Everything is Connected

Photo by Tory Zimmerman

Almost a week now without my luggage and already the universe has taught me some valuable lessons about attachment, patience and community.  I kept my cool up until last night.  I had a mini break down.  A sob outside my beach hut.  A lamenting for a razor, a dress, a pair of underwear.  Two more days, they tell me.  And you can bet-your-bottom-dollar that Delta airlines will be getting a “strongly worded letter” from me upon my return.

How do you describe first impressions?  Or fate?  Or the sneaking suspicion that you have just landed exactly where you are supposed to be?

A small bureaucratic error put me in the wrong beach cabin.  Wrong, but perfectly right.  The cabin was gorgeous.  Two double beds placed in the center of a circular thatched hut, encased in windows that looked right out onto the sea.  Mosquito nets draped over our beds like the canopy beds of every young girls’ princess fantasies.  My roommate had already set up a meditation mat, Buddha was sitting on the edge of her bed and as soon as I saw the Nag Champa incense on the counter, I knew we were meant to be.  She lent me toiletries and I rinsed off the 7-hour bus ride in an outdoor shower under a palm tree and a full moon.

I crawled my weary body into my bed and tucked myself in under my mosquito net.  The palm fronds tickled the tops of the thatched roof making the sound of a summer rain.  That combined with the rhythmic sound of the surf and it was like the black-belt of relaxation tapes.

I am living in a commune for a month.  Originally, I was going to say “essentially a commune” but there is nothing essential about it.  Without question, every single facet of this place, the people…its very EXISTENCE, is in community with one another, with nature, with the animals and, to some degree, the local economy.

It is paradise.  And it is powerful.  Extremely.  The vibration of this place made my hairs stand on end that first night I spent in my bed and my arms felt as though I had touched an electrical fence with my toes.

Within this commune I have discovered the micro within the macro.  The micro-commune where every single day someone asks me about my missing back-pack, shares their empathy and offers to share anything of theirs I might need.  Trish, a woman in her fifties who reminds me of my mom, silently left a razor next to my yoga mat this morning during meditation.  My roommate has opened up her suitcase to me as if we’ve been living together for years.  And my biggest struggle has been to accept these donations.  To not just “tough it out.”  To receive.

So how or when did we lose this awareness?  Did we stop taking care of each other when the village became a town, became a city, became a nation?  People in cities go to a Community Center to find community.  People live in gated communities so that they are separated, insulated and “safe.”  But how many of us know the names of our neighbors?

I have a window in my apartment in Montreal that faces a window in my neighbor’s apartment.  We have both positioned our dining room tables next to our windows, so oftentimes, both households end up eating at the same time.  I can see what they eat, which wine they drink (well, almost), when she smiles and plays with her daughter.  If it was a very long, grand table in a castle dining hall, we might both be sitting at either end.  I don’t know her husband’s name and only recently learned hers.  Maude.  Her daughters’ name is Florence.  I watched Maude walk around pregnant with Florence, growing larger with each passing month.  I watched her husband cradle his newborn baby in his arms.

They probably watched me vacuum naked.

So why have I never offered to babysit or bring over muffins when we practically eat together every night?  I purposely moved next to Jean-Talon market so that I could buy local, fresh produce directly from the farmers who grow it, so when I pride myself on eating locally, buying from the market and having my “egg man”, why don’t I know his name?  Fear?  Shyness?  Laziness?

We did a workshop today on fear.  We shared in small groups in response to the question:

“What is holding you back from being your true self?”

There is an eco-village here.  The community of people who live here share the burden of labors, the cooking, the washing, and maintenance.  Children run around free and everyone is a parent.  The young men build the structures, dig the ditches and then play volleyball by the sea.  Everyone eats together.  The food, the amazing bounty of tropical and fresh food (although not organic:  Brazil is the second largest producer of agro-chemicals in the world.  Buying organic is practically impossible) is delicious and GUARANTEED to make us processed-food Westerners fart non-stop.  They are completely off the grid.  Everything is solar powered.  Every participant is respected, and honored, as a valuable contribution to the system, down to the bugs that compost the earth.  The toilets are filtered by banana trees,  there are certain places for number one and number two, and I have been quite enjoying peeing in “The Nature” as they say here, open and free and dried by the ocean breeze.  The people are ridiculously gentle, loving and kind to one another and I can scarcely imagine a fight between them that doesn’t end up in hugs and rainbows.  Living like this makes people HAPPY.

I’m not sure that commune-life is everyone’s cup of tea, but I am inspired by this place.  And I know that when I return to Montreal, I will let go of fear, learn my egg man’s name, and do my best to get invited to dinner on the other side of that dining room table.


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