for Noe and Bob and Christina and Massey and the whole crew on Hilltop

I go numb worrying over who to vote for – or even if I should vote at all, Lord help me!  

For me, the real problem in the first place is the two-party system itself, as if we were playing some kind of Olympic Game – one winner takes the Gold Medal and everyone else goes home crying. What about the person coming in sixteenth place? I want to shout. Wasn’t she also fabulous in her own way – even if she slipped on the final slalom?

 My vote would be to re-think our Party system altogether, and maybe even replace it with something more interesting – and useful – like a lively collaboration amongst all the contenders, recognizing that each one has something unique to bring to the table.  

Isn’t it time for us humans to let go of the immature war model and grow up into adults? 

I remember the elections we had for Student Council in high school, where we learned about government in the grown-up world by ‘running for office’ with posters and speeches that promised great things if we were elected. As it happened, running just for the fun of it, I got elected one year, totally astounded by unexpected applause when my name was called. I was now Financial Secretary of PS 215 – this girl who was all but flunking Math. 

Even then, it was clear to me that the system was nothing but a popularity contest and had nothing to do with our abilities to do a job. I have thought of that over the years, election after election voting in the poll booth up at the Library, almost always walking away depressed for having to vote for the least objectionable of the candidates, not someone I wholeheartedly endorsed. Each time, I go home and eat chocolate ice cream until I feel better. 

But at the time, Student Council meetings got me out of Math class every Thursday, so I didn’t complain – but I’ve not been able to take our Party Politics system seriously ever since. 

This time around, however, I just may listen to my deeper instincts and not go to the polling place, but start conversations with whoever feels a similar uneasiness. I figure that at my age it may be a now or never matter to take a stand, for we don’t have time for monkey business! Damn it, the permafrost is melting and the oceans are rising – right?

But here we are still anxiously competing with “the other side” when in reality there is no other side! We’re in this together, like it or not. You’d think the Democrats, at least, would realize this and not fight amongst themselves! What are they thinking? Didn’t they all used to be colleagues?

Breathe…

So what should we do? I take my cues, these days, from my late brother, who skillfully baked bread for the Draft Board and got out of the killing fields of Vietnam. And then went on to find land and grow food for his community. That makes sense to me.

“What would Leon do at this election?” I ask myself, and can see his whimsical smile as he shows me his latest repairs on the maple-sugaring shed – you see, it sags each winter under snow-loads, and he shores it up anew each spring with jigsaw-puzzle pieces of wood that create cunning abstract designs. 

“Just look at it sideways to see the art,” he’d suggest with a grin.

So, I’ve been dreaming up far-out projects to keep myself busy these days, pushing away some old assumptions about what is, and what is not possible, and going for broke. 

If not now, then when, and if not me, then who? is my mantra.

So at the Wild and Radish farm there is an abandoned ranch house we’ve taken on to completely retrofit from floor to roof and everything in between. We want to demonstrate how an old, boarded-up wreck can be brought back to life as a “Living Building,” with all materials and processes non-toxic and ‘natural.’ 

The hope is to make a model of a living building that might help re-create whole boarded-up neighborhoods in our ‘inner cities.’ 

So we design ways to sequester carbon, to copy the processes of water, energy, and waste the way Nature does it and bring all natural materials to the site from as close by as we can find them. And, since this is California, to make sure the house is as fireproof as possible.

It has been an exhilarating, long and totally filthy project as we demolish walls and toss out the old gas appliances, rotting foundations and fiberglass insulations. We’re replacing ancient plumbing with pipes that carry graywater out to the gardens,  laying old-fashioned linoleum in the kitchen and exchanging the old insulation in walls and attic by wrapping the whole house on the outside with strawbales plastered with mud.

We’re almost finished, and it’s gorgeous! Imagine a house plastered with sub-stratum golden earth from a deep hole in the backyard! And imagine three gorgeous young women, splattered from head to toe with golden mud, doing the plastering!

There’s a fair amount of grunting, but lots of laughter, and I notice that everyone seems to get along even when the going gets tough – which it does, of course, especially for those crawling on their bellies beneath the floorboards, masks over their faces to avoid generations of rat poop down there! 

My take-away from this lively metaphor is that it’s time for tearing down many old ‘structures’ that no longer serve us, and dreaming up new ways to live.

 It is 2020, after all, and I’m told that this is the beginning of the new times in which we demolish old modalities and take our cues from how Nature does it, to create the new. 

Which means we’ve got to be ready for some heavy demolitions, like it or not, including our two-party system but, I wager, starting with ourselves. 

Well, starting with myself, at least. 

For I take this mandate personally because it takes so much courage to acknowledge those stuck doors in myself, those old habits of thought and action I hold onto like a tiger, whether they serve me or not! But right behind my resistance, I can feel, more and more, the pressure of the love longing to burst through and come out, finally. 

I’m tired of fear and stubborn egos, especially my own!

For those stuck doors are holding back tears of grief still waiting to be shed, and it will take a strong act of will to let them flow – I know, because I’ve tried. I expect a deluge, and it will come, no doubt. The metaphoric flood and the global one – both have happened before. 

But right now my hand rises tentatively in greeting as my eyes search you out so we can cry – and then laugh – together.

 What a relief! 

Thank you for being so patient with me.