The farther along this path I travel, the more difficult it sometimes becomes. The joy that accompanies simplicity seems to lie on the other side of intense sadness. Tears are becoming familiar companions during my days as I feel more and more completely the disconnect that human culture is experiencing and the tragedy that is ensuing. It is hard. Though Nancy and I have had some wonderful epiphanies of grace as our life continues to move toward the essentials of freedom, joy and service, the road is, for us, rocky and uncharted.
Yesterday we watched yet another wildfire burst into life and destroy a town on the outskirts of Chico, California, a place we lived for eighteen years. We were visiting Chico when the fire started. By the time we headed back to our Mount Shasta home, the flames had burned 7,000 acres. Now, just over twenty-four hours later, the destruction is over 70,000 acres.
As cars and trucks careened by us on the freeway at their usual 80 miles per hour, I began to cry. I thought of the election a few days ago in which half the country continued to state openly that they did not give a damn – about the environment, about the Earth and Her children, or about anything other than life as usual. The tears flowed with greater intensity as I felt the angst of not knowing what to do; of realizing that there was very little I could do.
I am still somewhat off-balance. I know the essence of the vows of simplicity and service that both Nancy and I have taken, but I don’t know how those vows will take form as I watch society disintegrate at a much faster pace than I had hoped. The ray of grace that keeps breaking through is the assurance that how I live is actually important, whether or not it “saves” the Earth. In reality, the Earth does not need saving. I need saving.
Distractions continue to abound as a “Bread and Circuses” culture tries to keep my energy diverted into trivial pursuits or fear-based rage. Even voting has become a distraction in a society where wealth equals speech and elections are decided by memes, tweets, and “alternate facts.” Could the amount of energy poured into an election be used in more effective ways? Whether I vote or not is an individual decision, but here is the Truth: How I vote is not as important as how I live. The crucial question for us is Given the immediacy (and it is immediate!) of our human situation, how shall I live my life today, moment by moment?
The real election was not last Tuesday. The real election ballots continue to be counted with every breath we take. This is a voting right that no amount of repression or gerrymandering can take away from us. How will you vote today? And tomorrow? And the next day?