered – though recently that’s starting to change. Still, most of us don’t think of asking for help from the forests themselves – or from the soils, the mycelial networks, the rain, the air. We assume they are inanimate, even while science increasingly observes their aliveness and their consciousness.
It’s a long habit, hard to break, and an essential part of freeing our minds from their colonized existence.
Try this: Ask the air for help, with whatever problem comes to your attention next. Personal health, family troubles, fascism, climate collapse, racism – ask for help from that which is closest to us, which creates us on a daily basis.
And then see what happens. Inside of you, or around you.
Last month’s newsletter had nearly everything from the farm and the practice schedule, including invitations to participate. I’ll add just a few things:
We’re having visitors, spending time outdoors. One person is seriously considering becoming a resident.
A hard thing: The people to the north of me are building a house in the woods, which I’d thought of as my woods. Briefly I went into anger and despair. I thought of leaving and becoming a traveler. Then the thought came up “first world problems.” I considered the difficulties ahead of us. This place will be needed, growing food and practicing sanity, even with one of its holy places harmed.
“When difficulty comes, practice with it.”
Please ask for help.
Love to you all.