Tone-set. It’s the dry season and has rained only once, lightly, in three months. Regardless, all is in abundance, blooming, nature gleaming with self-satisfaction and ease in achieving its fulfillment and liveliness. I went walking and exploring regularly, finding myself on hilltops overlooking the brilliance of the lake in the colors of dusk or late afternoon, buffeted by the high winds, warmed by the sun, deeply grateful for where I am and by such circumstances. I can’t remember, at any other point in a life that’s been full of things to be thankful for, having such a strong willingness to make the most of each moment, to learn everything I can at each opportunity.
Nearly every day, I rose before the sun, filled many books with notes, attended everything I could, when usually I can struggle with basic disciplines and schedules. The wisdoms and utter common sense of the world of permaculture, the empowerment and joys of successful language acquisition, the bio-construction so smart and gloriously messy, the ever so necessary social and team skills, and development of more acute cultural sensitivity and awareness of customs, the grandeur of a place full of such natural beauty and immensity of culture and history. The best things in life are free. These are things I live my life to pursue and create and perhaps one day teach to others, but they are inaccessibly expensive and hard to find.
A permaculture design course, for one, is something I was deeply committed to, but it would have taken an age to save up for—they can cost an arm and a leg—and I might never have been able to make it happen. I almost certainly never would have been able to study with people of indigenous heritage, proudly carrying the mantle of their customs and knowledge of the land, their revelatory cosmovision and ritualism, their sincere love for the natural world, the power of their drive to protect her alongside their own traditions and communities. I don’t use these words lightly; it has all been profoundly inspiring for me.
The fact that this opportunity was funded brought a touch of the form of gratefulness that creates action and spurs big changes. Having spent a fortune of savings can give weight to choices, and the reward has been hard-earned—but it takes some of that grace away. There’s an undertone of bitterness and a demand for high-quality service in return for spending, which dampens the wonder and openness of new experiences. The sense of being on a mission that has been supported to happen, generously and through the very hard work of a great core team, makes the experience an adventure lived with little baggage, a lot of breathing room for the unexpected and the fantastic.
I met so many excellent people, had moments of such enjoyment and wildness, lived things I couldn’t have dreamed of, came across good opportunities for personal creative and professional projects, as well as ways to contribute good connections and pieces of work to the Gotoco project and team who are creating an amazing body of work. Most of all, I came away with solid education and a lot of hands-on practice in things I’m greatly passionate about—the kind of knowledge our societies desperately need to move on into a brighter and more rational way of life, a life more in harmony with the Earth and its ways, rhythms, and cycles, a life that creates sustainably rather than slowly but surely destroying all we’ve been given, everything that makes us at home.
There are few places I’ve been to on Earth—and I’ve had the fortune of having visited many—where the exchanged smiles with strangers are so regular and genuine. Often, it’s a full-on belly laugh we’ll share, simply because it’s easy to be amused by courtesy combined with genuine heartiness, perhaps especially