I’ve left Bloomington, and some major changes in course have occurred which are going to seriously alter the way the rest of this trip looks. For starters, I physically look quite different. When I got to Bloomington, for some reason, I kept thinking that there was something that had to be done with my hair. My knots weren’t really all that bad, but I was almost obsessively toying with them and running everything from apple cider vinegar to hand lotion through them thinking something must be done about this mess. I truly love my hair, for the most part. And I’ve always loved having long hair. I wanted to be Crystal Gale when I little and haven’t cut my hair short for a good five years now. So, I certainly wasn’t planning on cutting my my hair short when I found myself wandering into a salon to ask them for advice on how keep it from knotting. They were trying to sell me things (which I objected to, of course) and then someone blurted out, “Well, we’ll cut your hair for ten dollars if you donate to Locks of Love.” It felt right immediately. Before even thinking about I agreed and scheduled an appointment. It wasn’t until I walked out the door that I thought about the implications. I’ve been preaching non-attachment to myself and others all through this trip. And I had just read some pieces from Chogyum Trungpa that explain how the only true gift is the thing that you cherish the most. I don’t really have much that I truly cherish out here I can gift in exchange for wisdom. I have been giving offerings of what I do have with me: crystals, tea, herbs, whatever delicious food I happen to have in Connie’s cooler at the time. But, my hair! I couldn’t come up with a better gift if I sat down and meditated for hours seeking an answer. This was clearly the best next step on my path. To top it off, I was visiting Hiba, and it was with her that I boisterously (and blasphemously, she claims) performed a Muslim hair-cutting ritual in the middle of the AWP Bookfair this February. So, the following day, I made the offering and attempted to mourned as little as possible for the loss of my locks.
I spent the majority of my Bloomington trip catching up with Hiba, doing yoga at the glorious and very generous studio Know Yoga, Know Peace, and attempting to catch up on writing personalized poems. The day before I had decided to leave Bloomington, my darling friend Hiba made me a gorgeous Lebanese feast of all of my favorite foods. See photos. Afterwards, I headed out to a cafe to email said personalized poems to their owners and while there ran across a post from Terri, my new momma, at Serpent Mound about an elder in South Dakota who needs some volunteer labor to help him build a new house before he becomes homeless next month. It turns out that they’re sending a contingent from Locust Grove where i had spent some of the most magical moments of this trip so far. Again, complete spontaneously, without thought, I sent her a text saying that I would love to go along and help. When I did think about it, I got nervous, as I did with my hair. I mean, that’s not why I’m on this trip, is it? I couldn’t quite decide if this was going to be taking me off course or putting me on it. Then I revisited why I’m on this walk. It’s to collect the good stories, the healing ones; to inspire people to take radical action outside of their comfort zone with complete faith; to bring poetry to people as a feasible means of healing–all to the best of my ability, anyhow. When I composed this list, and consulted with some of my most trusted friends, it seemed to make sense. I should go.
However, I’ve also decided to allow anyone who is interested to chime in and air their grievances with me for my lackadaisical and entirely random approach to this walk, thus far. Would you rather see me dedicating myself to the act of walking with more fervor and make my way across Illinois and Iowa with all the efficiency I can muster? Because, if so, I will at least consider it. But, I’ll be quite honest. If at all possible, I would like to bring Connie along with me to South Dakota and spare myself some hundred miles of Midwest corn and soyfield, so I can only slightly increase my current speed and still make it to the Rainbow Gathering in early July in Montana. Yet, dear reader, if you disagree, please list your reasons and attempt to change my mind. I won’t be catching a ride until Sunday morning, so you have until then.
Also, I must inform you of a magical community that I have had the good fortune to randomly stumble upon after leaving Bloomington. It’s off-the-grid, so I’m not at liberty to tell you where it is; however, I will give you some pictures and tell you of the amazing stamina that its taken to get it as far as its come over the past year. This is a group of about seven adults and three children who have taken over their ancestral lands and began prepping it for farming and grazing. They’re living in tents, shanties, and just yesterday managed to have a friend with some heavy equipment move in a trailer. They’re digging ponds and putting in piping for irrigation. They’re preparing to build root cellars and permanent homes with earth sacks. Their livestock consists of sheep, chickens, ducks, and pigs so far. I’m stunned that people my age and slightly younger have managed to muster such intense dedication. I mean, I too lived without heat and showers for long stretches of time, but I was in a city where I could walk to a heated coffee and had a gym I could bike to for a shower. These guys are out in the sticks. I’m in awe of the ones who have been at building and prepping this community for years. They’re true heros. Nothing could possibly make my heart any happier to see these people reaping the benefit of manifesting their dreams not only for themselves, but for their children too. This task is ours to begin and theirs to finish. It’s so clear to me when I see their little boys chasing the chickens, watering the ducks, and listening to Rudyard Kipling stories in their tent as the sun sets that this is the work. This is work that I will do. the first steps towards paradise, and I’m willing to take them.
Come back soon for a more detailed post about early Indiana artists communities, some awesome people that I met in Brown County and Bloomington, and an oath that I propose we all take to hold police accountable for obvious cases of profiling.