Since the inception of Occupy Wall Street and its offshoot movements in 2011, I have started following the loose confederation of people who consciously live simply and in some extreme cases entirely without money. Starting with the reading of the book The Man Who Quit Money, I began to realize that another way of life is out there for people who have grown to understand that the prevailing western system in destined for collapse. Gradually, over the past three years I have found the Facebook pages and blogs of several people who live simply. I have made several connections in particular that been particularly spiritually sustaining. One of them is to an Indiana artist whose work is featured above entitled “Leaves Blowing in the Sunset.” Her name is Steph Raven and her artwork can be found here. She recently spent the past year traveling to Moab and the Pacific Crest Trail. I loved the way Steph brought a camera with her on her hike and travels into Moab and on the Pacific Crest Trail. She created this awesome photograph blog of her travels. I have a camera that I may bring too on my travels this next year in 2015. I think she is onto something when she decided to not bring an electronic communication device with her on her trip. It keeps one in the present moment to severe ties between yourself and the communication grid. I have a Verizon cell phone that I may bring along on my Appalachian Trail hike because it gets signal on the trail, but I will certainly not bring a smartphone. It may be a good idea to not bring any communication device at all, but doing so would probably not make my mother happy. She would like to stay in touch with me on the trail and hear my stories as I encounter them.
The central thing that I am focusing on in this next year in 2015 is regaining my physical and mental health. I think one of the biggest thing that has caused me suffering in recent years is too much communication technology. I think that making connections to people like Steph that are part of the solution to our culture is absolutely worthwhile and worthy of focusing on. Her blog really inspired me this past year to break out of my patterns of always working for someone else and think about doing something epic and wonderful like thru hiking the Appalachian Trail. Pretty much Daniel Suelo’s and her blog are the inspiration for me to live counter to the ways of Babylon in this next step to hike the Appalachian Trail. They give me a glimpse of a way of life that is for life. I think of it like the way that synapses are pruned in the brain of a young child. Children start out with way more synapses than adults and gradually the synapses that are important are strengthened and the ones that are unimportant are removed. In the same way, I want to strengthen friendships that promote living in the moment by the Spirit and weaken those connections that cause anxiety and suffering from life ways that are not in accord with the Spirit. Yesterday, another child was shot dead at the school where I was working. I got the announcement on my work email. I think that I do not want to be working in a place where several children have been killed by guns. I know that it is important to help people in poverty, but I do not know if working in public school is the way to do that. I am deeply saddened by this killing, and it is for that reason that I need to put some distance between the environment that caused the killing and myself. Simply put, given what I have shared elsewhere on this blog, I do not need to be in such an environment for my own personal health. I think one of the major themes of conversation I will have along the trail starting in February will be about education and social justice. There is a blog of a former teacher in LA that I found that talks about many of the issues I see as important for teachers in high need areas that I’ve shared with some. One of the major themes that she puts forth is helping teachers in these high need areas to become more like mental health professionals. Smaller classes, more time for grading, more support, etc.
Just got the message that there will be a big fight today at my school based on social media chatter and that if I were in the classroom I was supposed to put students in “lockdown” just like a prison. The line between prison and school for some students today in Atlanta is very thin. This is very sad to me and makes me feel a deep need for working more effectively on advancing the cause of learning in those that are in need. I do not know exactly where to focus my efforts, however. Let that take time. In the mean time, I will strengthen my connection with the International Rescue Committee, the nonprofit I worked with last year. I have a former teacher friend there who has been very supportive of me. He warned me about public school teaching as a profession and I can see where he was coming from in these warnings. I think that the path of John Muir is the one that I am going to follow while I meditate on healing and learning to live in accord with the Spirit. In Muir’s words, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”
InnerLight Enlightenment by Dr. William Kaya Erbil is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.