Sunday, July 10, 2011

Let Light Be

I'm in Portland, Oregon now.  I'd thought I'd spend a nice quiet summer in Moab this year, but ended up unable to resist the road magnet.
I just realized it's been over 2 months since I last blogged.  It has to do with not having/not wanting computer time and/or not feeling inspiration to write.

What To Do With My Website?

I've gotten occasional comments from friends on my website LIVING WITHOUT MONEY, that it's "too busy" and hard to navigate.  I keep thinking I'll sit down and manicure it... but again, it takes computer time.  Part of me likes to think of it as a brambly, wild forest grown from wild spontaneity, with broken branches and dead leaves, and hidden nooks and crannies, that only somebody not in a hurry could appreciate, not a sterile, manicured city park for quick picnics.  But maybe that's just me clinging to not wanting to change it.  City Parks, after all, are many urban people's only bridge into wild nature and are thus valuable.  And I suppose the reason I use the Internet in the first place is to communicate with urban folks, not preach to my wild comrades who aren't much on the Internet.  I dunno.  What do folks think?

Bittersweet Impermanence

Carolyn and Phil left Moab together early June, making Moab feel emptier.  Phil had been with me continually, mostly camping in the canyon, for over 2 months; then he realized he had debts and family obligations to settle before fully committing to living moneyless.  Carolyn had come to Moab for over a year, and we hung out a lot, but never really camped together.  Carolyn wrote her thoughts in Facebook on experimenting with simple living, which I am adding at the end of this blog post.

I suppose I should clarify, folks sometimes have asked me if I'd been in any kind of romantic relationship with those who have come to join me or observe, and I have to clarify that it's been platonic. I say this more for their sakes than mine.

Fickle Projects

I'm still learning lessons on commitment and starting projects.  Carolyn and I started "The Sustainable Moab Project", most of which was to convert lawns to gardens as a way of making Moab economically sustainable, less dependent upon money.  We had a lot of interest at first, but it sort of fizzled.  We had plenty of folks volunteering their yards - too many, in fact, but not enough folks to work them.  Part of it had to do with Carolyn and I being too much of rookies, too.

I also had a couple other projects I was trying to do with friends.

Meet the Press

 Then my friend, Pemo, told me he had a free press pass from KZMU radio to go to the Sonic Bloom electronic music festival in Georgetown, Colorado.  It took me a whole 5 minutes to decide to go with him.  Frankly, I loved it - dancing all night with 20-somethings to cutting-edge music.  I am astounded at the endless, wondrous possibilities of music nowadays.  Pemo and I discussed what is natural what is not natural.  Even though I envision a world without money, I don't see technology as un-natural.  It is beautiful in balance, if it serves us and we don't serve it.  The problem is not the technology itself, but that it becomes out of balance and we become slaves to it, the result of marketing and mass production of products we don't need.  The problem isn't cars, it's too many cars, and we now serve cars, cars don't serve us.  Right now, electronic music is a beautiful thing.  I even saw my friend Bonnie there. 

The same creative process within us that produces art and technology is the same process that produces babies and redwoods and planets and amoebas.  When we know ourselves we know this.   

When we know ourselves, we know Creation, and we know the Seven Days of Creation are Ever Now, the possibilities as endless as the seven directions of Time and Space direct.

"Does it not say in your scripture, you are Elohim?" (quoth Jesus).  "In the Beginning, Elohim creates the Heavens and the Earth." (that's present tense, for you Hebrew scholars).  When we can stop manipulating, stop controlling, and simply say, "Let light be" or "Let the earth bring forth plants", then, paradoxically, we become participants in Creation. 

Anyway, I now had a press pass and Pemo informed me I was his KZMU assistant, so invited me to the Sonic Bloom press conference.  We got to hear from the performers' mouths, and I understood even more the human passion and art that goes into electronic music.  Pemo pointed out that many of the press were bloggers and that I was a blogger, so I belonged there.  So I said I would blog about it.  So here it is.

Now, of course, the flip side of it all is that it was a paid festival.  It did not have the same vibe as a Rainbow gathering (which is totally free), where there is no exclusion, where masses of people are so open and giving and accepting, because they are there totally voluntarily.  I occasionally felt a consciousness of my age (50 years old in a sea of early 20-somethings), an ageism at Sonic Bloom that I don't feel at Rainbow.  As much as I was infatuated with the music and all-night ecstatic dancing there, I found myself missing Rainbow gatherings with their sincere open-ness and love.  I started thinking I might want to go to the Rainbow Gathering, after all, this summer.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Rainbow Gathering 2011
When I returned to Moab this year, mainly because of the projects and not wanting to hitch-hike more this year.  But my projects were kind of fizzling.  I decided that if a magical ride to the Rainbow Gathering came along, without my asking - preferably fueled by vegetable oil, not fossil fuels - I'd go.  My friend August rolled into Moab with his friend, Jen, and invited me to join them to head to the gathering.  They said a veggie oil camper truck was coming through the next day to take us away.

I still felt a bit of a dilemma, to go or not go.  Then my friend Damian advised me: "Think of the most irresponsible thing to do and do it!  The point of your living this way is to be free of chains, and the point of your living this way is to be free from Babylon's obligations, and it makes us happy to see that.  So go for it!"

So off I went.  There were 7 of us in the Van. The driver, Collin, I had also happened to meet at Sonic Bloom.

The Rainbow Gathering was splendid and sublime for me, and I am oozing with gratitude.  What also amazes me is that I myself didn't see a single law enforcement officer there (though I had heard they had come now and then), which is highly unusual.  I never heard of any crime incidents there this time, either.  Maybe some happened, but I didn't hear of them.  I truly believe law enforcement encourages crime.  Case in point: there are usually incidents of crime at Rainbow gatherings, but nothing even near the amount of crime in towns the same size (some 20,000 people), towns under strict law enforcement.

Now I'm in Portland - not sure how long I'll stay around here.  I'm staying in the back yard of my friend Tsarra's "Ninja" house now, but have offers of some other friend's houses, too.  I haven't been to Food Not Bombs yet, but am itching to hook up with them again.  I'm hoping to eventually visit my friend Timo on the east slope, and maybe see friends in Ashland, too.  Though I love Moab, it is nice to be out of the Utah desert extreme heat, I must say. 

Carolyn's Thoughts

Okay, here's Carolyn's assessment and musings of her past year in Moab that she wrote over a month ago:

After a year of living with as little money as possible, I have realized for myself, based on my own personal experiences (not someone telling me so), that money is a useful tool that I can use for good and great convenience.  I realized there are some things I do not want to sacrifice in order to live a moneyless lifestyle: drinking fresh brewed coffee in a quaint, locally-owned coffee shop, going to concerts and festivals, chocolate, and ice cream.  I also realize that having a family, which is something I want to do, costs money these days.  At the very minimum, one needs a decent shelter for a family and in this society, right now, that requires money.  Still, living near-moneyless for a year was a valuable experience.  I now see that it is possible to live a wonderful life without money.  Also, I am free of the fear of becoming homeless or losing everything. 

Technology (electronics)
There is a time and place for all sorts of technologies.  By removing all technology from my life for a time, I've learned for myself, from my own personal experiences (not someone telling me so), when it's appropriate to use technology and why.  I haven't had a cell phone for a few months now, but still have an infrequent need to contact friends, family, a business, etc. that can't quite be satisfied by Google Voice.  Free of addiction, I will reintroduce the cell phone to my life, recognizing that when I am in the present moment with real people, it is almost always totally unacceptable to use it.  Having a cell phone will allow me to have a social life in a society not as open to the good ol' "stop by anytime" philosophy.  Having a social life is important to me and not having a cell phone greatly reduced my ability to maintain one.

Also important to me is learning.  Computers and TV can be amazing tools for learning.  So, I will continue to use them.  Today, being sick from so much raging, I watched three documentaries: The God Who Wasn't There, Moment of Death, and Food Matters... all about topics I am really interested in: religion, death, and food.  Thank goodness for these technologies!  We can learn so much!

Technology is to mind as meat is to body.  Technology is not necessary to live a good life.  Neither is meat.  To have a cell phone and a computer, other things happen: mining for the metals, oil for the plastics for the parts, electricity for their fabrication and operation, possible contamination of the environment, addiction, impaired social functioning.  To end up with meat on one's plate, many not-so-pleasant things happen too.  Being aware of the negative aspects of these luxuries, I appreciate them more and also acknowledge that one day, they may not be available to me so easily and affordably.  I'll use technology as a tool while I can. 

For a year or so, I've been running experiments in not showering, not using soap, eliminating deodorant, and discontinuing my use of shampoo.  In the desert, where the air is dry, this isn't so bad... your sweat dries quickly and washing certain areas with water and Dr. Bronner's is sufficient.

After suffering in the 97 degree, high humidity misery of Arkansas for four days for Wakarusa, I craved a shower like never before.  Constantly sweating without relief for 109 hours pushed my limits.  But, I wasn't willing to pay $10 for a shower, so I washed myself with a cloth and water.  This took a long ass time.  And within ten minutes of finishing, I already felt disgusting.  So, I now have a rejuvenated appreciation for showering...  (and air conditioning)

I wash my pits and privates using Dr. Bronner's.  Shower 1-2 times a week.  Wash my hair with water, although eventually it really needs some Dr. Bronner's.  I like Dr. Bronner's because it's organic, fair trade, mild, and simple.  And it's not very smelly.  Through experience, it seems that showering less often and using less soap keeps my skin and hair in a healthy, natural state (not dried out and in need of even more products, like lotions and conditioners).  And possibly, my natural scent/pheromones are present, which can only be a good thing in my opinion.

I haven't been very respectful of my body over the last few months.  There is lots of junk food to be had in the dumpster and it has been really difficult to control my impulses when pastries and pizza are so easily had, and freely!  At Wakarusa, I did some drugs and, as expected, my desire for junk food is gone.  I want to capitalize on this and continue eating healthily.  My next experiment will be a (mostly) raw food diet.  I have never tried this before and I expect it to be very difficult.

I never want to force myself to be active.  It should be a natural part of my life.  For the most part, it is.  I particularly love going to concerts and festivals and dancing for hours and hours.  I think dancing is one of those universal healthy good-feeling activities.  Walking or biking for commuting purposes is also entirely natural-feeling to me, so I love doing it.  Walking, biking, and dancing combined with a healthy diet should be sufficient for good health.  Maybe I'll be able to continue climbing rocks too, which would be fun.

Why all these experiments?
To be told that such-and-such is healthy or beneficial and doing it is completely different than to discover for myself that such-and-such is healthy or beneficial and doing it.  So, I experiment with my lifestyle, my activities, and my mind and body so that I can learn what is beneficial to me based on my real life experiences.  It's a lot easier to do what's good for me if I'm doing them because I know so rather than because I think so from someone telling me so.  Experimenting and coming to my own conclusions about everything increases my confidence and enthusiasm.  It also makes it pretty hard to suggest to anyone else to do something in particular.  Because everyone has to do their own self experiments to find out what's good for them.

I'm not satisfied living life a certain way because that's the way things are done, because someone said so, or because people expect it.  I am compelled to break free of childhood and societal conditioning to discover my own realities.  It's fascinating, challenging, and rewarding.  I think a lot of unhappiness in people's lives is because they follow a path that their family or friends or society or employer showed them.


  1. Glad to have you back. I think your analogy to the city park is a good one. The more accessible you can make your ideas to the urbanized the better the world can be.

  2. I would think that if you can make the website more accessible, then that makes sense. One of the beauties of human nature is that we don't have to be a wild brambly bush, but rather we can be efficient with our branches so that only the ones that produce fruit are left and the others which don't are trimmed and cast into the fire. (Biblical reference mostly for Suelo!) I'm happy for you to take either path though I've always had a soft spot for simplicity and clarity, and maybe minimalism too? I feel it's like what Carolyn was saying about technology, it's not that being manicured is bad, it's just that it tends to be abused for personal gain.

    Thanks for posting Carolyn's thoughts, I found them very interesting and she went into a lot of detail about the different aspects of living on minimal money.

  3. I felt compelled to write before I even finished the whole blog, because I wanted to say how I love the way the google site is laid out. I always felt like it was a treasure to find it, and love that it isn't sterile and typical. I love the nooks and how each time I go back, something else jumps out at me. And the information actually gets absorbed in a different way than the stuff I read in the tidy, standard blogs. But maybe I have a different kind of brain. Anyway, my eyes and heart feel good when I'm there. Love.

  4. Also wanted to thank Carolyn for sharing her thoughts- I really enjoyed reading them.

  5. Great post-----I am glad nothing is wrong as its been so long since the last post. Its always great to read these posts

  6. I'm with Chickie on the nooks and crannies of the website .. . but I intellectually agree with the comments about connecting /making it more accessible to more people- there is just soemthing in me that is SO MUCH more attracted to wild forests more than manicured lawns. . . you are so flexible Dan- could you give people a choice with clicking options? The organized one can kind of be like a structural/cliff notes/ to help people follow it-for those overwhelmed by the wild brambles? . . . It was interesting to read Caroline's comments especially on hygiene . .. I have wondered about that (& only gotten jokes from you face to face on it ;)) I recognize that we create/market/articifial needs . . . want to try to wash my hair less often since it gets dried out- especially when I exercise alot . .. but not sure if I can stand not washing the sweat out after a workout. (Joan)

  7. Hi Daniel

    Thanks for the post.
    Always interested to know what's happening with you and what's going through your mind.

    When I don't see a new post for more than a month I have to admit I worry that something might have happened to you.

    One question - do you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God ? Grateful for your thoughts.

    Best regards


  8. Daniel,

    Happy to hear you haven't lost your connection with the wind, despite your various 'projects.' And yes, that is what we in 'consensus reality' are gifted through your blogs...the experience to move freely through doors as they open without the responsibility of 'projects' no matter how much we believe in them...

    would love to hear more about the rainbow gathering if you have time.

    And thank you also to carolyn for sharing her thoughts. I really like her scientific approach to finding her own way. I believe that when we find our own way, we find ourselves.

    with much gratitude,

  9. @Michael, Raj, Chickie, Joan, Brian, Linnea, & Anonymous. I feel grateful for your comments/input, thanks.

    Yeah, I like "Where's Waldo?", but not when I have limited internet time. Minimalist deserts are good in their place, as are rainforests.

    Now it's a matter of having time & space to manicure the website, so don't hold your breath.

    @Brian - "do you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God?":

    Whether folks answer "yes" or "no" to this makes no positive difference. It would gain me approval with fundamentalists if I said "yes." Millions of people say "the Bible is the word of God" or "Jesus is Lord," yet won't practice Jesus' teachings. The same lot also says the earth is created (inspired) by God, yet don't give a hoot about the environment, declaring what they really believe. All truth, wherever and whomever it comes from, is the Word of God, but this is also meaningless unless I declare it with action. What we practice declares what we believe. If folks don't act on Jesus' practical teachings, they clearly declare them not the Word of God, regardless what their mouths boast.

  10. Hi Daniel

    Great answer. Clever answer. So are you saying that you are not sure or that you think parts of it are not inspired but would not wish to offend the many fundamentalist Christians that you know.

    Re your website, my humble opinion would be that there is no need to change it as the content is more important than the lay out.

    Thanks again


  11. <3

    all sorts of friends i've made over the last month somehow flooded into Portland the day I left, california bound. bound, literally. enjoy FNB. There's a killer vegan chef who cooks Fridays now and a neat gal, Fallon, just started feeds on Saturdays in the NE. Nothing Wednesdays, as far as I know.

    Your paragraph about the creative process made my heart sing!

    i'm finding myself missing the red of the sandstone.

    Sending smiles,

  12. @Anonymous -
    Yeah, FNB has been amazing here.

    @Brian -
    If I said the Bible is not the word of God, it would surely please the secularists & I could be "cool." I would say no human mind on earth is ever sure, but the Spirit, which confesses truth in action, is Ever Certain. The mind always wants clear-cut explanation, and will never ever get it. Never. The only certain sign it will ever get is its sure annihilation, the sign of Jonah. The mind demands, "how long will you keep us in suspense? Are you the Christ or not?" The answer Jesus gives, "What do my actions tell you?"

    I could be a politician & decide which camp I want to please, the fundamentalist or be cool and please secularist, or I could just relax and Be and let Being say it all.

  13. Hi Daniel

    I thought the "sign of Jonah" referred Jesus in the belly of the earth i.e. the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights. Don't quite get your reference to it above though I understand your final point.


  14. It's Death, the Heart of the Earth, not the tomb (only 2 nights & a day). 3 days + 3 nights is the heart of 6 directions of all space & time, the terrifying Realization of Eternity, perpetual, never-ending time (Jonah 2:6), yet the annihilation of all mind, all time, self, beyond Time. It's the only Certainty, the Sure Sign, we're all guaranteed to experience. This is a feeble attempt to describe what can't be described.

  15. Hey Daniel,

    I'm glad to know you're thriving in Portland! I'm still in Phoenix, AZ. I'm not exactly sure where I'm headed for the next couple months. Almost everything is up in the air. If you're going to be in Portland for a while, maybe next month I can come up and visit.


    - Yolanda

  16. Hi Daniel

    We could go back and forth with me asking you to clarify certain points. Maybe this is comething you could elaborate on at some future time ?


  17. Jumping back afew posts. Someone asked about hygiene. I myself camp out under some trees and it can be hard to get good hygiene at times. But generally I just take showers with a gallon jug of water, like one of those big plastic juice bottles, and I fill it with water from the park and then I use that to shower with. Keeps me clean as often as I like. For the ladies. I just use swinnimg shorts so I'm not totally naked, in case someone happens to walk by. Hopefull that's helpful.

  18. Whoops, I made it sound like I keep clean for the ladies! That's not what I meant, I was going to write that I've seen ladies do this similar type of shower with a bikini suit. Also, getting kind of personal here, there are other types of grooming which can be done while using the restroom, similar to how Indians clean but more thoroughly, if you catch my drift.

    On the subject of the Bible being the infallible word of God. The Bible itself never makes this claim, it only says that scripture is inspired. I think anyone today can be inspired by their creator, but it doesn't mean they're infallible. We all have flaws. There are few examples from the OT prophets where their prophecies contained errors, or were never fulfilled, but it doesn't take away from the message.

    That's what matters to me, the message of what a person, book, or blog is saying. Hopefully I'm not starting another argument here, I don't want to participate in one! I like Suelo's answer better than mine, but I thought I'd add it anyway for those that may be interested in such things.

  19. @Friendship - Just realized you're the "Friendship" I know! Yeah, I got to meet the chef & help for Fri FNB.

    @ Raj - thanks for the tips. Hygene is possible most anywhere if you put your mind to it, use a little creativity. In the winter desert I like to daily bathe with sand (excellent deodorant too) when I lack energy to plunge into ice water (which also gets me high). Using water (Indian style) is way better than toilet paper, too. Makes TP seem totally barbaric.

    About the Bible: yeah, nothing in the physical realm is or ever can be infallible. But all creation is divinely inspired (evidence: it breathes!).

    @Yolanda - I bet you'd like Portland.

  20. What is this "Indian style" of cleaning that people keep mentioning???

  21. South Asians use water instead of toilet paper after using the toilet.

  22. Oh, it's as simple as that... my mind was imagining something more involved and complicated, haha! Thanks.

  23. More about higyene. I spent sometime in India eons ago, and exactly like Suelo I sometimes wonder how we've lost touch with our physical bodies/bodily fuction, sure it cannot be that healthy for us. I found western toilet styles and toilet paper are backwards standards in comparation to eastern ones. I remember when I returned to the west I miss terribly the kind of indian toilets (squatting it's the best healthy position for toilet use) now I use a small stool to rise my knees above the hips as sustitute . In the UK this kind of toilet does not exist, but you do find them in the continent(we call them 'turkish' toilets) and you can do the full toilet/toilette/shower at once.

    We rub ourselves with sea sand at the beaches for full body washing. You can use the fine ashes from the fire, as shampoo and body soap sustitute too. Ash, soil, sand are great for washing-up too, but I'm sure I'm not telling anything new. Another tip, a quick rub with salt on your teeth keep you teeth clean and cure mouth infections, it's great. As a luxury we visit hot water springs/rivers around the Pyriness mountains. All our holidays are spend wild camping around Europe, we are trying to teach our children some back to basic stuff, at the end of the day they love it, and they can't wait for the next nature shock summer break. :D

  24. I've been wanting to go to a rainbow gathering for years.

  25. I love the wild nooks and crannys, please don't change a thing. You are inspiring me daily!