I’ve been in a weird and reflective time lately. There has been a lot of change in my personal life over the last five years, huge shifts and pivots, and now I find myself in what feels like an entirely new situation. It’s fair to say that my life today is somewhat unrecognisable compared to how it was back then – or it least it feels like that, and yet, there are some things that remain the same. Isn’t that the strange thing of a growing and changing life – everything can change and yet somehow not everything? Even when all is different, some things just aren’t.
You could say that when change happens, it’s like everything gets dumped out on the table, and then over time, comes to form some kind of order again. If life were a big box full of things, there are these seismic times where it feels like everything in the box gets dumped out on the table. Then you sit with an empty box for a while. Then you find you need to go through everything on the table. And then, in Marie Kondo style, you can pick up each thing, see how it makes you feel, and decide whether it goes back in the box again or not. Maybe some things got a bit damaged in the tipping out stage, maybe there is the need for repair. Maybe some things got smashed. Other’s look the same, and can go back in. Others, you don’t want back.
For me the constants have been the love and regard I have for my children. My grounded commitment to the work of consent-based education and life. My love of and need for nature. Love for myself and others – although there has been plenty of wounding, sense-making, feeling, healing and grieving regarding the complexity and nuance of this. My love of life and hopefulness has stayed. Even in the darkest of times, even if it’s just a bare thread, there has been some access to this sense of light and connection.
What has come into the box in greater measure than before – magic and spiritual practice is one thing. I realised a few years ago, once we had the Cabin up and running, that I/we/the work needed more ‘protection’ than just the everyday. Systems seek to preserve themselves, the dominant paradigm does, patriarchy does. It’s not a level or equal playing field, you need more help than that in creating the new. I knew we/I needed more help. And I knew that for me that meant something magical and ‘other’. From that realisation came the development of a personal and group spiritual practice, a magical practice, and a more magical way of being in the world, in work, in my life. This new thing came along with all the change in my life and has acted as a life saving and tethering force.
And what now for the movement? When a lot of change is happening, it can feel like you just have to keep your head down until you get to the other side. Then, once things have settled out, you can look up and out more, get a sense again of the wider and bigger picture. What is happening out there? Where do things stand?
Things are different now, I think they are. Covid has had its impact on that, political, economical stuff of course too. Things are not the same as ‘back in the day’. Organising doesn’t feel the same, the movement doesn’t feel the same, people don’t feel the same. Or maybe, I am wondering as I write, is it because I don’t feel the same that everything else looks different? I don’t think so. The conditions have changed, and things have changed and are changing? I don’t think I know where everything stands right now in the same way that I felt that I did before. I feel like home ed is different – perhaps its because my children are getting older so I’m not in the same stage, not being in and seeing other folk in the early stages of parenthood, that it feels now kind of separate? What is happening now with people who are just becoming parents – what’s going on for them? Is there the same discussion and discourse as there was for me 12 years ago? Is there the same rage and upset and emergent activism around the experience of babies and young children, the pain at the absence of healthy culture, relationships, systems, belonging, community? For baby humans and their parents? Especially their mothers?
And for folk in more of my circumstances who have opted out of the mainstream system, who want different for their children, the cycle breakers, those who have been drawn to and believe in a consent-based, self-directed way, and who’s children are now coming up to or in the early teen years. What is going on there? I have this feeling that folk are losing their track, and/or that there is a fearfulness emerging? New and different pressures to contend with? I feel like, there is something with the age of the children, the distance from the early years and or perhaps fatigue, that is causing people to lose some connection to their previous ways, and instead be drawn to something that is more in keeping with ‘normal’ or something? Like they are looking at their older children and thinking: now it’s time for you to do proper things and it’s the end of play. Now it’s time for the ‘real world’ and getting serious, or something. Maybe some kind of letting go is happening? Perhaps there is conflict, new and/or different needs expressed by young people themselves in all of this?
The things that mattered before… where are they now? And who are the new folk coming up?
I wonder what you think about it? Do you know what’s going on?
Alongside all of this wondering about the bigger and broader picture is wondering about the smaller more intimate picture of my own work, my use of time and energy. The Cabin and the Lodge, the team and community making that happen, including me – I’m part of a team, and that’s a wonderful thing, it’s a staple not to be taken for granted. I’m loving doing 1:1 work and small group consultancy, and the learning/training events, retreats, it’s deep work that feels great. Creating spaces of realisation, creating spaces where consent-based self-directed culture is normal and experienced by people of different ages. It’s healing and exciting. It’s peaceful and high energy. It’s creative and real. And at the same time I’ve been asking myself questions about how and where I work, who I work with – am I in the right places, doing the right thing, with the right folk? Am I lined up right for my purpose and what I’m meant to do here? I think the answer might be ‘yes and’ rather than ‘either or’. Yes I am, and I’m going to be doing more/different. As I line up right, I know my dance partners can and will find me.