COMMUNITY LIFE IN SPAIN
We’re good again. Yesterday morning we were deciding whether to just pack the car and go. I’d downloaded a ‘to whom it may concern’-letter from the Dutch ambassador, requesting passage through Spain. Plus, the form you need to be out on the road in France from the French government.
Then we went outside and talked with people. Slurping up all the information that was pouring out of our screens made us forget that we actually have the support of a community of likeminded people here. All we need to do is step outside of our yurt. Maria, one of our Spanish neighbours who lives in a caravan on her field, called the local police to ask about still being able to go out for groceries. They told her that of course it’s not a problem for her, or for us, to go out. Provided we stick to the rules of one person per car, and the other directives, of course.
Turns out, the town hall suddenly became very concerned, because of all of the travellers in caravans; people who under normal circumstances get by, by living on the road, but who now are also trying to find a place to stay put and sit this one out. Also, a big piece of land that some of those fellow-hippies were staying on, one hippie-town over, was recently bought up by an English gentleman, who, in the face of the crises, decided to ask everybody to leave. So, the fear was that an uncontrollable situation would arise here on the riverbed and the various park-ups around. That’s why they put out the message that only residents would be accepted in town. Not to pester us. In fact, Maria was told that the police are actually instructed not to be authoritative, but to make everybody at ease with this situation, of which we all need to take care collectively. Sort of like what we’ve already been doing in our community, before it became fashionable. Or a dire necessity, although I think many of us already felt like joining forces was already a dire necessity, in the face of certain global developments it is so conveniently easy to turn away from, as individuals, using your individual lack of ‘strength in numbers’ as an excuse.
The people in our community are from many different countries all over Europe. There’s a Danish couple whose daughter was born here last January on the field, in the clay-house they built themselves. There’s a Dutch-English couple with a 1,5-year-old daughter who was born here too. There are our English neighbours with their two girls (1 and 3), another Dutch couple with two boys, aged 3 and 6, a German-Italian mother of a 2 year-old girl together with her Montenegrin father. Anna’s the only Hungarian on the field. And then there are the single fellow-field-dwellers, who hail from France, England and Germany. And Ester is from Holland too, so we Dutchies are well represented.
The pandemic is very rapidly becoming a less and less abstract reality. And there’s a lot of heart-warming stories in the news of the virus turning into a common threat, for people to rally around. But already before we were consciously dealing with the virus, all of us here were already rallying around, and coming together. Not around anything too concrete – not a dogmatic belief system, but a vague understanding of what it was we were taking distance from, and what we were hoping to come closer to. As a result, it seems like everybody around here, and on the neighbouring fields somehow knows what we’re doing. Even though we might get it wrong when trying to put it to words. What sticks out though, is that, on average, people know how to avoid being closed or unkind. And whenever I forget that, and sinks back into rebelling against the lack of space for my consumer-taxpayer-just-leave-me-alone kind of self, there’s clear mirrors around here to kindly confront me. Over the last few months, with all of these very huggable people around, I have cramped back into that state of mind, which seems to be in a life-or-death kind of struggle, desperately seeking the validation of its existence, and fearing being loved to smithereens. I still sometimes get a bit carried away with the ‘I’m a father with responsibilities now, and that’s more than enough, so you shouldn’t come to me looking for help emptying the compost toilet’-kind of attitude. It’s a work in progress.
Anyway, all of us here have in some way or form attempted to distance ourselves from lives that so very frequently haven’t felt like they were truly our own yet. In my case, it has often seemed that careers were the lives on offer. I've had a tough time trying to see what I got to choose from, as anything other than the heritage left by previous generations. Generations to whom I owe so much - my life and everything in it - that I find myself easily guilt-tripped into actually wanting the life my forefathers would have died for. Needing to choose now distracted me from arriving at the foundation of my own convictions, which I think is the only place that choices can be made from, if they are to be understood as our own.
All of us here have gone out in search of something else. Something else, involving more physical work, so that we could reconnect to the bodies we were about to loose to our brains. Something else involving face to face contact with real people, and being able to feel their warmth, both literally and figuratively, before we’d forget what that is like and why it is important. We went out to find a place to plant something, so that it may grow, and surpise us by coming into the world, much like Félix and Oliver are surprising us on a daily basis. The other day Félix said that I should also slide off the slide, and that I shouldn't worry, because "your big bum will also fit, daddy".
This field here in the South of Spain is where we ended up, and where are just now meeting each other. And this is where we are grounded now.
After a day of connecting to others neither Anna and I could remember why we were even taking our urge to flee this serious in the first place. Maybe in the Netherlands I would be able to read the system better, and I would surely enjoy seeing all my friends and family there, and reconnect with my previous network of support and friendship. But there would be no yurt, less sunshine, the community would not be the same, the access to trampolines questionable. And it feels like what we came to find here, hasn’t been found just yet, but it is right around the corner. That last reason is a difficult one to deal with, because it is so much about us and what we want. And we understand that must not be prioritized in the face of the tragedy this country is undergoing at the moment.
So all of that was yesterday. Today, we are knackered. There was a sharing circle this morning, and we joined in. I set an intention to clearly recognize when I was being afraid, and to not make any decisions in such a state. It’s something that will come up more and more, I imagine. I recognize that I now need to actively recreate the circumstances in which I get to practice my ability to trust. Not to ignore my fear, not to magically sprinkle it away with the dust of half thought trough asceticism or other well-marketed cheap idealism. But to feel the tiger of fear bite my leg. To know how it hurts. And then to trust life and what it has in store for us all the same.
I just called my mother. She’s ill. She’s never ill.