Maria’s Studio: New Bedlam Farm. I realized a few years ago – not too many years ago – that there are different systems in the world, and if we are awake, we can choose the system we wish to live in. One night when I was going to pieces in the farmhouse, walking in circles, talking to myself, counting the hours until Maria would arrived outside the farmhouse to help with the barn chores, staying alive for that, to be honest, it came to me that I was so enmeshed in a system of fear that I could not see it, it seemed normal to me, as insane as it was.
Politics, media, law, medicine, even the weather seem to feed and feed off of the idea that we are in peril all of the time, that every step puts is in danger, even our food, our friends, and to survive we had to live a certain way, insure ourselves in any way against the great terrors of being a human being.
Get certain tests, save certain amounts, avoid strangers, buy protection plans as a hedge against the breakdown of the things we just bought, seek money in redress for every accident, take pills for every ailment, replace parts when they wear out, punish misunderstanding, seek reparations for honest mistakes, avoid responsibility, protect our identities, can’t be too careful these days. Politicians exploit fear to raise money, and so do journalists, doctors, lawyers and corporations. If you don’t take your medicine, you will die. If you don’t vote, the system that doesn’t work for you will not work for you. If you don’t follow the news every minute, catastrophe will surprise and overwhelm you. You can buy your way to safety and paradise. Doesn’t almost everyone buy it? Perhaps they are right.
I decided to separate from this system, and choose another one, and each step has been challenging, frightening, complex, rewarding, affirming. It is hard to disentangle yourself from such a powerful and noisy and ubiquitous machine. There is nothing stranger for humans – we are flock animals, too, I think – that to swim upstream and see almost everyone else in the world swimming the other way. Either way, the dangers are great. It’s a different way of living, and you will never fit in with the other world again – not with your family, your friends, the people around you.
I’ve discovered this strange thing, that those of us who no longer believe in the system, are no longer enslaved to it, recognize one another right away, in passing cars, across the street, in e-mails, at readings, in stores and offices, on walks with dogs. They are our friends, even if we never see them.
I saw a woman in the market, the other day, and she looked at me, and I looked back, and in another context that could have been a strange thing to do. But I knew her, and she knew me, and in my head, I whispered to her, sent her a message: I know you, do not be afraid, walk away from your fear and know joy and love and passion for your work. I am doing it, you can do it. There are others like you, and they are here, too. And she smiled at me, and I nodded back. And she was gone.