After 12 years in the Bay Area, I’ve decided it’s time for a break.
My current plan is to put stuff in storage, pack the truck and head north on June 24th. I’m targeting Southern Oregon. Its a nice midpoint between SF & Portland – two cities that I love and have lots of friends in, but it is also out of California proper and remote enough to feel far away. Actually its been more than twelve years – I’ve lived in the Bay Area since 1976 (with a 5 year hiatus in Santa Barbara for college) So I’ve been living here for 26 of my 36 years on this planet. That alone is reason to move!
I know that this may seem as a sudden shock to some of you; “How can this urban-party-hoppin-networking-multimedia-artist possibly survive deep in the woods?” Who knows?!? Its certainly an experiment. I really don’t know how I’m going to make this life shift. And there is a lot of sadness in leting go of that which is familiar to me – I will miss you my friends! However over the past six years, this intrepid explorer has been trying to reach escape velocity in my search for a life that feels sane. But for whatever reasons my spaceship has come smoking, skidding, crashing, back to this fair city by the sea. Allow me to explain a little about the planet I’m searching for.
I’ll start with the most esoteric reason first, because it really informs the rest, and if you only read a couple paragraphs, then at least I know you got the good stuff.
Reason #1: Sensitize Me
I’m seeking out a place where I can dive into a more intuitive-based way of existing. Natural Rhythms. Silence. Internal Visioning. Clean Healthy Living. I want to make some major changes in my mental, physical and emotional states.
All around me I am surrounded by logic, reason, intellect and the belief in technology. It is our current paradigm – one dominated by the scientific method and the hum of industrialization. I’ve done my best to accept that mode while developing creative paths – from performance, alternative technology, art festivals and really amazing counter-cultural revolutionary friends. But I’m still faced with a culture (especially here in the U.S.) that values the functional over the beautiful, intellect over reason, knowledge over questions, stasis over change. It feels stifling sometimes. Like this constant uphill battle.
I’m of the opinion that our full mental/emotional/physical faculties as human beings on this planet are stunted in the shadow of what we think we know. Our pre-conceived notions of consciousness and the ongoing application of meaning to our experience limits our abilities. Its like dancing inside of a cardboard box. Actually its like dancing inside a cardboard box with ten different radio stations blasting us from all sides – because the level of external information we have to put up with (advertising, emails, movies, small talk, sports, news etc.) is drowning out the subtler signals. Add to this symphony our own internal “important” thoughts (concerns for the future and judgments of the past) and its amazing that we can dance at all!
I also think that we underestimate the negative effect all these electronics and machinations have on our physical and psychic bodies. The technologies are so new, and there really hasn’t been enough honest research or time to evaluate the long-term effects. Microwave and Cell phone radiation penetrate our skulls 24/7. Motorized vehicles and industrial air conditioners keep us tuned into the energy of the matrix, such that we are losing track of the beating of our very own hearts! This was simply illustrated to me one very hung-over morning in a cafe, post Coachella Music Festival:
It’s 7am and I’m painfully slumped on the table, waiting for my life-renewing breakfast, and I noticed that my arms were shaking uncontrollably. While I cursed these shakes and my debaucherous self for causing them, I lifted my hands to my head… and noticed that the spoon, the napkin, the whole table was shaking! The entire building was transmitting vibrational motion from some unseen mechanism deep within it’s bowels. It wasn’t me that was really sick – it was the building itself and the social momentum that allows such things to exist. That was when I knew, from a very personal and intuitive place that I needed to get out of the city.
Reason #2: Civilization ain’t that civilized.
Pollution. Poverty. Crime. Traffic. Racism. Poor public transportation. Industrialized food. Wasteful packaging. Hostile Police. Uncaring City Govt. Jaded & Dis-empowered Populace. Expensive housing. Low wages. Disease. Stress. Ugly Buildings. Fear of anything new or different. Garbage. Cultural Vapidness. Distraction. Shoddy Schools. Propaganda. Political Corruption. War.I mean really now. The amount of crap that we put up with day in day out, in the name of Civilization, is absurd. As if this is the best we can do. As if this thing called “Civilization” is the best possible way to live. Nonsense! So I’m opting out for a moment. Get a different perspective. Read “Beyond Civilization- Humanities Next Great Adventure ” By Daniel Quinn for a more in depth explanation.Suffice it to say, one doesn’t have to physically leave “Civilization” to go beyond it. As a matter of fact, transforming our social and industrial structures together – everywhere – especially in the city, is crucial to the kind of conscious revolution that is actually occurring in big and small ways all over this planet. There is no “away,” we are ALL environmentalists, and the time is NOW to start making changes. I’m just ready to make a more radical life-syle shift. Just recycling isn’t good enough for me anymore.
Reason #3: Divest in the Negative, Invest in the positive.
Remember when people all over the world divested in South Africa because of the racial segregation that was occurring there? Now, I don’t know all the real political and social forces behind that massive change, but I do know that every dollar I spend on a Coca-Cola product is more money for the machine that is tearing apart this planet. In addition, a large portion of every dollar I earn is used to build government sponsored war machines that destroy people and families and ravage the environment.And don’t be fooled by all the cool “Organic” labeled products on your shelves now – a lot of these companies have been bought out by major corporations such as Heinz, Kraft, and Kelloggs. Coca-Cola purchased Odwalla in 2001 by the way. Industrialized food and globalization of the market are consuming precious resources and disconnecting us from local sustainably based economy.I want to start growing my own food, living “off-the-grid” and reducing the amount of crap I consume. I am responsible for curbing my addiction to all these destructive conveniences that I consume because I happen to have been born in a rich, bullying industrialized nation. And that’s been really hard to do, for me, while living in the midst of it. So I’m embarking on my own twelve-step program to face my addiction and remove the temptations. And I am formally protesting these unsustainable business by putting my money/energy/attention into something that seems basic and makes sense to me. This is my positive investment.
Reason #4: Economic Breakdown?
The world is running out of cheap oil. Geologists, activists and politicians around the globe are agreeing that we have or will very soon reach PEAK Oil production – which means that we are producing the peak amount of oil we have ever and will ever produce. Humans have been really good at finding and getting to this oil… and we’ve sucked it up and used it up quick – but now the remaining oil is harder to get to (it’s deeper in the ground, it’s thicker, its trapped in shale-rock), it’s more difficult to process and basically will only become more and more expensive to produce. We are not going to run out of oil – its just going to get more and more expensive. And I don’t just mean the price of gas.Our transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, medication and energy production is highly dependent on petroleum and natural gas (which is also getting scarce). Where do you think that Hydrogen comes from? Where does all that plastic packaging come from? What about the keyboard you’re typing on? How does your food stay cold and get delivered to the store? Where do commercial fertilizers come from? That lovely lavender hand lotion? Our dependence on petroleum is pervasive.Its a deadly addiction: Price of oil goes up – price of everything goes up. The potential impact this will have on all the limited budget people in this country is mind-blowing. And what about the impact this will have on our local and state governments as they try to allocate funds to repair roads, run hospitals, and employ millions of people?And the really sad thing is: Developing a new energy infrastructure takes energy to create and build, and the U.S. has squandered the cheap energy we’ve had. When we could have been building high speed rail, investing in wind, solar and geothermal, designing pedestrian and bicycle-friendly inner cities, creating a sustainable agricultural system we’ve been fighting for Oil in Iraq and burning up gas out of our tailpipes.I have no idea what this means for the future. There is certainly not enough farms in San Francisco to feed everyone. To me the writing is on the wall. Something has got to give. Is it going to be us? Or the system we depend on? Or both?
Reason #5: Stopping global warming and mass extinction of species requires people everywhere to do what they can to reduce their impact on the environment.
Humanity is facing a great environmental crisis. It’s no longer about saving the whales – its really about saving ourselves. And to save ourselves, we are going to have to save the whales, and the bees, and the spotted owl, and the thousands upon thousands of species that form the very intricate web of life that gives us a livable planet! So we are going to have to make some changes to how we live and do things if we are to see ourselves through to the other side. And it is possible! I’m willing and able to transition to a lifestyle that is based in sustainable practices. Growing one’s own food. Living off-the-grid of polluting electricity. The Do-It-Yourself production of tools and treasures. Generating simplicity and using less packaging & plastic. Creating culture rather than buying it. Permaculture.
Reason #5: I’ve always wanted to live on a farm.
Maybe it because my Swedish Grandfather had a farm where my mom was born, or my East Coast Italian Grandfather had a beautiful garden that he loved. There is something incredibly appealing to me about the layout and feeling of a lived on farm. I feel as if I’ve always known I would live on a farm at some point in my life, and I’d like to honor that feeling while I can still bend my knees and swing a hammer.
Reason #6: In Sickness and in Health?
My health is not what it was. Migraines. Chemical Sensitivities. Low energy. Apathy. Maybe I’m just getting older. Or maybe I’ve smoked to many cigarettes and drank too much coffee. Or maybe I’ve inhaled to much pollution and absorbed too many toxins from this chemical soup we call “air.” I really don’t know. But I feel like if I don’t move to a healthier environment than I’m just going to get worse – its that downward spiral.
So I’m asking that this move be a protest and a vote for a healthier, more ethical life for myself. So I can heal and grow and clear my head to begin the clean-up. ‘Cause we ARE going to clean up this mess. And our children will and their children too. It’s going to take a while but the sooner we get on it…..It’s been a great party. But its that time of the night… Maybe its the caterer/chef in me… but I just happen to be that eager beaver who, when it’s time for all the roomies to clean up the house, is the first to tackle that nasty pile of dirty dishes, and before others have finished grumbling and tying their boots, I’m already drying off the counters and whistling Stevie Wonder.
You see it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. But it is going to take some changes and some work. Read Paul Hawken’s new book: “Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement In the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw it Coming” We really are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Namaste,Thomas Willy Sepe