Thursday, November 06, 2008

I Am Who I Am

Quick Summary:

Julian & I peddled out of Portland a month ago, parted ways in Arcata, Cali, and I finally made it to the Bay area! And here's the first pic of me ever on this blog. That's Julian on the left. Notice the roadkill hides on his bike. Julian's bike is a fixed gear 1-speed, believe it or not.
Right now I'm actually in Petaluma at my cousin Annie's house. Petaluma is 40 mi north of San Fran. Annie happens to be a nurse at the same hospital in San Fran where my friend Grace's kidney-donation surgery happened. So Annie gave me a ride down there & back here.

Starting in the rain, Julian & I cycled from Portland to Salem, first, where we visited Jose (my friend who rode to Wyoming with me) and his parents & sisters. Then we visited my old friend Jerry Garcia, his wife Lynn, & their 4 kids. Yes,

Jerry lives! Jerry Garcia's my friend's actual name. And, no, the guy on the left isn't him. Well, it's a picture of a Jerry Garcia, anyway. I hadn't seen Jerry for some 19 years, since we were in the Peace Corps in Ecuador. I had thought it might be awkward seeing him after so long, but it was as if we'd parted only yesterday.

I've included a pic Jose took around Salem (right). He's a fine photographer.

After Salem, we biked southward to Eugene (left). We
foraged zillions of heavenly hazelnuts & apples. In Eugene we visited my friend Jai, whom I hadn't seen for 8 years! Again, it seemed like we'd only been parted since only yesterday. We hung out at her house while we explored Eugene. Eugene has changed over the years. It has joined the usual anal-retention (retaining waste) trend & become the land of locked dumpsters. Jai also took us to Quaker meeting with her husband, Gra.

As Julian & I peddled south, we decided to stop in at Nomenus Radical Faerie Sanctuary (below, left) in Wolf Creek. The first guy we met, Lopi, was so friendly & welcoming. He told us we were just in time for dinner, insisting we eat, and invited us to stay in a camper trailer on the land. We felt so at home it was totally heart-warming. There are about 6 people living there now. Out of all the intentional communities I've ever visited, this one was the most freely giving & so full of love. Truly a sanctuary. They expected nothing from us. 


After 3 days there, we headed to Ashland. We visited my friends Frank & Sara, whom I hadn't seen in 10 years! They have 2 kids now. After leaving their house, we heading out of Ashland, & saw a sign at the university for a free film on Darfur along with a free lunch. As we looked for it, we biked right into a free bicycle clinic, where Julian got his bike fixed up! The folks there invited us to a potluck that evening, & also offered us a crash pad at the bicycle coop. At the potluck I happened to run into my old friend, Trevor, and an old acquaintance, Stevia, both of whom I hadn't seen in 6 years! Trevor & Stevia were gnomes from my tree-sitting days. Again, magical synchronicity, small world! My head was swimming from all the nostalgia of long-lost friends on this trip, as well as all the magic synchronicities.

Oh, yes, we saw the film on Darfur (in the region of Sudan) the next day. I had not realized before that a major holocaust (like what happened in Rwanda) is happening 
right now in Darfur! Our media doesn't tell us shit.


Julian & I peddled on to highway 96 toward Arcata. By this time we were eating lots of fresh roadkill - several squirrels and a juvenile doe - all incredibly delicious. I kid you not. The venison tasted way better than prime beef - not a bit of that usual gamy venison taste. (Yes, I might be vegan if I used money, because the animal industry is treacherous. In a previous blog entry I talk about the ethics of eating meat & hunting & gathering & such). We started tanning the hides with acorn water.

We continued through the Hoopa Valley Indian Res (right). That route is paradise. The Yurok we met there were really friendly, and a bit different by looks & personality than the Navajos in the Four Corners area I'm used to. They seem way more affluent than either the Navajo or Lakota. The Yurok joke that they are called Why You Are Okay.

We decided to take a 20-mile dirt road "short cut" from the res toward Arcata, & we ended up pushing our bikes uphill the first 10 miles, over a high pass! My front tire exploded on the way down the other side. Fortunately, I was carrying extra nearly-new tire & tubes I had dumpstered. In Arcata we camped in the redwoods near the university. We saw a wonderful presentation by the 
Beehive Collective.

In Arcata, Julian & I decided to part ways. Julian wanted to stay & find a ride to LA, ASAP, & I wanted to pick up peddle speed so I could get to San Fran by the time of Grace's surgery.

I biked down 101, then down the Avenue of the Giants. I camped under a couple-thousand-year-old redwood. The beauty was overwhelming. But this small bit of preserved redwood forest is surrounded by clear-cuts, which is heartbreaking. 

The banking & housing crisis fills me with hope. I hope it means we stop building more houses, McMansions this nation surely does not need. Another depression, as hard as that seems, perhaps will remind us again to take only what we need & to share, like we all supposedly learn in kindergarten.

As I rode through the redwoods, That common feeling cropped up again, and I thought, "I don't know how I could be more wealthy."

I rode into a visitor center, with campgrounds, where some hiker-bikers came over to greet me. They were ruffians like me. They were hanging tight for the next few days, saying it was going to rain hard. I was tempted to join them, but I surely wanted to get to San Fran soon, rain or shine, so off I peddled.

I stopped at some almost-done apple trees. A local man & his mother saw me foraging & brought me the hugest apples I'd ever seen, & gratitude flooded over me.


On Halloween day, a friendly biker named Kendrick caught up with me & we rode together. Like me, he'd been biking all over the northwest the past few months. He was from Bakersfield, Cali. After a bit, Kendrick stopped to write a letter, & I biked on.

I found a freshly-killed doe & stopped to cut a huge chunk out of its rump - food for many days. As I rode on, Kendrick caught up with me again. We decided to camp together that night. He cooked up some quinoa & I cooked up venison with vegetables, wild fennel & other spices. A sumptuous roadkill feast for Halloween! Kendrick said he'd never dreamed he'd be eating roadkill, amazed how delicious it was.

That night the monsoon started. Next morning I said goodbye to Kendrick & biked on in the rain. It monsooned for days, my whole trip to Petaluma. A test of endurance. One of those nights I was grateful to find an abandoned house to sleep in.

Ah, more gratitude as I gorged on concord grapes from the droves of vineyards.

And it was a sense of triumph when I finally peddled into Petaluma to my cousin Annie's house, & gratitude seeing her smiling face when she came home from work late that night.


I didn't make it to San Fran before Grace & Rick (her recipient) went into surgery. But I was glad to hear she had lots of friends there as support. I spent 3 days there with her & Rick, and got to see my friend Jesse, too, as well as meeting their other three friends (they are all part of the "Jesus Christians" team in the US. I traveled with Grace, Jesse, & Simon last Spring). They feel like family. I'm glad I spent time with Rick, too, getting to know him more. He's overjoyed with his new kidney.

There has been controversy about many "Jesus Christians" ("JC's") donating kidneys. Some people thinking the JCs are a cult and kidney donation is coerced. Even somebody I know wanted to contact Grace & convince her to change her mind.
Grace's mother was there, and Jesse was filming a documentary on it all. He asked Grace's mother if she felt like Grace had been coerced. She said, "By all means, no. Grace and I have talked about this for 8 months and it is totally on her own volition and desire." To those who are opposed to many of the JCs donating kidneys, maybe I could get you in contact with Rick, the recipient, and you can explain to him what a horrible thing it is.

Anyway, I'm hoping to see my "Jesus Christian" friends again within the next few days.


I put "Jesus Christian" in quotes because, really, I see them as my friends, as humans, not as any denomination. But I sort of wish they didn't call themselves anything, because just their noble actions say who they are. Denominations (labels, names) divide. Imagine if we saw everybody as human beings rather than as ideas, rather than as organizations & memberships & nominations & religions & diplomas & bank accounts & ID cards & possessions.

What if all I had to prove who I Am is simply I Am Who I Am? The world always wants to know by what authority you do anything. The world wants to see memberships, ID, diplomas, records, possessions. People talk about identity theft. What? How can your identity can be stolen if it is real? The world system doesn't see humans, just ideas, grudges, past records, future promises. The world system sees only ego, never reality. But Reality simply sees I Am Who I Am. I Am Who I Am is the Only Reality. There is nothing else.

On this moneyless path, I used to call myself a "Sannyasi" or a "Sadhu". But it was pretension.

What if the only help or recognition I wanted from people was not because of a name I put on myself, or an office I take on, but simply because I am human, not special above anybody.

What if I refuse to go to war or refuse ownership simply because I Am Who I Am, not because I am a Quaker or Amish or Buddhist or Hindu or Christian? What if you give me assistance, not because I call myself a monk or wear special clothes, but simply because I am human, just like the bag lady pushing her grocery cart?
What if we became as Nature, and our rain & sunlight fell freely, without charge, on both the just and unjust alike, with zero distinction?
I lost my ID last spring, & it brought me new liberation, new understanding - despite all the restrictions (getting harassed by cops, often getting refused use of internet, barred entry through many doors). All I have for ID is I Am Who I Am. Nobody sent me but I Am. There is no other Name Holy under heaven. There is no other way, no other truth, no other life:
I Am Who I Am