What a difference a day makes

16 April, 2006 Easter Sunday

We have been experiencing so much in such a short time span. Is it only 6 weeks since we left San Francisco? And so much has happened. Sorry that I keep saying that. You would think that if so much was happening I would be able to write something different! And yet this blog also serves to keep one part of my brain talking to another part, and these brain things need some unifying themes since they aren’t so smart, really, and need to be told things again and again.

Normally I’ve been telling myself to slow down. Pacing! Pacing is not statis, however, pacing is still forward motion, just at a =sustainable= rate. I think this past week it felt like I was not making forward motion even though I obviously was. There were some emotional blocks there, I think. Today a big log jammed loosened and I feel like I am once again making progress.

Today was the first time I spoke on the phone to anyone in the US. The occasion was necessitated by my earlier mentioned problem with my burning man storage in San Francisco—the idiots running it had given short notice that it was all to come to an end, with me here in New Zealand unable to physically do anything about it.

I’ve written about the surprising generosity of the Kiwis, but not to be shortchanged is the astounding generosity of my friends in San Francisco. Two of them this afternoon spent several hours sorting through a huge pile of very dirty crap with me on the phone telling them what to move to another storage unit across town, sourced by one of them, and what to leave for trash.

“Dirty” does not begin to explain the state of things that have been on the playa, especially things exposed for several years running. The extremely fine dust sticks to everything, and the extraordinarily alkaline qualities of it inflame all human tissues and make it almost impossible to be rid of. They dealt with piles and piles of this shit, stuff worth far less than the money spent on storage, but somehow worth all this effort, if only because it would be so impossible to duplicate it. Stuff created in part by the gift economy, stuff not available in stores, stuff that takes a bit of space to fabricate, stuff that would make all the difference between barbaric suffering and playa plushness. I cannot express enough thanks.

I was left in an incredibly emotional state after this, a raw and open state of love and gratitude which was far more grounding than the week of working on my new sort of permanent home in Christchurch.

At various points in my process of deciding, and then trying, and then moving to New Zealand I have been an obnoxious advocate of getting my close friends to move here as well. I like to think I heard a word or two of oblique encouragement in the discussion centered mostly on my dusty burning man crap.

And then an hour and a half later Kathy and I went to the airport to pick up another close friend, the one most “New Zealand curious.” He will be staying with us until mid-June. An individual of such positivity and puissance that, once again, I am shaken and moved by the gift of his presence.

Something still and maybe always difficult for Kathy and I to deal with is the influence of others. I am a stone cold introvert who has intellectualized his way to understanding the benefits of other human beings. My dislike for feeling responsibility for other beings has at times been perhaps a bit pathological. Accepting no favors or gifts meant I didn’t owe anyone anything.

Kathy is maybe 50% intro and 50% extrovert. We are both serious planners; we both require a lot of time to ourselves. In some environments, like San Francisco, that means fighting to make a private space for oneself. That is our habit. In the country perhaps it is different, and one must instead work to bring people closer. Still, WWOOFing for us was in some ways difficult because at the end of the day we want to be in charge of our own time, even over the short time span of a few days under the most benevolent of regimes.

For our friend to be here, we thought, would be a wonderful treat and yet a diversion of our energies on our path of rebirth, but at the end of the day how could we say no to such a wonderful person to whom we had so relentlessly pitched New Zealand? We were wrong. His presence here, my connections with my friends doing me such a big favor are not diversions, they are essential lessons and signposts for the future.

And this is the lesson this day taught me, as were I more sensitive to my interconnections with other people I might have picked up much sooner. Our friend’s game but jetlagged presence at lunch was all the necessary context it took for us to vent, in great detail more fully realized than we had previously been able, thoughts on the creation of our dream. The community part. The part of us that speaks said a lot of interesting things to that part of us that listens, and the part of us that feels helped us evaluate our words. We learned a lot, and made good emotional progress.

If we had been more “people people” we might have achieved this a few days ago with our new friends with whom we spent so much time. I don’t know. Would it even have been appropriate to talk in such practical and personal detail about possible community ventures? Maybe not, but there is a certain straightforwardness in speech in the kiwi culture I would like to learn, especially after having to keep my work almost a secret due to its politically sensitive nature during the last 10 years in San Francisco.

While it is difficult for us to come to grips with because of our nature, =community is an essential part of our vision=. At this point, it seems the best practical way of achieving community is a series of almost chicken and egg iterations which go something like this:

1) We buy a piece of land with community potential, which is more than ample space in an attractive place.

2) We begin to develop that space towards our vision, part of that vision including the ability to accommodate comfortable medium term (multi month) stays by visitors that may be able to contribute effort but not necessarily cash. The WWOOF model shows us that this is an economically viable model for the landholder, by the way. Also possible is people who can contribute cash but not effort, the vacation rental or B&B model.

Finding the balance between or walking the tightrope toward activities we feel motivated to pursue that are expandable and can generate a little bit of extra cashflow if given more labor still seems quite tricky, but I think that behavior will emerge successfully if we can create the right substrate for it.

What is clear is that we really do have to bite off more than just the two of us can, or want, to chew, and managing these resources will take intention and effort. But this needs to be done. This is an essential part of the dream.

3) People who choose to make their stay longer will need to be incorporated into a system based on their needs and desires, the capacity of the land, and existing systems generating both sustenance and cash resources.

It’s easiest to make all this happen if we maintain reasonable capital reserves. Moolah. Our escape from the money economy is dependent on the money economy.

Practically speaking, this means leaving equity sunk in the Christchurch house and effort spent towards its development.

This also means a tradeoff of spending less money on a less developed or more remote or smaller location, but compromising on these factors make it potentially less attractive to us as well as potential visitors/longer term members. Selection of the property will therefore be quite critical, and will thus more than likely take a longer and more considered period, extending this interim period of unsettledness and pushing farther into the future the acheivement of our desires. But this can only go so far as well. The astrologer told me I was going to have a long life, but I’m getting a later start on this project than most, and some plants take a number of years to reach maturity. Here we have another needle to thread.


If you build it, will they come? And when?

But tonight the prospects seem good, the goals achievable, the challenge motivating. Thank you, my old friends, thank you, my new friends. This one’s for =all of us=.