Every month, here at the farm, we hold an event called a "Full Moon Fireside." It's a chance for the Sisters to open their doors and invite people into their life and their work, and to create connections with folks interested in sustainability, food, and Earth. For much of the last year, we've focused on learning more about the Transition movement, which is a decentralized, grassroots initiative in which local communities work to organize themselves to address the triple challenges of energy insecurity, economic instability, and climate change. Efforts focus on supporting the creation of more local food production, strengthening local economies, and establishing and enhancing local energy capture and production. The idea is to "transition" away from oil dependence and long supply chains into local resilience.
This month, we talked less about the "what" and the "how" of Transition, and more about our personal experience with trying to make changes in our own lives. Anne led us in an exercise from the Transition Handbook (an organizing manual) where we contemplated ways that we, individually, are "bound up" in systems or patterns which we'd like to move away from--whether gas consumption, fast-food and packaged food purchases, attachment to money. After focusing on one of these, in particular, which we'd like to change, we spent some time getting creative. And rather than focusing on the negative ("I promise never to ... "), Anne asked us to make little superheroes that embody the positive side of the change we want to see. What kind of superhero qualities would help us realize those changes?
It's funny with these things. My "oh-god-this-is-so-uncool" censor is always on high alert when it comes to visioning or creative exercises, and I have to actively work to make sure that I don't withdraw myself out of a good time. And when I do let myself actually play, and not just play along, such experiences can be eye-opening and rewarding. This time, I took a few deep breaths and decided I would not hold back.
For me, one of the things that I love the most about the farm is the sincere effort to try to eat mostly what we produce. We buy some staples: flour, sugar, milk, and some things like soy sauce, but the vast majority of what we eat comes from the work of our hands. That's deeply satisfying, and changes much of my relationship to food. And gives me great relief that I'm not part of the whole packaging nightmare, with plastic coming out of my ears and flowing into the ocean... But I still have a few "holdovers"--somehow, I still crave, or feel I deserve a "treat" now and then, and that comes in the form of junk food. Why on Earth do I think I need a treat, when I get to eat wonderful, tasty, fresh food every day...when I get to work in the Earth and pray and cook and write...when I live among funny, wise, and caring people--what on Earth do I need a "treat" for? This is clearly some kind of old pattern that keeps me connected to an unhealthy food economy, and to unhealthy thinking. And I'd love to be rid of it.
So this was the problem I chose to contemplate for the exercise, the problem for which I needed a superhero. And almost immediately, when it came to the most nerve-wracking part--the spontaneous creativity party--it came to me: my superhero is "The Green Yogini" (said in the voice of "The Brown Hornet!"). I made this little apple figurine, and used some twining branches to create the impression of crossed legs, like the seated meditation pose.
In a flash, I saw that the Green Yogini is all those things that I struggle with when it comes to food and "treats": centered, aware, and compassionate. She is calm in the face of temptation and bad habits. And she makes choices based on her values, her care for food and Earth, her understanding that life itself is the most wonderful of treats...
It may seem a bit cheesy, but the exercise was actually quite moving. Think about it: what do you want to change? And who's your superhero?