You could call this a living experiment of sorts.
What happens when a modern family leaves modern society and emerge themselves into the wild?
1. They get shattered, as a family and as selves, no doubt about it- but it´s allright because they were shattered long before they even got there, taped together in one big mess or, maybe better, like a broken chinese vase. Realizing that you are shattered, as a family, as yourself, is a painful process, no doubt, no doubt at all.
2. They realize that they have no skills.
They don´t know how to light a fire, how to catch a fish or grow a crop, they don´t know how to build a shelter for themselves… regardless of the fact that 90% of the world’s population knows how to do this, the most basic of all human skills… they were never taught how to do it, they don´t know how to survive outside of the machine.
They feel deceived. After a while they begin to teach themselves.
Learning is difficult. There´s a lot of learning by doing, learning by mistake, learning by necessity, learning because there is no other option. In the wild.
I was talking to a friend not long ago, he was with us that first year in the forest. He taught us much. We fought a lot. He said “It was merely the beginning. For all of us. It was stage 1”
Stage 1 is a painful process of unlearning. All you thought you knew… about leadership, teamwork, community, all you thought you knew about dreams and ideals, how to get shit done.
It takes a while.
I took me 4 years.
Not to mention the body.
The body goes through tremendous changes. I spent a lot of time being sick. Poison in my tissue was released, body and mind. Lumps were discovered, I almost died. Bad habits. Bad use of muscles. Like the body is a machine but it´s not. I had to learn how to care of the body, I had to appreciate how much the body has done for me through the years, how it has protected me, sucked up the disease because it had to.
Clearly this is a time of reflection. I´m turning older, it´s winter and this is the end of stage 1.
Deeper into the woods.
Around new year we had a major crisis here in the forest. I was ready to move. I wanted to move. I wanted to find another community, somewhere new, I looked to New Zealand but it was too far away, I looked to Ireland even Spain. I examined every possibility and I sent out a whole flock of birds in the form of emails. Inquiries.
This forest has given us much, it´s been good to us- but I don´t want that role, I can´t be that freight train, I want to be GIVEN something, I have GIVEN too much. Such were my thoughts.
I can´t tell you what the problem was but I can tell you what the problem always is: community.
Someone stepped out of line… which is funny because everybody here is here exactly because they stepped out of line, stepping out of line is good… only: boundaries.
What do we do about that?
I think this latest crisis was a final exam of sorts.
My initial reaction said something very disturbing about my personality, something I need to deal with. Again and again and again, it is not forgotten.
The only way to solve the problem was to be brutally honest and somehow this naked honesty seems essential for life outside of the machine. It´s the only thing that works. Again and again and again I have learnt this.
Then came time.
Time needed to pass.
Then came pragmatism.
We all need each other.
Also: in the grand scheme of things how big is this transgression?
Also: who are you mad at, really? What is the problem, really? Was this just the last drop? What about the other drops? Did you secure your boundaries well enough? Did you tend to that problem, did you hide?
Building community, tribe, flock even family is the hardest thing of all. We were all raised to be hardcore individualists (not me!), we were not given the skill set nor the experience, we had no elders to look to, only a shattered sense of community, maybe worse: a sense that community is somehow wrong and oppressing, that modern individualism is right.
I had a class in school once, they called in “teamwork” but it was not at all about how to share (few) resources, how to work together, ask for favours or do something even when you don´t feel like doing it. I never learned that you should grab the bull by it´s horn, you should never postpone those extremely uncomfortable talks, you should act immediately!
So much unknown territory here. Building fires, fishing, growing crops and building log cabins was the least of it.
Forgiveness. Tolerance. Laugh in the face of opposition!
3. They spent a whole lot of years exploring boundaries and negotiating their roles, finding out what community is, how to build strong bonds, how to trust others, how to get over it.
Planning how to build a fortress and then building it again and again knowing that the nature of the fortress is to thaw… that´s a real lesson, right there.
And remember to laugh. Remember to love.
The crisis waned like the moon. Then came peace. We solved the problem. We did it head first, strong on.
I think it´s about personal space. Building personal space (again and again and again) that you vouch for. Defend. A point of departure, a sanctuary (even if it melts)
This is individualism: your fortress. This is community: in a land of many kings let´s dream about building a barn!
Sooner or later we are going to have to learn about community. Sooner or later we are just going to have to.