Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sustainable = Impermanent

An intriguing concept has been reaching me through various channels in recent weeks, that ties directly into my life and writing as a New Nomad: in order to create a truly sustainable society, we need to start thinking in terms of non-durable goods. This doesn't mean more plastic, disposable products that only add to overburdened landfills. On the contrary, the meaning has more to do with creating flexible shelters and other resources that can be dismantled with ease after a short period of usefulness, and allowed to dissolve back into the Earth.

Sounds pretty strange to Western ears, I know. Yet this is the indigenous perspective — and native peoples certainly live a lot closer to Mama Gaia than most of us "civilized" folks do. In researching my book on living nomadically in modern times, I read John Perkins' The World Is As You Dream It, where I first came across this concept. Then today, I heard an almost identical philosophy from Mayan shaman Martin Prechtel, an ever-popular guest on Caroline Casey's Visionary Activist radio show.

He said, "Imagination has to be governed by love," and went into a lengthy explanation of the distinction between tribalism, community, and the village. In the village model, inhabitants ritually burn their structures to the ground annually, because by the time a year has elapsed, humans have become out of touch with the Earth and need to start over. The ritual destroys in order to restore consciousness.

It's quite fascinating, and also (although he did not specifically address it) speaks to the Eastern idea of non-attachment, since what we are attached to eventually becomes toxic. In this moment when Jupiter (planet of expansion and storytelling) squares Uranus (the zodiacal visionary), it's a potent time "for retelling, resifting, so that knowledge is never dogma, never stagnant, always moving," says Caroline.

I also loved how she redefined forgiveness: "to give energy to change," e.g.: "I forgive you; I give you the energy to shift!"

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