Health issues are just one thing that brings to mind the value of prevention and the preciousness of life, as well as the fact of our mortal spans… and the vital importance of preparing for the Center’s land, its ecological well being and archaeological integrity, the legacy of the ancient ones and the lessons that have come to be known as Animá – insights and tools that will be ever more important in the coming decades of overpopulation, personal desensitizing and dumbing down, political repression, and a culture that is in dire danger of devolving into tasteless diversion and superficial pabulum. Never will the tools – of self knowledge and awareness, compassion and passionate response, self confidence and sense of interconnection, natural being and the natural world – be more essential or timely for our kind… and never will what human kind does have more definitively impacted the rest of creation. And those who follow will be able to say, that never was it so vital that there still be wild healthful places like the Canyon for the plants and animals that remain, or that there be places of power such as the Animá Center where they can go to rediscover, restore and redirect their selves.
To this end, it is our intention to find a pro-bono lawyer to assist us with setting up a nonprofit land trust, to preserve the teaching center as well as the biota. Any and all suggestions are welcomed in this regard, as we need a defense against what will surely be future pressures from developers, road builders, litigation, and intrusive legislation. Secondly, there is need for successive generations of folks as inspired by this place and purpose as we, including an expanding circle of allies, supporters and teachers who carry the effort forward in their own states, countries, and time. Our Animá Guide apprenticeships are for just that, preparing students to effectively teach in their own voice and own ways, from their own experience and moral center. And we will also have to make room in the Canyon for additional lifetime Canyon residents of all ages including the very young. This work was not meant to done alone, though we have to do it as though and even if were were to do it by ourselves always. It is meant that each caring resident or guardian help monitor the intentions, methods and results, each person doing their best to ensure that the crucial founding principals are honored through any of the Center’s inevitable changes in form. Each would ensure that the others can see beyond their own fears and needs, and do not neglect or dilute the integrity of this mission and land. Each would have varying personal gifts, that would make their contribution unique, and work in concert with others to advance and deepen. And one or more could abandon or betray this, or unexpectedly sicken or die, with their still being others “holding place,” and keeping things going. It would be a terrible mistake for anyone here to ever imagine we don’t need help, or to fail to not only tend the present but prepare for the future.
Any future residents of the Canyon will likely be drawn from our student and apprenticeship programs, with one of the most important qualifications being that no place else can satisfy or fulfill them, that they feel most their selves when here, and carry the Canyon in their hearts when away… that when they do go for however long and for whatever reasons, they ache to return. The second most important qualification will be their ability to devote. The myriad other requirements can mostly be learned, including awareness, discernment, teaching techniques and homesteading skills. The deep ways they feel, their insistence on bettering themselves and their world, the things they have suffered as well as learned, even their sense of loneliness or frustrations with aspects of society will prove to have been significant preparation for the huge role they assume here.
So it was with me, I can see as I look back. What had once seemed like wrong-headed choices or unnecessary diversions, appear essential in hindsight. I thought my childhood years in military school were wasted, though the teachers allowed me to advance as fast as I wanted and basically showed me that I didn’t need school (only desire, intuition and books) in order to learn; the conformism showed me the absurdity and artlessness of uniformity; the inequality inherent in militarism convinced me that all real authority derives from our selves and the permission we give ourselves to determine and act on what’s right; the tears of the children shamed by their parents for losing to me in spelling bees and shooting matches, helped turn me off to glory at the expense of others. Running away from home and school at 14 long seemed like a mistake, but being on the streets showed me the underside of our economy and the social unfairness, prejudice and police brutality that I would never have known in my suburban cocoon. I could not communicate with so many kinds of people, if not for the time spent traveling, nor could I have kept my commitment to stay here even without friends or a lover, if I had not already won and lost many loves, and realized that others can and should never be the sole source of our satisfaction or our sole reason for being. Even being beat on by druggie biker thugs resulted in my developing an attitude and skills that I needed twenty years later when defending the canyon from threats of violence. The disturbing dreams and arresting visions that once made me feel a little crazy, were indeed the signs and omens that led me home.
Some guests talk about complex challenges and situations in their life that they are ready to change, others can express only a general desire to reconnect with the canyon that nonetheless speaks of something primary, sincere and deep, and it is partly for them that both I, my associates and this place itself exist. And in truth, there is nothing else I want to be doing, besides what I already am – only more so – reaching, stirring, awakening, informing, helping heal and empower ever more people… while necessarily establishing a lasting lineage of Canyon caretakership, continued learning, deep feeling, radical envisioning and insistent doing equal to the greatest individual efforts and shared missions in all of history. Animá was never just an idea, nor only a piece of land. All the magic around it would seem to indicate that what I knew in my heart upon first putting my name on the contract to buy it… that it is meant to be an evolving tradition that lasts so long as there is even a fractional minority seeking out a more real and realized existence, and a place honored and protected not just for a lifetime, but forever. Such is the future we plant our seeds for, grown in the rich ground of our histories, fed in the now by our ceaseless helpful efforts, watered with tears and laughter, rivers of love.
Your involvement is appreciated, your comments always welcomed.
The Animá Center Website: www.animacenter.org