Madly Singing in the Mountains.
One Wonderful Life
Writing a blog for my website is a lot harder than I thought it would be. You start out wanting to share something of your own experience of life and find that your life is completely enmeshed with the lives of other people, And you don’t want to implicate some unsuspecting friend or relative in your possibly weird or unusual experiences. Neither do you want to embarrass your children, which I am delighted to say is getting more difficult. And then there are always my lovely Christian friends who are likely to come to all manner of conclusions ranging from not being at all surprised to being rather shocked, depending on how well they know me. Honestly, I think that if everyone’s life were laid out for inspection we would be both shocked and delighted at what we found lurking behind the well managed image we present to the world.
So here I am in Spain, with the words of one friend ringing in my ears, “Tell people you are going with a friend or they will think you are having marriage problems!” As if having marriage problems is the absolute worst thing I could possibly have! I AM having life problems, or not exactly life problems but something more akin to uncertainties. That sounds much less grave, except when you have built the foundations of your life on these certainties. Certainties ranging from the existence of God to what are the best ways of being human. Concerning the last topic, I and many of my friends think that we live very upright, responsible lives.
In Orgiva, Spain, where I am staying there is a community called Benefício. It is a small village that nestles in a small river valley and has a Rivendell feel about it. It is co-owned by many of the residents and within it there are small businesses, including a shop, bakeries, free range eggs and cheese making. They have shared facilities like composting loos, sports area, large tipi, and outdoor kitchen. There is no electricity or plumbed water. This comes from a mountain stream and electricity, if you want it must be generated by solar panels. The children are like healthy ferrets, running about covered in freckles with very very bright eyes. These people hardly leave a footprint on the earth and they turn up on market day in Orgiva. You know they are from Beneficio because their clothes are often very worn out, they have unkempt hair, they might not smell of persil, they are strong and walk with animal grace. But if you met them in the street of Cambridge, you would likely disregard them.
Drop outs is what they are. They have dropped out of polluting the atmosphere with their cars, from contributing to landfills, from filling their houses with goods they want but don’t need, indeed from nearly all of the destructive practices that the rest of us in the affluent west are engaged in and would defend with all the democratic vigour of people who feel entitled. So if god exists, would he/she prefer a person from Beneficio, or someone who likes to have the correct religious credentials to earn them eternal life while defending the capitalist rights that sustain the annihilation of other species and destroy the planet? An interesting question that leads me straight to the conclusions that NO WAY could I live like those good folk of Beneficio. Maybe if I was 20 but not now. So what can I do or not do? Plenty, but that’s written about in much more creative ways than I can do here. What we mustn’t do is nothing. And I do know that’s a double negative but honestly I think it deserves it. What are we waiting for? Someone or some government to rescue us and impose green policies on us? We don’t vote for them. Not only that, we won’t clean up our own shit until that country over there clears up theirs. The first will be first and the last will be last.
But how to live more simply in a complex and competitive world that is hardly fit for humans any more? Many people are doing jobs they hate for far too many hours in order to provide goods that other people don’t really need. And I ask myself, why do we continue to live like this? I have taken a sideways step because I feel I am failing at everything I do. Not that it doesn’t look good on the outside, but inside I feel raw and empty and I feel like a loser. Don’t consider patting me. I am glad to be here. I am beginning to understand that I want to be accepted as a human being, not because of what I do or achieve but simply because of who I am. This is the message that Christianity, the religion that has formed much of the thinking in the west should be teaching surely? That we must become losers, have little, be simple, not laud our achievements, even be despised and rejected….Now there’s a thought. Instead we learn to run and many of us keep running right to the end of our lives to keep the plates of achievement and success in the air. But we are worth so much more than life on a treadmill. We are glorious and wonderful and creative and deeply lovable but most of us have forgotten that we only have one wonderful life….what will we do with it?