(One summer a Danish soldier came to visit us to give us all of his solider stuff, new start)
I´m big on family but read my book and you will know how complex and ambivalent I also find the family unit to be. The greater good seems to always trump the individual need as an anarchist (or feminist or social constructionist) I have a problem with this (structure, power, story) but as a person I can´t stop being big on family.
So I´m torn.
When we first came to the forest we met a lot of people here (you´d be surprised to realize how many people who have actually left the loop, people of the forest, they exist, they live like Robin Hood!)
One of these people had an enormous impact on us – as a family and as the persons we are. We went through a lot together. He ended up calling me a nucleus core family fascist… and that was kind of the end of it.
I´m not into “free love” (grew up among the hippies, I don´t believe in it one bit) and I DO believe social relations should “be allowed” to vary- I can´t relate to everyone with the same depth or commitment, this is natural, this is ok, social relations should be varied (and this is also why I´m sceptical about a lot of the intentional communities that I´ve seen).
I had an ideological break down the first year in the forest because what I thought I wanted was a tribe. We said that out loud “We want a tribe” we said… but then when it came down to it I didn´t want a tribe. I wanted a clan.
I wanted a clan connected to other clans – or self-sustained and sustainable units of either single persons, families or groups.
I can´t be the father or the mother, I can’t be the freight train, my arms can´t be stretched out open wide for everyone, I have privacy issues (what a surprise!) and boundaries and borders to defend too!
This man I´m talking about means the world to me though, he has taught me so much both on a practical and a philosophical level. We had an argument and didn´t talk to each other for a long time (sounds “familiar” dosn´t it?) and it bothered me, thorn in my side, beam in my eye.
Recently we spoke. Forgiveness. Focus. Trust. We´re good.
Our relations out here has been so extremely intense. It has taken a lot of “deprogramming” to learn about building relationships, it has taken a lot of effort and time, sure, but we didn´t really have a choice.
We need the other people.
We really and truly need them- we can´t do what we do all by ourselves and alone.
What intrigues me is how this friend has become MORE than a friend but is still LESS than a member of my core family unit.
It´s like a third option.
I´m thinking we´re on to something here. The third option I mean.
I think I believe in that.
I´m thinking about all of this because my friend Julie Top- Nørgaard just had an essay published in Danish newspaper Information (she writes for them) (in Danish, sorry)
When my son Sebastian left the woods to go study in Copenhagen he moved in with Julie and her (nucleus core) family (wonderful family, I like them a lot).
Julie writes about her experiences with Sebastian, she contemplates about how much she wants to live in a committed community but also why she thinks she can´t (she found it stressful that he wanted to work/help/add/contribute)
(Sebastian working, image by Jakob Carlsen)
Her analysis goes like this: she wants the others to be obliged to help her, she want the others in a community to live up to their duties- but she don´t think she has the energy to do it herself. She thinks the commitment would be too much for her (and a lot of her peers) to handle.
I´d like to add that I think it is a false assumption to see community as a phenomenon of surplus energy (and thus impossible for a lot of stressed, working modern family units to engage in)
We have been raised to view communities in a certain way, as something that has to do with charity, baking cakes, smiling- but community can be so much more than that, it can be a circumstance, it can just be reality, a framework in which your life plays out. I think this is important to note when we speak about communities. It dosn´t have to be “a thing” like that (and really it is a sign of our own alienation to view it that way)
But it´s something else I want to tell you about today.
This is what happened.
Jeppe and me began to dance, we risked the ridicule, we didn´t have a choice but to dance:
People came. It took four years but slowly people came and we are more now.
I seldom write about the others because
1. They are self-sustained and sustainable units of their own, their story is not mine to tell.
2. We are so untrained in building social relations and community, this is a real fragile process and I don´t want to fuck it up (I don´t know if the name calling is particularly Danish, it might be, but it´s really fucking annoying that you have to defend yourself from being “a sect” as soon as you try to do something ELSE. This is another of the defence mechanism of the status qou, a standard accusation to single you out and obliterate your arguments, be ware)
(and please note that in the video the guy does not talk about the leader as “the leader of it all” but simply as the first mover)
This winter was defining for us in so many ways.
One of the things that happened has been hard to write about, very delicate situation here. It´s regarding the community.
Let´s say that someone did something that was a gross overstepping of my personal borders and boundaries, something that affected my nucleus core family feeling, a relational threat of sorts.
They might not have done it intentionally. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe there were all sorts of reasons to why it happened.
1. Self examination. What part do I play myself in this? Have I provoked this situation into happening, could I have done something to prevent it (yes)
2. Consequence. If the fault is rarely on one persons shoulders alone how should an eventual consequence look? What is my law and what is my judgement, what is a proper retaliation?
I didn´t know.
Weeks passed by. Silence. Paralysed.
Then I drove into the ditch, it was minus 20, Jeppe was away, I had Sigurd in the car. I called the person (because that person was located closer to me). The person helped me. We sat in a warm room for a while afterwards, awkward silence then I just said “Well, this is stupid” because it was.
I repeat: we need each other.
We are exposed and Mother Nature is grand, not dangerous, just grand. We don´t really have the TIME for all of that petty (or not so petty) fighting. We need to get over ourselves. Swallow the pride.
Sometimes the transgression will be too heavy and relations can´t be healed. Other times it´s not. How to know the difference? I don´t know but I know than in more cases than not we have been able to heal the relationships simply because… in the great scheme of things, in a universal light, under the stars… a lot of the things we preoccupy our minds with really dosn´t matter, our sense of self-importance is… naaahh…. you know…
More often than not we can do better, do more, if we work together. More often than not the problems can be fixed.
Focus. Trust. Forgiveness.
WE. NEED. EACH. OTHER has changed the way I relate to people and in all truth… the way I related to other people needed to change.
That´s what I had to say today. Now: dishwashing!