Driving through the open lands of eastern Oregon and Idaho on our way up to Yellowstone Park I am mesmerized. The open landscape is like a sponge that soaks up all of the civilized thoughts and voices that contain the montage of competing needs of my current daily existence. Out here, the balance of checking accounts or even the numerous books and articles crammed into my mind from the pursuit of a master’s degree in education, all leak out and seep into the earth. I am both the lake that saturates the water table around it with the burden of what she holds, and the prodigal daughter of the modern world who is reconnecting with her mother. She cradles me as everything releases, my body sighs with the finality of letting go. Though I am a mere tourist cruising through my mother’s land at the unnatural speeds of an automobile propelled by the petrol fuels that is killing her, she accepts me as one of her own.
This has been my scholarly writer’s mission, to find the way to change our narrative, the one that has us racing toward our doom, sacrificing our own children, our lives suicidal, consumed by the obsession of madmen who believe they are leaders. The Crazy Ones are more like characters out of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. Just as Stannis is completely convinced by the illusion of contrived facts, the ones that allowed him to sacrifice beloved innocents, they will find their doom.
Yet we have become convinced we cannot stop the Stannises of our own world, those that worship the machine of oil dominance and politics measured by mere dollars, as if this money system were truly a natural thing. Adam Smith was a fool in a long line of fools all the way back to Edmund Burke, pretending a grandeur that is doomed to collapse around us all, if we are blind to everything but the GNP. Don’t get me wrong this economic machine is a powerful force that is reforming the world in its own vision, and so it needs an equally powerful strength to bring it back into balance and that force is our reconnection to nature and our living world.
It was not by accident that the pastoral romantic poets sought to wake up the world to their own humanity, only to inspire more than one revolution, some successful, some not so much. But this is not a debate about the absurdity of the fragile and volatile ego of men with wigs of endangered monkey hair and absurd visions of commoditizing a dying planet, this is about knowing another story, one that is percolating in this landscape like a dependable geyser, and it is as close to me, to us, as the joy of my faithful service dog, Finn. It is about letting go of the absurdities and waking up to our connection to the land that feeds us, the water that quenches our thirst and the soil that grows our food. News Alert: Monsanto does not feed the world, the soil does, and the arrogance of the agribusiness practices of extractive farming practices driven by mere profit is part of The Crazy Ones’ thinking. They are drunk with their delusional power as the soil blows away in the wind and the poisons being used are more and more deadly to all of us.
Although I have been on this journey for a lifetime, the urgency is here and now. Winter is coming as they might say in Game of Thrones, but in my story it is not about the crash and burn of complete destruction. It is the restoration of not only the land, the water and the air— it is the restoration of our selves. I think perhaps we need to begin with the stories we tell ourselves. We can change. We can start with our perceptions; survival of the fittest is perhaps the grandfather of illusions, and even Donald Trump had to have someone wipe his ass when he was a babe, but of course, self-obsessed narcissists can’t admit that, it would be admitting that they cannot control the world when the polar caps melt. They would rather control their own fate through suicide than admit they are wrong; just watch the melt downs of egos on the political stage! Are these the people we should be following to storm the castle? Ah, if the world were run by midwives, we might forget storming castles altogether in order to survive the transition to a more resilient world and learn a thing or two about stewardship along the way. I would tell a different story.
One of the stops on this road trip was visiting relatives with young children. They had a caterpillar sanctuary. Imagine the bravery of young children watching that caterpillar. When she wakes, she flies. We are like that butterfly, too, but it is not cocoon time, it’s time to fly, to take action to create a different paradigm, one that reinforces the basics, things that have been reinforce on this road trip. Life matters. Air, water, and soil are sacred. Soldiers of The Crazy Ones need to know it’s time to walk away. The only survivors of Stannis’s delusions of grandeur are those who chose another path. It’s waiting for us, behind the false rhetoric of inevitable oil dominance, there is a far more beautiful and resilient world to be embraced. The only illusion is that our destruction is inevitable. It’s time to embrace another vision.
I began my scholarly journey at Portland State University with an elective class on women mystics and at the end of my studies I took the class on Women Mystics again. It was only a single credit class, but I can see now it framed my work well. From my perspective we all have the capacity to have a vision of another world, and the belief to know it is possible, and to take action on that belief. It doesn’t take a master’s degree to see the alternatives, though it might take a deepened heart to do whatever action is needed to make that vision happen. The irony here is that once we stop following The Crazy Ones it’s as easy as knowing we are already butterflies. We already have the technology and know-how to let the wind carry us, but The Crazy Ones don’t want us to know that.