It is an odd coincidence…maybe correlation? – that in all of my favorite stories, most common dreams, and every plan I’ve ever made for the future, I picture dirt roads, red brick buildings broken with age but standing sturdy against the elements, warm fires built within. Old Victorian ranch houses with wrap around screened in porches, and always a cool breeze. A rocking chair creaking on old white washed wood. A well-used swing swaying from a long established tree – well loved and not forgotten. I picture long dry wheat grass and grazing animals in twilight paintings of the horizon. My stories, dreams, and plans are always centered on what seems to be an idyllic past – not my own, of course, but one which took place long before I was born, or possibly never happened at all. Perhaps based on the stories I’ve read, stories of someone else’s idyllic place – well loved and not forgotten.
In this world of stories written about post-apocalyptic futures I find myself wondering how to build a sturdy structure for my own dreams. I begin with a sturdy structure for green beans, and research how to harvest carrots and lettuce before they are eaten by voracious slugs and skunks. My scythe put to use in a fallow land with plans for future harvests to feed my family a sword made to prepare the present rather than protect against a poverty stricken, putrifyingly fantastical end. I worry less about the end of the world and instead about the sustaining of such an already pillaged place. Distracted by the noise – the electric waves of information connecting each person to the next – the gas and electric cars carrying people to destinations determined by necessity – work for the sake of artificial wealth which only requires continued labor. A difficult and painful labor whose hours draw out so as to mimic life itself – a life-labor – a painful pushing forward to complete each unwanted task in order to obtain what? In an individually focused society, for what greater good does this work contribute? For what flourishing do we sacrifice these moments? A sacrifice so enmeshed in small struggles that the daily liturgy of life is blurred – the desires blended with labor put forth as necessity without any explanation of purpose, of end goal. Endeavors might never be achieved if the goal is a moving target – a never ending tower of glass ceilings to break and grand aspirations to be achieved. What does contentment look like?
I look beyond my small plot and I wonder where the fawns are hiding in the forests; and I close my eyes and hear the fluttering fairy wings as the pixies play in the twilight – never seen, never known – always expected. My post-apocalyptic future looks a bit like Narnia, with some shades of Hogwarts and Rivendale thrown in – Zombies be damned, I will prance with the pixies in a Neverland re-made – in which the old are old, the young, young and our lives lived fully to the flourishing of all – Pirates long lost amongst the stars in their search for grandeur, they found grace and joined the jolly jamboree – all debts and sins forgiven – in a country I call home.