When I was a very little girl, I sometimes went grocery shopping with my mother. This consisted of going to a small general store where she stood at a counter and told the man behind the counter which items to get from the shelves behind him. Sometimes he had to get on a ladder to reach something, but when everything was on the counter, he weighed things, added it all up, we paid him, and left.
Then we went to the butcher shop where my mother would ask, “Whose beef (ham, bacon, lamb, chicken) do you have today?” She knew the habits, farming, and husbandry skills of those who raised meat, and this was critical information in deciding what to buy.
From there we went to the local mill to pick up bags of flour and other grains. The bags were made of brightly colored cotton fabric, and we didn’t pick our wheat they way we did our beef. No…we were more interested in the fabric bags and what sort of aprons, quilts, or other items might be made from them once the flour was gone.
Depending on the season, we would drive to this or that farm to buy strawberries, raspberries, or cherries, later blueberries or peaches, and still later apples, pumpkins, or cider.
Milk was delivered twice a week in glass bottles with small cardboard plugs as caps, and we carefully separated the 3 or 4 inches of cream at the top of each quart so we could make butter, have cream for my father’s coffee, or whip it to make whipped cream for cherry compote or apple crisp.
Vegetables were grown in the garden, and if we didn’t grow it, we didn’t eat it. Buying other people’s vegetables was considered somewhere between silly and stupid. Everything had to be made from scratch – bread, cakes, cookies, casseroles, candy – and we carefully gathered then canned a few select items, froze a lot of things, or dried what we thought we might need over the winter. This included things that might be needed for healing, because going to the doctor was reserved mostly for those who were dying.
I was somewhere between 8 and 10 years old when the first Kroger Store opened in our area. People flocked to it. It was a marvel of food-at-your-fingertips. We went there for a few things but could not afford the prices there so continued our established way of life for quite some time.
I remember the first time I smelled pizza baking in an oven. I was about 12 years old at the time and became so nauseated that I had to leave and go outside. When it was time to eat, I could not eat it because I couldn’t stand the smell. I had a similar reaction to McDonald’s hamburgers, which arrived on the scene when I was about fifteen.
I left home at eighteen and moved to the big city – Detroit, where I got my first job in a computer/keypunch office. I was in love with Detroit, and although my path has taken me to many unusual places in these United States, I still love Detroit in the way we all remember a first love and its impact on us.
When I think about my earliest years and the way life used to be, I wonder…are we ready to roll with the changes coming our way? In the few years of my own brief life I have gone from the self-sufficiency of growing and gathering much of the food we ate, making most of our clothing and household items, building the house we lived in, doing all of our own healing, and repairing whatever equipment we owned… to a lifestyle in the city that I sometimes look back on as my own period of “calico cosmopolitan”…to a lifestyle that is becoming more and more reliant on digital everything.
I absolutely LOVE computers! This includes printers, cell phones, the internet, and all the amazing possibilities that arise from digital technology. The digital era is the one in which we will learn some of the basic lessons of advanced consciousness, specifically…
- that we can be wildly creative with technology, which is highly feminine (the nature of consciousness is to create emotion and feeling)
- that there is constant communication going on via the Internet (the nature of intelligence is to communicate and cooperate)
- that there is not really any such thing as privacy (how can you have telepathy without an open field of communication?)
- that there is a tendency for groups of similar intelligence to self-organize into functioning units (groups of particles that behave as if they were all one are known as plasma, and plasma responds directly to consciousness, a fact that makes us responsible for the effects we have on ourselves)
- that trying to maintain an attitude of hero-worship or a hierarchical stance of, “I’m better/more important/smarter/richer/more famous/more deserving than you does not work over the long-term (because open recognition is necessary for existence and if all recognition is focused on the hero or the guy at the top of the pyramid, the base will collapse due to self-neglect.) In general, we humans simply do not yet have a strong enough sense of self to recognize and constantly regenerate the Self without recognition coming in from others.
There are other aspects of the digital world that will drag us forward in consciousness, not the least of which is that anything not based on the self-regenerating power of love will simply not sustain.
If the entire digital world of the internet went down tomorrow, would we be able to continue developing the skills of advanced consciousness that the digital symbolizes? Maybe. Some would revert to the past and lose whatever gains in consciousness they made, but some of us will never go back.
If things hold together enough that we all keep moving forward, we could be on the threshold of realizing some of our most exciting visions. We might find ourselves living in a world where everything is new and different, from money and government to food, education, transport, and community. We might find ourselves communicating with and even visiting beings from other places, other dimensions, other times.
And if we can’t make those kinds of gains right away and must back up a bit, there is no reason that a return to the local food gathering practices of the past would not go perfectly with the communication of the digital age…along with finding handmade items to wear, coming up with people who have the gift of repair (they can fix everything from bodies to houses to plumbing and lawnmowers), local artisans and musicians who can make us laugh or swoon, and spiritual leaders who help us renew ‘The Everyday’ with meaning and perspective of a whole new kind…the kind that recognizes each of us while nurturing us toward a more expansive consciousness.