I don’t know what to do. It’s 5:30 a.m. My arms are weak and my hands are almost too shaky to type. My nose is running and sneezing, as it has been for three weeks. My eyes are itchy, burning and swollen. My mouth is dry and I have sores under my tongue.
I’m so tired I can barely concentrate, but I can’t sleep because I am tormented by obnoxious dreams that remind me, that despite my access to countless big box stores carrying copious amounts of “organic” produce, I am starving.
I’m so thirsty, but I am out of kombucha, raw milk yogurt and bone broth. I can’t afford kombucha and couldn’t find the latter two in the store even if I could afford for someone else to make them for me. I definitely don’t have time to make them myself. My filtered tap water, while free of fluoride and chlorine, is free of the other 84 minerals necessary for life as well, and therefore doesn’t quench my thirst.
I work on a food truck called The REAL Food Truck, but because of consumer demand, lack of time, and the need to stay profitable, our once varied, nutrient-dense menu has been streamlined into four sandwiches and fries. Don’t get me wrong, Brad makes a damn good grass-fed burger, veggie burger, fried chicken sandwich and goat cheese grilled cheese, but those are the only four things we have time to cook anymore. The only one I eat – because it’s the cleanest, healthiest option on the menu – is a bunless burger, and I can only eat that so many times per week.
I spend a huge chunk of every day washing, cleaning, scrubbing, sweeping, mopping, shopping, list-writing, emailing, prepping food truck food, laundering, cleaning some more and not cooking for my family. Our goal in starting a food truck was to provide nutritious, healing food for others, and now we don’t even have time to make it for ourselves.
Meanwhile, our 4-year-old daughter sits in front of the TV all day eating organic ice cream sandwiches and potato chips. This is among my greatest disappointments and failures in life. She needs more attention from us, and more importantly, she needs interaction and playtime with other children.
But unfortunately there are no children around here. We live in a city of nearly 100,000 people, but we know only one 8-year-old child on our street, who is almost always at school or otherwise occupied. There is a community playgroup down the road from us (which is awesome), but it meets on our workdays, and I’m lucky if I can find two hours a week to supervise Nora at it.
Like lots of our friends in Asheville, we keep insisting the answer to this problem is to live in a “village,” or more accurately, a tribe – a small group, of close-knit, interdependent people, who live and work and play together, and who raise their children together. Everyone says they want that, but no one knows how to create it. No one knows how to actually make it happen. How could we when we haven’t ever seen an example of one for thousands of years?
So, as a substitute, Brad and I decided a few weeks ago to pay for a “village” to raise our child. I’d never had any intention of sending Nora to school, especially not this young, but after researching Waldorf education, I decided it was the next best thing to being raised by a tribe of people that included her parents. I was clearly failing as a parent (mainly because my lack of family/community), and it had to be better than letting the TV raise her, I reasoned.
A few weeks, a couple of practice school days and two tuition payments later, I am almost sick over my decision. Although Nora likes her teacher, she’s expressed time and time again she doesn’t want to go to school. She’s dying for more time with “kids” and “friends,” but not at the expense of being away from her parents.
We tried a similar school a year ago. It was painful to watch how torn she was having to make the decision between spending the day playing in an awesome Montessori/Waldorf wonderland with half a dozen friendly, imaginative girls her age and walking back out the door with me to go watch TV at home. She didn’t want to choose. She stated clearly, again and again, that she wanted both. She wanted me to stay at school with her.
Instinctively, she wants what her ancient ancestors had – a very small village, where dozens of children of all ages play and explore together all day, but never out of earshot – or at least walking or running distance – of their parents, whose time was freed up to work and play with other parents, without children pulling at their loincloths begging for attention.
She wants parents who don’t have to be overworked and stressed just to obtain real, nutritious food for her, and who have plenty of leisure time to spend with each other and her. Parents who aren’t yelling and fighting and freaking out just to keep the business running and the bills paid. Parents who don’t have to decide between driving their child to play dates and going out of business.
I’ve thought about this and thought about it, and tried everything I could think of to make life easier. This can’t be the only way. There has to be something better, I keep telling myself. My whole life I’ve been searching and researching to try to get to the bottom of why life is so hard, why society is so fucked up. From the little reading I’ve had time to do lately (Sex at Dawn and The Vegetarian Myth… Ishmael is next on my list), I’m starting to think the world’s troubles started around the same time as agriculture.
This article summarizes the theory pretty well – “Archaeologists studying the rise of farming have reconstructed a crucial stage at which we made the worst mistake in human history. Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny.”
“Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity: deep class divisions. Hunter-gatherers have little or no stored food, and no concentrated food sources, like an orchard or a herd of cows: they live off the wild plants and animals they obtain each day. Therefore, there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others. Only in a farming population could a healthy, non-producing elite set itself above the disease-ridden masses … “Thus with the advent of agriculture an elite became better off, but most people became worse off. ”
I’ll get more into it in a future post, but basically agriculture has turned into a pyramid scheme. The more food we grow, the more people we produce – less healthy people (than hunter-gatherers) with poor nutrition. The more people we have on the planet, the more overpopulated we become and the harder we have to work and fight against the earth to keep everyone fed.
I think we’ve reached a tipping point, where people are forced to slow down their baby-making habits, but my generation is still reeling from the effects of the baby boomer generation and the “green” revolution (in which we turned to petroleum to make food after stripping the world’s top soil). We live short, diseased lives and we work our asses off just to keep a rented roof over our heads, and one or two children fed.
Treading Water Back to Village Island
Anyway, I can’t remember where I was going with this post, but I’m feeling a little more optimistic in the middle of this following night. Humanity has spent the last 10,000 years or so in the dark ages, working as slaves for the owners of land, food and the money supply. But we’re starting to wake up. We don’t know how to get back to the paradise we lost or what it looked like, but we’re envisioning it and working our way back, step by step.
We’re realizing it’s not worth it to be slaves to our junk – houses, cars, TVs, furnitures, fancy clothes, trips to the salon, knick knacks, beer, etc. – anymore than it is to be slaves to our employers. We’re cutting out the crap, little by little, and replacing it with more time with our friends and families/tribes and nature. We’ll get there, back to Village Island, even if we have to swim against the current the whole way.