This is a selection of journal writing while at Common Ground over the past few days.
The weekend at Common Ground started with a Grief Ritual. It was a big part of the reason I went there, to express the feelings I’ve had building from learning about climate change and peak oil. It was held in the Octagon, one of the first permanent structures built on the site. There was a circle of pillows, with a centre decorated with a chain and foliage. There were about 20 of us, including a handful of children. Each person was given an opportunity to share some of the things in the world that were upsetting them. People spoke of all sorts of issues, East Timor, those imprisoned, Refugees, single moms etc. I was surprise at how few people mentioned environmental issues. The kids spoke of poverty and parenting issues, it was quite touching.
Next we all bundled up and went to a camp fire at the top of the hill. Each person carried a candle in one hand, and held on to a part of the chain with the other. As we walked up the hill, I thought, the pace is so slow! How akin to my sentiment about changes in responses to the issue which I feel so grievous of. We’re not going fast enough to ameliorate climate change! I saw Charlie, the resident kangaroo, and thought, ‘they will adapt and survive, the earth will survive,’ I saw a rock with a large patch of lichen and it affirmed my thought that the earth will survive.
Once we got to the top of the hill I was ever watchful for any sparks from the fire that may ignite the dry bushland around us. Ever vigilant of the needs of the greater good, leaving me less energy to pay attention to the task at hand. Thankfully I was able to focus on the second part of the ritual adequately enough to enjoy it. I have been looking forward to this chance to release some of my grief about the world. It was a good start, I look forward to more opportunities to let that stuff go…
In the ritual I was aware that I was holding back my emotions, not blocking them but not expressing them fully despite how teary i was. I was in an environment where I hardly new the people, some I’d met a few times, many I’d only just met. At another ritual I may feel more comfortable, more entitled to express the grief and sadness. I was surprised that when it came to my turn to speak that I didn’t spill out all over, that I could say what I did calmly and without tears. In some ways I was disappointed. I really wanted to just let it all go, have a big cathartic release but it didn’t happen. That’s ok, I have time for that. But part of me wants to just get it out, release it so I don’t have to carry it any more, so it doesn’t influence my life the way it does. After the ritual a woman spoke to me about a stillness in action workshop and a climate and peak oil study group that would also be opportunities for dealing with this stuff in a way that acknowledges and expresses the greif.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
A Day of Work
You know you’re a city slicker when the exhaustion of a day of work outside in the garden and making fire wood, really feels good and you look forward to the sleep you’ll get that night because it’s likely to be the best sleep you’ve had in ages. That’s how it feels now. It was a leisurely morning but the afternoon was full of very satisfying hard work. After picking a few of the biggest apples on the trees with Madi (age 7), I went up to split some wood but there were already three guys doing that so I helped unload the wood from the trailer, then Aaron and I went over to get the saw hooked up to the tractor motor. I spent most of the time pulling nails out of the wood to make it safe to put thru the saw. It was me and Aaron and Kate, so after a while I felt brave enuf to try it, reminded me of when I used the circular saw to make my loft bed. Damn I miss that bed. Anyway, I spent a fair bit of time putting wood thru the saw, it felt good, felt worthwhile and great to use my body. Not the same kind of satisfaction or value from domestic chores, funny that. Feels more important to do the more physical work, don’t like that it feels that way, feels like I’ve succumbed to the values of patriarchy. Tho it’s hard not to when you live in a patriarchal society. I really like the people here tho, they don’t seem to subscribe to those mainstream values much. Really refreshing!
So after the saw, me and Robbie went down to the garden to make some beds of hay for broad beans to re-nitrogenate the soil after corn he’d been growing there. There were a lot of rocks and I was a bit worried about my back. We got one bed done and Robbie figured it was time to call it a day, which was fine by me, I could have pushed it and kept working but I’d have been so nackered by the end of it. I went back up to my room and had a shower and then crashed out for about an hour I think. I was wiped! The sunrise celebratory ritual is tomorrow at dawn so I’m happy to get to bed early and will sleep well.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
Blood Sweat and Tears (and babies)
I got a good scrape on my leg moving branches from a tree on to the back of the truck, an f150. Something strangely comforting about those big beasts, and this was certainly a big old beast. A real work truck, beaten, worn, rusty and mangled. Despite the nasty emissions there’s something about it you had to admire. Not to mention reminding me of when I was dating George Anderson in Vernon BC. It was the truck of choice by locals (read: rednecks), tho George had a Trans Am that he loved about as much as my dad loves his BMW.
Anyway back to the gash, it was enough to feel sore but not enuf to slow me down. I still hauled big branches into the truck bed, piled high, I think I earned some respect with the guys, tho it was my shoulder that slowed me down, I could still work pretty hard. Enough to make me sweaty and glad for a drink afterward. It was one of the few times I could understand what it means to be keen for a beer at the end of a job, and dry cider was just what the doctor ordered. I didn’t even wash my hands, dress my wound or change my clothes, I just wanted a cool refreshing beverage to take the edge off. It did the job.
The morning was a rare observation of the dawn, the Ritual of Hope at sunrise. I actually got up and out of bed in time to participate. And tho it was about celebrating symbols of hope, I shed a tear or three. Robbie’s genuine sadness at the impact he sees of young men who don’t realize their dream (as he has by living here) and the hurt they cause themselves and others. And of his acknowledgement and appreciation of his mom was beautiful. She’s the one who gave me the wake up call. I’ve really enjoyed her and all the older women who are connected here. Almost like I’ve begun to build my ‘patchwork mom’ (a assortment of older women who collectively satisfy our needs for a mother figure). It’s actually really nice to be around so many middle aged women, and that are primarily activists of the social change, environmental or spiritual type. It’s been such a treat to be around so many people who know so much about the issues here in oz and globally! And that are working in the vein of Joanna Macy’s work! (I’m considering doing the Stillness in Action workshop in May, it’s here at CG too.)
I’ve also enjoyed Aaron and Chelsea and their cuter than cute baby, Delilah. Aaron has been really good at including me and especially with the physical tasks. Not even hesitating to ask if I want to participate in the muscle stuff or batting an eyelash when I broke a nail hauling branches on to the back of the truck. And it’s been good to talk with him about political and climate change/energy stuff. Chelsea is also really intelligent and great to talk to, she spoke of Delilah as her hope for the world and tho I rarely resonate with that sentiment, I found myself agreeing with what she was saying and spoke with her after about how it had influenced my (usual lack of) desire to procreate. I love being around babies, and tho it doesn’t mean I will actually have one of my own, I could imagine the possibility more clearly. It seems Common Ground would be a great place to be in community to raise a child, and to have support around to do so. Could I do it with my fantasy family of a woman partner and gay father of the child? Doubtful but not impossible, as I told Chelsea earlier, I’ve learned never so say never.