Hi Bayo, you asked:
“Do you have encounters that could be considered ‘extraordinary’? – ones which do not fit into any logical framework, and which you often feel embarrassed to share with others for fear of being labeled ‘crazy’? Perhaps it was an incident that totally disturbs your conception of what is considered familiar, a fleeting moment of extrasensory perception that challenges our globalized cultural assumptions about the impossibility of reading other minds; or, a paradigm-bursting experience that still leaves you wondering about the absurdity of the universe?”
My friend, I adore you. And your questions.
I have many stories like this. I live them and collect them almost without thinking now, like smooth stones showing up in my pockets after a walk on the beach. I used to be embarrassed to share the magic in my life with others, for fear of sounding stupid, or naïve, or boastful, or unprofessional, or yes, crazy. Or worse (for me) for fear of sounding ignorant of the privileges that come with this particular body, at this particular time, in this particular place.
But that was long ago. Or maybe just yesterday. But that was before I realized that it’s possible to entirely surround yourself with people who live our interconnectedness and the magic that arises when we slow down enough to pay attention, notice, connect to the magic of life, and move through our fears with each other. That was before I fully believed in our magic together. And my own magic. Back when I was living somebody else’s story.
So here’s my latest story, Bayo, use it in your new book with my blessings, however you see fit…
Pirate Chicken Houses
This summer we released our latest book A Travel Guide for Transitions: Because Freaking Out About This by Myself Totally Sucks. On the cover is one of Bas’ drawings: he and I, in a tiny boat, floating happily (most days) along and flying our version of the skull-and-cross-bones pirate flag, a pirate chicken flag. For us this flag is a symbol that represents a planet-wide culture that we are part of. A culture of people embracing their quirky selves and walking away from “I Should” and toward “I love” each day/most days. This culture goes by many names, for many people, and we’ve come to call it Oddball Empire.
After the book was released in August, I fell into a state that could almost be called a depression. I didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere. All the parts of my beloved Seattle—my self-adopted home of 20 years—that I most loved just didn’t hold their same appeal. It wasn’t a depression, though, because most days I was happy in this just-stay-home-and-do-nothing state. Other people didn’t believe me, but I really did want to hang out in my home office, watch the sun set, listen to the birds, feel the breeze on my face, play with my dog and cats, watch Sci Fi reruns, and do nothing else for a long, unspecified, period of time. So I did.
Near the end of this period, in early October, the idea came to me that I and my family were ready for a move. I wanted a place outside of the city: a place where I could see the ocean every day as I write. A place where Daniel could more quickly shed the responsibilities of his day job when he gets home and more easily focus on his love of photography. A place where Daniel, Eva the dog, and I could walk on the beach, easily and without getting into a car, every day. A place where friends and family would be compelled to come relax and play with us, especially those too busy to ever come cowork with us in Seattle. I broke the news to Daniel. Fortunately, he’s now used to my magic/crazy, and he went with it. We chose a small town on an island known for being a haven for writers and artists of all sorts. I got online and started looking for homes.
The next day, I came across this photo…
A house, in a beach community, flying the pirate flag! And it was for sale!
In my 43 years on earth, I have never seen a home flying a pirate flag.
This house was calling to me, and if I hadn’t slowed way down to listen for 2 months, I never would have heard it.
I knew in that moment that the house would become our house. Deep in the bones knowing. We did end up looking at about 10 other houses, thinking maybe we’d want something closer into town than the pirate house is. But the moment we walked into the pirate house we both knew that it was our house. We were home. We made an offer and the sellers accepted it. This Sunday we were there for the home inspection part of the home buying process. There are eagles nesting in the trees above our new neighborhood, seals playing near the beach, rabbits and deer wandering through, and even whales out in the sound. There are artists collectives nearby, a writer’s retreat center and gathering place for women, and I learned that one of my favorite poets lives on the island. It’s a magical place.
The most difficult part of moving away from Seattle is that our Seattle home has its own amazing, magic-creating community. We have two housemates and two more friends who live in the cottage behind the main house. And for almost 2 years I’ve been running a free community coworking space out of our home on Wednesdays, so several dozen friends and neighbors work here and play here regularly. The idea of selling the Seattle house didn’t sit well. Technically the house is ours, but spiritually the house is public space. This house belongs to the neighborhood.
Three weeks ago on a Wednesday morning, before coworking, I thought to myself: “If we just had two more renters for this house, we could afford to keep it, not sell it, and not disturb the community too much with our leaving.” Less than an hour later, there was a knock on the door. It was coworking Wednesday! A woman came in who’d never been to coworking here before. As it turns out, she’s the partner of a friend of mine, a friend who used to work in another community-centered coworking space in town.
She sat down, sighed, and said sadly “We’ve got to move! They found asbestos in our apartment’s duct work!”
I said “What are you looking for?”
She said, “A nice, shared place like this, in a walkable neighborhood, like this.”
I said “Would you like our part of this place? I think we’re moving.”
And she said “Oh my God! Yes! And could we still do coworking out of here one day per week?”
And I said “Oh my God! HELL yes!”
So they came, checked it out, had a meal with us, met our housemates, fell in love with the place as we had, and are excited to move in. There’s even talk of a game night. And we can leave knowing that our neighbors are being left in good, neighborly hands.
All that synchronicity and magic and community Ninja skills happened here in the past 6 weeks. We are moving into our new island home on December 21st, and our friends are moving into our Seattle home, joining our other friends here, on December 23rd. People who cowork here in the Seattle home in 2014 will be blessed to work with two energetic souls breathing new life into the space and neighborhood that we have loved so dearly for 12 years. And people who have played and coworked with us over the past years, have an open invitation to visit Daniel, Eva, and I on the island for more playing.
So there, Bayo, is one of my currently happening crazy-synchronicity stories.
I no longer fear being labeled crazy.
In Oddball Empire, crazy is where the magic happens, and magic, as you well know, my friend, is everywhere that we are.