“For the Adventure of Being Alive”

Tres Orejas

The entrance to Tres Orejas

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive…

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to be careful to be realistic

to remember the limitations of being human…

I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

–An excerpt from “The Invitation,” By Oriah (full text below)

I was camping in the Rio Grande Gorge when I learned about a New Mexico town so far off the grid, “you’d have to be crazy to live there.” I was intrigued. Now, typically, I turn my nose up at living off the grid. The way I see it, I was lucky enough to be born into a developed nation as a middle class citizen; why on EARTH would I go without running water and electricity? I mean, I’d rather drink hot lava than live a life without flush toilets.

While I didn’t discover the town I was originally seeking, I did stumble upon a realm that I like to imagine was…better. Looking at my phone’s GPS I spied a smattering of streets with less-than-creative names like, Road 1, Road 2 and Road 3, in the midst of what was otherwise a blank slate of desolate desert. Totally random. And my next destination. Obviously.

As we drove closer to the speck on the map, I could see the entrance to the development was marked by a colorful, crooked handmade “LOVE” sign, while in the distance a pirate’s flag was blowing from a ship’s mast. Yes, a ship’s mast. In the middle of the desert.

Turns out, we had stumbled upon Tres Orejas, an off-the-grid community about 30 minutes west of Taos. Five miles of unpaved roads lay the framework for one of the most curious places I’ve had the fortune to explore.

Street signs in Tres Orejas

Street signs in Tres Orejas

The neighborhood has no power lines, no phone lines, no water pipes. Residents instead use alternative energy sources to power their homes and collect their own water. Who’s calling Tres Orejas home, you ask? Residents apparently range from artists to PhDs and entrepreneurs. There’s even a large population of Buddhists.

This place was weird. It was magical. It didn’t make any regular sense, and yet it made all the sense in the world. This was wild and, in case you’re wondering or worrying, is in no way how I want to live my life. (See: flush toilets, above)

That said, what’s been created here was interesting. Fascinating. And that’s a heckuva lot more than I can say about some other, more conventional lifestyles.

Sure, my digital nomad existence is unusual too, still, my first thought as we drove past “earthship” houses was: Damn. These folks make my non-traditional lifestyle look pretty darn traditional.

More importantly, driving at a snail’s pace through the otherworldliness of Tres Orejas was a good lesson in community and a better lesson in withholding judgement. It was a chance to lift the veil and remember I’ve been too quick to judge others a bit too often in this life.

When I discovered Tres Orejas, I was floored. Brought to a standstill. I held my breath as we drove down unpaved roads, past otherworldly sights, like a statue of something blue and god-like, reminiscent of the Sphinx, but with ram’s horns and clutching a golden staff. Was it art? Ritual? Imagination ran wild.

Tres Orejas

The mystery creature-god

Whoever these people in Tres Orejas are, it’s clear they have a passion, a dream, a belief in a lifestyle they believe to be “better.” Even if living it brings a harder road to travel. It’s a lifestyle most certainly unconventional, deemed absurd by most others and more than likely laughed at by plenty of folks. And the residents? They. Don’t. Give. A. Damn.

They are living a life they love; living a life extraordinary.

If I’ve learned anything in the past 6 months, it’s that it’s not always easy to go against the grain of society, even when you haven’t gone too far astray. It certainly isn’t easy to explain lifestyle choices when they don’t match those of the majority.

But it’s worth it.

Because when I consider what Oriah asks at the end of The Invitation, “I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away / I want to know if you can be alone with yourself / and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments,” I can say to each point,

I follow my truth.
Yes.

and

Yes.

————————–

Here’s the full text to the poem quoted above.

The Invitation
by Oriah 

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day.
And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

By Oriah

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