Arrival of the Uninvited Guest

Arrival of the Uninvited Guest

Today I submitted my application for a two week residency next fall at Mesa Refuge, Point Reyes Station, California. I worked over the weekend summarizing my project, a manuscript that has been resting in the dark ground of my imagination over the last year. I had to write a one sentence description as well as a brief, 500 word summary.

It took me all weekend. The title has changed from The Uninvited Guest: Fire and the New Consciousness, which I still like, to The Uninvited Guest: Finding a Path to a Conscious Activism. Who knows which will prevail, or if either will, in the end. The notes I made last summer seem much less relevant to what I am thinking now. As I wrote, I was amazed at how much developed underground, like a seed that needs protection and nourishment before its sprout is ready to meet the light of day.

Writing a book is such an organic process— at least for me. I know there are people who plan what they write in advance, but I have to give my imagination full reign and take the wild ride.

And it has been wild, too: the emotional roller coaster, the surprise of the groundswell of public concern for our Commons (my husband and I are not alone), the strong influence of special interest groups. My one sentence summary reads:

I am writing a book about the necessary shift in consciousness needed to address the challenges of a changing climate, specifically with regard to land use, community and local government regulation.

That sounds so calm, doesn’t it? It doesn’t begin to explain the story, which is told in little incidents: a phone message alerting us to the fact our lives were about to be turned upside down. The beauty of an oak savanna threatened by vineyard aspirations—which turned out to be a catalyst for me. A verbal confrontation by a winery owner in the hall of the Board of Supervisors’ meeting that caused me to pull my scarf over the “Vision 2050” button on my lapel.

There’s a larger story the book addresses, and I have no idea how it will come out. I do know that these issues we are facing in Napa County are only a microcosm of those in our country and world. Does production rule? Do the wealthy have all the say? What about the environment? Can we develop a compassionate, kind attitude to human and non-human needs alike, quickly enough to mitigate the changes in climate that are already well upon us? And what shift in consciousness required?

Those are important questions that wake me in the night until I promise I will attend to them, but not at 2 am, please! So it proceeds, this new project!