Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The pioneer spirit.

I'm on a journey that will culminate in the Burning Man Festival in Nevada. Right now I'm in the fresh air of Wyoming looking forward to admire the Grand Tetons tomorrow. I have many reasons for coming here. Old masters inhabit the mountains. I need to visit mine.

On my way from Illinois, I came across a museum dedicated to the first frontiers, the ones traveling in covered prairie wagons, ready to put a plow down in their own land and finally feed their families. The museum was in Nebraska. The building stretches like a covered bridge across the highway. Inside the classy log cabin, an escalator leads to the exhibits inside the bridge. On the way up, you meet the life sized figure of the pregnant prairie woman in her bonnet. Her eager son is scrambling up the hillside towards the father beckoning the visitors to come and see. Their daughter is sitting on a rock nibbling on an apple, reading a book with her cat in her elbow. Below, an explorer next to an Indian are watching, also wondering what story the father wants to share. All the figures are depicted with unusual sensitivity to detail and authenticity. I arrive at the top and feel I have met old friends.

Inside, we first see the struggling families behind their wagons. My headphones are speaking the words of the many women who wrote diaries from their experience. They buried their husbands and children and went on. They gave birth to new generations in a new country. The young girls talked about the prairie library; all the books that were left behind by the travelers who needed to lighten their load and reluctantly left precious volumes in neat stacks, hoping that somebody else would have strength and room to take them further. Young boys wrote about how family members died around them and suddenly they had to take on responsibilities way beyond their years. But they did, and they endured and they survived. And they built this country from the prairie grass up.

The railroad came. The pony express only lasted for eighteen months. Then a new form of information distribution took form; the telegraph. Not long after came the automobile and the chuck wagon got translated into round cornered diners in red and silver.

At first I was offended that these newfangled inventions were displayed right after the sensitive and beautiful description of the pioneers. Then I realized that all these things appeared right after each other in history. And each period lasted for a very short time. This young country was eager to expand, to learn, to bring in the new.

I took in the spirit of the pioneers, of the inventors and promoters of the train which changed the country with the same explosive speed as the impact of the Internet in our time. I felt the openness to new things, the hunger for the latest invention that could improve daily life.

Then I asked, where is this spirit now? What happened to the spirit of embracing the new, looking eagerly for the latest in new thought?

I'm traveling. In the cafeteria I see overweight, over TV stimulated people, who look kind and friendly, but I don't see the spark of new ideas in them. The "sparky" people might not be the ones coming to this museum, but I'm nevertheless looking for them. I need to know that they exist.

I've heard of new inventions that have been hindered from coming to the market or even to consumers attention. Inventions that would challenge us to understand the value of living with free energy, cars that run on compost, or refined metals that can cure anything.

I guess I'm still looking for material goods to prove that we're pioneers. If it can't be planted, or take you somewhere, what good is it?

As I went outside and walked among the prairie plants, it occurred to me that I was looking in the wrong arenas. Yes, these new inventions are important, and sooner or later most of them will come to our attention.

I suddenly understood that we're pioneers of a different kind. We are pioneers of spirit. Give it to America to come up with a new idea and implement it quickly, they've done it before, they'll do it again. The Goddess found a place to speak.
How heavy is your covered wagon? What odd combination of people travel with you? What are you bringing to share where you arrive? Are you the new blacksmith in town, or the schoolteacher? Or are you the one who knows how to heal the afflictions of modern life, the yoga teacher, the nutritionist? Or maybe you know how to hold more light, making it expand beyond your body, and watch the darkness disappear. There are many ways to contribute.

The goddess is returning, and she's speaking through all of us. A new band of pioneers are pulling wagons across the country. The weight of the wagons consists of old ideas, old grudges held for too long, narrow mindedness and family ghosts overdue to be exposed. Along the way to the land of plenty, the wagons get emptied of unnecessary baggage. The lighter wagons find their way first. Do you recognize yourself? Are we the A team returned?

I looked at the figure of the pregnant woman struggling with her skirts, and knew I had been her. I looked at the young boy, and knew I had been his mother. I looked at the girl with the book and knew I had been her. And I looked at the handsome explorer and knew I had invited him into my hut, and shared a meal and my bed with him.

I also know that I'm helping people in this complicated society we live in, people with a new attitude, with a new vision, embracing a new day. I'm also releasing a child of my creativity, which I hope will inspire new hope as we watch the first sun rays arrive over the mountain and we can one more time say Yes!

Yes. To a new time, to new thoughts, to a new era.
Hello A-team, I recognize you.


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