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The Initial "Where's the Juice?" Inquiry

Dear David Sunfellow:
(for those of you who don't know him, David runs Wild2K, my top-rated general Y2K site -- Tom)

You wrote:
Since we made the decision to turn all of our time and attention to the
Y2K situation, I/we have become increasingly overwhelmed -- both on the
level of day-to-day tasks, and also on the level of vision. Y2K has
become such a potent, dominating force that I have found myself tumbling
head-over-heals with little time to catch my breath and sort things out:
What is this? What does it mean? How can I deal most effectively with
this growing torrent?

I've gotten the impression from the letters I've been receiving from
other Y2K leaders/organizers that we, as a group, are also tumbling
around, trying to figure out what our particular place in this drama is
and how can we work together.

All this leads me to wish that those of us who are interested could get
together, in person, and discuss the various things that are coming up
for us, as well as how we can pool our resources more effectively.
David La Chapelle approached me a few months ago about a quiet gathering
of Y2K leaders. The idea was to get a group of us together to share a
retreat, vision quest, some kind of quiet time together....

Anyway, I wanted to mention this to see how many of you might have a
need to physically meet with your counterparts?

I reply: There's something in the wind.

About two weeks ago I found myself feeling like I/we were on the wrong track somehow. I felt like something BIG was trying to surface through us -- or through Y2K -- and the way we were operating was somehow blocking that. I have found it increasingly difficult to focus on many Y2K activities that were of compelling interest just a month or so ago.

Burnout is part of it, but not all of it. Not by a long shot.

When I talked tentatively to three Y2K activist friends, one by one, they all said they felt the same way. In particular, their attention was drifting to spiritual and other "larger" issues beyond preparation.

Then I went to the weekly BAY2K meeting of Bay Area Y2K organizers. I decided I wouldn't say how I was feeling, because I didn't want to undermine the momentum of anyone's community organizing or preparation projects. But then one of the other participants said that she was having a hard time focusing on Y2K preparedness and educational issues and was drifting towards spiritual concerns that had long been relegated to the background. As soon as she said that (and she was very much groping for words), everyone else in the meeting said they felt the same way.

We ended up having a hilarious meeting in which we joked about the seriousness of our efforts. We decided that dried food was a perfect symbol for a certain dessicated quality we'd observed in Y2K "preparedness" efforts. Preparedness itself seemed like a soulless, often fearful black hole into which we could dump all our resources and attention and never really succeed -- because no matter how prepared we ever are, there is always some plausable worse-case scenario that could overwhelm us. We joked about creating a book or screenplay or poem entitled "Just Add Water: Finding the Juice in Y2K" (I actually think I'll write an essay about that over the holiday). Phrases like "Reclaim your soul from the infrastructure before it falls apart" and "Waiting for the Y2K Godot" were tossed around. Joyful, boistrous life came back into the room. Something shifted. It was like the decks were being cleared for something. But then we weren't sure where to go from there.

What did it mean? Someone said "Something passionate is waiting for us to be ready." I have that distinct feeling. Something is in the wind. Your message strengthens my intuition about that.

So I'm trying to get a small gathering of 5-8 Y2K friends together for 2-4 days over the holidays. Due to people's vacation plans, it will probably have to be two separate gatherings with overlapping participation, one before Christmas, one right after New Years. It will be a reflective time, with lots of silence (a la Quakers) and lots of listening circles (like indigenous "council") with enough time for many rounds of the talking stick. Perhaps we'll do some dyads and tryads, getting to know each other deeply or pursuing together some inquiry of compelling shared interest. I'm thinking of having people handy who know Jungian psychology, Tarot, focusing, or other techniques for fishing out what's trying to become conscious. Or something like that. The form is not so important as taking time out together for reflection.

After reading your note, David, I'm thinking that maybe such gatherings could happen in many locations -- and that that is a good use of this holiday by us Y2K folks. Archetypally, these Solstice days are shortest, with more darkness. We are in Dark Times, experiencing and honoring the Dark, seeking and honoring the Light -- and all the things that Light and Dark symbolize. Where have we been? Where are we heading? What is gone? What is coming? What is our role? How, then, shall we live? We can gather to explore these questions. With silence and listening circles, it is really simple to do. It just needs time, real time, together.

My initial gropings suggest that the term "juice" is descriptive of what's missing and trying to emerge into the center of our attention. Preparedness (by itself) feels dusty to some of us, a dead end (literally, even as it strives for survival). As I quoted Mary Ann Bateson in Awakening (p 41) "One needs to think not only about survival, but survival of what." And Why? What is worth living for? What is worth dying for? (This is a time of potentially monumental challenge; are we ready to die for something worthwhile, or simply to make sure "me and mine" -- even "my community" -- physically survive, no matter what?) Is this not a time to ask ourselves what is missing from our lives -- and what happened to it? Is this not a time to learn more about who we really are -- and who we could be? How many people can say they live "juicy" lives? Why so few? What have we been doing to ourselves? To each other? To the world? Might Y2K be a doorway into a culture that supports the juicy-ness of life, the re-enchantment of life, the healing of our soul with the world's soul?

What is it all that about?

There is something very important going on here, I think. If we discover it, I suspect, Y2K preparedness will suddenly become a thrilling side issue -- a tool for joy, relationship and transformation. If we are successful, Christmas 1999 would be filled with the most exuberant, widespread celebration in the history of America, if not the world. (Thanks, Larry Shook, for this image.)

What is that? Where's the juice in Y2K?

I don't know if those questions can be answered -- or even should be answered. I only know that's the inquiry I want to sit with, with my Y2K friends, as soon as possible. I invite you all to consider doing the same. And then I look forward to some of us getting together nationally, whenever that is appropriate. It would then be very juicy.



PS: It turns out this spiritual concern is happening not just to Y2K activists. Listen to this, from Carolyne Stayton, Y2K community organizer in Sonoma County, CA:
The Community Forums are going well. The December Forum had 80 people -
we must be doing something right. I am going to include a spiritual
perspective (as well as a practical presentation) each time - that seems
to be the main calming balm. In November, Bob Busha from Grace
Fellowship spoke for 5 minutes helping the audience remember faith and
how God's grace seems to pour in when one puts faith in a higher wisdom
and power. In December, Sheppherd Bliss (used to be a Methodist
minister, now is an organic berry farmer/philosopher and activist) spoke
about how he feels and senses God's hand is in this whole situation and
because of that, he knows divine providence is acting. Those type of
messages have had more impact than the practical presentations on food
storage and roof rainwater catchment. The audience has just opened up and
absorbed. There is quite a thirst to quench in that department.

This letter was sent out cc to several hundred people. For some responses, see:

Food for (new) thought from Barbara Coffman
Y2K/Environmental Resonance from Ruth Rosenhek
"Stock up on Love" from Annie
Something in the Wind from Susan Teton Campbell
Service Grounded in Spirit from Paul Andrews