Why gather?

reprinted from All Ways Free, Winter '88

When Melville wrote in the 19th century, "Why weary the arm at the iron and the oar," he meant Why work one's life away in the industrial age factories and maritime trades?

I mean: Why should anyone trudge thru the woods, shovel in hand digging compost pits, or stand long hours in dark miserable weather, flashlight in hand directing cars toward parking places, or lug food in boxes and heavy sacks over mountainous terrain, or scrub large pots? I mean Why would anyone want to do this? And for no monetary profit?

I mean Why should anyone want to go thru the 1001 tasks that are the life support system of the Rainbow Gatherings? Hauling large rocks for bakery ovens, digging & filling latrines, tending medical emergencies, installing water pipe systems that need to be taken apart just three weeks later, sorting garbage, not to mention doing all this wit the added difficulty of our own problems: upset or belligerent people, alcoholics in rainbow clothing, rude or unhygienic behavior; and sometimes i with only minimal he or even opposition from the public service of the government.

Why should anyone want to put themselves thru all of this just to enjoy nature or to party in the wild wild woods? Surely each of us can seclude ourselves in the wondrous beauty of nature, alone or with our friends or beloveds, with a great deal less difficulty than going thru all this effort, all this oomph, all of this, just to gather.

Why do it? Why face all the problems, all the maps & mailings, all the fundraising for printing; all the long winded discussions over procedures; why consume all this time of our lives? For what? Why gather?

And on top of this, to face the disapproval of relatives and peers, who see us pouring whatever economic gain we make during the rest of the year down some rainbow-colored drain, traveling long distances, dealing with vehicle problems, supporting a donation cause that feeds and cares for a multitude; and to what end? to what purpose for a great big party in the woods ? So some people can go naked and skinny dip? Al of us can find the quietude, peace and power of Nature's great temple on our own wit out all this fuss; and probably with a great deal more true tranquillity ­ without the additional obnoxious attitudes of those who come along with commercial interference, intent on selling us some supposedly groovy items.

We are utterly capable of seeking and finding the pure pure natural experience without subjecting ourselves to all this trouble. so why do we put this on our shoulder and go on? Why do we do it? I mean: Why gather?

Garrick Beck (1988)