migration: living somewhere else for a month each year09 Jun 2017
a few weeks ago, i had a conversation with my dear brother, ross, at our friend aubre’s going away party. he had just come back from a month in israel and was telling me all about his trip. he had lots he wanted to share and, of course, i had a ton of questions. it was a really a good convo (as they always are with him), but one thing stuck with me strongly enough that i thought i should write about it.
he said how impactful it’s been to take a month to live in a different context in order to re-orient (actually, now that i think about it, i think this has been something he’s always done (with more or less rigor depending on the situation that year)). i can totally understand that and totally want to find a way to integrate a practice like that into my life. it makes sense to me for at least three reasons:
i just finished the autobiography of malcolm x a few weeks ago (late to the game, i know; sue me). when he believed something, he went all in. and yet, when he found something that shifted his beliefs, he was open to the change. he seems like a perfect embodiement of the maxim “strong beliefs, loosely held.”
when i moved up to boston for college, i grew a shitton. and i think i grew because i had to readjust to a different culture, a different way of life, and a totally new community. changing locations (i imagine and experienced) shows you parts of yourself you hadn’t yet seen or maybe didn’t exist until you entered a new context.
adrienne maree brown’s thoughts on migration (in emergent strategy) and the balance between desiring complexity and simplicity have been really energizing to me lately. i’ll find the exact quotes and put them in here someday (maybe) but they hinge on this: lots of folks claim they want simplicity but actually thrive on complexity, at least some of the time. so, instead of imagining “going off the grid forever” (as so many millenials (myself included) are thinking of doing these days), why not (re)embrace our roots and learn to migrate? an annual month somewhere else might be a sustainable way to migrate and get all those needs met.
part of the original reason to migrate was weather and food. they’re related, obvi, but still distinct. today, i am learning that i love urban spaces and rural ones. cities make my brain buzz via complexity (see above) and the wild helps me slow down, process, and reflect. one way me and some friends are thinking about handling this balance is to have a network of houses that are in both rural and urbal spaces and bouncing around between them. but now it’s occurring to me that another way to find a balance between urban and rural is to migrate. hm!
global context matters. life in different places and spaces can teach us a lot. and in a world where our decisions and actions increasingly have global impact and fast (although maybe they always did, but slower/more dispersed), knowing what life is like in different parts of the world i imagine can only give us more capacity for empathy.
many european countries take an entire summer month of vacation (often august). i think the u.s. not doing this is a terrible mistake. we could learn so much about ourselves and the world if we took that month to be in a different place (as workers, not vacationers).
so that’s that. i’m going to try and find a way to take a month every year and live in a different place. i’m going to start with trying to be at hollyhock next summer as a volunteer. if not that, i’ll figure something else out i hope.
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