An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of October 2, 2016
Issued from Rancho Regenesis near Ek-Balam ruins north of Valladolid, Yucatán, Mexico

DISCONNECTING

In this new life most efforts take more time and energy than in most of my earlier lives. Using the Internet or buying bananas requires about an hour of biking round-trip to Ek-Balam town. About a third of that time is spent negotiating an alternately very rocky or muddy woodland road. It's hot and humid, so I get drenched in sweat. To buy fancier food such as granola and carrots, a trip to Tizimón is needed, taking over two hours round trip. Here bike tires must be kept underinflated so the tires don't split along their seams, and this causes peddling to be much harder than otherwise.

But, this is fine. A trip to town is like a body-training visit to the gym, except that the trips are free and much more interesting. Putting the body under stress and sweating copiously several times a week is good for me. I feel great afterwards, both physically and mentally.

In fact, intentionally I also do other things "the hard way" and "the slow way." We have a gas stove here I'm invited to use, but I cook my meals over a campfire. I like the daily ceremony of composing a meal, building a fire, then watching and smelling the fire and food as they mature -- white smoke, orange flames, odor of cooking onion, oil sizzling at a flapjack's edge or rainbowing atop a stew. The daily campfire is a sensory experience that enriches me, as do the bike rides to town and back. And, writing these essays in longhand before biking to where there's electricity for the computer is even more of a meditation than before.

Sometimes people ask if the time I'm spending biking, pulling weeds for burro food, and building campfires wouldn't be more enjoyably spent doing something more important. That's a good question because it highlights the question of what's important.

For, when I look at how the rest of the world spends it time, more and more I'm thinking that most of what's being done out there would be better left undone. Typically that's because the activities are environmentally damaging, or serve doctrines, dogmas, or assumptions about reality that are destructive. It's not always like that, of course. Always there are dedicated teachers, genuinely concerned doctors and nurses, those who clean up messes or grow wholesome food, or inspire us with their art or powerful insights. I'd like to be like those folks all the time, but I can't, not all the time.

In fact, in my time and place, it turns out that often the most positive, loving thing I'm able to do, is to disconnect from the world around me -- disconnect from the Dominant Paradigm of mindless consumerism and unsustainable growth -- and do it with such concentrated dedication and intention that it qualifies as an act of guerrilla philosophy, or guerrilla spirituality.

But, disconnecting doesn't mean "doing nothing." Maybe the most engaging feature of disconnecting -- besides the fact that it may be the most positive, loving gesture a person can make toward sustaining Life on Earth, and the human potential for living in dignity -- is that we who do disconnect often end up very busy doing such agreeable tasks as watching the world go by as we bike to town for bananas, or pulling weeds to feed to the burros.