On Monday night I had a moment of emotional weakness when my hopes of staying with my sweet friend Paloma (at right) fell through after her landlords changed their minds about allowing it. During that emotional storm, I let go of the child-like optimism that helped to earn me my funky nickname. I allowed myself to forget about the kindness of people that I have met in LA, I forgot about the reasons that I live this way and about the opportunities that come in the winds of change. Do you know what my problem was? I was too attached to my previous plans and hopes for the city of Pasadena.
You see, if we hold too tightly to anything, be it material possessions, people or even ideas, we blind ourselves to the options, opportunities and blessings that surround us. When I live by emotions, I tend to live only in memories, always reminiscing about the great times I have had in the past, instead of trying to create new memories in the present. The lesson is to keep memories as reminders of the good times, but to be able to move on from them in order to live a productive life in the "now". The goal is to dwell on things I like about what is happening now, while still cherishing the experiences I had in places I may have liked better (e.g. Kenya).
Thankfully, I awoke to new hope the next morning, and reminders of the blessings in my life greeted my better attitude. Possibilities of my next move came up in my mind, and I began the day with a new vision. My sense of purpose and my faith were renewed. And so we have another demonstration of the fleetingness of human emotion. :)
Memories of Pasadena to Cherish
There are a couple of nice experiences of my time in Pasadena that I would like to share, while I get ready to move to a different part of this huge "concrete jungle".
One thing I have thoroughly enjoyed (and will continue to enjoy as I am able) is the dumpster meetups that my friend Eric has been organizing. We have had up to 9 people attend, with at least two people each time who had never tried the activity before. I feel great about being a part of getting people to become aware of the waste that our current society creates. The more people who know, the better. Then less people can claim "ignorance" and as more people opt out of this failing system, it will have to change. At least that's my hope. In the meantime, we are introducing people to free food and fun people. :D We have "rescued" so much food in the past three weeks. Countless bags of (organic) apples, more meat than you can fathom (including delicious Australian lamb cuts), so much bread, lovely greens, eggs and more eggs, two tins of fair trade coffee, white pomegranate tea and much more I have forgotten to list.
A related memory is that of Eric's 9 year old daughter Celina's incredible enthusiasm torwards her father's relatively new activity. She begged him to take her dumpster diving, and last week he finally took her to a convenient dumpster and asked me to meet them there. Celina and I worked side by side, digging through the plastic bags to pull out a multitude of mostly non-food goodies. Her excitement was contagious as the pile of toys and useful items grew. Celina had a paper bag that Eric was filling for her with her items of choice as we rescued them. The next day, three of her similarly-aged girl cousins came over, and Celina found the opportunity to show off her bag of dumpster treasures. It was a sight I will never forget: four girls sitting in a little circle, oohing and ahhing (and shouting, "You found that in the dumpster?!?") over each clean, perfectly useable item as Celina pulled it out of the bag. She had found two pairs of earrings, PEZ candy and a PEZ dispenser, many hair clips and other girly accessories, stickers, a wooden salad fork (I don't know why she liked that so much), birthday cards, "pop-it" fireworks and other fun things. Most of the items had been tossed because of damaged packaging, or lack thereof.
Meeting and sharing with people definitely creates the best memories. I have had a lot of good times on the campus of the local college, where I have spent hours talking with different people about the ideals of Freeganism and the bizarre practice of "food reclamation" (as the NY Freegans put it!).
But I will hold lightly to these memories as I move on back towards the city of Inglewood to begin to work with the Los Angeles Catholic Worker house and their soup kitchen (aka the "Hippie Kitchen"). I have worked with the Catholic Worker movement before (in a different city), and thoroughly enjoyed the sense of community and the opportunity to reach out to needy individuals in the area. This should be another great chapter in my ever growing book of adventures.
The Role of Faith in Freeganism (as I see it)
Freeganism is not a spiritually-based philosophy, and so the religious beliefs of those who adopt the name "Freegan" vary greatly. I personally think I am one of few Freegans who come from a Christian perspective (besides my friends in the JC community, of course). But with Christianity, I fully recognize that this is the conclusion that I have reached due to my cultural setting. Therefore, I can recognize letgitimacy in many different spiritual backgrounds, particularly if they are praticed alongside the ideals of Freeganism. But for me, Freeganism and Christianity go hand in hand. A simple lifestyle based on consideration of the earth and its inhabitants just seems to jive so perfectly with the teachings of Jesus Christ (e.g. "love your neighbor as yourself", or "you can't serve both God and Money at the same time").
We need a faith, a hope, that things can get better in order to live lives that are separate from the system's expectations.