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Unintentional Community and Daily Life March 3, 2011

It all comes down to daily life. Yes, there can be splendid moments of other worldly transcendence, but choosing to live life as a human means, at a minimum, eat, sleep, breathe, poop. There are cultural add-ons like taxes, sidewalks, and math class, but ultimately, there is just no escaping those basic human needs and the activities  and factors that have grown out of securing them. It is certainly meaningful, fun, and necessary to create and attend events and activities that are outside of those that occur everyday, but ultimately it is the venue of the home base that feels the most real, space and people included. Why is that? Why do humans have such a division between home life and outside life? Is it architecture, the mere dichotomy between indoor and outdoor space and having to travel between the two? Is it the fact that the the sun rises and sets, giving us days season years that make the repeated acts seem somehow more real? It is easy for me to get focused on projects and really feel in the flow of them, but then they are over, and I look at each new project and think that someday it will be over too. I want something all encompassing, something that integrates daily life with those bigger projects and a sense of reverence pervading throughout. It seems like intentional community is the only way to make that happen, where each action is an expression of the choice to sustain life and practice the glory of being alive. But does it have to be on a farm to make it happen? Why is it that growing your own vegetables or building your own house or pumping your own water makes life feel more integrated and real?

Maybe it is because of the extraordinary mass of stuff in our lives. Even a trip to the bathroom involves toilets made of ceramic, metal, plastic and any number of pieces produced and shipped by any number of other factories, toilet paper made obviously from trees then put in more factories, toilet paper holders, cleaning products with chemicals and more factories and more trucks and more shipping and industrial designers coming with bottle designs and graphic designers designing labels and marketers figuring out the demographics of how many people are buying the products, and all of this before even considering the amazing complexity of the systems of pipes and structures getting water to your toilet and then flushing it away to another building to clean it and maybe even back into the ocean…basically endless systems requiring endless resources and endless people so that any given day you may have been relying on the work of thousands (millions?) of other people just to go about doing “normal” activities.

And that’s what feels real about living off the land. Cutting out that noise. Living in consumer culture we are surrounded by larger and more complex communities than ever before in human history, and we have no idea who these people are and where these resources are coming from. When you are sustaining yourself on your “own” land, you have a direct relationship with all of the elements in your realm of experience, human and otherwise. These relationships are deeper and stronger because you depend on them for survival, but also because of the simple fact that you are aware of them. Each element of your life can be something that you choose to be directly present in. Do you need to be on a farm to live intentionally? No. But in cities and suburbs, the task of even identifying all of the elements of your surroundings (let alone their origin, history, or function) is nearly impossible. While it may not be necessary to know these things, the more you are unaware of, the less connected you are to the systems in place, and the more you are a cog in someone else’s machine. If it’s a good machine, well, then great. But how do you even know if it’s good if you don’t know what the machine is?

This is why I feel strongly about having a community that isn’t cut-off from the rest of the world. It may seem counter-intuitive to say that after railing about how alienating it is to be part of a system you have no connection to and how important it is to live simply, but that is precisely why intentionality is so important. Maybe my naive fantasy is to live completely cut-off from the consumerist world for a few years and then like Zarathustra come down from the mountain and start to spread the word. But these massively tangled global systems are where all of the people and resources are, and that is where our work as world-waker-uppers is. Because guess what? All of those people tangled in the systems are world-waker-uppers, too. All of them.

We’re seven billion strong.

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5 Responses to “Unintentional Community and Daily Life”

  1. lily Says:

    i got chills in the hot blanket of belize air. and a lump in my throat i feel a bit like crying or laughing or shouting. im laughing out loud a bit now. yes yes and yes. i have lots of thoughts and will add them over the next few weeks.

    i love you! (plural you going out to everyone on this blog)

  2. daddy Says:

    an important part of patient assessment, especially in the emergency environment, is taking baseline “vitals”. vitals are measurable indicators of a patient’s condition such as blood pressure, pulse, respirations, etc. good vitals usually indicate a normal, healthy individual. abnormal vitals typically mean that something is quite wrong.

    so what is ra all about? i think all us rainbowacrites approach the ic concept/idea from different, very individual directions. some want do it for this or that reason, at this or that time, at this or that kind of place. i believe what brings us together is that there are certain values we believe to be vitally important and we want to create a place to share and bask in these values together.

    those values are the basics of living like eating, sleeping, breathing, pooping. just like in sports, it all comes back to the basics. i may be projecting here, but perhaps ra is our way of giving back and finding meaning in those basics, those vitals, together.

    now this doesnt mean that people necessarily need to shut out other hobbies and projects and jobs in their life. ra is an exercise in reprioritization, not elimination (unless youre in the loo). tackle all the things that enrich your life empowered with the knowledge you know that your own vitals are good and you have a great home-place to go too!

  3. daddy Says:

    if i might add something, and technically i already have, there is one more element i forgot to mention. i really do think that a big part of the ra process is taking responsibility.

    as ilyse was so passionately explaining, there is a world out there of unknown faces out there upon whom we rely on daily to simply survive. we consume food and products with no real idea of where it came from. doing something to lessen this debt of gratitude and anonymous reliance seems like an admirable quality. at least with the simpler things in life, like what we eat, or where we live, or who we spend our time with, we have a choice in whether to continue the cycle of habit or not.

  4. daddy Says:

    random: i smell irony in a group of individuals wanting to be more self sufficient.

    thinking of you gals!!!

    • Ilyse Says:

      Wow, I was not notified of these comments to the post!

      I think those things are so important and go hand in hand: getting back to the basics and taking responsibility. After all, we can’t possibly be responsible for all that goes on in our daily lives unless it *is* basic–at least not at first.

      And us banding together instead of going it alone is a more responsible form of self-sufficiency! We are creating a new self here, a multi-personed self that through diversification takes care of more and more of its immediate needs, and ultimately more of those of the world. Hell, let’s stretch that network globally as long as we’re doing it consciously!


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