THE TIMELESS WAY OF BEING TOGETHER
Ive been thinking lately about this term thats been a Plukrijp staple for a long time already, trying to get to the essence of what it means. “Above the Table”.
It came about in a conversation with JoJo when he implied that there was this thing we talked about he’d rather not have shared at the table. Nonetheless, it felt totally appropriate and we were not really hiding information that the group absolutely needed to hear at the table.
I noticed that in community living, above the table is easily associated with at the table, meaning literally are all sitting at the table having some food. Of course eating together belongs as a non negotiable element of close proximity living. But I noticed above the table is more of a presence thing.
Ideally we are living with people we trust that are assertive and creative enough to clear their own emotional hurdles with the people it concerns. They progress in maturity and get a step ahead by telling people what values they hold dear and what agreements they think they’ve made with others. They renegotiate in timely fashion when new circumstances emerge.
YOU WISH, BUDDY! Everyone fucks up here so issues inevitably arise, usually it deadlocks when two people are both projecting onto one another. That’s where living in group is of immense value and I think that’s the essence of why living in close proximity is worth it. There is always a third party that can make the situation unstuck and have a neutral, non-loaded perspective on the situation.
Now that I think is closer to the essence of above the table. This willingness to go along with the process of decluttering from projection by submitting your perspective to a third party represented by the group. Above the Table cannot be forced onto an individual who doesn’t want it. It’s a culture. We can get better at poking through, with humour for example.
Human beings I think are very very social creatures that cannot even have a healthy psychology when there are less than three perspectives on their lives. We have too many blind spots in our own personality and towards our own behavior. One other person cannot fullfill that role because then you can have mutual projection. From a third person it starts to get interesting, but then I actually think you still need a fourth person to do quality control and see to it that the third party doesn’t start to take advantage or manipulate. I think we start to be safe when we have three neutral opinions balancing each other out.
So why wouldnt we want this? Well, life is tough and we already got hurt, so we build walls, fortresses, castles and bunkers to buy time. Even though digesting by yourself is exhausting, and you gotta hired someone to clean up all the vomit in your castle, lol. We may start to harp on privacy in space or private time as a value and we corner ourselves. We gotta join these people looking for community anyways.
These people end up looking at intentional communities to join because actual communities of people in every day life don’t advertise themselves. I think it’s safe to assume that people who come to communities, only to harp on privacy, are actually saying: I feel vulnerable. Although I do want help with deconstructing these walls I’ve built. How can I stay productive and enjoy the company of other humans?
I believe we need to feed these seekers, let these people eat cake, let them rest, let them weed, let them eat silence and distance, remodel the kitchen, shuffle the chairs around the dinner table, pick a nicer caravan, but at some point the symbolic stuff has to come to an end. The meetings have to end. The one on one bitching behind each-others back (We all do it) is fun for a while but then that too must come to an end. “These people” are ourselves. “These people” are another me. Damn.
That’s where Above the Table comes in, a principle to remind us to stay engaged, because we need it to be human. We actively refer to it, we explain why it is worth it when it feels so risky and vulnerable, we tell others its ok. Trust in the intelligence and memory of “the group”. (sometimes the group is retarted, im sorry, we are trying)
All the while, we get on with the inspired movement that is our lives, and co-create the timeless cultural capital that we refer to as permaculture. It gets better, believe me.
Take it easy, friends