New Year’s Eve was a trip—I’ve been to punk houses and collective houses before, but none that have been rural, much less Christian. The collective we visited is a group of anarchist (non-hierarchical), primitivist (critical of interference with the environment, including intensive agriculture), radical-Christians (sort of like Catholic-worker collectives, but more green-and-black than red-and-black). The house members are involved in a habitat restoration project, initiated by a land-owner and funded by conservation grants (not purists, but they’re getting things done).
The food was good (potluck, of course), and the music was really great—I could get into the spirit of it (no pun intended), even though a lot of the lyrics were religious. I’d overhear people talking about collapse and freedom and wilderness, like an any other radical gathering, but Jesus was came up just as often. It was dreadlocks, dogs, half-feral toddlers, patched-up clothes, and tattoos of the cross.
It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in any radical community—a series of falling-outs with different acquaintances has led me to whittle down my social circle, and other circumstances (my move, upping the ante with school) have made it harder to commit to much activism. It was refreshing to go and party at the collective house—I still really want that sort of close-knit, value-centered lifestyle—but at the same time I was struck by being merely a guest, standing outside of their lives while looking in.
As much as I live for learning, it’s hard for me to take school as an end to itself—it’s training, it’s foundation-building, and it’s stressful. It feels like a trade-off—where I want to be in exchange for where I am. I have a hard time balancing living in a healthy and fulfilling way given the sacrifices involved in being successful in my courses. I’m confident that I’m on the right path and that things will get better with time, but in the meantime I feel isolated and sort of repressed: there aren’t a lot of outlets for other important parts of my life when I’ve prioritized my time and energy to school.
In a way, I know I’m selling myself short—it takes effort to connect to people, have fun, and spend time on things where the process is more important than the product, but it’s ultimately energizing. I really need to commit to process—it used to drive me crazy when I worked with people on projects and they neglected to address HOW something was done, focusing on ends instead of means, when how you do something is largely what you do. Now I’m the one who needs that reminder. 23 months ago