Homeland Blues

The smell of salty air and the curve of the roads under thick green canopies of wet leaves feels deeply familiar to me…like family. Like the ones that held me when I was a baby. These trees, these beaches, these ponds and marshes know me and I know them.

Whenever I visit here it feels like home in so many ways…even after all these years.

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Over the past 18 years I’ve made my home in the high alpine desert, several thousand feet above sea level, where it’s dry and sparse…of vegetation and people. I fled for high ground as a young adult, seeking the spaciousness and freedom to relearn what it means to be human on this precious planet. To distance myself enough from the hustle and static of corporate culture and the industrial growth society to get a little perspective on what we’re doing here.

I’ve been learning how to slow down and listen…to other people and to the land (no easy feat for this yankee girl). I’ve been learning to simplify…to conserve my resources like the desert plants I live among. To cherish all the little blessings that come my way. I’ve been learning to nourish myself with clean food and water and plenty of time to soak up the pristine harmony and rhythm of the natural world.

I’ve been learning how essential this simplification and attunement is to our collective ability to make the transition to a life sustaining society. How essential it is to the preservation of life on this planet.

But often, when I come back to visit my homeland on the Eastern seaboard, I find myself falling in line with the predominant culture to some extent. The daily rhythm, the speed of life, the volume of consumption, the conspicuous absence of time for prayer and self-reflection, the dietary choices…and even the crazy accent…seem to sweep me up in their momentum. The undertow of mainstream culture is so strong here. The buzz of the modern agenda of consumption overrides everything else. Sometimes I try hard to resist it…to maintain my practices and hold my own…and sometimes I just go with the flow.

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This time I let myself go with the flow. It started with eating what was offered…sugar, gluten, dairy…and it snowballed from there. Money going out like the tide and sweet treats coming in…ice cream, candies, pastry, fancy drinks. And then I noticed my psychic channels closing down…my subtle senses…my line of communication with Spirit. My sleep pattern changed and my body stiffened as I dropped into the “main station.” It felt good in a way, because I kind of fit in (kind of). I was in Rome, being a Roman. But it felt crazy too…because a huge part of me knows that Rome is going down.

There’s only one destination for a culture based on endless and insatiable consumption.

And now, in the era of global warming, it couldn’t be more in your face than on this tenuous arm of sand sticking out into the Atlantic Ocean. Hundreds of thousands of people rushing to and fro trying to make a buck while the ship is going down.

It breaks my heart right in two. I love this quaint little place…the feel of it, the smell of it, the sweetness of it…and I love so many people who live here. And it frightens me…it repulses me…it broadcasts to me so many of the ills that have sent our society in the direction of demise. I wish it could be as innocent as ice cream on the beach…as sand between your toes and endless summer fun. But I know that it’s not.

It leaves me with an ache in my heart that I don’t know quite what to do with.

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