I have been half of an arrangement with a couple who have a small business down in the little town at the bottom of my mountain here in Hoodsport, Washington. They carry my crafted bowls and sell them (often and with enthusiasm) and they and I share the revenue from these sales. It is good for them and good for me — I have them selling 7 days a week to the many customers who frequent their store, and I have them doing PR for me, while I can stay in my workshop and make things that people like to buy.
More and more, the concept of symbiotic arrangements has become a dominant theme of my logical and philosophical and spiritual thoughts as I go about my work. It is really inspiring to see the cycle of nature just outside the door– the dropping of used matter to the earth, the use of it by flora and fauna alike– its beauty to our eye is rewarded by our tending to some watering now and then, and weeding out of greedy weeds. But even without our intervention, the forest keeps on developing and changing as the environment delivers heat and cold, drought and flood, bugs and storms.
And so it is with our human relationships as well! I have so many different kinds of relationships with other humans, and they are never at one moment in time “even Steven.” Always someone is one-up in the good deeds, but with the closest friends, one doesn’t bother counting any more than the tree is blaming the sky for drought, or the ground is blaming the tree for sucking nutrients out of it.
I wrote recently about the approach Eskimo culture takes to need and supply. When you get the big catch (walrus or whatever), you simply divvy it up all around. You don’t keep a tally. It eventually all evens out; meanwhile everyone gets fed from someone or other’s catch and life can continue healthily in the total community.
It’s not really “communism.” It’s simply natural supply arriving and being consumed as needed by the other elements of nature so that all can go on. No one supervises. Why would one need to?
If we get our “fairness” rules out of the way, it happens, even here in our non-Eskimo culture. But we will find it a lonely road sometimes when there are talliers and counters and creditors and debtors all around us keeping careful track of who owes what to whom.
I love the concept, and believe more and more that it’s something taught by God way back in the days of manna. He teaches me today as well. I am warm and dry today. Something I made brought a tradesman some money that is keeping his family warm and dry. He brought in some money for me so I can buy some paint. It’s really quite beautiful.