September 7, 2009


The Little Voice

by Dori Mondon

It’s time to stop.

Some call it a Saturn Return. It has also been called a “mid-twenties crisis,” angst, depression, and over-privilege. Looking back, I also realize it was simply the loud, loud yell of the universe.

In my late teens, I fell into the rave scene. I dreamed of driving west to join all the cyber-visionaries in San Francisco. Though I really wasn’t clear as to what I’d do after that, what I did know is that the suburbs of Atlanta were doing me no good. It was time to go.

I went, but I landed in New York. In my early twenties, the city was everything I hoped it would be – vibrant, huge, crazy, weird, hectic, sexy, dirty, fashionable and intense. It was a place where the energy I possessed matched up perfectly with the energy required to be there.

By age 28, however, my candle ends were getting close. Doctors offered pills but I declined. I knew exactly what was going on. I was living in a Brooklyn loft with a beautiful view of the city, a sophisticated and funky lifestyle and a serious partner. I’d apparently arrived, but underneath it all, I was unhappy. It was time to go. Just to make sure I didn’t ignore the message, my cat fell off our 9th story window ledge to his death, breaking my heart while simultaneously relieving me from the one real responsibility I had.

Around that time I met an artist from Portland, Oregon. She attempted to convince me that I should move there. For an East Coast kid like me, this was unfathomable. There was nothing in Oregon but trees and rain. Surely, people did not live there.

Still, she planted a seed. “I have to go,” I told my partner. As I suspected, he had no plans to leave.

“Where are you going to go?” he asked me, and I heard a little voice answer, “Portland.”

I learned, then, what happens when you listen to the universe. Things fell into place: a high-paying, short-term freelance gig. The perfect person to take over my lease. An airline with a special.

I bought a one-way ticket. After three months I lost my job and collected unemployment, launching into a campaign of personal growth and education. Over those six months I discovered how wonderful it was to fully express the person I was becoming.

At the end of the year, however, I heard a familiar little whisper. Ah, yes.

“It’s time to go.”

I was 33 when I tore myself away from a community I’d grown to love immensely and headed off to Mexico. Though I ran out of money after three months, I had no intention of going home (and no clear idea where “home” was, anyway). Eventually, and with the assistance of my family, I ventured into ownership of a small backpacker hostel in Guatemala, but this was not home, either. I’d been at it a year when there it was again, my little friend.

“It’s time to go.”

With the sale of the hostel I bought myself a plane ticket “home” – to mother’s. At 34, I moved into her finished basement for some time to rest and think in English again until work appeared in California.

I bought a car, the first I’d owned in over a decade, and headed west, passing through New Mexico on the way. True to its title as the Land of Enchantment, I cried when I left, and when my friend Michael, following a couple of weeks behind me on motorcycle, arrived, it took him a month and a half to break away.

“I think I’m going to go back there after this,” he told me one afternoon while we sat and smoked in the fall California sunshine. He wanted to set up a “home base” that we could use between travels – somewhere to come back to.

By the time we got back to New Mexico, Michael and I had become lovers and our shared dream of a patch of land with a structure on it had turned into visions of organic food, sustainability and permaculture, yoga and meditation practice and a relationship defined, mostly, by giving each other wide open space to be.

Within three days we found our spot – three acres, a river, fertile soil and a little adobe house, invisible from the nearest road. It was everything we needed at a price I couldn’t even rent a bedroom for back in a Brooklyn ghetto.

We moved into our house on January 1, 2009. A week later we got our first dog, a rescue whose poster I’d seen in town. By March, we’d started food plots and added fifteen chickens and two ducks. A week ago, we added another dog to the mix – another poster I’d spotted in town.

These days I wake up with purpose. I snuggle my lover, kiss the dogs and do yoga on the deck while I look out over the foothills of the Black Range. I feed the birds, collect the eggs and grow flowers, food and herbs. I have the time and space for creativity and reflection. We don’t have any money but we’re not poor, by any means. We make our own toothpaste, grow our own food, find creative ways to entertain ourselves. We are mostly oblivious to media saturation and don’t read the news or fill our heads with the insanity of the human condition. Mine is now a simple life - there is, at this point, very little that I can do to help the world and its gazillions of problems, except to pray. Except to wake up and thank the forces that be that my eyes are open for another day. Except to be the change I want to see, and do the thing I can do to change the world.

Now that it’s quiet, I hear that little voice all the time now. It keeps saying the same thing. It’s time to stop. You’re here.

As you've probably figured out, Dori Mondon homesteads (the ultimate in DIY!) in a beautiful river valley just outside the Gila National Forest with a partner, a couple of mutts, a bunch of birds and lots and lots of plants, promoting organic farming, sustainability and permaculture. When she's not trying to stumble her way through the daily operations of a small farm, she can generally be found writing, knitting, hiking with the dogs, making the toothpaste or pretzeling herself into strange positions on the deck. She reads her work regularly in Silver City, New Mexico and is working on her first book, a memoir she hopes will inspire others to find happiness, live dreams and seek out sustainable, simple ways of being. You can read more of Dori's work at her blog, Squeezing Time, and she can be reached via e-mail.