Friday, February 2, 2018
Being here, in the middle of nowhere, is most certainly an experience that fosters some soul searching. The isolation, the poverty, the heat, and the barrenness of this desolate location would stir the most hardened heart. We come for a visit, and in so doing, we live next to the folks who call this home 365 days a year. I’m not one of those and I really doubt that I have the fortitude to pull it off.
If you have followed us on this journey, you might remember that my sleepy time is spent on a fold out hide-a-bed sofa. To say that this causes discomfort would be a gross understatement. I’m just guessing that 18 years ago, when the Hag was an infant, the mattress provided somewhat more support. Like the “Princess and the Pea” we have added foam pads (2 of them) mattress pads (also 2 of these) and have discussed various other ideas to level out this undulating sleeping plane. After six seasons on this damnable bed, we threw in the towel and ordered a new mattress, which in retrospect, we should have done years ago.
This slice of heaven arrived Wednesday afternoon. We opened it up, and laid it flat on the two “braiding tables” that we bring down here for Dad. By evening it had decompressed. We did a mattress swap by the light of the moon, unceremoniously propping the old one against the front of the Hag, and had our first decent night’s sleep in a month.
There was some worry that this new mattress might be too thick to fold back into the sofa, but the gods of sleep were with us and the hide-a-bed can be forced to, once again, transform itself back into a sofa for daytime sitting.
As happens when you replace something that has lived out its alleged usefulness, the cast off item must be dealt with. Sending this old mattress on its way to the landfill, located within site of this park, seemed like a bad idea, at least to me. We are 10 miles from East Jesus, an artist colony whose medium is salvage art. I contacted them and they were happy to take this full-sized innerspring mattress off our hands. It was one of the items they listed on their website as a “wanted item.” The mattress, and all its accompanying pads of comfort, were loaded up and off we went.
East Jesus is an intentional, sustainable community at the edge of the world. I did not come up with this phrase; this is somewhat close to how they describe themselves, both on their website and when taken on a tour by one of the residents. They have solar panels and battery storage for such, composting toilets, and a simple camaraderie that seems to work well for all of them. It is communal living, however this may strike (or not strike) your fancy.
Each time we visit, which is usually once per season, I am amazed and humbled by the work this clutch of artists create and the simplicity of their lives. Under the best of circumstances it would be considered hardscrabble living, and life here rarely occurs under the best of circumstances. The environmental concerns, the dust, and the oppressive heat would make life here something a little closer to living either in, or next door to, hell. Again, I’ll repeat, it’s not for everyone.
We brought them our old mattress, which we thought would be stripped down and used sculpturally as it was too old/lumpy/uncomfortable for us. Instead, the recipient was delighted to be able to use it for sleeping, a message that stabbed deep into my soul. When we only see things through our own lenses, we miss a great part of life. We are all pretty much the same. It is the basic requirements of life that bind us. We are all just folks. We need shelter, food, and water. The rest is simply a bonus.
And so, in the mundane activities of everyday life, rest all of life’s emotions; the things we so casually take for granted. What we considered useless will be given several more lives, as it rightly should. It’s more than “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” I’m thinking it’s wake up, look around, and try your hardest to make a difference.
In the silence of life, don’t forget to listen.
I wish you peace in your thoughts and actions on this day.