Whether or not memory is stored in our DNA is up for debate for some. As for me, I decided long ago that just as I have inherited brown eyes and cute toes from my ancestors, these same folk have bequeathed feelings and shared experiences – particularly as it relates to this land we have occupied for 200 plus years.
Sometimes I wish Orange County, California, wasn’t as well known as it is. Then I believe I could more easily separate it’s international fame and reputation from what I must carry on for my ancestors and what I must let go. It’s like trying to figure out a puzzle with a lot of outside commentary. I mean there is enough conversation going on in my head – I don’t need the excess baggage from the peanut gallery.
But maybe, there is something inherently positive or beneficial about this convolution that Spirit has yet to reveal to me. (Unfortunately I’m not always privy to the mysterious workings of the Universe)
This weekend I looked at a rather confusing map of the bike routes to the Great Park where I planned to attend the Artisan Food Festival. It was easier (and more natural) to visualize the land from a bird’s eye view to understand the safest, shortest way to crisscross 15 miles. When this land was simply rolling hills of coastal sage scrub, my Spanish ancestors rode their horses for days purveying the borders. Before that Native Americans knew the land by traveling on foot. Intimate knowledge of this land has always been a slow and careful process.
On my ride, some areas were covered in native habitat and the softest wind caressed my skin. It was then I felt I could remember, just barely like a dream, a time when my bond to the earth was so close that I truly felt part of the land itself. Then I re-emerged into the traffic and cursed the millions of people who had come to suffocate me with their busy-ness, superficiality, and fierce, ugly competition making me a feel an outcast on my home. It doesn’t help that the story of how the land slipped through our fingers is also laced with deceit, corruption and pain.
At the festival I stood in wonder at the variety of gardens – from a pizza garden to a butterfly garden to a medicinal garden. A large chicken coop housed feathered friends. There was talks or demonstrations on aqua-ponics, bee keeping, canning, bread and cheese making and all manner of preparing whole foods and healthy gardens and bodies.
As I rode off I pondered how these “transplants” had come to know my land better than I. Perhaps I spent too much time being upset about how “our family used to own all this damn land and it was stolen from us” to remember than no one in fact owns land. Ever. And maybe some people are just more inclined toward this knowledge and I can be grateful for their time and energy to teach me what I have forgotten.
It often seems life is a constant opportunity to become more humble and although always engaged, less attached.