Monday, August 15, 2005

Cultivating the Real Gifts

When I embarked on this journey toward self-reliance, I fully engaged the most scientific and rational part of myself. Slap a few solar panels on the roof, recycle waste, use a solar oven and grow a few organic crops and I would be well on the path, right?

What I have learned is much deeper. It is difficult to put into words, but I will attempt to do so.

It is this:

If one wants to live in harmony with the planet, to accept ones position as a part of the natural system rather than a consumer (taker) of Earth's gifts, then an internal shift is required.

This is a change in a way of BEING. Much of what we have been taught about ourselves--how to be happy, how to survive, how to relate--must change. Despite what we have been taught by popular culture since infancy, we do not need more things to make us happy (in fact paradoxically, the more we have, the more elusive happiness becomes). And despite the fact that heros are rewarded and individualism is worshiped in our culture, the most important gifts in the next few decades may well be relationships with neighbors and the cultivation of local community.

Why do I say this? Because one cannot possibly have all the skills, or resources, or tools, or creativity or time to be fully sustainable on their own. Even if you could afford it, you would not have the time or strength working alone. And, more importantly, the vision of such a life is unappealing. One needs a life-giving and sustaining vision, a spiritual sustenance, in order to let go of the false promises ingrained so deeply within us.

As it turns out, our ability to forge relationships and our own creativity are probably our most important individual gifts.

As I harvest the first of our organic vegetables and contemplate the season ahead, I drink in the beauty of the landscape around me here in Lake County...., I am grateful for all I have been given. From the land and trees, to the community of life, and the community of people here. We have all that we need for the times ahead. May we accept that which is entrusted to us and make it better for our community in the generations to come.