When I was 12, my mother had a heart attack. As a homeschooler in Canada on a visitor's visa, I literally had no friends, and the most important person in my life could go at any moment. My sense of security in every sense was threatened. I began to wonder how I could survive on my own, but also what my wishes were for my deathbed, what life would I want to look back on so I could die peacefully?
For quite a long time, I believed in radical individualism. I was prepared to live life alone and try to supply everything I needed alone. Losing my parents just a few years ago, my heart was broken open. I realized that attaining some goal of complete self-sufficiency wouldn't be worth it without community.
So at the end of my life, if my spouse passes away before I do, I sure would love to have close friends there to say goodbye to. I'm the youngest of my brothers and sisters and I don't plan to have children, so I'm looking at you: do we belong in friendship together? Can our friendship move us forward to our natural habitat? What would this look like?
My other dying wish is that I leave a garden that can grow on without me, with protection from the threat of it turning into a parking lot.
Then my last dying wish, is that I leave a path that makes it easier for others to do what has been so, so hard for me to even get a little closer to: live in deep, regenerative relationship with nature and my fellow humans and enjoy abundant garden-life together
If I were to die next week, I would not die peacefully, because I don't feel close to these wishes, although I suppose I've gotten about half an inch closer.
I have felt a lot of hope that this could happen in Austin. The people I've met here, have given me hope. The landlords, the corporations, the government, the various "buyers", the house prices, the powers-that be, have dashed my hopes. So I'm half-way hopeful. I'm wondering if my deathbed wishes could happen here in Austin, or if its easier somewhere else. Maybe I need to move to where its already almost there, or where I have more agency because I can own a backyard and therefore create the space for what I'm looking for?
I don't know. That has felt especially painful in the last couple weeks, as I've been moved out of my current studio space for my business and had to look elsewhere, and its brought up all these others questions of place, belonging, agency and the like.
I feel lost at times, like I don't really know if I'm making the right choice trying to get more deeply rooted in Austin, where land ownership feels impossible right now, yet is crucial for permaculturely-oriented gardens that can move beyond sustainability and zero waste and into regenerative impact. To serve and care for the earth and each other, its much easier if I can own or collectively own some piece of land. A community garden where I can't even plant a fruit tree, have to drive half-an-hour, and the people who are there are moving two hours away ...yeah that's a lot harder.
Even if I won the lottery and got a house here in Austin, who would be my neighbors? Would they be on their way out because their old house will sell for a lot more now that values have sky-rocketed?
I feel a radical change happening, and I can't feel if its happening inside of me, around me, or both. Am I about to stumble on an amazing opportunity to be part of something here in Austin? Or am I feeling an internal resolve where I pick up my things and move somewhere else? I don't know. All I know is, things will change, and this wave approaching is an unusually large one.
So I don't know what else to do except keeping growing roots into Austin, while I keep growing out tendrils to other areas. I will try to grow in every direction, like an unkempt vine that's looking for something to hold onto until it finds the sun where it can bloom and make friends with the bees and butterflies stopping by for a snack and chat.
What this practically looks like: I'll go in shifts. I'm going to spend the 2nd Saturday of each month (and probably most of the week) taking yet another leap of faith that Austin is where this could happen. I'll invest more deeply in the friendships, gardens, etc. happening here.
The 1st and 3rd week of each month, I'll forget about all of that and emphasize care for the rest of my life...my business, laundry, etc.
The last week of each month, I'll look to other lands. I'll take a leap of faith in some way, that a radical move may make these deathbed wishes all the more possible. Where I could plant a garden, and not be priced out. Where I could seek community, without a traffic jam in the way.
I will say this would all be a lot easier decision-wise if I could give up having close friends. Then my spouse and I could move out to the middle of nowhere, live off grid etc. It would just feel lonely and unsatisfying.
I will say this would all be a lot easier decision-wise if I could just give up having or being part of a "permanent" or regenerative garden and just focus on community. I am of nature, so I'd like to bring or join others to move closer to our natural habitat, holding onto the wisdom of the past while embracing the future along the way.
I will say this would all be a lot easier decision-wise if I could just pack up my things and move to an eco-village, a commune, or something like that. Yet I feel like I'm losing a big part of my purpose on this planet: to help those who can't or won't join an eco-village, yet long to create and support a more anti-fragile, intentional community filled with thriving plant and people life in their immediate surroundings.
So basically, I still don't know what to do, but I'm doing something, and I hope it counts.