We heal together

bees on a poppy

The bees in our back yard, glorying in poppy pollen

Thank you everyone who shared their feelings and ideas with us all yesterday. Thank you, too, to those of you who read and considered those words. Thank you to those of you who are silent, but with us.

I should be clear before I go on that this is a Kelly post. Erik is out tonight. I don’t know if he’ll disagree with anything I’m going to say–but we don’t agree on everything. His thoughts will come later.

There is a French term, egregore, which is used to describe the spirit of a meeting, that unique energy that arises when a group of people come together to eat, work, or talk. It is almost a thing in itself, if you see what I mean. It rises out of certain combinations of people coming together for a specific purpose. Surely you’ve felt it, at that amazing dinner party you still think about, or perhaps you’ve experienced it in some sort of club, or with a group of friends. Root Simple has always had an egregore, one which I’d describe as practical and light-hearted. These recent posts mark a turning point, the rising of a new egregore for this blog. One which has a deeper emotional resonance than the one before.

Get your hands of the unsubscribe button. This is not to say that we’re going to turn into a gloom and doom blog. I promise we’ll never be that. But it seems to me that we can’t just “return to our regular programming” at this point.

I know I can’t. There’s more to say, though I don’t quite know how to say it yet. I suspect it will come out in the weeks and months to come, mixed in with our more usual practical DIY postings, garden rants and pictures of cats.

Right now I can say was enormously touched by the things you all shared. I did not answer the comments individually. I didn’t want to turn the conversation in any particular direction–I wanted to leave the comment board as a blank slate. But as I read, I was saying, “Yes, yes” — yes to all of you, actually. Because my thoughts encompass all the thoughts I read, even if some thoughts contradicted each another. I’m full of contradictions. We all are.

My heart is tender today. My eyes welled with tears as I read some of the comments aloud to Erik. I’ve been reading far too much climate science since returning from the conference. This has had the effect of making me both angry and sad and very grateful for what we have now. The world is infinitely precious to me, all of the wonders and creatures in it, the hummingbirds in the sage, the chickens in their coop, you all and your families, scattered all around the world, reaching out to contact us here.

We’ve not spoken much of matters of the spirit on this blog. This is largely because we know our readers come from all sorts of backgrounds and belief systems and we didn’t want to alienate anyone. We’ve always believed what’s important is the work — not the whys behind the work. It all leads to the same good end, after all.

But at this point I’m seeing our various crises–this three headed hydra of doom, this ménage à trois of misery–as a spiritual crisis more than anything else–a crisis rooted in our culture’s deep alienation from nature. We are taught to see nature as something “out there”.  Perhaps as a collection of useful natural resources. Or something pretty to visit before we return to our toilets and hot showers. We see nature as something to manage or control. Even as an enemy. We’ve become schizophrenic. We are nature. Nature is us. Seems to me that keeping this thought close and forward in our consciousness is fundamental to both understanding and healing.

I’m going to share with you something which may make our more materialist readers uncomfortable, and I’m sorry if that is so, but I think it is important enough to share in a public forum.

In the wake of our lead crisis–when Erik and I had discovered that the soil in our yard was toxic–I was meditating in the back yard. I was imagining I had roots, and those roots were stretching out and touching other roots in the soil. And I was sending thoughts of love to the garden, because I’d been recoiling from its toxicity, and I realized I could not be in that sort of relationship with my own land. As I sat there with my mind clear and love in my heart, words appeared in my head. I’d swear they weren’t mine, but it doesn’t really matter if they were mine or not. The message is the same:

We heal together.

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34 Comments

  1. Thank you for this. We are currently travelling, so I won’t be able to closely follow this discussion as it emerges, but I just wanted to say the work of the spirit is something we think is very important to homesteaders in the New Times.

    Best,

    Ruben.

  2. Hello
    I thought your post this morning was lovely. I believe that our spirits are renewed “in nature” because as you say, we are nature. This topic reminds me a lot of David Orr’s incredible speech “What is Education For?” (http://www.context.org/iclib/ic27/orr/) which has fundamentally shaped my life and how I view my career as a teacher and human working for wisdom on Earth. I think it’s applicable here.

    And thank you for sharing the spiritual side of things as well. My heart tells me that the “material perspective” and my various atheist/agnostic friends have deep wisdom as well. And yet the vocabulary that works for me and gives me strength comes from the spiritual/connection to the ancestors and elders/and to the mother/father spirit. Surely with respectful discourse and fearless truth seeking we will grow together as a species and find what we need to live our own lives well.

    • Sarah, I also believe that a materialist perspective is very important to keep us from getting too “woo woo” as we explore the implications of spirit. It’s a delicate balancing act, but an important one, which keeps us from falling into fallacies such as hoping for a sudden global shift in consciousness, or thinking we can work our way out of this hole through the power of intention. There are hard limits that we must work within.

      And thanks — I’ll check out that Orr piece.

    • Back to say I just read the Orr talk. Talk about spot-on. And it was delivered in 1991. Imagine if we had actually changed our educational system 20 years ago–or more, since others have said what he is saying, earlier–what a difference that would have made.

  3. Thank you for following your heart. Your direction is not a lonely one, if you look around. Blessings on us all as we heal together!

    You may make people uncomfortable, but that is *their* issue, not yours.

    • Thank you, Joel. And as I said above, I hope our materialist friends will stay with us and help keep us grounded, but I also hope that they will not reject out of hand those instincts of the heart which are not subject to measure. I know I would be more materialist in my leanings if not for certain experiences I’ve had which fall outside of the realm of pure reason, but which I understand as “real.” We have a lot to learn from one another. We heal together.

  4. Thank-you so much for sharing. I’ve been focusing on the issue of disconnect from nature as a symptom and prerequisite for agriculture, from an academic point of view, and (no surprise) not really getting any answers as to how to fix the problems. I always come back to a little voice saying “you know what to do; go do it.”

    • Yes, that little voice is so important. We need to learn to hear it, to not discount what it says.

  5. Beautiful words. We heal together. How true that is! You know what healed me, after reading all I did on our alienation from our own planet and the spiritual ramifications of that? Carl Jung’s essays on that exact topic. The book is called, “C.G. Jung on Nature, Technology and Modern Life.” It’s a series of beautiful, rational essays on our world and how to best live in it. One of the 5 best books I’ve ever read, and certainly an essential companion to any reading on climate change, collapse, or Peak Oil. I just have a feeling you’d resonate with what he writes there.

    • Funny — or is it synchronicity? — I just read about that book somewhere else and was disappointed to find it was not in the library. Erik and I are both fans of Jung. Maybe this is a sign that I should just pony up and buy it!

  6. I have a desire to learn all I can about holistic nutrition and gardening so that I can run a small farm. I would like to have a big enough garden that I can feed myself and my family all year and have leftover to help my neighbors or use for sell/trade situations. In addition, I would like to develop a curriculum for students based on growing your own food, raising food animals, using the food to feed the other students in the school, including meal planning, nutrition, cooking and serving a large number of people, and selling any remaining foodstuffs for reinvestment into the ‘school farm’. I think this sort of holistic curriculum has a lot to offer in education. It is a hands on, practical approach to learning, and these are life skills that are necessary for a future for our children.
    Unfortunately, I am a divorced woman with a history of chronic illness and disrupted employment, with little more than clothes in a suitcase to call my own. I have no resources, no car, no job, nothing to recommend me to anyone. The people around me have no use for my opinion, or any knowledge I have about how eating healthier whole foods would improve their health and quality of life, or how life can be improved without processed, industrial consumerism that they are so caught within.
    I have been living in Germany for the past two years, seeing how a democratic socialist government can work. I have seen green energy rising up and taking over, I have seen GMO giants banned and small farmers more successful. I have eaten foods from a grocery store that I know to be local and organic and minimally processed for an affordable and reasonable price. I have scaled back on space I needed to live and stuff I needed to be happy. I want to apply those things I learned to a daily life here, toward building a small homestead capably of sustaining myself and any who need my help.
    I just don’t know how to get there from here. But I read your blog, and other blogs like it and apply what I can to my current situation and hope for better days when I might have the resources to live the life that I want and need.

    • Yes, keep learning and doing what you can with what you have. It’s all any of us can do, really. I do not doubt that you’ll find a place to use that knowledge in the future.

  7. I have noticed more and more, the movies sensationalizing the apocalypse, government corruption/collapse, zombies, end of the world type themes. It seems that with this kind of ‘unrealistic media’ the general public can laugh it off as mere entertainment. This is a dangerous thing to do, as truth can be stranger than fiction. I have, out of all the people I know, just three friends who are very much in tune to 1 or 2 of the trifecta or all three. Two friends are very aware of impending economic collapse (and all that it entails) – the third is aware of peak oil and climate change. The third is an aspiring farmer, but he is only interested in farming in areas with plenty of water. The other two have been encouraging friends and family to leave the cities or move back to their respective countries. I wonder about my friend who will hopefully get his farm soon. I’m certain that a thriving closed loop sustainable farm community can sustain themselves, but what about the people who won’t be in that calm collected state of mind? I can only think that the answer to that for now is education – to educate those to be self sufficient and strong in community, but to also support a sustainable lifestyle. People need to realize it’s ok to be uncomfortable but adapt for the greater good (humans are so good at acclimating). It’s a really prevalent American attitude to be self-entitled and focus on one’s self, which I feel contributed to the downward spiral of our society. This was certainly not the attitude of generations before us. Greed has gotten out of control.

    • I think the disaster movies are a way for us to process our fear in a safe place. Some of the themes have resonance that probably connects with us at a subconscious level. In a Game of Thrones, the watchword is “Winter is Coming”. Indeed it is!

  8. Thank you. For all of it–the blog, the books, and your living example–but especially for going out on a limb.

    We need wisdom, deep and simple, just like “we heal together.”

    You two have created a new level of community with your past few posts, opening the floor and your hearts to your readers, and us to each other.

    You are fostering healing right here, right now, in us and in yourselves. Indeed, we heal together.

  9. One of the things I’ve admired about this site (and the book ‘Making It’) was the practical attitude taken with all projects and goals. Practicality is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to what I accept or even appreciate in making the choices I make – and this necessarily distances me from the more zealous ends that so many preppers, hippies and residents of Portlandia proselytize.

    Perhaps my utilization of practicality is in some ways similar to others’ search for ‘healing’ or ‘sustainability’ or ‘self reliance’ or ‘getting back to nature’; it seems that people generally do and feel better with a code of behavior and sets of standards. The danger, as usual, comes when those codes and standards become dogmatic.

    Certainly I could spend the time, effort and money to churn my own butter – but it’s cheaper, easier and more practical to buy it at the grocery store. Trading common sense for status points, zealotry or other self-serving rewards is unbalanced and ultimately infelicitous.

    The end-of-the-worlders in all their variety seem to have lost their way at some point, it seems to me. While it’s pretty clear that things (even hugely important things) will be changing over the next few years and decades, it is wise to recall that things have always changed, sometimes catastrophically. Being flexible, adaptable, and practical are some of the best ways to manage yourself and your family during such times. Living your life in a conscientious and wise fashion is the best therapy; it allows you to accept responsibility for that which is indeed yours and to let go of those things that aren’t. And the more people who choose to live in these ways, the better the chances of improving our world.

    So, I’ll continue to grow my garden, keep my firearms in good repair and help my family learn those lessons I find important. And I’ll also continue to buy my butter and coffee at the store, surf the internet for amusement and drive my car to work every day. I’m not sure about healing, but I’ve learned a little about living.

    • Yes, it is important not to be dogmatic — for so many reasons. What’s important is that we all do what we think best, in accordance with our means and abilities.

  10. I too want to thank you for being there, writing and showing us what you are doing and how you are dealing with daily life. Your first book let me to your web site and I have been following your blog ever since. Reading the posts by your other reader and hearing your feelings gives me hope. For the longest time I thought I was walking the road alone. I am 65 years old and have been trying to live a simple, self sufficient life since I was in my 20′s. My husband and I worked hard to pay off a house and when he passed I exchanged it for a place further out where I could have land to plant trees and grow my own food. My friends think I am nuts not to be traveling and going out to dinners with them but I only want work my land, live simply, and leave it all in better shape then when I found it. My ‘shopping’ consists of going to thrift stores and the library. I carry a trash bag to pick up the trash blowing around when I walk. I read every label to see what is in the food before I buy it, who produced it and where did it come from. I won’t buy from business that destroy the earth, put chemicals in the food, or who abuse their employees. Mostly I try to grow my own, cook from scratch, and exchange extra produce with neighbors. I don’t want to toot my own horn because I know there are a lot more I could be doing. And I don’t want to come off as the ‘crazy old lady’ because I worry about doing all of this alone and alienating my friends. (I’m sure they are already tired of my preaching and instilling guilt) And yet, I know that if there were some kind of disaster, I would be fine and even able to help others if needed. Because of my constant frugality I was able to retire at the age of 50 and devote myself to fixing up my property which I learned to do from family, friends, and books. This sense of needing to take care of the earth has been with me since I can remember and I have been saddened to see others in my age group drop out over the years to join the rat race and chase after materialistic things. Most of my friends are amused by my caring so much. But watching the world situations for the past couple of decades has left me despondent for the future. Watching as big business brain-washed people into ‘needing’ whatever they were selling made me cynical. And turning on the television makes me depressed. (now I no longer watch it) We have polluted our world because of ignorance and greed. And yet I have seen over and over how things can correct themselves so I have hope, especially now from reading all the thoughtful posts by your readers. We can’t just sit back and say we’re going to die anyway or believe that some almighty force is going to intervene and ‘rescue’ us taking us to someplace better. The Jonestown Massacre is still vivid to me. People are led astray looking for heaven when heaven is right under our own feet and right outside our window. The older I get the more I realize how little time I have left and the more I want to be in the moment, seeing….really SEEING the beautiful world around me and doing the best I know how to KEEP it that way. Because “With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
    (Desiderata 1927 Max Ehrmann)
    Thank you for being here, Kelly and Erik.

    • Yes, I agree. Living in the moment, seeing the world, being in it, as it is, and loving it — this is the key. Otherwise we’re in danger of waiting to make our lives “real” — waiting for some perfect set of circumstances that will make it okay to be content. The key is to be content with what we have. That makes us strong, and resilient.

  11. I wanted to say one more thing: It seems to me that we all complicate and over-think things too much. At least I do. I have to keep reminding myself what Dr. Martin Luther King said: “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

  12. I think you are courageous to address issues around Nature in a holistic manner. Being true to yourself is one thing. Sharing it with the world is a lot harder.

    I really appreciate the thoughtful way you are addressing this. Thank you for bringing my thoughts back to he big picture.

  13. When Im out in the wilderness or even tending the the containers of herbs at my back door I feel a strong feeling of connectedness. I think it is a primal emotion the same as fear and flight.
    Basic instinct is kicking in and I think it will gradually gain momentum. A collective of small actions makes a big act. Small acts on an individual level are not futile.
    I dont feel its hopeless its not a bed of roses either. At some point people power will prevail its still needs people to become aware but when they do things will change and quite quickly. History shows us this.

    • Remembering how to feel connected is so important. It’s fantastic that you can access it easily, even with your herbs. I think I’ll be talking about this more soon.

  14. I think that the spiritual has a place along with the practical. We all need to pull together as a species, instead of constantly trying to climb over each other. In our family,which is my folks, my brother and his partner, myself and my hubby and kids, we are all for one, one for all. If i have it, they have it. If we get a deer, everyone eats. If i pick berries and make jam, we all have jam. When my brother goes fishing, we all have fish. We must stop finding what divides us, and find what we have in common. Thank you for inspiring me to start looking at what i have, what i can do now, and what i could do in the future. Your books have been a sincere source of change in our home.

    • Yes, cooperation, sharing, generosity — these are values are going to be more important than ever.

      And we’re happy if our books have helped you. Now, can I have some fresh trout and berry jam, please?

  15. Beautiful post. I’ve been enjoying your blog for a long time, and feel that both of you have mastered the art of addressing these issues with a perfect balance of eloquence, practicality and irreverent humor–a rare thing, indeed. I have found your recent posts fascinating and look forward to following along as you explore these topics.

    Today I read this quote, attributed to Paul Chan, and found it quite relevant:
    “Our modern age is characterized by a sadness which calls for a new kind of prophet. Not the prophets of old who reminded people that they were going to die, but someone who will remind them that they are not dead yet.”

    So–thank you for reminding us all just how much we can do. The world needs more “prophets” like you!

  16. I like that you’re willing to consider the deep implications of our times and to recognize that a purely materialistic framework isn’t going to be the most useful way to navigate. The mess we’re in is, in many ways, a crisis of meaning and by definition, meaning is not definable in materialist terms. “What does a forest mean (to us, to itself, to its birds and neighboring biomes)?” is a vastly different question from “What does a forest do?” What is a forest for?” “What does a forest produce for us?” As a culture we’ve gotten so uncomfortable with the ineffable, our meaning-making/sensing ability is mostly out of whack and will remain so as long as we only include hard data in any consideration.

    Meaning making is individual *and* collective. Don’t be afraid to write about it; hearing that meaningful communication happened between you and your place is *exactly* appropriate.

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