I went to the Dark Mountain, the home of Uncivilization, and found a living culture. I didn’t know that’s what I would find, my hopes tied up and caught up in theoretical frameworks positing the likelihood of just such a thing. The flimsiness of my previous scope of interaction having been overcompensated by mental calculations carefully assembled as if in a geometric proof, as if by reading the perturbations of the orbits of the visible planets I could intuit the existence of another beyond the range of my senses. Yet that is what I found. I’m not only grateful, but moved by the breadth and depth of what I found. Not what, but who.
Imagine spending a week cheek by jowl in continual conversation and exploration with a growing number of people, beginning with fewer than a dozen, ending with hundreds, a time during which I only found one truly angry man – I heard rumors of a second…. I swam in an emergent community sharing an easy, yet thoughtful and deep acceptance of each other; foreigners and outsiders, voluntary refugees like me and other wanderers of this earth; all finding a place and adding to the richness and fullness of all of our experiences.
Such is the power of those willing to stop pretending. Such the emergent potential of this power and the joy it releases.
There is a scarcity of this in the world, especially in the world of wealth and power in which most of us live – let’s not protest and deceive ourselves over this. None of this was a re-turn, or a re-naissance, or a re-creation, or re-evocation of something other or outside. It was simply a group of people joining together, bringing whatever rigor had brought them to this verge, prepared them to make this leap of no longer pretending, and stepping off into an unknown future. Not a future of “big stories,” or poorly disguised wish-fulfillments. This is both a particular future, each of us looking, feeling, finding and responding to an awakened living reality in all its granularity and specificity. Our energies released by letting go of the pretending/pretensions. This leaving us open, not only to live our lives, but to touch and be touched by the lives of others. These others have for me run the gamut from a few “high profile personalities” I expected and looked forward to finding there, as well as to people I might often have overlooked. I was deeply moved by all these people, not in some abstract formulaic response to their “usefulness” or their “goodness,” or from some easily begrudged piety “deserved” because of their “humanity.” But as a result of experiencing their power, of perception and expression, and their embeddedness in reality.
The contrast of this with that rare angry man hit me with the extreme poverty of those who refuse to break from the old bankrupt and discredited way of life.
The Dark Mountain is necessarily dark, but it is also a height, a height from which I now feel I can stand to view new horizons, horizons grounded in bedrock and the roots of the Earth, but tall and broad enough to give me a sure place to stand. This mental and emotional sense of place gives us a viewpoint from which to recognize the power of connectedness, of embeddedness. To hold this sensation, not just as memory, but as a living embodied experience carrying with it my hopes of grafting its vigor and health onto the deepest roots beneath currently ragged branches in my own place, the places around me, inside me, places where I live while caught up in attempting to make other plans. This hope I take with me, this, the cause of my new-found resolve – as one new friend, discovered just at the moment I needed her perspective put it. This an uncanny experience but not unusual in this place of conjunction, upon the slopes of this, our Dark Mountain in Wales.