What the Hell Am I Doing Here?
I’m trying to stop asking that question — Chapter 2
I have asked myself that question probably a thousand times since moving here six years ago. Actually, it is probably well over a thousand times. But in recent months I have made a conscious effort to stop asking that question. I have found, though, that occasionally when I am not fully conscious and alert the question will suddenly pop into my noggin.
So where is here? I am currently living in a small town on the Great Plains of Turtle Island. For those not familiar with Native American vernacular, ‘Turtle Island’ is the name given to the continent that non-natives call North America. The Great Plains is a region of endless grassy prairie located in the very center of the continent and is considered by some to be the heart of the continent.
The region used to be populated by millions of bison and thousands of native peoples whose spirituality was nature-based. Instead of prairie grass, the region is now covered with endless corn fields and populated with millions of white, bible-thumping Republicans.
So what the hell am I doing here? I am not a Christian, I am most emphatically not a Republican and, since moving here and witnessing the toxic chemical-based mono-culture industrial agriculture that is so prevalent here, I no longer eat corn or corn-based food products. I simply do not fit here. I am a minority of one. It is exceedingly difficult to feel ‘at home’ among the other humans here (nature is a different story I hope to get to in subsequent episodes).
For most of my life I have lived near or on mountains. I consider being able to see mountains from where I live to be a crucial component of life, much like having air to breathe. Being on the Great Plains is a lot like being in a little raft out in the middle of the ocean with 360 degrees of identical horizon. It’s scary.
Before moving to the Great Plains six years ago I had lived high up in the mountains of Colorado for 18 years. There it was impossible to be out of doors and not see mountains. Before Colorado I lived in New Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, and a few places in Europe. Not all of those places have mountains but most of those that didn’t at least had some hills. There are not even any hills here.
But I am not just a mountain freak. I also have a very deep love of the beach. Every astrologer who has ever seen my chart immediately said that it was imperative that I live near the ocean. But where I live now is farther away from any ocean than just about any place on Turtle Island. Mountains and ocean — the two elements that sustain me — are no where to be found.
There is another element that I deem crucial to life that cannot be found here and that is cultural diversity. Having lived in places like Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Heidelberg, the Puget Sound area, Baltimore, Dallas, and even the ultra-progressive town in Colorado where I lived, I grew accustomed to cultural diversity. It seemed so very natural and I did not realize how much I loved it until I moved here where there is none.
Of the approximately 8,500 people who live in this cornfield-surrounded town 99.3% are white. I happen to be mostly white myself but I need to be around people of color in order to feel fully human. I really, really miss black people (there are only 7 here, 3 of which are star athletes at the local community college). I really, really miss Oriental people (there are only 4 here; the family that runs the local Chinese restaurant). I also miss Hispanic people. While they make up the bulk of the .7% of non-whites, I don’t see them much anymore. They all seem to have gone into hiding ever since Donald Trump became so popular. There are also no Muslims here and that is very, very sad. And there are also no Native Americans here despite the fact that this place used to be their home.
So what the hell am I doing here? Well, I could answer that a few different ways, none of which fully satisfy the question for me.
For instance, I could go into the left-half of my brain and try to answer the question with logic and reasoning and ‘common sense.’ You see, my daughter and her husband moved here to this town seven years ago and have had two children in their time here. Six years ago I was in a frame of mind where I just had to get the hell out of the Colorado town where I had been living for 18 years. I was in desperate need of a vibratory change of scenery but I had little money at the time and I just could not decide on where I wanted to move.
When my daughter suggested that I move to this town, that she would put me up until I found a place to live and a job, I thought, “What the hell? Why not.” Normally, I try to put as much distance as I can from those biologically related to me but my daughter is different. After all, I spent five years as a full-time stay-at-home mother when she was little and remained attached in a motherly way to her ever since. Even though I am male, I learned that once you become someone’s mother you develop a special bond with them that goes beyond mere genetics. And then there are those two delightful granddaughters (aged 3 and 6). My weekly play-date with them is an important part of my life (and theirs).
When I first moved here I told myself, “Okay, one or two years here…. just until I figure out where I really want to live.” While family was a good enough reason to move here, it is not good enough of a reason to stay. One can always visit family. One doesn’t need to live eleven blocks away. So now it has been six years and I am still here.
I could also go into the astrology portion of my brain looking for answers to my nagging question. From an astro-cartography reading I once commissioned I learned that my Mars line runs straight through this little corn-infested town. Since I am an Aries, which is ruled by Mars, this little podunk town is actually a power spot for me. Considering that I have written and published three novels, a collection of short stories and a couple of non-fiction books in the six years I have been here, I have to agree with that astrological assessment. I may not be happy with my geographic location but I have actually been more productive with my writing here than anywhere else that I have lived.
But the astrology points to even deeper things. You see, one of my ‘previous’ past-lives was as a Lakota warrior who lived on the Great Plains at the time of the white man invasion. My daughter in this life was also my daughter in that Native American life, except in that previous life she died around the age of six. She died from one of the white man’s diseases that were introduced to the region. In that life I was so enraged by this that I joined the war against the white man and over the course of that life I killed hundreds of white men!
So now in this life I am a white man living in an almost totally white town. How’s that for karmic justice? That is how karma often works. By moving here I have given myself the opportunity to be in roughly the same place except on the opposite side of the fence, so to speak. Being here allows me to face and heal the karma that I developed from the hatred of Christianity and white people that I expressed over a hundred and fifty years ago. It makes me extremely wary of expressing any hate in this life. After all, we eventually become that which we hate.
So I am here because of family, because of powerful energy dynamics, and because of karma. But I am also here because of dharma. My chosen life path — which I chose before ever entering this life — is, like all life paths, something that needs to be tested and challenged in order to be fully realized and polished. I should be able to follow my life path in any situation and under any circumstance and the most challenging situations are the ones that strengthen the integrity of that path. I could live in an elite writer’s community surrounded by mountains and ocean and people I can actually relate to and that won’t make me a better writer than living in a forlorn outpost of civilization in a stark and hostile environment where I am alone; a stranger in a strange land.
So I can look at my conundrum from a variety of angles and the answer always seems to be that I am in the perfect place. The fact that I am still not entirely happy about it shows that I still have unresolved issues and karma that I need to address. I still miss the mountains and the ocean and the social attributes that are missing here and to which I affix to my mental concept of a paradise that is unknown and somewhere other than where I am. If home is where the heart is, I’m still not there yet.
Copyright by White Feather. All Rights Reserved. Thanks for reading.
Pedro, a short story about an artist searching for faces