Ah! Sweet memories. Just a little over a year ago, this was my location. I was staying on U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in one tiny segment of the Sonoran Desert. In the distance, at night, you could see the lights from the small town of Quartzsite. Otherwise, this was a peaceful place in the middle of a lot of desert territory away from the congestion of larger towns and cities.
I wasn't actually alone. There were folks camping throughout this and other BLM territories all over this region of the country. In this area, there were five other folks in residency. There were four women and one other man. We each chose a small parcel of land and left enough space between each party to provide the privacy we each cherished. Yet, we were close enough that we could easily gather around a campfire at night and even share an occasional communal meal.
You could almost say we had our cake and could eat it, too. That's really a big part of this kind of alternative lifestyle. Each person had a different educational, occupational/professional and spiritual background. Each lived with different financial means. Each brought unique skill sets to the table and shared them as they might help another member of this ragtag, informal, unlikely crew. Different interests and different origins from different parts of the U.S. Yet, at this one time, drawn together for this short period to this small commune. And then . . . we'd scatter in different directions.
The rules were simple. Each to his own, except when invited or inviting to share time, resources, conversation, meals, humor, knowledge, wisdom and skills with one or more of the others. Each member of this spontaneous, temporary commune was self-sufficient and didn't require the others, but it was nice to have some social camaraderie.
The words commune, community and even communism all have their origin in the English, French and Latin words meaning common. Communes and communities are basically more social forms of groupings for certain common interests of those living within the social structure.
Communes are, by their nature, smaller groups of people, generally with reasonably close and common interests. They share the living experience and typically each contributes voluntarily to the group based on their talents and skills.
Communities are similar, but generally larger, usually more diverse and more structured. They typically have a much more defined hierarchy of leadership with more defined rules, codes and laws to, a generally accepted degree, benefit everyone in the community.
Communism is, again, similar, but different. Communism as envisioned and expounded by Karl Marx is both a social AND an economic system. It basically doesn't recognize the individual rights of anyone. Everyone is the same. Everyone is supposedly equal. No one owns anything. Everything is owned by the central authority or government, if you will. While the most basic premise seems Utopian in theory, in practice, it's oppressive and repressive. A small elite group controls everything and everyone, supposedly for the “greater good.” As most everyone has witnessed, communism doesn't work.
I have a group of friends in my former hometown in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. We are all single, mostly divorced, some widowed. On several occasions, because we enjoyed each others' company, we had deep discussions about forming our own commune. While we were diverse educationally, professionally, financially, spiritually and we each came from different parts of the U.S. originally, we genuinely liked one another. We had even traveled and lived communally for a week at a time on several occasions. Some of the group did some serious research on the concept.
It never manifest in an actual plan. While we could agree on most facets of creating such a commune, there was at least one big issue we couldn't resolve . . . location. If the members of the group were going to give up what they had to become a member of this small association (we envisioned not more than, perhaps, 12 people), everyone wanted it to be in a place each dreamed of living. Some wanted to be near the ocean. Some wanted to be in a rural area. Some wanted to live in the mountains. Some preferred a lake setting. Thus, this seemingly, almost perfect dream never came about.
That's the beauty of what this week's photo-of-the-week represents to me. I can be part of a small commune of reasonably like minded individuals I can relate with. And, then two weeks later be by myself somewhere or part of a different communal group. Many thanks to the folks I shared this time with for including me and for the friendship. And, many thanks to the people in other small communal groups I've been included in. I look forward to more opportunities in the future to share communal time with all of you.
As an aside, I'm putting together an addition to My McVansion. Last year I had to wait for the sun to move to lower positions in the sky to cast some shade. Shade is especially useful on very bright, hot days. So, this year, I'm adding a nice canopy to the right side of the van. It will provide shade from the sun and shelter from damp, rainy days all day from sun up to sun down. One is always working at improving their home and that's true for vandwellers and RVers as well. Live free and be happy. EH