Aspirations of the Dis-Urbaned

There is a mantra that I have been mulling over the last year or two, and with a little nudge from the universe, I have now serendipitously found myself molding my energies to its refrain: aspirations over expectations, desire over obligation: find your roots through balance and simplicity. The life forces that have punctuated my next steps into The Guest House world have quickly become a beacon for this mantra, from the moment I stepped onto this fertile land. Indubitably there are energies and beauties at work that I will never understand, but as I pull up to The Guest House for the first time, my muscles relax, seemingly to adjust to the not so subtle changes I have made from international urbanism to Crystal River Valley ruralism. I’ll speak to this more in a moment.

First, perhaps an introduction. My name is Matthias (mah-tee-ahs) Helfen (Deutsch verb lit. ‘to help’). I am the newest staff member at The Guest House and up until about 18 months ago, could not think of living anywhere outside of a diverse and dense urban fabric, be it in the US or elsewhere. By title I am The Guest House Sustainable Policy Director, and by integrity and by Seth’s benevolence, I am also “the cast iron keeper.” It’s true, I am a goddamn good cast iron keeper; my dirty south queer upbringing grants me this right, but further, it is my excitement and admiration for the holistic energies that run through this place that give me the courage to move, rather seamlessly, into this new rural context that I now call home. Also, I am officially here to make this place impactable and fundable, i.e. telling various foundations and organizations that we are doing amazing things and they should help us fund those amazing things! And yes, this context is slightly legit because of that silly master’s piece of parchment that tells the world I am good at this AG policy stuff.

But education aside, let’s give the universe her due: before my move to the Crystal River Valley, my mind and body was fully entrenched a continent away. A week before a poignant Carbondale phone call from around the world, I was at home, in Athens Greece, telling my significant other about a recent dream. I was in a field of dirt. I was barefoot and the dirt against my feet felt cool and solid, as if sinews of the soil were connected to my own musculature, providing nutrients for my mind and flesh. I woke up from that dream wanting. My visa was expiring in a month. I knew I soon had to return stateside, but unsure of my next move. The day before I talked with Seth, I received a job offer in DC, working with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). They are awesome, they do great things. You should look them up. But during that call all I could think of was my dream and that a suit and tie in congressional hearing rooms was not quite the “rooted in soil” vision I had been given. So I told them “thanks but no thanks.” Then I called Seth and (she’ll correct me if I’m wrong) said, “Let’s do this.”

So there I was, a sunny, wintry February 1st, only a few weeks from roaming sunny Greek country-sides, now I see Mt. Sopris in her full winter glory. Driving across the cattle guards into my new life, as those muscles breathe with the mountain air, I have to believe that my dream held some merit. Here I am, at your service, ready to share and encourage the beauty that has been bestowed on the Crystal River and her valley.

I will readily invite all, urban or ruralite alike, in aspiration, not expectation, to come share with us the beauty that is this crystal valley, that is this holistic narrative we so fervently live into here at The Guest House. It is not a dogma to be entrenched with, only a beautiful sanctuary to rest your head, experience the growing energy and beauties of the land, and to then come away content, rejuvenated, and alive. In this dream I now wake into, every dawn, with aspiration and desire.

seth o'donovan