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No More Good Vibes Only
Have you ever touched something that radiates with positive energy? I can definitely feel it while wearing my rainbow poncho. A travelling plant medicine guide brought it with her from Peru, saying it was hand-woven by native women with loving and healing intentions. Whenever I put it on, I feel embraced and hugged by the love of a hundred wise grandmas. Even the coziest sweater from a shopping mall can’t ever compare to this.
The same is true about places too. Whenever I go to Greece or Italy, I’m immediately more relaxed and chill. Maybe it’s the Sun, or the sea, or the mountains, maybe it’s the people who really know how to enjoy their lives. Either way, we could definitely use some of this energy where I live. 79 years after the Warsaw Uprising, the grief and sadness is still here.
Do you know if these were happy cows that lived a happy life?
This was the first question that came up on our drummaking ceremony. The teacher said people ask him this every time. Some of the cows that end up in his local tannery roam free in White Carpathian mountains, he said, but they can’t guarantee that there won’t be skins from cows raised in a factory farm. Either way, even the happy cows were killed for meat in the same slaughterhouse. The leather we’re working with is a result of slaughter.
“I felt uneasy about it at first, hoping to find a more ethical source. Until at my second or third workshop one guy said he’s not going to work with leather that may carry negative baggage, he’s all about the good vibes, love and light. In that moment I realized: like it or not, we are not separate from modern civilization and its impact on the animals, plants and the rest of our planet. We too are responsible for what’s happening in the meat farms and the slaughterhouses. If we can’t yet protect these animals from torture and violent death, the least we can do is honor their sacrifice by breathing a new life into their skins. Even if their story was tragic, it can still have a happy ending.”
We are not separate from modern civilization, but how often I wish I could be. Every now and then I dream of leaving Warsaw, bringing all of my friends to a small village in Northern Italy, and starting a new life free from all the ills of modern world. A cozy closely-knit community, walkable neighborhoods, healthy food grown in our backyards, happy kids everywhere exploring their dreams and interests, people singing together as they go through their everyday chores. If I could only bring together all the people who get it, and stay away from all the people who don’t, we could finally live a wonderful life in peace.
Unfortunately I know there were hippie communes like this pretty much everywhere, and very few of them are still functioning today. Even if everyone’s kids made it until adulthood before the intentional village fell apart, they rarely wanted to stay and raise their own children there. The communities that did survive eventually had to adopt modern technological advances like electricity, the Internet, or plumbing. As it turns out, there is a reason why fossil fuels have become so essential. Fuelling everything with the strength of your own hands will usually leave you tired, hungry, and poor.
I’m grateful for fossil fuels and factory farms. If it wasn’t for them, I’d probably grow up hungry like my grandparents did. We can’t keep going like this forever, and I’m sure we’ll find better solutions soon, but our ancestors had very good reasons to abandon subsistence farming. I may not like how it turned out, but it deserves my respect.
“Turning away from the world is often an important part of the healing process. You can’t break free from certain patterns in the same environment that made you sick. I know this was the case for me, for many years I’ve adopted the philosophy of veganism and didn’t want to have anything in common with all the cruelty of modern life. But there comes a time when you realize that no matter how hard you try, you are still a part of this civilization, and if you’re turning away from it you’re turning away from a part of yourself.”
I know it’s tempting to live surrounded by good vibes only
It certainly has been the case for me. Therapists and gurus everywhere say you should free yourself from toxic people, that it’s better to live all alone than subject to emotional pain. But once you have a kid, you realize you can’t raise her in isolation. The world around will still influence her for better or worse. Instead of putting yourself in opposition to this world, you can learn to love it for what it is, lead by example, and inspire everyone to do better.
I often wonder if this was the reason why most of the hippie communities failed. They tried to be a tribe of shamans, or a village of witches. But real witches and shamans use their gifts to serve all the ordinary people living their ordinary lives. They can work with the bad vibes, sad vibes, and terrifying vibes, and transform them into something beautiful. It’s totally fine if you’re not capable of doing it yet. But if you dream about creating a better world, this is definitely a good thing to aspire to.
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