My Lurid Past and Other Sordid Tales


Had I not been a bearded atheist, liberal, intellectual, vegetarian, integrationist, environmentalist, pot smoking, Thoreau-reading, lover of freedom, I might not have felt lonely and isolated in rural Mississippi; and had I not felt lonely and isolated, I might have not remained in my seat (thirty feet from where a black man was lynched when I was six) when the district attorney told the grand jurors to stand for prayer; and had I not remained in my seat, I most certainly wouldn’t have been struck on the head by another juror who said through clinched teeth, “Get out of that seat!” But because I was these things, and because I was struck on the head, and because I had grown-up witnessing the bloody price that nonconformists pay for being true to their values in the most ignorant, religious, oppressive, impoverished, freedom-hating, and violence-embracing, state in the Union; I decided that I had rather die than spend the rest of my life surrounded by drawling bigots who took pride in the fact that generations of their families had used violence to force conformity to their asinine deity, their fascist politics, and their Bible-based xenophobia. 

To understand the lowlife mentality of Mississippi and other Deep South states, envision Donald Trump with a Southern accent, the tragedy being that the region hasn’t only failed to join the civilized world during my 35-year absence, it has continued to go downhill in every area but black/white relations (my home town can truthfully claim that it hasn’t lynched a single black man since 1955, when it murdered Lamar Smith for attempting to turn in voter registration cards for his frightened neighbors).

So it was that I built a fantasy around how loved and supported I would feel if only Peggy and I lived in a commune. Though she wasn
t exactly gung ho about the prospect, she was at least open to the possibility, so I proposed that we pack-up and go searching for nirvana. She said that, no, I should be the one to go searching, and she should be the one to visit such places as I liked. So it was that I spent much of 1984, 1985, and part of ‘86 visiting communes, many of them with no thought of living there, but simply because I found them interesting. For example, it was curiosity that inspired my visit to a Hare Krishna dairy farm in south Mississippi and to that religion’s US headquarters near Moundsville, West Virginia. Likewise, it was curiosity that led me to visit a Sufi commune in eastern New York State, and the world’s last active Shaker commune at Sabbath Day Lake, Maine. Then there was Missouri’s hippie-run East Wind Community, with its sixty to eighty residents. (I approved of the group’s communal outhouses, but didn’t fully grasp the etiquette of the situation, so when a woman plopped down beside me while I was laughing at the funny pages, I was mystified by her chilly response to Blondie, Snuffy Smith and Beetle Bailey.)

The smallest commune I visited was in a two-story house owned by a Denver couple who confessed that they were having trouble finding people who were willing to live under their autocratic rule. The largest was guru Stephen Gaskin’s 1,400 member commune The Farm with its nationally known midwifery program presided over by his wife, Ina May Gaskin (who wrote prolifically on the subject). Gaskin’s leadership was sufficiently mellow that I might have considered living there had it not been for the commune’s squalor, and the fact that none of the men cut their hair or shaved their beards. Although they insisted that the practice was voluntary, the fact that every last one of the hundreds of men adhered to it screamed groupthink (Groupthink occurs when the desire for group cohesiveness leads members to uncritically agree to what they think everyone else wants.)

I was very much bothered by the totalitarian regime of another guru, Marc Tizer (aka Yousamien, aka Yo), who ran a commune in Boulder, Colorado. I don’t remember the commune’s name—or even if it had a name—but it is now called the Divine Madness Running Club. Yo gave his followers individualized commands about what to eat, how much to sleep, what sports to engage in, who to live with, and so forth. The names of new sex partners were drawn weekly (the purpose of the weekly change was to discourage “unhealthy attachments,
and in Yo’s view, all attachments were unhealthy). Although Yo claimed to have secret and surefire means to prevent pregnancy, he still ordered abortions.

The commune had fifty to one hundred followers who lived in private residences that were scattered throughout Boulder. I stayed in two of these residences—one of which was occupied by 6-8 women and the other by 6-8 men—and found the people intelligent, educated, personable, physically attractive, and welcoming of questions. When—in one-to-one conversations—I told my new friends that I was opposed to gurus, the gist of their response was, I wouldn’t lie to you. Yo will tell you every thought you ever had. Yo will tell you more about yourself than even you know, and you will recognize that he is right. So it was that I quickly agreed to meet Yo, although I just as quickly backed-out upon being told that “the privilege” would cost me $1,200—satisfaction not guaranteed.

My final tally of communes was: two in Mississippi, two in Tennessee, one in Missouri, one in Texas, one in New Mexico, two in Colorado, one in Virginia, one in West Virginia, one in New Hampshire, one in Maine, two in New York, and one in Oregon. If I didn’t like a place, I left after a day or two, but if I really liked it, I might stay for a week or more. No one ever asked for money to cover the cost of my visit, and it never occurred to me to offer it. Peggy flew to communes in Denver, Richmond, and New York City. She preferred the one in Richmond, but it’s eight members had been working night-and-day for over a year to care for a terminally ill member (whom no one liked and who had been planning to leave when he became ill), and its residents warned us that the commune was unlikely to survive his death.

I liked Richmond fine, but I loved the Foundation for Feedback Learning—now called Ganas— on upper Staten Island in New York City. It’s 35 residents (the number has since doubled) were divided into an inner and an outer circle with membership in the former requiring a lifelong commitment. FFL owned two stores, three or four large houses, and accepted research and teaching contracts related to “feedback learning.” Many members were from Spain, and people candidly admitted that they had only married so they—or someone else in the group—could get a Green Card. The closer I got to the group’s inner circle, the more I was bothered by the fact that their lack of honesty and integrity in dealing with the outside world contradicted their insistence upon honesty and integrity within the group itself. Even so, I found so much to love that I asked Peggy to fly up, which she did, although—for the following reasons—things didn’t go well:

(1) She had been ill, and was still so unwell that she seemed fragile. (2) She had no interest in spending hours a day sitting around the group’s large table baring her soul and listening to others bare theirs, often taking and giving severe criticism in the process. (3) The neighborhood was so bad that she couldn’t take her daily walks without being sexually harassed. (4) When members of the inner circle asked what her interests were and she said gemstones (she had seriously considered a career in gemology), they dismissed her as frivolous. (5) She was disgusted by the number of women I had been having sex with
on my travels (we had an open marriage), and the commune contained three women who had a sexual interest in me. (6) Our promised “private quarters” were roomy for the city, but were still smaller than the smallest place we ever lived.

The commune was clearly not a good fit for Peggy, but because the inner circle wanted me, they proposed to her that we move there for a trial period of a year. Before coming to NY, Peggy had applied to the Traveling Nurse Corps, and they called her in NY to offer a four-month stint in Fresno, California. So it was that we moved to Fresno with the thought that we would use our time there to decide about NY.

We liked Fresno—until the daytime highs hit 115—and found it easy to make friends. During one of our calls to Mildred—the leader of the New York commune’s inner circle—we were told that our living expenses (which I would pay in work credits at a communal business, and Peggy would pay in money by working at a nearby hospital) would cost hundreds more than we had been told. When we asked why, Mildred said without even a hint of embarrassment that she had so wanted me to live there that she had lied. We concluded from this that we could never take the group’s word about anything, and we gave up all thought of moving to NY. Unfortunately, this meant that after two years of searching for a place to live, we still had no idea where we would end up. I suggested that, if nothing else turned-up, we could move to Fresno, but when Peggy refused to “trade one oven for another,” I became deeply depressed. To be continued…


References

Mississippi’s Hare Krishna dairy farm: https://newtalavana.org/

West Virginia’s Hare Krishna headquarters: https://www.newvrindaban.com/

New York’s Sufi commune: https://www.theabode.org/

Maine’s Shakers: https://www.maineshakers.com/

Missouri’s East Wind commune: https://www.eastwindblog.co/

Gaskin’s Tennessee commune: https://thefarmcommunity.com/

Ina May Gaskin’s books: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=ina+may+gaskin&ref=nb_sb_noss_1 

Groupthink: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

Yousamien’s Colorado commune: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_Madness_Running_Club

New York’s Foundation for Feedback Learning: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganas

24 comments:

kylie said...

Have you mentioned the communes before? I'm not sure if you have but it certainly doesn't surprise me. It was quite a few that you visited, I think I would have seen one or two and become a bit bored.

I was of the understanding that The Farm was there for the midwifery but you tell it differently. I have read a great deal of Ina Mays work and she's been an icon in the (natural) birth world but she's fallen out of favour due to some rascist comments she made.

Did your loneliness ever recede? I feel as though it never did

Strayer said...

Yikes. I knew you had visited a lot of communes but I didn't know you visited that many. I figure they'd be full of human beings, with the same faults as humans everywhere, not enlightened higher souls. They sound interesting.

Ruby End said...

You have led such a fascinating life in your quest for . . . I'm not sure what the right word is here, it isn't simply knowledge, more a way of life that equalled solid contentment I think. I love how open of thought you have been (and are),yet can see how married with your straight as a die logical thinking and questioning of all that comes your way (I think this a very good and useful trait) many places like that where people fall into the established group and meld, wouldn't work ultimately as they might not like the questions. And Peggy, the wonderous, wonderful Peggy. By the Gods she loved you! Still does *nods*. She went along so as to meet you in the middle, not simply say no to something you felt you absolutely needed to do and you in turn met her right there, in the middle when after trying some groups out she said no, not for me, and you left, together. It's a beautiful love you have for each other. Great post sweetie, I'm looking forward to the next installment. Poke me again by mail to let me know when it's up. Xx

Elephant's Child said...

You have mentioned your flirtation with communes before and I found this expansion fascinating.
I am very glad that you decided against the NY commune. That sort of manipulative dishonesty early in a relationship sends up huge alarm bells.

The Blog Fodder said...

The communes I am most familiar with are Hutterite colonies in Western Canada and in a few Northern states. They are a German Anabaptist sect. Some good colonies and some bad ones. You would have appreciated their ability to work together but not likely the strict religious approach. They are born into it. Not sure why people live in one voluntarily. A coop yes. You had an adventuresome couple of years.

rhymeswithplague said...

I really enjoyed reading this particular post of yours, Snow, and consider it possibly your best ever. I look forward to the next installment. Your first paragraph is a marvel, worthy of my alter ego, the great, unread Billy Ray Barnwell who, along with my old English teacher (the late Mr. D.P. Morris of Mansfield, Texas), would love to see you diagram that first paragraph. I find the fact that you refer to Christianity’s God as asinine is unfortunate and lamentable, and is only partially excused by the other surprising revelation of your first paragraph, that you read Thoreau.

I jest, sort of.

Your transparency blinds us other mere mortals. I don’t think I could do it, having done things in my past of which I am ashamed but which you might celebrate.

I think I remember reading a while back that you and Peggy lived in a group situation in Minneapolis at one time. I suppose we will hear about that in your continuation.

Snowbrush said...

I've spent an hour or two today writing responses, yet I only completed my response to one person. Please be patient with me.

"Have you mentioned the communes before? I'm not sure if you have but it certainly doesn't surprise me."

I have no idea if I've mentioned communes before, so why mention them now?

Between my last post and this post, I wrote other posts that I didn't put online because I had become bored with blogging. I then decided to write somewhat of my life's history, and this post was the result. Those who know me best aren't surprised by much of anything I've done. Mildred--in NY--even told Peggy that she--Peggy--had married me as insurance that her life would never be boring. Indeed, our lives didn't used to be boring, but now that I'm no longer an adventurer on "the psychosocial frontier"--or any other frontier, our lives are hardly more stimulating than those of our cats.

"I was of the understanding that The Farm was there for the midwifery but you tell it differently."

I was told--all those many years ago when I visited The Farm--that Gaskin had originally held services for his flock in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park but that, as time passed and the group grew, everyone felt that they wanted to live together, so they moved to Tennessee where one of his followers owned land. I was also told that the commune had enough members--in Tennessee--that they could have controlled local elections in the rural county to which they had come, but that the people felt this would be morally wrong. I visited there twice but only attended one service that Gaskin led. He gave a short talk following which everyone chanted OM. He had a soft-voice and seemed me as lowkey and modest as I believe he probably was. I know of no objection to The Farm other than that it didn't work for me because I place a very high value upon cleanliness and order.

Blogger rejected my response as being too long, so I'll put the second half of it into another frame.

Snowbrush said...

Part two of my response to Kylie:

"she's fallen out of favour due to some rascist comments she made."

I know nothing about this, so I cannot comment on her particular case. However, I DO know that it has become far too easy among left-wingers to dismiss every good thing that a formerly respected person ever did based upon the fact that s/he failed to cut the mustard--sometimes on a single occasion--regarding modern left-wing sensibilities, and that it is also far too easy to not only attack a historical personage as worthless, but to attack anyone who dares to find anything of good in that person. Someone's intentions don't count; historical context doesn't count; the gravity--or lack thereof--of an offense doesn't count; nothing whatsoever counts aside from the fact that some fragile and puritanical left-winger was offended. This week, I heard Helen Keller eviscerated because she expressed the opinion that--due to severe physical, mental, or emotional disability--not everyone should bear children. Just like that, one mistake (though I didn't consider it a mistake), and she is scorned as though she were Hitler. In her case, she even reversed her statement, but it was of no use.


"Did your loneliness ever recede? I feel as though it never did."

I'm much less lonely now than I was when I had a lot of people in my life. The reason for this is that I finally gave up on other people as having a lot to offer me--or me them--and when I let go of torturing myself--and burdening others--with unrealistic expectations, I could better appreciate things that weres directly in front of me, and I could better see that other people had been trying to give me a lot all along.

I now spend most of my life sitting at home with Peggy and our cats, and I also look forward to those days when my friend, Max (he used to lead the plainsong evening prayer service at St. Mary's), drops by. These things are probably about as much as I'm capable of. I'm in more or less constant pain; I never get enough sleep; I have no goals; and I don't expect others to enlighten me. I'm instead simply sitting here watching the clock of my life run down, and adhering to Schopenhauer's advice:

“There is some wisdom in taking a gloomy view, in looking upon the world as a kind of Hell, and in confining one's efforts to securing a little room that shall not be exposed to the fire.”

However, I don't think Schopenhauer went far enough because he made no mention of doing good--while being fully present--in the lives of others. Some personal examples that I find extraordinarily meaningful: (1) My cats' lives are good because they have me to pet them, talk to them, play with them, and cuddle with them all day long. (2) My younger sister (to whom I was never close) is dying from COPD, and I know that her burden is at least somewhat relieved because of my support. (3) Christy, the wife of my best friend, Lynn, from college days, is dying from a brain tumor, and I know that I am making a positive difference in both their lives (Christy's one request of me was that I help her by supporting him). It seems to me that the secret to a good life is to do at least a little good everyday (placing too high a value on grand gestures makes lesser gestures seem meaningless) while maintaining low expectations of oneself and others.

Kylie, I think it probable that I have also brought good into your life, as I know you have into mine. I can't tell you how important it is to an atheist to know that he is loved by a believer with no expectation that he change and without ever once being told that he is going to hell. I also can't tell you how important it is to an atheist to know that his believer friend holds high standards of morality and compassion, the reason being that--rightly or wrongly--it counters what he expects.

Finally, in the words of Ram Dass, "Be here now."

kylie said...

Snow,
You made me tear up. I do love you despite my inconsistency of communication and you have enriched my life. I find most atheists to be dismissive of religion and aggressively so and I think I understand their viewpoint but it's feels better to be respected.

More than once I have thought "this person seems to like and respect me so why can't they be even a little open to my perspective?" I don't have to say that with you.

Your comment seems almost like a farewell, which is sad but also healthy. I follow a couple of death doulas on social media and their overwhelming advice is to regularly acknowledge our upcoming end, even if we feel that it is still distant.

My best wishes are with you every day.

mimmylynn said...

I can't wait for the next installment. You have written before about your travels around the country but I didn['t realize that you were searching for home.

ellen abbott said...

I find this to be extremely interesting.

Snowbrush said...

"I figure they'd be full of human beings, with the same faults as humans everywhere, not enlightened higher souls"

I assumed the latter because these were people who had abandoned society's gerbil-like mentality, so if wisdom was to be found anywhere, surely communes would be a place to look for it. Then I observed that people who live in communes also have their problems. How to make a living is one. For example, when The Farm made some bad investments and had to tell its members to go out and get jobs, all but 200 of its 1,400 members left, the reason being that the nearest large job market was an hour and a half away (in Nashville). This led many people to conclude that if that much of their time had to be spent in the outside world, they might as well leave the commune altogether and keep the money they made. Another problem is that commune people tend to be so focused on the microcosm of the commune that they live as though the outer world doesn't exist. For example, after we decided against moving to NY, I had still hoped I could be friends with my favorite people there, but I might as well have been dead. Another problem is that some people are attracted to communes because they have problems that make it hard to function in the outside world, but then they find that these problems also make it hard to function in a commune.

"...places like that where people fall into the established group and meld, wouldn't work ultimately as they might not like the questions."

I found myself well-accepted as a visitor. It was as though I were two people. One was intense, angst-ridden and largely kept under wraps; the other was courteous, mellow, reasonably attractive, spoke in a soft Southern accent, and passed no judgments as he traveled the country observing life's nonstop movie of speech and behavior. I don't think I visited a single commune at which I wouldn't have been welcomed had I wanted to live there, although some of them would have required that I accept their guru, join their religion, or give them my life savings.

Miss Ruby Two Shoes, you praised Peggy lavishly, but said nothing of my virtues, so I must remind you that, in the interest of truth and justice, all praise on this blog must be directed at me. This is not to say that Peggy is entirely lacking in virtue. For instance, while begging me to marry her, she informed me that she is a triple-trillionaire, and that, prior to her fifteenth birthday, was awarded a triple doctorate. She is also triple breasted and was thrice-named Miss America, Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss Goddess, Miss Best Chess, Best Bond Girl, Miss Nobel Prize, Miss MacArthur Genius, and too many more for me to name. Yet, for your edification, I must warn you that Peggy is not so virtuous as she pretends. Her natural hair color is bleached blonde, but when I told her that I fantasized about the Virgin Mary, she dyed it to look like that woman's. Worse yet, she will wait until I'm off running errands before opening a new jar of mixed-nuts. She then eats, in descending order, her favorites until I am left with nothing but Brazil Nuts (aka "nigger toes" in the white South of my boyhood) and almonds. Having told you how dissolute she is, perhaps you and I could go on a date sometime and further discuss her wretchedness.

Snowbrush said...

"I am very glad that you decided against the NY commune. That sort of manipulative dishonesty early in a relationship sends up huge alarm bells."

I agree that it would have been a bad decision at best, one that might have cost me my marriage.

"The communes I am most familiar with are Hutterite colonies in Western Canada and in a few Northern states."

I had an enjoyable talk with an Amish man near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as Peggy and I walked along a rural road one evening, and I often see Mennonites here in Eugene, there being a Mennonite settlement nearby, but I don't know if these places could properly be called communes. America's Amish, at least, have the legal right to deny their children an education beyond the eighth grade (about age 13), and should a person leave the sect, he or she will be shunned by family and friends, so when these things are combined, it makes it hard for anyone who wishes to escape.

Snowbrush said...

"I really enjoyed reading this particular post of yours, Snow, and consider it possibly your best ever."

And I thought you would turn green and projectile vomit while your head spun round! I am gratified to know that I was wrong as I would hate for Mrs. Rhymes to witness her husband actint in such a way... of course for all I know, she might be accustomed to it.

"I find the fact that you refer to Christianity’s God as asinine is unfortunate and lamentable..."
It would have a
lso been moronic had I done so, but it was never my intention to paint with so broad a brush that the word asinine would describe the deity of every Christian, there being an incalculable gulf between the God of far right groups like the Southern Baptist denomination and those of the far left--for example, the United Church of Christ denomination. I had only meant to describe the far right deity of the fundamentalists among whom I grew-up.

"[your reference to God] is only partially excused by the other surprising revelation of your first paragraph, that you read Thoreau."

I read him daily for a long time, displayed a large copy of his photo in a prominent spot in my house, and made two pilgrimages to Concord. On one of those trips, Peggy found a 19th century bottle within feet of his house site at Walden Pond (just enough of the bottle was visible for us to know that there was something there, so we dug for the rest). On that same trip, I yearned to buy the complete edition of his journals (at the Thoreau Lyceum), but hesitated because I was afraid we might run out of money before we got home. Upon learning this, the woman who ran the Lyceum told me to take the journals with me and mail her a check when we got home. When I asked how she knew she could trust me, she said that no one who valued Thoreau's journals as I did would steal them.

Your interest in Thoreau surprises me because, while he was certainly devout, he was also a transcendentalist who had a low regard for authoritarian religion in general and Christianity in particular, often criticizing it for its reduction of Christ's teachings to a set of rules, and its willingness to exclude anyone who didn't follow those rules. Some quotes: Our religion is where our love is. In friendship we worship moral beauty without the formality of religion. I suppose that what in other men is religion is in me love of nature. A man's real faith is never contained in his creed, nor is his creed an article of his faith. There is no infidelity so great as that which prays and keeps the Sabbath and founds churches. What is called the religious world very generally deny virtue to all who have not received the Gospel. Finally, here's one that you in particular might like: Listen to music religiously as if it were the last strain you might hear. Most of these quotations can be found at: https://www.walden.org/quotation-category/religion-spirituality/religion-and-religions/

"I think I remember reading a while back that you and Peggy lived in a group situation in Minneapolis... I suppose we will hear about that in your continuation."

And some "situation" it was too--two years of hell coming close to characterizing it, although it had a few redeeming aspects, most notably the First Unitarian Society (even the preacher was an atheist) and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. However, I don't know if I will write of it because it had no part in inspiring us to move to Eugene. For now, I'll just say that it was a group marriage.

More later...

PhilipH said...

Epic biog thus far Snowy. You've searched long and hard for Shangri-La, Utopia and anywhere that promises a blissful existence. A place to call home, where you can expand your knowledge and develop ideas for writing and research.

Such a quest is commendable, but so stressful and tiring along the highways and byways of life. Have you found this magical place? Are you now content with your Life after all your searching? I certainly hope so. I think you have seen more of life than anybody I have known and you write about it extremely well.

What am I rambling on about? Shut up Philip! OK.

Snowbrush said...

"Your transparency blinds us other mere mortals. I don’t think I could do it, having done things in my past of which I am ashamed but which you might celebrate."

To write with less honesty about my life's history would amount to lying, and it would put me at risk of losing whatever respect you have for me because I couldn't write in such a way without it being obvious. My problem with writing with transparency has nothing to do with feeling embarrassed or fearing censure, but with being able to reach the place within myself where honesty lies, a place that I can never once find and then remain in always.

"You made me tear up."

Thank you for caring enough to be touched.

"I do love you despite my inconsistency of communication."

That points to what I was talking about when I said that I had let go of holding unrealistic expectations of people, which was something that I could only stop doing when I became so disillusioned that I had no choice. What I didn't foresee was that bitterly letting go of unrealistic expectations would eventually allow me to open myself to appreciating people for whom they are instead of for whom I wanted them to be.

"More than once I have thought 'this person seems to like and respect me so why can't they be even a little open to my perspective?' I don't have to say that with you."
I don't quite know what openness in this context means to you, but I'll try to address what I think you mean by way of the following example. As I understand you, you believe in the existence of the supernatural while I don't. It would even be fair to say that I lean toward hostility toward supernaturalism because many--perhaps most--forms of it inspire callousness, cruelty, ignorance, violence, and oppression, without offering benefits that even begin to offset such problems. So, this is how I feel about the supernatural. However, I am interested in what YOU believe about the supernatural because I know that you use your beliefs as a source of courage and as an inspiration for compassion. This means that when the subject of the supernatural comes up, I don't instantly go to a place of anger the way I would if I regarded you as someone who uses her beliefs to justify harming gay people, atheists, members of another religion, etc. What I instead feel when the subject arises is a deep and genuine interest in what you believe and why you believe it. So, while I'm not open in the sense of being on the fence and looking for you to provide me with answers that would help me decide one way or another, I am open to you as a person and this means that I am open to learning about those things that you hold dear. You don't browbeat me; tell me I'm an idiot; threaten me with hell; nor have you ever, even once, shown contempt for me as a person, and I am not going to let you give more good to me than I give to you, that is I'm going to do my best to be worthy of you. I don't expect you to convert me, and I don't even want to convert you. The supernatural is simply a subject in which we are both interested, so if that's what you mean by being open to your perspective, then I am open.

Snowbrush said...

"I can't wait for the next installment."

Thank you. It will be very different in that it will contain a lot of information about the place in which I've lived for 33 years.

"I find this to be extremely interesting."

You didn't say whether you found it interesting in a good way (like cuddly, playful kittens) or interesting in a bad way (like malaria, global warming, and the Islamic State) but I had rather be told either than to be told that I'm boring.

"Such a quest is commendable, but so stressful and tiring along the highways and byways of life."

Yes.

"Have you found this magical place?"

No.

"Are you now content with your Life after all your searching?"

I'm resigned. I appreciate the good that I've found, and I'm very glad that some parts of my life's journey are behind me (for example, being consumed with lust for women, and trying in vain to believe that a benevolent deity runs the universe), but as you well know, being alive means having problems, and different stages of life bring different kinds of problems (then there's never any guarantee that something truly horrible might happen in a moment from now). On the good side, I have a comfortable home, a loving wife, five beautiful, healthy, and cuddly cats, plenty of food, no dread diseases, access to medical care, no money worries, etc.

"I think you have seen more of life than anybody I have known and you write about it extremely well."

I used to think so, but now when I review my life, I mostly wish I hadn't been so foolish. I don't mean that I blame myself for it because I know I did the best I could with what I had--inside myself--to work with, but, still, I wish I had had more to work with.

"What am I rambling on about? Shut up Philip! OK."

What did I miss? Is today "Trash Philip Day" in the United Kingdom? If it is, I hope you get a pension to offset the downsides because it certainly sounds like one sucky holiday. Please oh please, write whatever you wish, and as much as you wish, and as stupid--or as brilliant--as you wish because hearing from you sets my heart a'flutter (just seeing that you had commented made me joyful). Surely you know that you are my darling, and I want good things for you, and it would break my heart to lose you or even to think that you stayed away because you thought your comments were uninteresting.

Winifred said...

That was so interesting. I hadn't realised you had tried so many communes.
Makes me realise I have led a very sheltered life!
I haven't been reading blogs for a while but I am looking forward to the next instalment.

Snowbrush said...

"That was so interesting."

Thank you.

Makes me realise I have led a very sheltered life!

I grew up in a rural area in which many people spent their entire lives without experiencing much of the outside world. Of course, a lot of interesting things happen in such places, but I felt that I had seen enough of them that I wanted to have other kinds of experiences. I also worried that my physical safety might well depend upon my willingness to keep a low profile, and the problem--for me--in doing that is that it led to self-hatred. Of course, leaving the South also left me feeling a little down on myself because I knew that I had left my friends a little more isolated. As I look back, I'm a little surprised by my courage in seeking distant adventures, but at the time, I felt more desperate than brave. I wanted out of Mississippi, and although much of what I did wasn't aimed at that, it was still my primary goal.

I haven't been reading blogs for a while but I am looking forward to the next instalment.

Winifred, your absence has been noted. I've seen a good many bloggers come and go, and I'm very glad you're staying.

Kerry said...

Wow! It's good to see you putting your thoughts out there, just like I remember. My own blog's inactivity has to do, I suppose, with a bunch of things. 1. My stale writing 2. The way social media has moved away from whole pieces, like blogs such as ours, to Facebook (with its infamous algorithms) and Twitter( with its 280 count letter limit)and TikTok (with its annoying videos) 3. The loss of blogs that I followed and admired (a couple of bloggers died, one became an actual book author, and others moved to FB and Instagram.)
I would like to get back into blogging, but not sure what that's going to take. Anyway. There is/was a Hare Krishna dairy farm in Mississippi? What? I lived in Alabama for about 8 years in the 90's and wasn't aware of any communes down there. How interesting and weird.
Also, did you keep a journal during those years? You remember everything so well.

Joe Todd said...

Just saying Hi. I recently receives "Imprimis" a publication from Hillsdale college. ( Yes they wanted a donation ) You might :enjoy" reading " The January 6 Insurrection Hoax" by Roger Kimball. Will probably get your blood flowing. LOL... Have a great day

Snowbrush said...

"My own blog's inactivity has to do, I suppose, with a bunch of things."

Yes, we have gone from the cutting edge to the backwater.

"There is/was a Hare Krishna dairy farm in Mississippi"

It's in the southwest corner of the state near New Orleans, which gives the city Krishnas a place to recoup and, I suppose, to bring new converts and potential converts for absorption into the movement. I enjoyed the people but couldn't eat the food because it was covered with flies that the Krishna's religion forbade them to kill.

"Also, did you keep a journal during those years? You remember everything so well."

I never kept a journal, but I did save old letters, although it didn't occur to me to read them (slaps self on forehead). What I did do was to spend many hours over many weeks on this post, and that focus allowed me to remember things that I hadn't thought of years.

Thanks for coming by, Joe, and for the reference. I'll look into it.

Ruby End said...

That was one of the wryest, funniest answers to a comment I have ever received at any point on the web, it made me laugh loud and long ands now I'm back to laugh again, but also to read on through your answers and other comments.

"That points to what I was talking about when I said that I had let go of holding unrealistic expectations of people, which was something that I could only stop doing when I became so disillusioned that I had no choice. What I didn't foresee was that bitterly letting go of unrealistic expectations would eventually allow me to open myself to appreciating people for whom they are instead of for whom I wanted them to be." - This happened to me around the age of 28 and it was a game changer in many ways - not that there is a 'game' beyond survival - I mean that it led me to enjoy people and appreciate them for what they could be to me rather than what I expected them to be as you said. Some people are wonderful in ways others aren't and vice versa. Some are just ok some of the time and that's alright as well. It's a good place to be regardless of how we got here. I'm only here for the strippers and free peanuts of course.

Xx

Marion said...

Hey, Snow! That's quite a lot of fascinating adventures there. I almost moved to 'The Farm' too, back in 1973 to have my oldest daughter. I have a treasured first edition of the magnificent "Spiritual Midwifery" by Ina May that I bought in the 70's. I gave both my daughters a copy of it when they were pregnant.

I'm still alive but in severe pain, going to physical therapy for months now. After a negative surgical breast biopsy, I developed the worst debilitating pain of my life in both my shoulders & deltoid muscles. My arms were spread in a 'T' shape on boards while the surgery was done & apparently my infraspinatus muscles were strained. I'm jinxed with any medical procedure.

My physical therapist fixed my hip pain in 2 visits...it was mind-blowing & painful, but she manipulated the crap out of it, rolled a rolling pin thing, attached electrodes, used a laser, etc. & I could walk without hip pain for the first time in years. The muscles attached to my shoulder are taking longer to unknot. I've been a basket case: no pain meds at all & I can't take any pain OTC meds due to bad side effects. The CBD killed my stomach & the THC caused me to gain weight, which is counterproductive to arthritis & pain. So I'm existing minute by minute while also dieting...May as well suffer 100%! I've lost the 30 THC pounds, but it's yet another battle because I have 25 more to lose. No carbs, high protein diet, but it works.

So that's what I've been up to among other minor home owner/vehicle disasters. When it rains, it pours. Hope you & Peggy & kitties are okay. We adopted a stray kitten on Halloween. He's a gray tiger kitty I named Mr. Pumpkin. 😁 He's getting fixed tomorrow & given a once over at the Vet.

Take care & keep telling your stories! (My oldest grandson is living in Mississippi, near Clarksdale. He's a soil
conservationist & works with farmers in the area. He has a Master's degree in dirt & forestry, I tell him. Mississippi has changed a lot. His fiance is Black & they have met some awesome people up there in the Delta.) I feel hopeful for my 3 grandchildrens' futures. 🌺 xo