By Ryan Flesch
This piece is my first contribution to awakening spirit. This might seem long if you scroll through without reading to check how much commitment it will take to finish it, but I am writing my life story in a single document, and it might be just the medicine that you need on this day. If you want to find happiness and fulfill your destiny, I implore you, please read on.
My life began as a poor painter. Not to discount my first 27 rotations around the sun. They, like the lives my spirit has lived before 1989, were the perfect foundation for me to become who I am today. I was blessed in those 27 years with more than I can name in pages upon pages of writing. I will mention the most important blessing of my past life though: my family. My Father, who worked three jobs for more than a decade to support the six of us; my Mother, who grew organic food and made meals from scratch while devoting herself to her children; and my siblings, with whom I used to attend “kids' meetings” when our parents would fight.
I can’t thank them enough, and I now know the importance of always keeping that gratitude in my heart. A grateful heart is a happy heart.
It was Nov. 6, 2016. I had spent three months following the Water Protectors camping out in the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota on social media, and listening quietly to the intellect of my heart (Thank you, Paul, for teaching me the words to express what I felt). My heart wanted me there, so I posted to social media: “I have spent too much time sitting in the comfort of my own home saying to myself that something I see is wrong, I'm getting up and I'm going to Standing Rock to show my support with my life, not the share button.”
I cannot name the amount of people who supported me in my endeavors to gather supplies for the Water is Life movement, but I can name Ricky, Shaina, and Candace as the three people who were willing to step away from the hustle of life and join me. As we gathered to leave and measured the immensity of the supplies, and the people that I offered a ride to in Missoula, MT (without having properly thought out the space in the vehicle), Shaina and Candace offered to stay behind. Many thanks and my apologies for that lack of discretion. This article is not exclusively about Standing Rock, so I will resist going into detail of my time there, but I will say that after that first trip, I returned to Seattle to tie up loose ends, and returned to Standing Rock in mid-December with a caravan of people and supplies, prepared to live there as long as it took to defend the river from the continued disregard of its well-being demonstrated by the oil companies and the EPA.
Simply put, during my time there, I was shown the way. I was shown love just for being me, I was shown gratitude just for following my heart, and I was shown that love and gratitude are literally the basis of everything that matters. I lived in a tipi (thank you Dell!) for five months, and then in a tent that I had recovered from the snow (thank you Brad!) for another five months spent gardening in Ashland, OR. To me, it is no coincidence that while living outside, connected to the Earth, I came to know what matters in life, what the soul needs to thrive, and how to change the world.
Earlier today, in the bath, I started a book called "The Secret Life of Water," by Masaru Emoto. Inside, in the first chapter, I found much of the wisdom I have learned in the past year and a half reiterated from a different perspective. I came to this knowledge from connecting with elder natives and other loving beings, letting their wisdom sink into my soul; Inside or outside of the Inipi, the sacred sweat lodge where the Lakota were taught to pray and communicate with their ancestors. I was brought to tears the first time I sweat (gratitude to the stones, Nate, and Mike for that experience). In sub-zero temperatures, I began going to pray in the Inipi multiple times a week. Put simply, I came to know what I know from the ancient ways. Masaru Emoto came to this knowledge from a laboratory. It is serendipitous and revealing that the same lessons can be found by the old ways, or the new ways.
The culmination of all knowledge and the answer to every question in life, I will reveal to you with no further ado: Mitakuye Oyasin, or We Are All Related. Mni Wiconi, or Water is Life. In recognizing those two truths, I find it to be of the utmost importance that we collectively take a stand for all of our relatives, and the sacred waters. Our bodies are 70% water, Earth is more than 70% water, so we know that to stand for the water is to stand for humanity, to stand for the animal nations, to stand for the Earth. Too long have we allowed greed to flourish. Too long have we ignored the warnings of those that have come before us. It’s time to start making the changes that we feel in our heart are right. Our hearts will respond if we listen to them. We will feel infinite joy when we live in a good way. This is the era of living our fullest, highest truths. Welcome to paradise.
When Masaru talks about happiness in his books, he talks about aligning ourselves with the Hado of happiness. He says three words that help to understand the Hado of happiness are Frequency, Resonance, and Similarity. All beings have a frequency, all things have a frequency. According to Masaru and I, this article has a frequency, perhaps you can feel it’s vibration. Perhaps it resonates with you, perhaps you’ve thought something similar in the past, but have pushed it aside, like I have done in the past. It is far too easy to push feelings that disturb the structure of today’s society aside, but ask yourself, does the commercialization of water resonate with you? Modern society is built to withstand the pressure of spirit. It is designed, intelligently or not, to suppress your spirit. Its frequency is so loud we often can’t think straight. It is no wonder to anyone who meditates on it that we are unhappy, that we feel unfulfilled. I don’t need to spend any time convincing you that humans, animals, water and the Earth are unhappy in 2018, so I won’t.
I am not writing this to be discouraging, I am writing this to encourage all of us to be the change we wish to see in the world. I want us to all know that we matter, that we are loved, and that no matter where we are in our lives, it is never too late to begin anew. You can be happy, you can feel fulfilled, and you can make a difference in the lives of the generations of people who will come after you. If you’ve ever been upset with past generations for not considering what kind of future they were creating, I implore you, think instead of the positive impact you can make for those that will come after you. Negative thinking breeds negative emotions. Positive thinking breeds positive emotions. I have personally found my calling in Permaculture, which is a regenerative system otherwise defined as Permanent Culture, and can be applied as a system to replace modern cultures, such as society, food, community organizing, etc.
I don’t think everyone is meant to grow food, but I do know that there is no such thing as a green thumb. You can grow food in a good way if you listen to the intellect of your heart and stay connected to the land you are working with. This is the topic of a book that I have been writing in my head for a couple of months: Natural ability is overplayed. It takes dedication to master anything. I do not believe you will wake up one day, knowing that you were meant to play piano to help heal people’s souls, and that you will just start playing beautiful harmonies in the first months. However, if you wake up one day knowing your calling, and pursue that calling with a dedication that is hard to come by at the speed that life whizzes by us, you will master it in much less than 10,000 hours. The same goes for all things, including growing food, cooking food, or drinking water (yes, I said it takes mastery to properly drink water). That dedication can be found within the passion you feel for the ability you wish to master. Do not attempt to master a skill for the purpose of making money. That will likely take you 10,000 hours, and all you will have at the end, if you play your cards right, is money.
In order to begin healing the Earth, we must first turn inwards and heal ourselves. There is much to unpack. We have all lived long lives (I don’t care if you’re 5 or 95). We have been programmed. Programmed to believe that if we don’t have, that we aren’t working hard enough. Programmed to believe that the Earth is simply a place that we live. I know neither of these things are true.
The American Dream never existed. Pulling oneself up by the bootstraps is misunderstood. None of us would exist if the cycles of Earth, Air, Fire and Water stopped suddenly. These are the things that matter. We are not on this Earth to survive. We exist on this Earth to thrive, to be beneficial organisms in the cycle of life. When we collectively realize these truths, we will have come to know a new era of human existence, and it is awakening within us in this very moment. How lucky we are to get to be the generations standing on the precipice, about to open up a whole new world and frequency of love.
I believe that the volatility of the human soul is relatable to anyone. This means one must be empathetic towards those who have not reached the level of understanding that you have. It doesn’t mean you need to like everyone you meet or hear about, but if you care about the collective, you should send positive vibrations out to them, not curse their name. When the movement at Standing Rock was dispersed, and I had time to reflect on the lessons I learned while continuing the labor of love of scraping the fat from Tatanka Oyate (Buffalo Nation), I realized something that I had fought in my mind since being raised, more or less against my will, going to a Christian church: Prayer is Intention is Energy is Manifestation is Reality. The first thing that means is that prayer is real. The second is that your thoughts and intentions will transform into the energy, physically, emotionally, intellectually, that you put forth into the world. The third is that change always comes from within, and to change the world we live in, we must first have clear minds and strong hearts.
What Masaru teaches is that water forms crystals of varying beauty based on different emotions, phrases and pictures put forth to the water. The most beautiful crystals are those that were shown love, while crystals that are shown ugliness, contempt, or the like are deformed. One of the hidden messages of water is to be the most beautiful embodiment of love and understanding in all things that you do. If one water droplet responds to words of affirmation, imagine what goes on inside physiologically when someone says you’re talented or that you matter. I am not a religious person, but I have found my spirituality thanks to the guidance I have received from the intellect of my heart. When we recognize ourselves and all beings as Gods and Goddesses, we will start to revere ourselves and our surroundings in a way that makes it possible to begin healing.
My hope is that we collectively recognize that independence from the system and unnatural things is the beginning of healing ourselves. Food, Water and Community are the most important medicines in life. I implore you to stop drinking the tap water, there is free spring water not far from you, regardless of your location, and you can find it on findaspring.org. If you can’t afford organic food, examine your budget and determine what you’re spending money on that is not healing you and eliminate it. I guarantee you’ll have more than enough left over to afford to feed yourself food that was grown with love.
Do not feel guilt for being put into a position that requires you to drive a car, but consider the places you drive, and how much you can accomplish each trip in order to drive less. Do not feel guilt for having taken the red or the blue pill, but consider nature’s bounty as a viable alternative to the pharmaceutical industry being pushed by the powers that be. Do not feel guilt for being hungry for meat, but consider the amount of resources it takes to produce a pound of beef compared to what it takes to produce the same amount of food in vegetables, fruits or nuts, and eat less meat. Do not feel guilt if you have supported the chemical agriculture industry with your money, but do consider voting with your dollar for cooperative food organizations, farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture deliveries and your lawns transformation into a garden. Do not feel guilt for having ignorance, but consider learning more. Do not feel guilt that you have clean water and your relatives don’t, but consider volunteering your time or supporting an ambitious friend financially to help support the causes you believe most strongly in. Do not feel guilt if you have ascended Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but consider the difficulty of achieving self-actualization without first having enough to eat, drink, or a place to live, and be empathetic towards those struggling for things that you may already have. Do not focus your attention on the oppressors, but consider reaching out to the oppressed to offer a hand up. Do not focus on hate, but consider the intellect of your heart in all things. It will guide you to the connected nature of all beings.
Aho, Mitakuye Oyasin,
Books that I love and cannot recommend highly enough:
The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm
The Secret Life of Water, Masaru Emoto
The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz
The One Straw Revolution, Masanobu Fukuoko
The Fifth Sacred Thing, Starhawk
Anastasia, Vladimir Megre
The Prophet, Khalil Gibran
Gaia’s Garden, Toby Hemingway
Books on my reading list:
Black Elk Speaks, John G. Neihardt
Re-inhabiting the Village, Jamaica Stevens
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal
Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture
Permaculture, A Designer’s Manual, Bill Mollison
The Secret Life of Plants, Peter Thompkins