• Ethan Coy

Permaculture Exit Strategies Should Include Emotional Processing

Updated: May 1, 2018

Today as I took the trash to the road, I found myself looking both ways before walking out onto our own drive way, as if a camper was going to pull out, despite the festival season being over and it being 11am on a week day. When you have spent the last two years living somewhere truly exciting and never knowing who or what is coming down that drive, habits like that become second nature. And now its time to transition and change all of the those second natures, making the exit process more emotional than expected.



As the date for our departure from our current sanctuary in Florida to our new destination in Puerto Rico quickly approaches, I find myself having many moments of some very strong emotions. So in these moments I have worked hard to stay in a healthy balance between working on exit strategies for the property and allowing my own emotional processing. When your work, life, and spirituality are all wrapped up in one place, a place you call "home" (even if you are a wandering monk), it takes a lot to detach and focus on things from a professional permaculturist perspective.

In between sorting kitchen supplies, flower beds, tons of donations, and craft supplies that I will probably never see again, I am over run with memories of things like who planted those, which band left which mic stand, which supplies were left over from which holiday festival, and which areas are memorials dedicated to loved ones passed. And each time I am overrun with happiness and sadness, simultaneously crying and smiling like a crazed person.

Normally I would suppress my emotions in these situations because in my mind it is not productive to cry while working. My old self would "get through the work" stone cold, and swear to "process it later". The only problem is, that route makes the wound and the scar so much bigger and harder to heal or bear.

This time, I decided to embrace it all at the same time. I figured if life is my work, and my work is my life, then I should be able to pack while crying and laughing, and by golly even get some exit strategies planned. Otherwise I'd be a really big bubbling sobbing mess at the end and I feel better getting it out of the way in small doses. So with my head phones on and looking like I had just watched a marathon of lifetime movies, I continued on emptying the recycling bins, turning compost, and making my final lists.

When I reflect on how I have become better at processing emotions like these, I realize it is due to the herbal medicines and teas, the yoga, and the healthy relationships that have kept me growing and healing, as well as the sanctuary itself. I also realize how important it is for me to continue these routines until we leave. In a way, my daily practices and self care are parts to my spiritual exit strategy that I didn't know I was creating and implementing.

In the end we must do what we can to ensure that our exit strategies will best assist us and those remaining to carry on this community, while making sure we grieve and process the detachment aspect that all of life requires. It makes it hard when I think about how many people will come and never know the special stories about "this table" or "that bird bath", and all the other things placed here by others, all with stories of their own.

Ultimately however, there has to be trust. First the trust from the person who originally placed the item, trusting that it will stay there as long as needed and transition as necessary. Then there is the trust that the sanctuary and its members will continue tending for all the energies here. If I have learned anything at the sanctuary, it is the power of manifestation and community, and when combined, anything is possible. So I leave with faith in myself, my healing, my community here, and most of all, the healing power of a sacred space.

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