Thursday, November 5, 2009

Report on the superhero bikers

The idea of seeking out strangers to help directly goes at least back to Jesus. It is to be contrasted with the idea of sending money to a charity organization, where the help is through several layers of burocracy and often there is no direct connection between the helper and the one being helped. I have never been able to do charity because it presumes that I, a privileged westerner, have something better to offer to people of a different culture or of different financial resources. Since I don’t presume that, sending money to a charity would be hypocritical of me. But not helping at all is not the answer either, because anyone with a mammalian heart wants to be of service to at least some folks. There are two ways in which I am called to help other people. One is by creating a life that is indicative of my values and that I truly believe IS a better life than what is available to the people I presume to help. That is what I’ve been trying to do for the past 4 years and what Jesus, Gandhi and MLK and a section of the communard movement has been attempting and exemplifying for many years. The other way I am aware of is direct helping, with the helpers and helpees connecting directly as equal human beings, working side by side. The superheroes are about this means of helping people. About twice a year, a ride is planned somewhere in the world. Superheroes converge on the meeting place, with bicycles and costumes. Those without bicycles can usually be provided with bikes by the local organizers. Costumes are up to one’s creativity. I started out as Captain Chaos, because I seem to be at the eye of the hurricane a lot, generating much change in the lives of those whose paths cross mine. I also have an innate dislike of the western propensity to think that we can control the universe, nature, other people, or the western hubris of how much power we actually wield as individuals. And , I am working on a physics theory where there is intrinsic free will and non-determinism, even more so than in quantum mechanics. It has to do with a (mathematically characterizable) boundary/bridge between the (hypothesized) timeless and the timefull part of a 5D spacetime , where there is a mathematical singularity (of a different nature than a black hole though) where no equation of physics survives to predict the near future from the present and near past. I had painted some of the graphic elements of this theory on a T-shirt, attached a red pillow case to the back with safety pins, put on my elf shoes (pointy, curled-back toes fit snugly into the pedal straps), and with my wild beard and hair, I was ready to go.

I arrived in Albuquerque on a Greyhound after midnight, where a hospitable man I found on offered me his studio. After a good night’s sleep we went out to breakfast where he told me about some of his work producing and teaching theater in Albaquerque. I then met up with super enthusiastic ****** who took me to another woman’s house where there were two boxes of vegetables donated by local restaurants. I took them with me for a short but very crowded train ride to Santa Fe, where I was met by the first bicycling superheroes, Rainbow Rider and her partner Perennial Pea—I immediately developed a fondness for their earthy intelligence and eagerness to help—agape at first sight. By the end of the trip I loved all the superheroes. They had brought my bike and a trailer to carry my pack and the veggies. They helped me hook up the panniers and off we went to Metta the Mime’s place, the local organizer. There we unwound for a bit—Metta was still in her talking phase and I had the same reaction to her and her partner Ruby Hummingbird. Ruby loves birds and had an easy going demeanor that put me at ease. Metta was busy coordinating logistics (she is an organizaing genius and one of the most selfless people I have ever met). Later Metta would put on her white mime face paint and not speak for much of the trip, until the evening before Zing and I left, shocking everyone. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Rainbow, Pea and Chaos (me) went to Green Dragon’s to spend the night. Green Dragon is a wise, kind woman, 62, looks like she’s in her 40s, small and fitter than most 20 year olds. We cooked dinner together, met her daughter and granddaughter and had a good night’s rest in a beautiful yurt. The next day Rainbow, Pea went to a farmer’s market, where we got to meet Farfalu and Super Chili. While I was buying some veggies and talking to a farmer about the benefits of every able-bodied person participating in agriculture, I lost SC and Farfalu, I would get a chance to fall in love with them later. I had a lovely lunch of bread, goat cheese and tomato and then went back to accompany Green Dragon on a mission to pick up The Zing from the Amtrak train station in Laramie, about 14 miles away. The ride over was difficult enough for me, probably because of the altitude and the fact that I hadn’t done any serious biking for many years. Dragon said that she might be dragging on the way back, but she was riding ahead of me to buffer the wind as I was having trouble on the way back. The Zing had an inspiring costume: blue spandex, a long ergonomically sewn cape with thunderbolt motif on the cape, the belt and the face. His helmet had some organic-looking spikes (symbolizing an Australian Echidna?) and he oozed charisma. The Zing had founded the superheroes about 10 years ago, and it is hard not to fall in love with him and want to follow him to the ends of the earth. We barely missed a rattler after a minute riding back, then the wind kept blowing towards us, then heavy hail rained down on us and I just had to stop and take cover under some bushes they call trees down in New Mexico. That evening I went back to Green Dragon’s and for the next few days we had training in superhero antics and bicycle safety and protocols. There were a few superheroes who did not bike with us, such as Loving Edge, who knew Jason from Auroville, whom I had met at Heathcote while he was in the US. There were superheroes who just biked and did service around Santa Fe: Expressiva, Sagegal, *** Bee and Turqoise Seeker. Sagegal opened up her house and yard for us to camp in.

I’ll describe the rest of the superheroes that rode with us all the way to when Zing and I had to leave to go back to the Possibility Alliance, as I got to know them and love them better than the ones who only stayed with us a bit. Oh and Sagegal (even though she only rode with us to the highway), who had everything we needed, including bike gloves and a hankie for me, bike fixing stands for all, a sewing machine for patching clothes and improving costumes, and an inspiring competence and easygoing sense of humor and hospitality. Farfalu, an old wise soul in a young body, a Buddhist practitioner with the best cape—fairy wings beautifully crafted! Superchili, hot yet sweet, full of jokes and warmth that came in handy when I thought I could not make it up the hills from Pecos to Las Vegas. Infinity Kid, who has the biggest, bluest, most loving eyes I had ever stared into, who did a lot of trailer carrying and who worked with me a lot. Crimson Seeker, who loves to cry, laugh, hug and understand the world and who persisted despite quite a few flat tires. True Blue, who is a healer with a big heart and kept us calm after Rainbow’s fall (see below).
We did a superhero birth ritual for everyone, we divided up into rotating teams—scouting/navigation, moral/physical support, cooking and cleaning, hunting/gathering and ritual. I ended up on a two-person team with One Earth Nun—we were the odd couple—she very collected, meditative, gentle, unhurried and calm (except when I rattled her a few times), dealing best as she could with my chaos. Our first breakfast was a bit of a challenge, she planning to take care of it the next morning and me throwing a monkey wrench into the oatmeal plan by soaking an excessive (more weight for the trailers) quantity overnight, without first checking with her. We had lots of rituals—the Great Eye who sees all and reports back on the days events, the Readings of the Great, the Huddle, Superhero recognition and badges for local helpee superheroes, Imploding Supernova of Love. We did a great spontaneous dance and rap which started with the Great Eye. Our first day of service we split up for 3 jobs-- at a food bank sorting food, at a mentally challenged adult home doing landscaping, and a third which I forget (because I wasn’t there). Sorting food had never been more fun. We had another small job trying to locate some escaped dogs but they were located later at the animal shelter. The next day we headed for Pecos but on the way down a long hill Rainbow Rider had the wobbles and lost control. We had a few minutes of collective worry as she lay on the pavement spewing blood and not being convincingly conscious. We called the EMTs and she was ambulanced to the ER. Metta and Pea went with her. We were all shaken and had lunch by the side of the road, after which a local medicine woman came out of nowhere in her truck and did a healing ritual/circle. We were all awed by that—she came with the dust and was gone with the wind as soon as the ritual was over. We rode back to Santa Fe to offer support to Rainbow and Pea.

Rainbow was OK, nothing too serious, but she and Pea decided to stay in Santa Fe to recover. So after another day we started again towards Pecos. I will now describe some of the highlights of the rest of my short journey with the superheroes—I may get the details of who did what wrong—superheroes who read this feel free to correct me. We made it before dusk, again in the hail. Metta found us an abandoned trailer to shelter in while she went ahead to find Ruby who somehow missed Metta’s bike on the side of the road and biked on ahead). We were all reunited in town, where navigation lined up two possible jobs, and found a wonderful grassy spot at a campground (the Benedictine Monastery was on retreat, so we didn’t get to stay there). While navigation and volunteers (Infinity Kid, Metta The Mime, The Zing and Farfalu) was busy, I taught a folk dance to True Blue, Super Chili, Crimson Seeker and Ruby Hummingbird. Pecos is beautiful, in a lush valley surrounded by real trees with friendly people. The cooks wipped up a wonderful meal on the camp stoves and we slept in our tents.

The next day One Earth forgave me for the oatmeal incident and gave me some chaos credits after I double bagged and dumped the plastic bag that our host provided to store our poop (a well-meaning, but misguided way to deal with humanure). That day, we painted a community center room, weeded a community garden and started building a greenhouse at the Beloved Pecos Gallery, working together with the organizer and her daughter. People were happy we were there and were bringing us food and other gifts. Zing, True Blue and I laid out the rectangle for the foundation, using a string, stakes and the Pythagorean theorem (I taught Zing and Blue how to do square roots without a calculator, realizing later that we should have done a 3,4,5 triangle to figure out right angles instead of the full length and width). Infinity and I were a good team gluing PVC pipe for the greenhouse frame. Zing and True Blue cut the pieces as well as cut some wood , made a door frame and put in rebar in the ground to serve as a foundation. Farfalu, Infinity, Ruby and I screwed the foundation to the PVC. We stayed with a couple who had a big back yard where we pitched our tents. We played Giants, dwarves and Elvis the next morning, then went back to finish painting and get as far as we could with the greenhouse. Superchili played a song on the guitar which I joined her on. Blue and Zing cut the plastic and everyone joined in to stretch it over the PVC frame. After a meal cooked by Infinity and Metta using a hay box, we stayed in a beautiful field on the edge of town, where we had a serious thunderstorm that sent some people to a house because of leaking tents. The next morning we got to see huge, gorgeous mandalas made by the late husband of a local farmer/artist whose land we were staying on. Then we rode onto Las Vegas.

To be continued…..


  1. This is wild! It reminds me of Jack Kerouac.

  2. You mean my writing style, or the story? Was Kerouac into random acts of kindness?

  3. Man sure do want the superheros to visit our little farm here in Washington VT. We don't have a giant "bat signal" to illuminate up in the sky, so how do we call on these illustrious superheros?

  4. Call Ethan at the possibility Alliance.