• catrionaocurry

Where have all the people gone?

As the world prepares for back to school in whatever format your country is offering, and parents are stressing out along with their poor kids, I want to tell you about the books I've been reading (Dark Mountain books, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummings, Untie the Strong Woman by Pinkola-Estes, and many more about the cosmos, the akashic ,field, micro-dosing, permaculture, the soul, prayer, etc), the conversations I've been having, the gathering I hosted and those I plan to host... The recipes (Chia Pudding!), the podcasts (Charles Eisenstein, Thomas Hüble, Micheal Meade!), the music (Bob Dylan's new album!)... the blogs ( and what I am sensing overall in the zeitgeist.... at least the one that I am inhabiting...

In the new edition of Mind over Medicine, Lissa Rankin writes that Sylvia Plath expressed concern about the detrimental effects of isolation on the whole person. Dr Rankin says that Isolation is poison to the body. I agree. Do you? I'm not saying that the introverted part of me doesn't thoroughly enjoy this new peace and quiet that many of us now find ourselves in... But I do miss a nice long chat with a friend and a pot of tea! It seems now that what I'd been pining for, basically a return to the 1970's, is not so unusual, and at least now I find myself in the company of others who are saying the same things about missing community... I'm concluding that it's only natural to want long stretches of leisure time to walk, sit, chat, cook and eat meals together, entertain spontaneous visits from neighbors, friends, and relatives of all ages. Kids naturally play together, sports are a great way to gather folks, but now there are rules about that too. Artists need us and we need them! How will we cope?!!

Also in Dr Rankin's book, I read about a study that was done on a village in Italy where people lived long and healthy lives ... Those that moved away from this village were dying younger, similar to those in their geographic locations. So logically, in trying to find the secret, they looked more closely at the water, the air, the food, the soil....and the habits of this village... Long story short, they eventually narrowed it down to their way of life. They gathered every evening on the village square, they gathered in large groups for meals, for stories, for songs and dancing, they kept their oral history and culture alive and passed on recipes, remedies, tips and jokes... And when too many young people moved away to the larger cities, their average life expectancy began to shorten....

This connecting, relating, conversing, getting to know one another was the key to their longevity. Now I am no Pollyanna when it comes to co-living. I lived in an island community for 5 years, and for 6 years was a facilitator of change in the area of decision-making in a co-housing community. I was a Family Therapist for over 20 years, a Group Facilitator for 25 years, A Community College teacher, a company wide workshop leader, an Organisational Consultant. I know that groups of humans are not always good at relationships, that they're not easily brought together for a common, healthy purpose. I'm hearing, seeing and sensing a strong desire to gather again in the old ways, but with more awareness. There's an eco-village in the middle of Ireland whose members openly admit to their biggest challenges being about communication and conflict resolution. I must admit that it was a relief to hear folks say it, and to read about this self awareness. Admitting there is a problem is the only way to tackle it.

We have to learn how to get along and to cope with differences. Teaching kids these skills (or perhaps having them teach us?!!) would be an invaluable piece of curriculum nowadays. I heard this morning on the radio that Irish government ministers need to talk to one another, so they can deliver a consistent and clear message about new rules and recommendations for social, educational, transport and other gatherings...

As I type, a storm rages outside that will undoubtedly bring trees down across the country. There have been crazy floods in parts of Ireland that are on high ground... A fellow in West Cork suggests that all our government departments need to talk to one another, because with climate crisis upon us, we'd better start planning together, taking into account how beneficial for everyone the (now abandoned) practice of flooding of farmland fields would be, and the building of green homes to scale with what local resources can manage, along with affordable housing concerns, etc etc... Everyone needs to be a part of the conversation in order to solve these problems. Leadership needs to be collaborative, communicative, concerned for all citizens and non citizens of our island. Leadership is not about guys standing up at the top of the room or the pulpit or the podium, it is about sitting in a circle and listening to everyone, every day. It is about opening your door to your neighbors at certain times, it is about fair voting. Majority rules, yes, by all means, but decision making has got to include input from all parties. I believe there is such as thing as collective wisdom. I don't have the answers. I need to be in conversation with others in order to uncover what it is that I feel, think, want and am prepared to do for the good of the group. Incidentally, have I mentioned before that the actual TRUE reason that those young fellas who were the subject of The Lord of the Flies survived, is that they collaborated? Google it! ; - )

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