Besides, things evolve. And I suddenly realized I felt a need to tell someone that I’m – and here’s where I realized I needed a better phrase than “old hippie,” and I hit upon – a “minimalist activist-artist” (MAA).
Here’s my definition of a MAA: We were swept up by the inspiration that life was to be lived.
We weren’t sure how long the world’s systems would survive, as we’d trained as children to kneel under our desks, preparing for the world’s destruction. Then we saw cartoons of business men running on treadmills or rat wheels, and I felt I understood, even as a child.
We were warned that if we didn’t work harder and contribute into the system, we’d be hard pressed to live much above poverty level, but we didn’t really believe the system was sustainable, so why invest in it? Besides, the alternatives looked so appealing.
We wanted to go back to the land, work with the cycles of nature, touch plants and animals, create something tangible, useful, and beautiful that would benefit the world into the future. We tried to do that. Some were successful.
But some of us were blown off our centers, fragile as we were as young adults in mind-controlled America. We met up with cons and other dangerous people. We had experiences that changed us forever.
Both my partner and I, before we met, began building our own homes by hand with hopes for the country life, family, and friends nearby, and gardens to feed and heal us. With dreams underway, both our spouses – good people – connected up with aggressive cocaine dealers, who helped them maneuver our children (all around the ages at which mind control programming is begun) away from us, mine for two years (exactly the length of time for typical programming), and his for the remainder of their childhoods. Was this itself a program? To “get” to our children? Or just a coincidence?
My memoir, RattleSnake Fire – and my life – is filled with disturbing weirdness like this. And a few events are so terrifying I’ve never told them to anyone or even written them down. (Having my children stolen, as shocking as that is, is not the scariest thing that’s happened to me.) All together, it’s blown my life sideways and made it difficult to accomplish either my own dreams or social demands.
Besides not being inspired to follow the rat race, I wonder if I’m at fault in other ways. Psychologically speaking, I know my parents never had any expectations of me except that I marry a college-educated man. When I ran away from home and eventually became a divorced single-mother back in college (in Radio-TV, hoping to do radio reporting for a radical news station), their greatest hope was that I’d graduate to be a weather girl.
All my life I’ve been drawn to defend the oppressed, beginning in kindergarten where I defended the child who was being bullied. As an adult I took an active role in the first Cincinnati Peace Conference and teachers’ peace workshops as an organizer. I attended a church that welcomed all races and sexual orientations, and supported peace and environmental issues. I played a major role in saving Tucson’s downtown inner-city grade school that anchored a large multi-generational Hispanic population in a large historic district coveted by business developers (we saved it!). And I worked to save a sacred mountain from a huge astronomy development.
All this cut into income-earning, but it was far more satisfying than any job – and seemed more useful. And I really didn’t believe the economy would maintain itself this long.
So, I was wrong. Now what?
I still don’t expect the economy to last long, but as long as it lasts, we’ve got to last. And I still have the same attitude toward work, now with less energy and physical strength (at age 62). I believe I’ve given enough of my heart and soul and sweat to make the world and my community a much better place, and as an older person I think I should be supported. Unfortunately, our laws are more complicated than that.
My partner has had a similar view most of his life too, so we both have very modest Social Security checks. We qualify for food stamps and are grateful for them. And we sing and he paints houses for extra cash. And so, like many Americans, we get by in a minimalist way.
I wish we’d been able to create those utopias, and had our farms paid for, and our gardens feeding and healing us, but we weren’t. And we’ve all been herded back to town, like sheep.
We never had a chance, really. We’d been educated to believe anything was possible (even outside the rat race), politics and economics were honest, and hard work would get a person anywhere. And we believed it. MAA.