During the month that Occupy Wall Street grew from a small gathering to an international movement I mostly stayed home, busy with the work of selling our house.
Protesters gathered around the Capitol, camped out with their hand-made signs and their earnest expressions, and I sat at our dining room table, worried about whether our eighty-four year old house would pass inspection, frantically scrolling through Craigslist ads in search of a place to live, wishing this would all just end.
When people ask me why we’re moving I tell them it’s because, “we’re entering a transition period.” The line is short and convenient, but incomplete. It’s a tweet more than it is an explanation; fewer than 140 characters, and lacking the details which show just how complex this situation is.
I say it to spare the inquisitor the burden of hearing how financial decisions were made based on promises that were, ultimately, not kept, or that – simply put – we need to spend less money every month. I say it because it’s easier than explaining the whole truth.
I say it to spare my pride, too.
The how we got here is always more complicated than we make it out to be.
I have this thought when I drive down Broadway in Denver on the way to our small, storage unit, passing by what was first a humble Tent City and what is now a large patch of grass and sidewalk occupied by hipsters and activists and ex-hippies, interchangeably dressed, and carrying signs that read,
PEOPLE ARE THE POWER
WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE?!
EAT THE RICH! (a personal favorite)
Three words here, four there. A tweet, drawn out in Sharpie ink.
The words call out to passers by — We’re entering a transition period!!!
But it’s always more complicated than we make it out to be.
I don’t suspect I will understand exactly how I got to where I am now, to the selling of our home just three years after buying it, until I have a little distance from the situation. I know I share part of the responsibility – a good portion, more like. I could have made different choices, anticipated different outcomes. I could have been more frugal at moments, and more calculating. But, I made the choices that made sense to me at the time.
I wonder if the protesters are at all willing to own up to their own contributions to the system they rail against. It’s easier to place blame on this idea of “Corporate Greed” than it is to examine how our buying habits influence the world we live in. We are all complicit, to a degree.
Unpacking Our Baggage
It would be naive to say that our circumstances are the result of any one single choice, or that a small group of people are the only ones to blame for the world’s ills. Those are easy answers to very difficult questions, and they keep us from being accountable to our own lives.
Part of what I identify as a Pagan Value is being fully present in the world, fully present to all of what is happening around me. In the world has negative connotations to some, but to me it feels like the path of choice, quite literally.
I choose to face this change of life without resentment or blame. I choose to acknowledge how painful it is to let go of the comforts of this house. My choice is over and over to be honest about what is happening, and not to scapegoat anyone.
This approach to living is by no means exclusively for Pagans, but for me it does feel like an extension of my spiritual growth and practice.
The Movers Are Here
We are all entering a transition period. There is evidence of it in the streets, in our homes, in our pockets and in our hearts. This is an inevitable progression, and it will likely continue to be difficult and challenging.
But it presents us with the opportunity to be fully engaged in the living of our lives; our complicated, messy, mistake-riddles lives that are also magical, and substantive, and worthy of more than a sign-slogan, a tweet, or an easy explanation.
What we do with that opportunity is our choice to make.