The Journey of No Excuses
I left domesticity the day after my 25th birthday, on Christmas Eve.
Since moving to Golden Bay, aside from a couple weeks of wwoofing in January, I lived in my little green tent for just over two months. This was made possible because there’s a controversial anarchist-manifested ‘free campsite’ right in Takaka town, next to the river, where beautiful creatures from all over the world (Japan, Israel, Holland, Costa Rica, Italy, Germany, Dunedin, Argentina, France…) path-whacked and cleared spaces in the riparian bush to plant tents, weaving shelters and a communal lounge from bamboo & harakeke, building ovens with stones & mud and playing didge around one of the many bonfires every night.
Right after Luminate, in mid-February, it was like being at another (albeit spontaneous) festival; around 400 people congregated amongst stacks of vans and house trucks scattered all through the poi-lit driveway and carpark, nudie bathers basking on thrones made from river stones, poems being shared over dumpster dived dinner. The colourful housetruck named Van Gogh would often crank the psy-trance, triphop and trap til 6am but I was fortunate to land myself a wee nook away from, yet in the middle of, the action. I could still maintain a job on the side and feel my own energy.
I came to Golden Bay after taking a Permaculture Design Course here in November last year, intending to discover how to break free from the diseases of modern western economy and government, which seemed pretty freakin ‘the thing’ here in Golden Bay; I felt I would be more likely to find mentorship here than in Wellington.
The manifestation of this river tribe is a wonderful example of evolution through experimentation but I ultimately moved here to connect with those in the field of permaculture.
I guess I’m on a global mission for cultural healing.
This starts with our relationship to the soil, our food and our bodies.
It extends to the way we organise human activity on local, regional, national and global levels.
It affects ourselves, the future generations, the animals and plants coexisting on the home planet and the health of the planet as a whole living system.
While I believe we aren’t going to make a lasting dent in the fabric of our social ails without humour and dance, I didn’t see how participating in the liquid poison culture was going to bring forth change, so I spent more time adhering to a sleep schedule and meditating on the riverbank.
I also picked up a bell drum in Nelson, who gave me its own name; Kōtuku. The first day of our partnership, I started to see internal visions of a bird and wondered to myself, ‘what bird is this? does it have a māori name? what am I going to name the bell drum?’. I looked for a book on native birds at the market. I couldn’t find the answer externally.
As Olivia and I drove back to the free campsite in Nelson, Baigent Reserve, I held the bell drum on my lap and felt its energy. I asked, what is your name?
Instantly the word Kōtuku came into my field of awareness. I did a 3G google search and had to try a few spelling variations first because this was not a word I knew. Imagine my elation when the bird I’d been seeing in my vision came up in google images! I didn’t even know it was a white heron.
Since the maker of these drums casually suggested it, and since I’ve discovered a clear channel of connection with this instrument, I’ve experimented with performing some healing work using its resonance.
This seems to involve connecting the spirit of the drum with that of the individual and liaising between them with the flow of musical information that passes through me.
It’s been a big lesson in stillness, listening and enlisting.
I’m working on my sensitivity and sensibility.
It’s also useful to busk up some income while I’m travelling lol.
While living at the river I’ve explored issues of local/regional responsibilities, clean waterways, human waste, the creation of excess litter through consumerism and the management of landfill activity, anarchist values (freedom comes at the cost of responsibility), natural construction, community resilience and free wifi. Part of me feels called to work in disaster relief one day, so this was a great opportunity to explore, in a safe environment, what it takes to be self or community reliant to attain basic needs like warmth, shelter and hygiene.
But still, I wanted to be somewhere with hands on opportunities to develop my farm life skills. And the coldness was settling in.
I came to Tui Community on April 6th, with the commitment of 5 days wwoofing work. Since then I’ve been passed on to two other Tui households and bonded with the Kaimahi/interns who arrived two weeks ago, one of whom I had met at Luminate already. This really homed me.
The friend I refer to recommended I attend one of their workshops — as part of the 6-week internship, Kaimahi are given opportunities for learning and self development. Checking that this was fine with the facilitator, I found myself exploring energy and connection in ‘Superpowers Part 1’.
Now, I’m not a newbie to the theme of human potential beyond skeptics’ stifling limitations of what’s proven/provable. By nature I love to challenge ideas and open up possibilities that often surpass our imagination; the more you allow yourself to explore, the more able you feel.
It’s very empowering to gain this experiential awareness, and it’s important to have good grounding exercises and critical thinking to hold you tru 2 u.
But it’s not often you find this consensus in a room of 7 adults and I was delighted to explore these themes with some kaumatua guidance for once.
During the well rounded workshop, we practiced an exercise in feeling the energy of a partner while moving together. Even though the group was small, caring and non-threatening, I felt a bit of social anxiety arise.
How, with all I’ve been through, am I still holding this uncertainty when it comes to human interaction and the potential of (respectful) touch?
My answer is that these are broad, whole-life challenges; I can’t expect to be over it for good, at any time. But I do need a structure to work through the fears that arise, because any time we guard ourselves, put boundaries around our comfort zone and protect our vulnerable softness, we are in fact imprisoning ourselves; limiting our potential to connect and expand.
This wasn’t the only significant theme that has arisen from my time at Tui.
Every Tuesday night there is a community meal. Nothing is mandatory so not everyone will come but there is a general framework here, to give the community a sense of togetherness. Following the meal, there is always a type of meeting in the adjacent room of the community house. My first Tuesday night happened to be the night of the heart sharing.
What arose that night was the question of human fragility; facing our own mortality as well as the extinction of our species.
The night before this I was watching BBC Planet Earth: The Future (2006).
Seeing all these animal species being lost or at least threatened by the change in climate, land ownership and a number of other ecological factors, I started to wonder how on earth we have time left.
What dawned on me is that it looked like we were at the very edge a whopping ten years ago.
Surely, it is only by love and by grace that we are given each new day, only by a cosmic care that we still have such security and peace (or the chance to create it in our lives) here in our cosy corner of the world. It inspired me to use this time as effectively as possible by equipping myself with nonphysical tools, knowledge and skills that will be with me in any situation, whatever else I may have to leave behind with no notice. There is this kooky weird relationship between love and fear, or more specifically their offspring gratitude and challenge, in which I have found a depth of solace, motivation and inspiration. Especially while exploring Joanna Macy’s work.
If I dive into my fears, I find the chance for liberation.
I shake off the numbness that has grown like lichen over my heart while it’s been healing. I break down the walls that I erected to protect myself, and I can become vulnerable… strong. Open and truly free to expand. Blessed in my heightened senses, obsessed by fragrances and texture, art and music.
This is perhaps an old rhetoric but the point is, it’s rude to deprive yourself from the challenges that will strengthen you.
Especially right now when the earth needs warriors, not armchair critics.
If I dive into gratitude, I am continually renewed with purpose.
My love for life, my fondness for the planet will remain as a motivation even after the real pressure settles in. Since becoming more aware and active, I haven’t ‘surrendered’ luxury and comfort; I have simply found luxury in the new friendships formed (you attract the most rad people in this line of ‘work’/mindful change!) and I’ve found comfort in my own abilities.
Like the light in the darkness, the salt in the wounds; acknowledging my fear has freed me and brought forth waves of truth, beauty and healing.
“Staring in the face of fear gave me a mission,
Staring in the face of love gave me a reason.”
If you chase what is easy or convenient, you will end up with lethargy and stagnation.
If you chase what you know to be right —even though it’s the scary and difficult path — you will find yourself on a journey with many sights, allies, miracles and spiritual development.
So, here’s your invitation to follow me! Not like online (you can if you want) but off the line and into the sphere, out in the RL world which has been abandoned by the technological revolution, the world which still grows feijoas and kiekie and frangipani, the world which is full of E Coli and plastic particles, poverty and disease, inequality and extinction, chaos and terror.
Follow me on the journey of discovery.
It hurts, but in that good way. It is the only way to become whole.