This could be heaven! It could be, couldn’t it? It’s up to us to create it…right here!
I’m on a tropical farm in Costa Rica. My mornings are spent working on the farm, and then in the afternoons I might swing on a hammock looking out into hills – reading, writing, reflecting. Then in the evening we all share food together – talking, holding, supporting. I have everything I need here.
I arrived last Saturday. It was fairly gruelling to get here – hills I’m used to but the farm is far into the country side and so much of the journey was on track roads, hilly track roads, which meant there was a lot of stopping and pushing. It took a while. I screamed a bit. I sweated a lot. But I eventually arrived, and when I did it felt like I had come home.
I found this farm through help-x, which is a platform that connects people who need help with their projects and people willing to give their time to help with those projects. Help-x is grounded in the gift economy. For my work on the farm each day I get 3 meals a day and a place to sleep. It is not a commercial farm. It is a farm that uses bio-dynamic and permaculture principles and seems to provide those that are working upon it with a space for nourishment – emotionally, physically, spiritually.
Much learnt, much growth, much happiness
The week has been wholesome and varied – although there is some routine around meals there is much flexibility and much flow. I have done lots of different physical tasks – I’ve prepared beds to plant new crops such as ginger, peanuts, and things I’ve never even seen or heard of before; I’ve helped build a small wall; I’ve pulled down vines from trees; I’ve turned compost and harvested lemons and bananas. Physical work needs to be part of my daily life.
There has also been space to explore who I am and understand more deeply what it is I have to offer others. I have always enjoyed and been nourished by deep communication. Yet it was with some surprise to me that I found myself offering to facilitate a sharing circle and then offer an introduction to non-violent communication. The circle went well (we will sit again) and I’ll maybe give the introduction into non-violent communication tomorrow. These are processes I have been working with personally and found helpful for some years and so it is a true blessing to feel supported enough to share them – to even believe that I can share them. There has been space to share and explore the deepest sense of me and, like physical work, I need that too in my daily life.
With such balanced nourishment of my being the happiness I have been experiencing here has been deep. It’s not only the moment to moment pleasurable sense – sharing tasty food, daily fun and laughter, encounters with familiar and unfamiliar animals, but also in the sense of human flourishing, which doesn’t preclude difficulty and struggle (read about different types of happiness here). I feel at peace, I feel content, I feel in flow with the current of life, present, and connected. This level of happiness in my daily life is spellbinding.
We are currently just four. Tatiana and Jonathan have been here a year and a half. Chris just a few months. People have come and gone from this space over the years and each person has left a little something of themselves here. It is ever evolving. There used to be more people here I’m told. An intentional community, but circumstances changed for the owner and now there are just a few longer term folks, who are holding the space with deep care, and shorter term volunteers. Communities always ebb and flow and this one seems ripe for flowing.
Currently it is the wet season so I am the only short-term volunteer here. I thought I’d stay a week at first, but I’d like to stay a little longer. In fact, I have already fantasised about staying here much longer, to live here. It really is my kind of space. I felt it as soon as I arrived – through the nature, the abundant nature…through the structures, the organic structures. It was through the people mostly though – for me it is always the people – their eyes alive and dancing, their hugs warm and enriching.
It is a space that is not operating in the same way as the society in which I grew up in. To me it feels like a haven so that I can more easily create a heaven inside of me. Or as I wrote recently I experience paradise when all that surrounds me and what is taking place in my inner state reflect one another in perfect and eternal oneness. That’s not how I feel all the time here but I have been in touch with that possibility in most of the moments this week.
Such spaces aren’t an accident. I’ve encountered many spaces like this before. And such spaces have involved many people coming together to create them, to create an alternative. It’s never perfect, it’s not supposed to be, it’s more an acceptance of the imperfectness and the willingness to look at, and each time I come and then go, I grow confident in my belief that something different is possible. Perhaps it could be heaven, right here on earth. Or perhaps actually not, but it certainly could be a whole lot better – and we will need to step together to create it.