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  • Writer's pictureTova Ekenberg

A Harvest from the Borderland 2022

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

Hi dears. I wrote this text a week after coming home from the land between dreams and reality - The Borderland, a gathering inspired by the ten principles of burning man, a living and experimental community. This text is about mapping out what makes me feel so damn good at the Borderland and simmilar events, in a wish to be able to integrate more of it into the rest of my life.

Last night I came home from the back to back experience of Borderland and Urkult. Three weeks of rough sleeping, in tents or crammed on a floor. My body is aching. My fingernails have so deeply ingrained dirt I can't get it out in the field anymore. My back and knees and bruised, my stomach upset. I am physically exhausted but my spirit is soaring.

As soon as we roll into the unforgivingly gray city I feel my heart begin to sink. Even though I'm happy to be able to care for my body with warm water and let it rest and heal, it feels too dry inside this house, can I really breathe in here? And already by now I've been stuck to this mobile device for hours as facebook reels suck at my life force like virtual ticks.

I’m downright afraid of the patterns that live in these walls, and soon in the rehearsed route to work.

This is familiar. More than a handful of times I’ve had the experience of coming home from an immersive event and witnessing the slow descent to something that feels more like a half-life. There was an opening, and now the heart-flower closes again.

Get me right. I’m not looking to chase a life of a never ending peak-experience - the ecstasy of a thousand people's gathering I’m good for having once a year. Also, I don’t seek to overthrow my life all together in a rush, been there, done that. I’m looking for the middle ground here; where can I create pockets of life, real life, in the city? How can I bring others with me in this pursuit and let them have it, too? While I still remember - what took place there? What are we doing that creates this magic, this alivenss? I was part of something that made my eyes sparkle, my skin turn soft and my heart open. We are onto something here. Something we are doing brings me easily to the eternal now and makes me remember that I am a living, breathing, being… no more, no less.

I want to live it. I will not settle anymore for a half-life. And I know others want to live this, too. This is the real antidote for our epidemic sickness of depression and loneliness. And by now I know it’s elusive, once back in the wounds of civilization.

Some clues of what we are doing right:

Here follows a list of things I could identify that brings me closer to it.

Outdoors. In the city life I spend up to 90% of my day inside. At the gathering I instead spend 90% of my time underneath the open sky where the sun and the wind are kissing my face.

Something happens when I smell, hear and see. Are we not all struck by sunsets over and over again? Why do we stay inside?

💧 Cold swims. I bathe myself in the cool pond or river, making my mind and body resilient. Every time I enter the water I simply must let any thought be washed away or else I cannot stand the cold.

🥰 Touch. I think at some point I shared a hug every 15 minutes or at least once an hour. And those were real, felt, hugs. Co-regulating our nervous systems, remembering to breathe and feel. Hurray to cuddle puddles, but also handshakes, a grateful pat on the shoulder as I wash someone's plate. Which leads me to…

😌 Community. Human based interactions. Getting to both help and be helped, expressing gratitude to an actual face. Doing something together with visible results, being part of a bigger group, family, network. Building trust on a bigger scale. I think we get numbed in a structure where everything is handled at a computer's distance, convenient, yes, cost effective, sure, but we are outsourcing the messy human efforts of taking care of each other, we get isolated and separated when really, our kind is built to be flocking.

🥲 Regular sharing. Processing our experience as they happen, both big and small, before they cement in our bodies. Talking, laughing, crying, expressing anger and discomfort to present ears. Sometimes problem-solving with the tribe, sometimes just witnessing. By myself my mind becomes a labyrinth which I quickly fill with monsters.

🌘 Un-time. Without clocks I hear my inner rhythm, I sleep when I am tired, I eat when I am hungry. I let processes unfold, I talk to the end of a conversation. I am in no rush, therefore I have time to receive you fully when you are in distress. In the life I return to there is a deadline to everything. I pretend to not see your anxiety because if I’m late for work again.

🍉 Shared meals. Something happens when people eat together. Something happens when you prepare food for your folks. We dedicate money to buy organic and we pour love into our cooking because we want the best for each other, including ourselves. By myself I struggle to give this gift. Dinner for one loses meaning. Dinner for one over and over again is damn miserable.

💪Movement. All day long we are walking, swimming, building, carrying water. We fall into playful wrestling and we have our senses sharpen as we climb something with a risk. If we feel like it, we dance till the morning and in the dance we dance out any unwelcome spirits we might have been carrying.

📵 Phonelessness. I don't know about you guys, but I leave my phone in the tent. Unveiled, I’m present with what life presents me and I'm one step removed from escaping the same when the same are unpleasant. My mind enters a slower pace, no flashing videos, not a million pieces of (very interesting) facts, all at once. Detoxification for a tired brain!

🌈 Lust based Learning. An environment where I get to seek out the knowledge I want to explore. The things that make me excited, right now. And it's readily available, not depending on my finacial resources.

These points above are some corner stones that pave the way for what truly matters. When I am doing this, love unfurls from my chest, deep laughter comes, grief expresses itself, beautiful moments arise and go, healing happens. I become less attached and I follow the flow of life.

I hope this mapping is helpful for others who want to find their way back. Did I forget any? Feel free to add to it!


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