My Vibe Shift

Have you seen my mirage? I had a mirage that motivated me to wake up every day and do my thing with verve. Hope. Vision. But then I lost my mirage. Have you seen it? It simply disappeared. I have been looking at that mirage, moving toward it, planning on it becoming real for the past two years, and now it’s gone. WTF? Who stole my mirage? How am I supposed to live my everyday life without a vision for the future that gets my mojo working? My mirage was my Binky, an idea I hugged for comfort, a soothing memory that helped me cope, a place I wanted to go, a familiar setting where I was welcome, and life was satisfying. My mirage was my normal. An ideal. My precious normal. My Binky. I cuddled my mirage like a stuffed animal. It calmed me and helped me sleep. Now, I want my Binky! My inner toddler cries and fist fights the air. Give me my Binky! My mirage was my pacifier, the magical thinking that got me through two years of pandemic disruption. Then poof! Someone said WW3 and now, I need a new mirage. This is my vibe shift. 

Billie Best writes about her vibe shift.

I once went to a meeting of The Shit Hits the Fan Club in Albany, NY. It was about 20 years ago, before I began farming, before I studied food systems & local economies, before I saw the folly of trickle-down economics, globalization, and post-9/11 geopolitics. The Club hosted a monthly potluck dinner for members organized around a networking session. They sat in a circle of folding chairs, each one sharing an element of self-sufficiency they had discovered since the last meeting. The conversation was a mix of personal testimony, tips, and tricks for healthy foodways, permaculture, living off the grid, alternative medicine, child education, and economic options for living without money, like bartering and co-ownership. They were intentionally co-creating their own safety net.  

At the time, I was a spectator curious about preppers and the radical ideology of self-sufficiency. These people had lost faith in government to support the public good. But they weren’t cynical. They were organizing. When the shit hit the fan, they planned to survive by pooling their resources and staying connected. In other words, they were creating community for themselves instead of expecting it to just happen around them. At the time I thought they were extremists. I didn’t see myself as one of them. I was still on the corporate dole. Yup. That was then.

Now I believe excrement has taken wing and will be coming soon to a place near you. The pandemic has left the global economy in disarray and it’s going to take years to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. There is no Alpha Male to be our savior, no world leader who can stop the rise in prices or the tide of displaced people. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot both lower the price of gas and stop climate change. This realization is our collective vibe shift. No amount of Amazon Prime can anesthetize us against the pain. 

Our way of life has been based on contradictions for a very, very long time. We want higher wages and lower prices, but when wages rise, so do costs. We store our wealth in real estate without acknowledging that hoarding real estate reduces the availability of affordable housing. We want cleaner air, fewer wildfires, and less bad weather, but not if removing carbon from the atmosphere increases the price of oil. We want cheap stuff so we can have more than we need, but we don’t want to live near our trash, so we dump it in the ocean. Our food system depends on low wage workers, but we don’t want them living in our neighborhoods. We want someone intelligent to push our wheelchair, but we don’t want to fund their education. Our quality of life depends upon the public good, but we don’t want to share. We made this mess, but we don’t want to take the blame, so we turn our hate toward politics, race, and religion.  

R.I.P. Binky. My new mirage is a work in progress. Rage fogs my windshield. I may not need a mask to go to the grocery store, but I do need shock absorbers for my bank account. I thought I might travel this summer, road trip with my dog, drive cross country and visit friends, but now that seems unlikely. So, where’s my verve, hope, vision? In the garden. That’s what I’ve got. A patch of dirt in the sun. I thought my geography was going to expand, but perhaps not. I need to stay local, actively cultivate my resources. Minimize my risk and focus on the basics. Stay nimble, not overextend myself. Invest in what I can do well and let go of the rest. Plant some seeds. Frilly dreams got me through the pandemic. Now, I’m going to grow squash. Prepping. This is my vibe shift. What’s yours?

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3 thoughts on “My Vibe Shift

  1. I so enjoy the way you write! Your emotion can be felt in your words. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  2. ‘We must love one another, or die.’
    W. H. Auden on the day Hitler invaded Poland in 1939
    more on that –
    Auden’s poem “September 1, 1939“—with its obvious reference to the beginning of World War II—begins like this:

    I sit in one of the dives
    On Fifty-second Street
    Uncertain and afraid
    As the clever hopes expire
    Of a low dishonest decade:
    Waves of anger and fear
    Circulate over the bright
    And darkened lands of the earth,
    Obsessing our private lives;
    The unmentionable odour of death
    Offends the September night.

    And the poem originally had this penultimate stanza:

    All I have is a voice
    To undo the folded lie,
    The romantic lie in the brain
    Of the sensual man-in-the-street
    And the lie of Authority
    Whose buildings grope the sky:
    There is no such thing as the State
    And no one exists alone;
    Hunger allows no choice
    To the citizen or the police;
    We must love one another or die.

    Auden famously turned against this stanzas final line, omitting it when the poem was reprinted in Collected Poems (1945). He later wrote that he loathed the poem, resolving to exclude it from further collections, refusing to grant permission that it be reprinted, and calling the poem “trash which he is ashamed to have written.” He eventually allowed the poem to be included in a collection, but only after altering the line to read: “We must love one another and die.”

    Clearly the original sentiment—we must love one another or die—suggests that love could save us from war, or even conquer death. The revised version—we must love one another and die—expresses an existential sentiment. We can love, but it makes no real difference, for we all die. Life is ultimately tragedy.

    I am not sure why Auden turned against the line so vehemently and publicly. Maybe he was embarrassed by its emotional earnestness or ashamed of such a public display of sentiment. Yet the line as originally written is at least partly true—unless we become more altruistic, we will destroy ourselves. But can we go further and say that love conquers death? Here we have no answers, we only have hope.

    The hope that traces of our love will reverberate through time, in ripples and waves that will one day reach peaceful shores now unbeknownst to us.

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