Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thoughts From Catching Up With An Old Friend

I just got off the phone with a close friend of mine from the end of high school and the first few years of college. We haven't spoken in some time, he's been married and is now divorced with a young daughter, but his is one of those voices that I think will always make me smile and bring back fond memories. But speaking with him also reminded me of how far I have drifted from the "expected" path, from the fairly typical path taken by someone of my generation in my location in the world. And it reminded me of how crazy I think that "expected" path is making people.

The lyrics of the song "Suspicious Minds" keep coming to mind, voiced by Dwight Yoakam in my head, "Caught in a trap, Can't walk out...".

Nearly all of my closest friends have succumbed to the modern western trap. I guess it should not even be called western anymore, since our style of insider capitalism has spread throughout most of the world. But I digress.

It pains me to see so many of those who have been close to me, so deeply attached to an unnatural corporate/industrial existence. They are programmed by their televisions and the billboards that are nearly unavoidable. They are jaded parents, passing on their habits (usually concentrated) to their children, guiding them right into their own little cages (complete with exercise wheel!). They mean well for the most part, yet it is too easy to remain asleep, to ignore the fact that they are constantly driven to commodify every aspect of life, down to the very basic needs.

And then there is the fact that "the system" is set up to punish those who refuse to take the bait, who refuse to stay in their cage. Certainly anti-social behavior, especially that which is inherently harmful or destructive, should be dealt with but we have obviously reached the point of ridiculousness. Anyone following the tribulations of the Ontario farmer who makes raw milk available to those who want it must surely agree that this point has been reached.

And if we have reached that point, perhaps we have already begun the long slow swing back towards common sense and balance. People ARE returning the land, perhaps at a more sustainable pace than was seen during the 70's. It is my hope that this will continue and even increase; that we will explore ways to use permacultural type techniques in order to allow a higher density rural population all the while managing impact on nature.

I sure hope that some of these dear friends of mine are able to find the strength make some of these priority shifts. I wonder if that is overly selfish of me.


linda said...

I don't think its selfish to wish the best for others. Isn't that all you really want?
I also struggle with friends who for the life of them, cannot understand why we bought a small farm! Some are just proud becuase we bought it for a good price and they are evaluating the return we can get if real estate stabilized again. They say, "but you're too much of a city girl!" And ask, "Is it close to any large cities so you can have the best of both worlds?"
Missing the point completely.
And these are my "enlightened" friends from my S.F childhood, very green upbringing and education out there in our childhood!!!!!
I don't know what to say other than you are not alone. We are a minority. One day, we may not be but for now, think of yourself as a forerunner who is paving the way for others:)

Anna said...

I know exactly what you mean! Most of my college friends are off in mainstream America, and we have so little in common now. A friend of a friend asked me a couple of years ago what I was so afraid of that I had to move back to the land --- he couldn't seem to entertain the notion that someone would want to homestead for the love of it rather than through fear of some apocalypse.

It sure does help to stay out of the mainstream by getting rid of the TV...

Aimee said...

This was an interesting and timely post for me. I spent this past weekend visiting an old friend, too - and she's a very bright, thoughtful, independent, and creative individual, but nonetheless she has followed a much more conventional path than I have. We sort of got into a small argument about the merits of a traditional four-year degree versus forging a unique educational path...

I ended up thinking and feeling that I was the one who had drifted quite far from the mainstream, and questioning my choices - have I surrendered my right to influence society? Have I given up on the belief in communal democracy? Am I giving up by dropping out of the system? Will the world move on without me?

On the other hand, I feel so much freer.

Can't finish this thought- husband wants the computer. Later

Jerry said...

Thanks Linda, that's just what I try to do! Just gets rather lonely.

Anna, I often think of getting rid of my satellite account but I just can't part with hockey through the long winter...

Aimee, I sure as hell don't feel as though I am surrendering my influence over society. Actually, I'm demanding my right to it, I feel. I think we all are.

Thank you all three for the thoughtful comments and sharing.

MoonRaven said...

I also hope that some of your friends are able to find the strength to make priority shifts. As Linda said, it isn't selfish to wish the best for others. And I know, in fact most of those who read this blog and my blog and similar blogs know, that not only is it hard to pull out of the capitalist/consumerist/industrial trance, but the full force of society is weighed against it. We who have are marginalized.

May you get some strong support for all you do--and maybe, as things get rougher, some of your friends will look to the way that you live and have some second thoughts about the ways that they live.

I'm sorry I've been absent from your blog a while, but I too have been busy...

Keep writing this good stuff and keep doing all the good things that you do.