“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
– Nelson Mandela
To be free in New York, I must leave behind the bitterness and hatred towards the reinforced concrete and smog.
Like a white blood cell, I make my way in dark evening hours along the dense network of veins/highways to the community of Ganas on Staten Island. I’m tired of hundreds of loops, exits, intersections, bridges… where I had to navigate precisely amidst thousands of other speeding blood cells.
The heart of this metropolis is clearly in great shape, as the blood cells pushed me forward at 80 miles per hour (130 km/h), past the many signs saying 55! (90 km/h). Thinner veins thickened near the city and conglomerated into nodes and whole clumps of ever smaller veins. Bridges and exits are bottlenecks where blood cells slow down for a few minutes before rushing ahead again. The most impatient blood cells whooshed past others wherever they could.
I sigh in relief when I find myself in narrow streets, suburban capillaries, where speed bumps dictate a calm 25 mph (40 km/h). Almost there! I just have to make my way past these luxurious villas and reach the worn-down “center” that overlooks Manhattan.
Ganas intentional community on Staten Island consists of a few neighboring houses that are home to very interesting individuals. My visit is too short to meet more than a handful, but these few give me a good impression of the urban culture in the communities right now. They are friendly and open, as befits a community, the shared dinner is varied and tasty, and chatting with people is invigorating.
I am not inspired by the attitude to Covid (they encourage the wearing of masks even now), as well as the attitude towards the phenomenon of “social justice”. But those are trends and let them be — I won’t be engaging with this community in deeper ways. It’s been a long time since I stopped being weirded out by any weirdness, let alone herd behaviors.
From Staten Island, I take the free ferry to Manhattan, which offers a great view of the iconic Statue of Liberty, as well as the skyline of Manhattan.
Cynthia and I are looking for a relatively quiet space for videos for an interesting startup. Utopia! We do what we can, given the circumstances.
Towards evening we meet up with a few American Dragon Dreamers. Nice, enthusiastic people I only knew from screens, and now we’re meeting live for the first time. A pleasant walk along the Hudson River revealed where we should have gone right away to find quiet surroundings with good views.
Dinner with a view of the river and the skyline of Jersey City on the other bank was the reward for the effort, followed by an overnight stay and then a drive back to Vermont in the rain.
After four hours of buzzing down narrow veins alongside other blood cells, we stopped in the Sirius community near the city of Springfield. One of the older ecovillages in the US is still flourishing today. It’s really nice to see wooden houses in the forest, south-facing greenhouses, and to chat with one of the elders of the community.
The pulse of the metropolis tickled my guts. It’s no wonder why we’re so drawn to this pulse. But the countryside feeds my guts, feeds my spirit. A tickle is fine every now and then, but the nourishment is what I need every day.
In the middle of the night, I am awakened by snow sliding from the roof and a muffled “poof-poof-poof-poof…” as the mass of snow lands on top of the pile of snow from before. Ah, how pleasant, compared to New York’s sirens, engines, pipes whistling, floors creaking…
I’m a white blood cell. I am slowly moving along the lymphatic vessel in the background of all the hustle and bustle that takes place near our (too?) big heart. Veins saturated with insanity need little cleaners who do their work best when they leave bitterness and hatred behind. They must realize that freedom is always a subjective, internal state and that the “prison” to which we are condemned is a magical class of wisdom.