For the last couple of weeks I have been reflecting on where my attention and intention have been focused for the last couple of years, and contemplating where I want to focus in the coming year. During that time I have been delighted to have received a number of emails and been party to some conversation with friends and acquaintances who have been sharing at a deep level, and offering very personal expressions of what is in their hearts at this moment.
Pondering this phenomenon I wonder if the human psyche is realising this is an important part of the picture - to share who we are, what we care about and what we need and can offer. Maybe it is a way we can find those who we need to connect with, in order to be more effective and conscious servants of the transformation.
So with a new year about to begin, and not wanting to put off until perfect, here is my own story as it is unfolding and evolving at this time.
A practice of trust and exploring the dark side
About two years ago I expressed two strong intentions. The first came from a month long enquiry into my values to see if I could identify those which drive me. At the end of this month I had come to the conclusion that 'trust' was the value which held the greatest force. I have a sense that as long as I have something to offer, even if it only the capacity to read a bedtime story to a friends child, then my needs (and I long ago discovered that these are very minimal) will be met.
Although I have this deep trust in life, I had not always been living it. I had allowed myself to buy the propaganda that I needed to remain alert, even fearful and mistrustful of others, and always plan ahead for my future needs.
I was living alone in a converted bus at the time (quite happily I must add). I distinctly remember someone quizzing me one day about whether a life practice of living on trust was possible if one had intimate others to account for. I thought about it for a while, and had to admit I didn't know, it wasn't my experience. Well now I live in a simple house on a clifftop overlooking the Hauraki Gulf, with my life partner Kim, her two children Elise and Hope, and our 5 month old daughter Zuva. Such is the humour of life.
We have been living on the funds from a house sale and a business sale (thanks Wayne for drip feeding the funds from the plumbing partnership through this last year). One of my changes in focus in this coming year is to provide for more of our food from local sources. I would love to do an experiment one day - perhaps starting in six months or a year - to see if it is possible to live off only food grown on the island. It will quickly show up where the holes are in our community's ability to be much more self-reliant in food - largely free of dependence on food with massive fossil fuel miles attached.
The other money saving intention this year is to get our big yurt up somewhere and go through the process of setting it up for living in. This is not the small 5 metre yurt I finished building last Christmas, but a 9 metre yurt we brought in from Pacific Yurts in Oregon (USA) that arrived a couple of months ago. We would like to have it setup with solar and wind power generation, a 'nice' composting toilet, rain water collection, and grey water recycling.
I just got given a baby seat for my bike - thanks Baz and Meg. Also got a baby backpack from Trademe for Christmas, and yesterday I knocked on the door of Robert Vale's house where I spotted a 50 year old Morris Minor - and much to my surprise he gave it to me! More on this later :)
Changing the world
Another aspect of this disposition of trust which is beginning to become clear is the feeling that the universe as we perceive it, is already perfect - or a perfect reflection of our cocreated reality. Which leads me to the second strong intention that has dominated my life since I wrote in my diary a couple of years ago that "I want to explore my dark side."
I didn't know what such an affirmation would lead to, but looking back, and I have only recently made this connection, I think that the way 'my' dark side was revealed was through searching out and uncovering the dark side of the world.
As the picture of the geo-political power structures and maneuvering became more clear it seemed that there were clearly identifiable individuals who could be pointed to, and could be held responsible for much of the destruction of our environment, resource depletion, inequality of resource and wealth distribution, and the conflict and wars that are raging across the planet today.
Thankfully, and despite the sometimes deeply painful revelations about the state of the world and the seemingly unnecessary suffering of our brothers and sisters on this earth, I was able to keep the question alive, "What am I doing to contribute to this?" Over time my sense of self-responsibility, rather than blame, became stronger. While I cannot control how others act and whether they make the changes I would like to see, I can be responsible for my part of it. I can choose how much I consume, how I treat those around me, how I relate to others whose ideas and actions I may not agree with.
So for a couple of years I assumed the role of researcher and disseminator of information, which I felt would change the world if only we all understood how things work. But of course it was only my view, and the sense of trusting that all is as it should be - was still germinating.
Where to now?
I sense that I no longer need to play the researcher role so strongly. The information is out there if anyone needs or wants to find it. I feel that there is a need to model new ways forward. For people who are waking up to the challenges of climate change, oil depletion, and the tentative nature of the global economics, there is not much out there by way of serious models showing the how-to's for the transition.
Around the time that this change of direction started becoming clear, Kim and I were invited by some new found friends, Mark and Kamila, to collaborate on the development of a 10 acre property here on Waiheke. It has a small area of arable land a large tract of regenerating bush. The plan is to develop this land resource based on some key (and still evolving) principles. The following are my first draft thoughts and I haven't yet had the chance to work on these with Mark and Kamila. I welcome your thoughts and ideas about these too, so please feel free to leave a comment.
- Model resource use in ways that enhance, rather than deplete them.
- Maximise energy efficiency in every aspect of the development and maintenance of the land and its buildings.
- Carefully discover the maximum sustainable limits of the resource.
- Meet as many of the residents needs as possible directly off the land.
- Develop trade options for other essential needs.
- Where outside resources are required, source them within the region.
- Use appropriate technology, without developing reliance on it.
For the last few months I have been involved in facilitating some dialogue circles in preparation for a meeting between some community leaders and the Auckland city Mayor.
There are many effective dialogue processes and tools available today, and I am hearing more and more references to the importance of engaging with each other in effective dialogue. There is an infinite wisdom to be called up and expressed, and it is in all of us, if we give each other the opportunity to speak and be heard we can meet the challenges of our time and begin to celebrate our uniqueness and all that we have.
It feels like the time to go beyond a fear based society - driven to seek fulfillment and distraction through consumption - and discover the joys of voluntary simplicity, that many of us intuit and long for already. We live in exciting times. I am here to serve, and have many different skills. If there is anything I can do to help you with your projects please do get in touch with me.