Monday, 3 May 2010

Home in community

Home. The word has some major emphasis and connotations. I know I am glad to be here. I haven't lived here for long but it is home. After so many years of flirting with the idea of community, I finally commit and join.

I recall as a child determining that Vancouver Island where where I wished to live. After a few years of attempting to make it work in the city I jumped (almost literally) onto my grandparents farm and instantly was home. This was where I raised my children, learned about gardening and explored the meaning of life. Some of my first lessons in permaculture I suppose, although those lessons start at birth, I became aware of the affects of my actions on the environment seasonally and longer term. My son's mother left, a profound lesson in relationship. And that is ongoing study.

Here and now there are more relationships. At least more obvious to me. First with the land itself, Vancouver Island has a tremendous amount of diversity. New Zealand stimulated me, teased and flirted with me.I was enraptured and awestruck, seduced one might say (how is THIS like my life?) and yet there was something missing for me, like I was out of step with the marching band. As much as I loved it there, it never felt like home. The sense I have is, the air and smells are familiar, having spent most of my life here, the land, the country knows me the way I know it. And nothing to do with nationalism or politics. I loved both the Qu'appele Valley in Saskatchewan and Bryce Canyon in Utah too, but I wouldn't want to live there.

The people here are on a similar wavelength, although I recognize the bubble I choose to live in, there are no shortage of folks who I have large differences with in respect to diet, lifestyle, and spiritual beliefs. Witness the shopping carts full of not one item I would choose to consume, generally. Don't get me started on the media at the checkouts! Of course both countries have that to deal with, although there are differences, I spent NO time perusing the tabloids, just the usual exposure to the covers, pictures and headlines.

I continue to puzzle over the subtleties of life in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and rural New Zealand. I have no real understanding of the psyche of the NZ male and less of the women, not that I would pretend to understand the psyche of women in general anywhere. I felt so welcomed by the folks I stayed with, the experience of hospitality I received was almost overwhelming and yet there was something about the way people related to me that I found disconcerting. Maybe my sense of self importance got in the way? It was like at times that I was irrelevant. I suppose I could look at it that folks just accepted me for who and what I was/am. Which is fine... I didn't get any sense though, that I was included or part of what was happening. The travelers dilemma I guess. This is beginning to sound fairly arrogant, like I could, in three months, sum up the psyche of a nation that took 700 years to form? The Maori are as deep an influence on the transformation of the country now as the Brits have been and my contact with them was extremely limited. One man told me, in reference to knowing the people and the work I do, to connect with my indigenous brothers at home.

I recognize how important it is to honour the first peoples, that there is a connection to the land inherent in those who are less caught up in the hubris of western civilization. The flotsam and jetsam of our cultural heritage continues to suck me into a state of possession and obsession with the material. Every time I go into my storage locker I enter an altered state. Like what do I do with all this important, relevant ....stuff? Obviously don't need it or I would bring it home and use it! Of course all the camping equipment comes in handy in the summer and there is nowhere here to store my kayak...... and on and on.

The transition back into my life has been not without it's challenges, to reuse an oft repeated phrase. The change from driving daily without a strict agenda to an enforced schedule brought up some resistance at first, but I do love what I do. I also loved the novelty of not knowing what was around the next corner, the freedom of choice to stay or go and the variety of landscape that continues to stimulate my sense of adventure. New acquaintances, folks met and remembered. Here I have a group of people who appreciate my gifts and talents, individuals who love and cherish my contributions. This is a place of sanctuary (the van never quite got there) with a real sense of participation in what happens to the land.

Writing this out I get that how I relate/interface/participate in the actual earth of a place is probably the biggest piece of what home is to me.

So here I am back in Canada, on Vancouver Island living at O.U.R. EcoVillage working in an Elementary school 45 minutes drive from here. I also continue to attend and support two Dads groups one in Nanaimo and one in Duncan. I am considering working in the kitchen here as a relief for the regular cooks and there are the daily responsibilities of living in community that I have agreed to maintain. I feel enriched, fulfilled and purposeful. What I do has an impact on the lives of all around me. And it is not about being a star or even getting acknowledgment. I do all this because it feels good to me, there is a sense of it needing to be done and I am enjoying providing the service, the experience and learning in the process. The paychecks help too.

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