Time - Money - Ownership

SUBHEAD: Breaking free of this unholy trinity is needed to thrive in the future we face.

By Christy Ceraso on 17 November 2013 for Nature Bats Last -

Image above: Screen shot from coputer game Witch Island Legacy. From (http://www.doublegames.com/legacy-witch-island.html).

[Author’s note: All of the women in this essay are highly intelligent, relatively independent thinking, remarkably creative, alternatively-minded women whom I admire. Hence they demonstrate the awful tenacity of the mental traps of time, money, and ownership I will be elucidating with these stories. Names have been changed.]

A few months ago I was sitting on the couch thinking about life, and I said to my closest friend, “Jackie, private property is not real.” And her reflexive response was, “But, how would you live, I mean, what about your house?” She was referring to the home, and the small area of earth around the house, that my family occupies, for which we pay a monthly mortgage, with interest, to a bank, along with property taxes and several kinds of required insurance.

I said, “Jackie, I don’t know how to undo the structures of our society. I am only saying that they are based on illusions, deceptions, and I think we all need to start talking openly about that.

Because we all know it’s true — we know that no one owns the Earth — and yet we all go along with the system to protect our survival within it. However, we cannot begin to dismantle it, or in any way to be free of it, if we are not even going to admit that it’s a bunch of lies.” She looked at me and didn’t say another word. She really didn’t want to go there.

For her, and I think most people, it is very difficult to hold the two perceptions in understanding simultaneously: I am participating in a societal structure based on false concepts which dictate my life and upon which I depend on for my survival, and, there is nothing in the immediate or any foreseeable future that I can do to change that.

This is hard to accept because the implication is that we are not free beings — we are enslaved, or, imprisoned, within a deceptive socio-economic system. This is a very unsavory circumstance to become aware of. So most people just don’t.

I hate to pick on my sweet friend again, because she is really one of my favorite people, but she is such a perfect illustration of our predicament, that I cannot resist. Jackie is always busy. She runs around town, from errand to errand, from job, to store, to child’s lessons, to mother’s classes, to doctor’s appointments, to therapist’s offices … on and on.

Meanwhile, she wistfully dreams of retreating to a little cabin in the mountains, to be quiet, in no hurry, with no driving and no schedule, just her, her daughter, and nature.

But there is her giant mortgage to pay, and her daughter’s private school tuition, and her husband and mother to look after, and on and on. Her entire day, almost every single day, is fixed, according to the clock. Like most people, she is chained to clock-time.

A couple of nights ago I sat “guard” outside a cave with a a woman, Sabrina, while her lover went into a lava tube for an overnight vision quest. The quester was planning to come out before dawn. Since it would be pitch black in the cave she could end up sleeping all day in there. So she had set her “alarm clock” to wake herself.

Why does waking up have to be alarming? The definitions of alarm from my Mac computer’s dictionary app are: fear, anxiety, apprehension, trepidation, nervousness, unease, distress, agitation, consternation, disquiet, perturbation, fright, panic. Do we really need to wake up and be alarmed by clock-time?

As we settled into our sleeping bags Sabrina asked me if I had a time piece on me, and I replied that I had my cell phone, turned off. I gathered she wanted to set an alarm to coordinate waking up before dawn. I ignored the implication. Then she said, “Well, I told her to just wake me up.” The time dilemma solved, we moved on from the subject.

I didn’t sleep much, so in the morning I was awake well before sunrise. In the predawn light I started to pack up my gear. Sabrina expressed her curiosity about the time. “Well”, I said cheerfully, “I know its morning!” We walked some of our things over to the cars.

As we moved among the quiet trees we absorbed moisture like moss in the misty rain that fell. Sabrina mentioned the time again. In response I wondered aloud at the plethora of mushrooms popping up everywhere. Finally, standing at the car, glaring evidence of our chain to industrial civilization, she asked me directly if I would check the time. So, I did. Snagged!

 Even when we had no schedule we had to adhere to, no place we had to be in the near future, even though we were doing this otherworldly shamanic thing, she had to know the frigging time! We walked back to the cave and met up with the quester who was just emerging. What difference in our experience did “knowing the time” make? None whatsoever!

We can’t even take the shackles of clock-time off when we have the physical freedom to do it. We have all been well trained to keep the mental chains of clockocracy on ourselves at-all-times!

Yesterday I brought a few edible hibiscus cuttings to my son’s school and gave them away. I offered one to the teacher’s assistant, a single mother with a one-year-old baby, and she said “I’d take it but I don’t own … I don’t have anywhere to put it anyway.” Now, the reader must understand that this community is not an urban environment.

The perennial plant I offered simply requires it’s thick, woody stem to be screwed into moist earth in the sun or partial shade. The edge of a forest facing south works great. Since it rains almost every day here, it is ridiculously easy to grow. A little mulch (ever-falling coconut palm leaves, or fresh kitchen scraps, really anything will do) and presto: healthy green food. For free.

 So I stood there a little baffled as she walked away, trying to make sense of her response. Now I can articulate my confusion: What does “owning” have to do with having food, anyway? In reality, nothing! But we don’t usually live in reality. Since she doesn’t “own” “private property” she either feels she doesn’t have the right to plant any food, or she doesn’t want to “invest” in something she may not have control over, and therefore access to, later.

So, like most people, she has to have money so she can get her and her baby’s food from the store. The idea of private property has us chained to the money system, because we will not grow food or medicine unless we “own” the land where we live. However, buying land also requires money. So, unless we inherit land or money to buy it, there is little “free time” or physical energy left to “spend” to grow food when you have work to “make money” to pay just to live somewhere on the Earth.

Last weekend, at the end of a permaculture design class, a woman participant was in a lot of pain and could hardly stand. A small bug bite on her ankle that she had scratched had gotten infected, and the infection was suddenly spreading up her leg. It was Sunday evening so there were no doctors, except at the hospital emergency room, were available to her.

My husband is a Traditional Chinese Medicine student, and I am a witch from way back, so I brought her home with me and we gave her everything we had and knew to help her. Some people die from jungle infections so this was not a joke. She got a lot better by morning and thankfully didn’t need a middle-of-the-night, three-hour emergency room run for antibiotics.

This woman expressed her deep gratitude to us for the healing help, but even more so for the hospitality. She is a young traveler working at a nearby retreat center, and when this happened she had no identification, no money, and no phone on her person, and no car, close family or friends anywhere nearby to call on. She was scared and alone and we gave her shelter, food, warm clothing, transportation, medicine, a comfortable place to sleep, reassurance, and love. I was more than happy to offer her whatever we had.

From her response, it is clear that our kindness in itself was a form of healing for her. She is quite an independent, strong, warrior-woman and this was a vulnerable and humbling experience for her to be in such need. To have all of her needs met out of no-where by caring strangers was like a revelation. “We are all in this together,” I told her, because we are.

So, lately I began to remove the shackles of clock-time, money and ownership as much as possible. I have had practice doing this from an earlier, less fettered, pre-parenthood phase of my life. Back then it was easier, since I didn’t have a regular job, a fixed locale, debt, or monthly bills of any kind! Those were the days … if only I had not succumbed to the pressure to be “normal”!

I have begun in earnest to make the mental adjustments to reality within my present life circumstances. I recently missed some work appointments, but I gave myself plenty of slack for that, because I know that I actually am in reality free of clock-time, I know I want to live the freedom of reality as much as I possibly can, and I am trying to find the farthest limit.

You see, I still have pay the mortgage, buy gas for the car, pay the student loans, and purchase food, clothing, and electricity for the family. I still have to pay attention to clock-time so I can have money, which I know is not real either, so I can survive within the prison of this patriarchal system called modern civilization. I cannot fully walk away from clock-time, money, or ownership any more than Guy McPherson can walk away from empire. Not yet.

But I can get greater and greater mental distance from the fuzzy blanket of deception, and I can create experiences of freedom and power in which I live in reality. Experiences in which I do not look at a clock, and I forget about clock-time for as long as possible. I know it isn’t real, so why should I think about it? Do you keep track of time, or does time keep track of you?

I am also beginning to create experiences in which I offer cuttings and seeds to people willing to plant them. At first I tried to work with the county to incorporate edible landscaping in a public park being developed.

I got a lot of boro-cratic resistance and eventually gave up. (I later found out that the county had elicited community input for the development of this park, and that a group of people had spent many hours developing edible landscaping designs, which were duly discarded in subsequent drafts.)

I will also be planting food and medicine — everywhere, permaculture style — not just in the gardens around the house I live in. I am beginning to plant the seeds of inspiration in others to do the same — guerrilla gardening. Food and medicine for everyone. For free.

I am creating experiences in which I welcome strangers and friends into my home to eat and sleep and be nurtured, making it their home too for as long as they are here. I sometimes stay the night at a friend’s place, or camp somewhere in a forest, or sleep on a beach, because I want to connect with the community of life all around me, and feel the freedom from the shackles of illusory ownership. I go on mini-walkabouts. Each flowing, unmeasured moment in which I walk, sit, swim, dance, squat and lay on the earth, I know that I am always home.

As I have come to integrate the reality of Near Term Extinction (NTE), I realize the mental predicament for many people. If we accept that we are creating destruction of the Earth’s living systems with industrial civilization, and realize that our daily survival depends on this industrial civilization, a patriarchal system of enslavement of life, enforced with the concepts of time, money, and ownership — and religion (which requires an essay unto itself) — and, we also realize that there is little to nothing we can do to change any of that, well, that is often too painful to ponder any further. So most people just don’t.

I would guess that most people who are aware of NTE, and who accept that it has been unavoidably initiated, are people who have been feeling it, watching it, knowing it is coming, for most of their lives. I read George Orwells’s 1984 in 6th grade; it was 1979 and I was nine years old, and I could see that it was all happening already.

At nine I also read a 600-page historical novel of the life of Sacagewea, and I began to learn what had been done to the native peoples of Turtle Island, and with what treachery the United States was founded. I identified with this indigenous woman who struggled to maintain her dignity and her sense of sanity while being used and abused by various men, trapped in the death culture of patriarchy.

When I was nine I went into a depression, a semi-secret sorrow that never really left me. I have continued to witness the brutality unfold all around the world throughout the rest of my life. I have tried to help, in my own ways. Eventually I came to realize that I myself had been partially crushed from the very start, and that the wounded were going to endlessly stumble off the battlefield onto my bodywork table.

I always hoped the destruction would end, hoped we could change, that we as a species would turn things around and finally protect and honor life. Now that hope is gone, so I simply chose to live in reality, to be one with the whole of life, and to help others who are willing and able to do the same.

However, the human disposition typically includes an inability to quickly integrate extremely traumatic information. We usually try to make things “okay” even when they aren’t, so we can go on.

We dissociate, we divert our attention, we create fantasies, another whole reality if we have to. Our individual nervous systems have varying degrees and types of resilience to pain and trauma. If you are able to look at reality now, especially at the reality of NTE, you probably have been doing so already to some extent or another, for a long time. You are probably able to integrate more pain than the average person.

Personally, I always want as much reality as I can handle, because my observation is that when I am able integrate experiencing that much pain, it means I can also feel that much love. And, vice-versa. I suppose that could be called a blessing in disguise.

• Christy Ceraso is a bodyworker and counselor by profession, specializing in trauma resolution. In the face of near-term human extinction, she is coming out of the closet as a writer, speaker, and singer/songwriter. She lives on and with the island of Hawaii.

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