My father’s house and the Mayan Apocalypse

One of my favorite songs is by Arcade Fire, Windowsill:

“I don’t wanna live in my father’s house no more.” 

This is such a provocative suggestion.

What if we simply decide to move out of the “house” our “fathers” built?  We just have to notice that we want something new, then start to build our new “house” in some small, meaningful, intentional and purposeful way.

I don’t want to live in a house where my brother and his partner are shunned by their families or community because of who they are.  I cannot force everyone in America to believe that.  So I make sure to celebrate their marriage and imminent new arrival with them.  And my children were part of their wedding.  We’re building a new house of love and acceptance.

I don’t want to live in a house where I don’t know my neighbors, but I know the names of people who are on reality television.  Bitching about the state of TV won’t do much good.  So I never pass up a chance to hold a conversation, meet someone new or accept an invitation.  I’m helping build a new house of connectedness and tangible relationships.

I don’t want to live in a house where money and wealth drive elections and decisions, creating cynical spaces between people.  Becoming St. Francis or Siddhartha doesn’t sound like a solution (or much fun).  So I follow Wendell Berry’s advice and try to live in a more thoughtful, responsible way.  I’m building a sustainable house that doesn’t need annual 3% increases to survive and therefore, doesn’t have to sell its soul.

And I don’t want to live in a house where we separate each other into winners and losers, forcing people to live ostracized lives of various violence.  But railing against “the system” seems useless to me.  And acquiescing is boring.  So instead, I start by making my own life more inclusive in personal ways.  I use whatever influence I have to support innovation and help people plant the seeds of the future.  I am slowly constructing a new house built on a DIY-open-source and convivial foundation where anyone can join in at any point, and do anything that fits their fancy.

The beauty of this is that it gives me a great deal of power over the daunting circumstances that want to lock me into the present.  These obstacles disintegrate once I take those first doable steps.  And it places the responsibility for change squarely on my own shoulders, where it belongs and feels comfortable.

All of this relates to our work at Starfire.  We’ve gone through some pretty big changes in the last few years, and we’ll be going through more changes over the next few years.  We announced to the public two weeks ago that the outings we’ve offered for the past 20 years are ending in 2014.  You can imagine the emails and voicemails I’m getting.  But we also announced the creation of our new gatherings, which we’ve been piloting for six months and so far, are really something that I think will be more meaningful in people’s lives, and more effective in ushering in more inclusion in the world.  They give us new ways to step boldly into the future.

This is why I’m so jazzed about this Mayan Apocalypse thing.  First of all, it’s great for ridiculous jokes about putting off work, buying $18,000 works of art on credit cards and warning Bridget that she’d better appreciate me a little more in our precious last seconds together.


But more importantly, it’s just going to be great.

I should clarify…I don’t plan on any fiery deaths or cataclysmic judgment from on high.  But I do plan on this world ending…as it is…and that’s a not a bad thing.

You see, I take a more personal view of doomsday.  No one knows the hour.  That’s true.  In fact, the “end of the world” occurs for about 154,000 people around the world every single day.  Their world ended and none of them knew the hour.

So I get excited about how this world will end.  And I get most excited thinking about ways I can actively bring about the end of this world.  And I don’t mean this in a “nuclear bomb” or a “takemycountrybackshoveitdowntheirthroat” kinda way.  I mean in a personal “build the house you wanna live in” way.

While it’s tough on us all to go through this “end of the world” or leave those comfortable houses our fathers and mothers built for us, the call is there.  We must act.

The Mayans were right.  The world will end tomorrow, in millions of unnoticeable and unsung ways, and it will end the next day….and the day after that…and the day after that…And each day it will be built anew by our actions and decisions.  I love the sounds of all that construction.

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3 Responses to My father’s house and the Mayan Apocalypse

  1. By
    Mary Oliver
    The Journey

    One day you finally knew
    what you had to do, and began,
    though the voices around you
    kept shouting
    their bad advice–
    though the whole house
    began to tremble
    and you felt the old tug
    at your ankles.
    “Mend my life!”
    each voice cried.
    But you didn’t stop.
    You knew what you had to do,
    though the wind pried
    with its stiff fingers
    at the very foundations,
    though their melancholy
    was terrible.
    It was already late
    enough, and a wild night,
    and the road full of fallen
    branches and stones.
    But little by little,
    as you left their voices behind,
    the stars began to burn
    through the sheets of clouds,
    and there was a new voice
    which you slowly
    recognized as your own,
    that kept you company
    as you strode deeper and deeper
    into the world,
    determined to do
    the only thing you could do–
    determined to save
    the only life you could save.

    • timothyvogt says:

      yes, yes…and this one:

      To be of use
      by Marge Piercy

      The people I love the best
      jump into work head first
      without dallying in the shallows
      and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
      They seem to become natives of that element,
      the black sleek heads of seals
      bouncing like half submerged balls.
      I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
      who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
      who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
      who do what has to be done, again and again.

      I want to be with people who submerge
      in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
      and work in a row and pass the bags along,
      who stand in the line and haul in their places,
      who are not parlor generals and field deserters
      but move in a common rhythm
      when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
      The work of the world is common as mud.
      Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
      But the thing worth doing well done
      has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
      Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
      Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
      but you know they were made to be used.
      The pitcher cries for water to carry
      and a person for work that is real.

  2. April Doner says:

    very fitting analogy. thank you!

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