RSS Feed
Riding the Crest Once Again: Echoes of Love and Belonging

Riding the Crest Once Again: Echoes of Love and Belonging

2024, Feb 02    
growing kelp

“Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle of sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high watermark - that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.” ― Hunter S. Thompson, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”

Back in my teenage years, there was a night, where my friends and I fooled around, probably drinking bottles of cheap liquor, throwing around ideas about physics and time travel. Then came that inevitable, dull question: “If you could go back in time to any era, where would you go?” For me the answer has always been the same, “San Francisco in the middle of ’60s,” - I blurp out.

My world at the time revolved around reading Kerouac’s rebellious prose, the electric licks of Hendrix’s guitar, and Joplin’s soul-shaking voice. I had this vision and dream about being at Woodstock, lost in the sea of music and mud. Then falling in love with a girl in a colorful dress and flowers in her hair. Together, we’d slip away under the cloak of night, boarding an old freight train that rattled and roared from the city lights of NYC all the way to the golden gates of San Francisco, chasing the pulse of freedom and adventure.

Fantasies. “That wave is gone, man!” - I would tell myself and snap out of that dream, the way you wake up with cold sweat in the middle of the night, after dreaming about your teeth falling off your skull.

But it’s not that much about the music, or the appeal of drugs or the beautiful image of that fantasy girl. It’s about that universal feeling and need of love and belonging combined with that sense of victory over the Evil that I was seeking back then. And who isn’t?

Many years later, after 20 years of having quite a successful career in my absolute fucking dream job, I had a period of my life where it felt like everything I do is completely meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Especially seeing the shitstorm that was about to come in the world and planet. Joining Extinction Rebellion also didn’t help at all. In fact, I got into such a dark mood that I almost couldn’t get out of my bed in the morning. I mean what else can you really do if you know the facts about what we are doing to the planet. Staying in your bed all day is probably the most productive thing you could be doing anyway. But this was completely new feeling to me as I’ve always been a very driven person and always wondered how can someone go into depression mode when there is so much beauty and things to do and experience in the world. Once you start to wonder such things, Life has the tendency to slap you in the face and show you firsthand. One advice - never wonder “what it’s like to…” - you might actually get to experience it.

Then the pandemic came. And the meaningless cycle of my life just continued to roll. We had our second child in 2020 and even that event, which was supposed to be one of the most important in my life felt almost normal and ordinary. It even hurts me to write that down now.

This ruderless feeling continued until the hot grip of 2022’s summer, when by some random cosmic fluke, I found myself amidst a Belgian congregation of souls I’d never met, except for two of the organizers of the event, Nati and Rich. I knew them only barely from a few online interactions because of their involvement with Enspiral and Loomio, but never met them in person. Yet, tired and frustrated from not having any social life during the pandemic, I decided to join the first Microsolidarity gathering in a small Belgian town. I thought that it will be a nice place to connect with some random folks and have a good time together. I didn’t hope for much more than that.

So here I was at the entrance of an old Abbey, sweating from the afternoon sun. A girl with a colorful dress and pretty smile greets and hugs me at the entrance. “Funny!” - I think to myself - I can almost imagine the flowers in her hair.

A few days in, and amid this sea of new faces, I stumble upon an unexpected experience: a profound sense of love and belonging, as if these folks had been in my orbit for years, not mere days. How? It’s a riddle, considering my past experience tells me such connection typically demands years to materialize. And we’re stone-cold sober. No drugs involved. The secret, I think, is getting rid of your masks, standing vulnerable before an audience of peers, and finding, to my bewilderment, nothing but acceptance. It’s like being naked in broad daylight, braced for ridicule, only to be met with cheers and warm gazes. In this rarity, you’re seen, kinks, quirks, and all — and it’s not just okay, it’s celebrated.

I attend another Microsolidarity gathering a year later near Berlin. And another one, just recently - in Andalusia Spain. And every time I attend one of these, that feeling of friendship and belonging solidifies.

And so, it turns out, the wave that Hunter talks about hadn’t completely retreated in the history after all. It was merely waiting for its time, gathering strength beneath the surface. The era I had romanticized — the sixties in San Francisco, a time and place pulsating with the electricity of change — had in some cosmic twist, found its way again. It was as though those days were not exclusive of the past but were instead patterns, rhythms to which our human collective unconsciously sways when the stars align or when necessity demands.

But just after the last Microsolidarity gathering I’ve come to realize something important. It’s not that much about the love and belonging, which don’t get me wrong - is amazing feeling to experience in itself. It’s something even bigger than this. Love and belonging are just the ingredients needed to invigorate it. For the first time in many years I feel that life is not so meaningless anymore. That I am not just a random DNA mashup on a tiny, insignificant, dying planet. That somehow, we all have a part to play in this universe and that we are a small, yet important cog in the machine. For the first time I feel we are all involved in a much larger story, still untold and unclear, but real.