Off the Map
In between undergrad and seminary, I cashed in some airfare vouchers I otherwise would have wasted and took a “girl trip” with a friend to Portland, Oregon. We traveled on the cheap; stayed in a crunchy hostel, walked or took public transit, and of course made a pilgrimage to Powell’s Books. My favorite “wall” at Powell’s, at least that I can remember from that trip in ’04, featured new writers, independent publishers, many local. Short collections, zines, and low-budget publications dazzled me. Everything I bought that day was from that section. One of which was a little book called “Off the Map” by a couple of anarchist travelers, Hibikina and Kika. This captivating travelogue unfolded with tales of a couple of punk rock squattors who made their way around European cities dumpster diving for dinner and crashing in abandoned buildings for shelter. I was both terrified by this book and enraptured. I looked it up, too, and you can still buy it for about five bucks. (The authors, anarchists and all, weren’t in it for the money.)
I hadn’t thought about Hibikina and Kika in a while, but recently bought a book from an author with a similarly frightening and unorthodox way of living. That author is SARK. SARK, aka Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy has written sixteen books with titles like “Inspiration Sandwich” and “Eat Mangoes Naked.” There are reasons why I stepped away from her writing for a bit – she’s a bit zany; she’d probably say that herself. And yet, especially in these polarized and politically vexing times, her playfulness and embrace of the creative life are downright nourishing.
There’s something to these narratives. Whether it’s me fourteen years ago listening to other hostel guests talk about making their own soymilk, Hibikina and Kika, eating baguettes from a garbage bin or SARK, encouraging me to board an airplane, as she once did, in a flannel nightgown, something sticks. It has to do with following dreams, trusting creative instincts and not waiting on wealth and fame to usher in the life we are meant to live.
We can’t always lead with our hearts, make financial decisions based on our intuitions. But maybe, sometimes, we should. Because, when we do, in SARK’s vernacular, “magical” things happen. And while some might say it’s the “universe” or “angel guides” leading us here, I think I’ll go ahead and credit the original breath and wind and inspiration: The Holy Spirit, subversive agitator that she is.