Recreational pot smoking was never one of my talents. I was just putrid at it.
In college I was the killjoy in the corner, saying nothing for fear my lips might stretch hugely & stay that way. My boyfriend solicitously packed us more bowls. Surely my coolness would return, given the right conditions.
Would I care to order bread sticks? Chant softly about Jah People?
No. A spliff big enough to make me believe we were in an impoverished Caribbean island-nation did not yet exist. For one thing, his friends were white. As in a kind of white that goes beyond skin tone.
Their souls, I thought stonedly, must be made of soft, non-nutritive bread sticks.
Fraternity boys. Nicknamed after bodily secretions, these were the future corporateurs of America. Literally.
Marijuana cannot soothe such folk. Studies have shown it actually makes them bark.
At least the hippies before my time had made gestures toward brotherly love, consciousness uplift, etc. Of course, back then, before the plant had been hybridized to produce higher & higher THC levels, the marijuana was a lot gentler.
Perhaps this made young folk feel tender toward one another. It was the dawning of the age of Aquarius, after all.
My day was more like the dawning of the age of Applebee’s.
Mystical connection with anyone or anything was no longer the point, even ostensibly. The point was to disconnect further so that the pain of lack of connection no longer hurt.
Homelessness comes in many different forms.
Now more than ever, many of us seek respite from the disposable world, with its disposable products, species & people.
Finding community within such a cultural landscape can be difficult enough, with or without recreational lubrication. Communing with spirit, however one may define such, can be downright daunting.
(Going to Costco, for instance. Once you’ve shown your member card, your soul is instantly & painlessly tethered to a kite string to wait outside until your body has finished hunting for savings in the great white forest. They carry Kerrygold cheese, though, from pastured cows, & so, God help us, it may be worth it.)
So does locating a sense of the sacred then require a cave, a prophet-like air &, ideally, the Himalayas? Perhaps with a side of burning sands?
Well, good ole American transcendentalist literature tells us one reliable method for pulling off the whole finding-sanctuary & right-livelihood-thing could be a shack in the woods. And so I lusted for one.
This is how Johnny D later snared me like a love-hunter in a great brown forest. He had laid his trap: one room cabin, mountain, nonstandard employment.
…Also a prophet-like air, enhanced by the worst thrift store clothing ever engineered.
Pretty soon that cabin was a bustling little shack o’ life. It’s amazing how many children, pets, Mason jars & Dixie cups of 1-Shot paint one room can contain if only you keep building shelves. And building them. (Note: Children will not remain on shelves, regardless of threat.)
Thoreau may not have approved. This was not exactly a spiritual retreat in the woods, but our actual way of life. Our home & labors were – then & now – both sustenance, connection to community & source of starry-eyed wonder. (On unusually good days, anyway.)
As well as recreation. Though we’ve lived many places – rural, suburban, urban, trailer park – since the love-forest, our date nights will probably always involve scrounging for wood.
There is nothing more romantic than trying to laugh quietly when both of you get stuck in a construction dumpster, from which it is probably illegal to be harvesting scrap wood to make into signs, furniture & home décor.
Not exactly a night out at your neighborhood Applebee’s.
Which is not to say Applebee’s & their ilk are soulless. Their boards of directors most likely consist of our own frat boys all grown up, after all. Salt of the earth.
If, in a disposable culture, fraternity houses substitute for Community while thoughtlessly ingested substances stand in for Communion, then the food & décor of mid-level chain restaurants must count as Hearth & Heritage.
From Marilyn Monroe to vinyl records to, like, whole snowshoes on the walls, we’re supposed to form an emotional connection.
And we do. At least, Johnny D & I do: Those old-looking signs straight out of the corporate office, for instance, induce in us a great gnashing of the teeth.
(Assuming they still decorate this way. My grandmother died a few years ago, so I haven’t actually been in an Applebee’s/Ruby Tuesday/Friday’s/Bennigan’s/Chili’s/Chotchkie’s in a while.)
Perhaps putting fake memorabilia on the walls goes beyond lulling the rest of us into buying more Kaj’n Chik’n, though. Maybe, secretly, the décor soothes the suits, too. Makes them feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Something fun, even.
They were never very cool when young, you know? Who else barks during “No Woman, No Cry?”
Yippie Kay Yay
Nor can their jobs be easy, truly. Imagine spending the better part of a lifetime convincing oneself that short-term growth at long-term cost is Important & Good.
Wrangling neverending profit from manufactured belongingness & pretend foodstuffs, sourced from fellow fraternity brothers’ Darth Vader companies, served to unsuspecting grandmas.
All for the purpose of populating a 3k square foot home with as many gadgets as possible. From which warmth & security will – surely — arise.
The anxiety must be horrendous. No wonder corporate executives of all stripes need annual retreats.
Getting high on nature calms them, like us, given our shared core humanity.
(It seems they may need special teambuilding games, challenges & amenities to make the effort worthwhile, however, according to this.)
Perhaps it’s their fraternity roots. Initiations often took place out in the woods, as I recall. Forest & fire add a certain gravitas, even for dubious ceremonies meant to seal dubious bonds of brothershipness.
If only…we could just sort of make them STAY in the woods, or out among the cattle. Just rock the simple life for a while, transcendentalist-style. Eventually, perhaps, they might pick up on some sense of the sacred.
Then maybe they might reconsider their policies of crapping all over the planet.
By golly if they don’t make this difficult, though, by deciding the danged trees are disposable, too.
Yes, this: Genetically modified trees. Despite the universally restorative comfort of woods, of simple homes made from free or cheap, locally available materials, of hot homemade meals within, made from actual food, grown in actual clean, rich soil.
You know, our true common cultural landscape.
Well, it wasn’t enough to mess up the food, soil, air & water. Now it’s time to go after the trees & thus the iconic cabin materials as well.
Whoa ho-ho, cowboy-Rastafarians!
Amongst the gigantic moral, ethical, environmental, practical & spiritual questions regarding genetically modified trees lie these burning questions:
How will Johnny D & I harvest scrap wood for signs & stuff if the trees are patented, the way frankenseeds are now? Will the wood watch us when we sleep?
And: Can we just go ahead & officially get marijuana genetically modified, too? So that we all may forget, blessedly forget, real trees, forevermore?
Let’s hold hands now, brothers & sisters.
In the spirit of community, of gratitude, of good ole solid wood, of handmade by real humans, & in the spirit of pastured cows boldly showing their faces at Costco, we’re having us a giveaway.
If you’d like a chance at winning The Farm’s Fanciest Cameo Cow Coat Rack below, leave us a comment describing how you build sanctuary into your home &/or life, wherever it may be.
Extra ways = extra points. Signing up for the Bare Root Studio newsletter = another extra point. Be sure to put your total number of entries at the end of your comment. Let’s not get crazy here – one comment only, please.
Sharing this giveaway across the vast social webs would be awfully nice of you, though….
Winner will be announced on May 3!