Amazing how each new place brings a new adventure. Just when I thought maybe things might soon get boring, this time I’ve landed in an intentional community that’s serious about creating a better, Vegan world.
Here, ‘getting high’ is a part of everyday life. I laughed too, the first few times it came up as a catch-phrase in conversation, but it’s a guiding force, and in my opinion, a fantastic attitude with which to approach everything. It’s doing with the intent to spark something beautiful and pure with every action, feeling good knowing that you’re making the world a better place.(Thank you Sky, for this revelation!) The boost can come in a million little ways, life-hacks which result in creating magic through artful living and pursuing higher consciousness. Might sound a bit new-agey, but this is a new age, and some people are living in it.
These vegans have been at it for over 40 years, when Gentle World was conceived. Some of their names are Sun, Light, Angel, Sky, Magic, Flowers, Golden, Soul, and Kisses (the dog.) They’ve manifested what change they want to see in themselves, and created this sanctuary of sorts to manifest it all around them, and to get others high too!
The resulting mess in my mind is the result of seeing things ever so clearly. Here it goes:
Veganism isn’t just about which foods you eat or don’t eat. It’s a way of life that doesn’t support the machines of society that exploit and harm others. The underlying principle that binds it all together is easy enough: No Animal Products.
In addition to animal-derived food and liquids, this includes leather, wool, silk, and feathers too. Considering my own consumption has been an eye-opener of how non-vegan some of my choices are, aiding me to identify some double-standards. It’s also been an opportunity to scrutinize my own identity. Am I who I think I am?
I first stopped eating meat when I realized that I could easily ‘save’ hundreds of animal lives each year, or at least reduce the demand and suffering for animals as a result of my choices. Immediately, I ‘got high’ on not killing. I enjoyed guilt-free eating, not to mention I felt much lighter, in body and spirit.
But I started easy, aligning with the accepted boundaries of vegetarianism: that dairy products and eggs are ok, even fish sometimes. Over time, guilt has been creeping in when eating these ‘acceptable’ vegetarian exceptions. I say I’ve had more vegan habits lately, but there’s no such thing as more vegan. When it comes down to convenience or just plain cravings, (like when I want ice cream or pizza once a week,) it’s bullshit. I’m not more anything lately but a faker.
Look at what I’m traveling with anyway: wool socks, gloves, and hat, a silk sleep sheet, down sleeping bag, a pair of alpaca socks. I also chose a leather saddle for my bicycle, for the same reason – it’s known as ‘the best’ of its kind, holding this claim to fame for decades. But for whom?
I’ve barely ever questioned my choices to use these things, as they were readily-available and ‘known’ to be the best. Are these acceptable excuses? So I like animals, and enjoy using their bodies (without their consent) occasionally when I ‘need’ them. I go to zoos. I buy soy milk when it’s convenient, but I travel with powdered milk when I’m cycling, as I can’t imagine breakfast or coffee without mother’s milk. Bullshit. I’ve come to realize lately that the dairy industry is one in the same with the meat industry. What am I doing with this information?
Just imagine how high I could get without all this lying to myself and justifying my weaknesses! I even said it to someone yesterday that even though I’m not 100%, I feel that 90% (or any percentage) is still a positive force at work in the universe. Lies. Why drag our heels when we see injustice, man’s dominion and enslaving of all species?
Veganism is not new to me, but my week here has been good for re-evaluating myself. I believe that this violence-free lifestyle results in a gentler humankind, which would actually precipitate World Peace if adopted widely. There are vegan dogs here who actually outgrew their killer instincts, advancing the gentler side of their omnivorous nature. Remarkable!
I go through phases of being extroverted, talkative, eager to share who I am and what I believe. Other times, I’m a student, taking notes and more quietly observing, my priority being to soak it all in. Here I’m clearly the latter, intrigued because I aspire to live like this. I’ve dreamed of creating a community in paradise, ecological and responsible, fun and free to live beyond the bonds of civilization. Most of these folks have 20 years on me… these prototypical characters are what I could become. For now I can can observe and ask questions.
How do I see myself? Is it true? Where do I want to stand? Who am I comfortable being? Am I ready? What can I do to follow my heart?
This was going to be a report on the unorthodox and enlightening people in this commune, whose stories and journeys are fascinating. My experiences here have kindled a new fire in me, so instead of story-telling I jumped right to the processing. What am I learning here? The questions keep coming…
~ Anthony Policano