Rainbow Gathering, months later: looking into the parabolic mirror

So, it’s been a while since I spent a couple of days at the Rainbow Gathering in Vermont, and wrote my blog about that brief sojourn. I am revisiting it now, because that blog entry was the most read of any blog I posted and visits to my blog have been way down. I’m a little lonely here!

I don’t necessarily take that personally, albeit I admit I have since shifted my focus to poetry and my “Poet’s Notebook” since then, which might account for the drop in general interest. But you know what I think is happening with us, as a people? I think we are a little (or a lot) depressed. I think we are burned-out, profoundly bummed about what’s going on, and I think there is a part of us that is slipping into a hibernative mode . . . a wait-and-see mode . . . a sleep-mode. A Wake-me-up-when-it’s-over mode.

It does feel a little like a dream, doesn’t it? Now many of us might be wondering, not so much, What can I do? because the election is over, and we thought we were doing something by voting for Hillary, (the default candidate), by casting a reactionary vote for the lesser of two lemons, but we might be wondering “What did I have to do with what just happened?” Me? As a Vermonter, I wasn’t in a swing state, so I voted for Jill Stein, and I felt really good about that! But I never thought that Trump would win. (I suspected he would do well, but not win.) When he did, I was in shock. (Read my blog post, “Using my library as an oracle the morning after election returns” for where I was at the day after.)

Since then I have been struggling for a point of view, a mental resting point, as I traverse this precipitous ledge that represents how I feel right now. We’re in trouble folks! We have to watch our step. We have to pay attention. There is a lot at stake!

That little vote? It didn’t help, did it? 325 million people and look at the two candidates that were left when all the froth boiled away. You’d think that we could have done better! I mean both sides in this worn-out, busted down, two-party system, could have done better. But did we really need a wake-up call? I would argue no. The writing on the wall was everywhere! We just wanted to keep believing that the “system” can fix itself. It can’t.

We have to fix us!

So, I found myself thinking about the Rainbow Gathering. You know why? Because the time I spent there – those two days — was completely apolitical. It was like taking a break from “Kansas”, to borrow from The Wizard of Oz. It was two days of being among people who were simply living together peacefully in the woods, eating together, gathering together, camping together, hanging out together, in peace – old and young, rich and poor (Oh yes, judging by the cars that were parked along the access road, bumper to bumper, for miles and miles, some of the Rainbow folks had plenty of money!), women and men, white and those of color, (LBGTs) well-educated and not . . . you get the picture.

And one thing I didn’t write about that happened when I and my friend were leaving the Gathering: We passed this man who was carrying a black box on a pole. The open-faced box had three mirrors inside it, two on the sides and one in the back facing the opening, and there were little lights lighting up the interior of the box. It looked very magical. My friend and I turned around and caught up with the man. “What do you have there?” I asked him. He said it was a mirror that showed you what you looked like to other people. He invited me to look into it. I found myself staring into the mirror in the little box. The person I saw looking back at me was me but also he wasn’t me. He looked a bit older and very tired. But he looked hyper-real at the same time, and a bit sad. Serious and sad. I thanked the man. I asked him how the mirror worked but I couldn’t make heads or tails of his explanation. A few days later someone told me it was a parabolic mirror that reflects a three-dimensional image. That’s where I’m going to end this blog post. I’m just going to suggest that it wouldn’t hurt if we could all get a look at (or steal a glimpse of) ourselves, “as others see us”, as long as we are in rest-mode or taking a step back . . . just to serve as an Archimedean Point ( hypothetical vantage point from which an observer can objectively perceive the subject of inquiry, with a view of totality). If we don’t have access to a parabolic mirror, maybe we can just imagine it.

I have been following what is happening at Standing Rock in North Dakota, and what I realize is, the indigenous people aren’t making a political stand. It isn’t in the least political. They are protecting the water and the land because it is sacred, plain and simple. How long before we can take up that cause with that kind of principled comprehension? Let’s not take too too long to wake up . . . as a people. This is not political, nor is it over-the-rainbow. It’s real. And maybe it starts with us looking hard at ourselves in the face and accepting what we see, and then looking at each other with the same perspicacity, tinged with compassion. And then, let’s move. Let’s change things.


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