by John Wolfstone
The series is written in support of the Kickstarter campaign LOVE SCHOOL— examining new models of love in community for the 21st century. Please watch the pitch and contribute.
Read Part 1: This is How She Broke Me
“Heartbreak sucks — but it’s wonderful.”
An old friend had given me these words after watching me pour out my sorrow and pain in poetry onstage. Once planted in my mind, this paradox sprouted a garden of cognitive dissonance as I began to question all of my assumptions about love. My journal from the months following my break-up clearly tracks my psychological evolution as I waded through the paradox.
September 12, 2010
I am bound as a slave to an ideal of love that is, and perhaps always was, too good to be true. I gave my purpose to another. This is perhaps the most villainous crime a man can perpetuate against his soul.
October 5, 2010
When I looked at her sexy, beautiful photo on Facebook today, a rush of sadness, heartbreak, and separation fell over me. Why? It only comes from a wanting to possess her; an idea that ‘she is the answer to a question that is me.’
October 28, 2010
Love is freedom. Perhaps Samantha cultivated the most courage of her life to break up with me. Love is freedom. Samantha’s action — to kill our current form of relating — was the most loving act she has ever done for me; love of a truly higher order.
November 19, 2010
Love is a story told in the West that supports our mentality of fear and scarcity. Love is infinite, but our story is that love is finite — a scarce resource to be grasped at and be afraid of. Fear is the opposite of love, and this fear created the nuclear family — which is so different from every other culture’s form. The nuclear family is dependency and attachment and closes one off from community — community is where love as an infinite resource is realized — where everyone supports you!
December 2, 2010
We need to tell, live and create new stories of love.
(Between these two entries, I moved to San Francisco on what felt like a whim. I left college a semester before I was to graduate — although I finished online — and moved to the Bay with a friend who was also fleeing from a Humboldt heartbreak. We arrived knowing no one, with no jobs and no plans; just the hope that a new place would offer us answers.)
January 5, 2011
Here I sit — a whole world in front of me. The calm before the currents churn, tossing me to depths unknown. I am somewhere between a Mexican romance and a Humboldt heartbreak — and neither tequila nor cannabis will absolve me of the future.
I consent. The days can pull and tug, the nights howl and echo, and in it all I can fight to swim upriver, or I can seize the current. Becoming a man is more about accepting your life than changing it. To be of service one must be responsible, and to be responsible one must consent to one’s life. I choose this life, and when I no longer consent — I will leave.
February 12, 2011
This is a crossroads in my life right now. I can make payments to one of two masters.
I choose truth.
* * *
Despite the seemingly positive outlooks from my journal in early 2011, my brokenness was not easing; it deepened. Shortly after moving to San Francisco I was in a terrible bicycle accident that demolished my right clavicle. Maybe I wasn’t understanding the point of my anguish, so life, the coyote that she is, dished up a good dose of physical brokenness to ensure I really felt it.
I was bedridden for weeks and the break dashed all hopes of starting a career as a performance artist and dancer (which I had been studying in college). In addition, I was unable to bike, unable to drive, and unable to find a job. Having just signed a lease for $1,000/month rent, I was going broke, and fast. What had been churning in me as the “heartbreak blues” now spiraled into full-on depression.
It was then, in the depths of darkness, that I realized with much wider eyes what was really happening to me.
This brokenness — my heart, my body, my life — was a rite of passage, an initiation into a much larger and more meaningful story. If I could see it as such.
Following this realization, I spent the last of my cash on a DSLR camera and began, from the edge of my bed and newfound disability, to explore and create using this new medium. With my camera I began to dream; of telling stories from the edges of a new culture, one that I had just barely begun to touch from my various travels and avant-garde expeditions.
To describe my work, I invented the verb, “to ReCulture”: that is, to ReImagine, ReCreate and ReNew what a healthy, sustainable culture could be. I saw this idea as the nexus of my future work, and along with pursuing various small projects, I hatched the larger idea of making a documentary under the same name.
After a long summer road trip up the West Coast, where I shot nearly two terabytes of interviews, I failed (like most beginners do) to ever touch, much less edit, that footage.
* * *
Despite my initial failed attempt at making the documentary, my new life in San Francisco kept moving at incredible speed. In October of 2011 I moved into an Art Collective in the center of the city and began to land an increasing number of small film gigs — I even started a digital media program at an inner-city middle school.
Then in the spring of 2012 at a conference in San Francisco, I met one of my cultural heroes: avant-garde author Daniel Pinchbeck. Pinchbeck — through his counter-cultural writings and persona (who many, including Rolling Stone Magazine, compared to Ken Kesey) — was a huge influence on my decision to originally leave college in 2006 and travel through Latin America.
Thus, Pinchbeck loomed larger than life in my mind, but despite the star-struck vertigo churning in my belly I drummed up the courage and asked him if I could do an interview. He agreed, and that night I sat him down for a two-hour interview in the converted chapel of our art collective (which was housed in an old convent).
The first question I asked Pinchbeck, who hadn’t published a book in five years, was what he had been doing instead of writing.
After a few mentions of his recent digital-media projects, he began a soliloquy about Tamera, a “peace eco-village” in Portugal that, as he explained, “had developed new social technologies to liberate love.”
“[Tamera] recognized about 30 years ago that the main failure of the left and the radical movements to attain traction actually went back to these issues of sexuality, jealousy, envy, competitiveness and vanity, and that they needed to address these as the core political issues [of their project].
[Tamera] was a different attitude toward love. I mean, the model we basically have in our society is [that] love involves often possessing somebody and seeking to control their impulses, thoughts and desires. And as [Tamera] points out — that doesn’t make any sense — love is the opposite, love is actually endless capacity to share and to give. So to them, that [our dominant society’s] deformation in our understanding of love is the core issue having negative ramifications through the whole social and technological world.”
I had never heard anything like what he was speaking about, but upon hearing his words, I felt the same awkward weight in my bones as when Iris exclaimed, “How wonderful. You have a broken heart.” It was not only the physical sensation of having had first contact with a long unexamined truth — it also felt eerily like déjà-vu.
There I sat, in an old dusty San Francisco convent-turned-art-collective (Ken Kesey would be proud), with one of my cultural heroes and herald to my life adventures (his writing, years earlier, had beckoned me to Central America at age 19), discussing his ideas for the social foundations of a new culture, which he discovered in an across-the-Atlantic (and at that point in my mind, mythologized) village, Tamera.
Tamera. Was this another call to adventure? A whisper of a previously veiled destiny?
Soon after that evening, I was swallowed again by the routine of daily life, forgetting all about Pinchbeck, the interview and Tamera.
Fifteen months later, as I followed the ache of my soul to know its earthly purpose and left behind the previous seven years in California, I did not fathom that the coming journey of over 15,000 miles, would end, through extraordinary circumstances, at Tamera.
This essay is written in support of the Kickstarter campaign LOVE SCHOOL — examining new models of love in community for the 21st century. Please watch the pitch and contribute! Camaignn ends August 12, 2019.