I was depressed and frustrated by the way I saw people treating one another and was always very sensitive to socioeconomic injustice. I developed myriad psychological issues that I would self-medicate early on with junk food and soon thereafter with drugs and alcohol. As early as ninth grade, I was a heavy user of alcohol and already working my way into harder drugs such as PCP. For almost a decade, I abused myself with an excess of heavy narcotics, alcohol and junk food. I sold drugs, stole money and, at times, was basically living on the street.
In my early 20s, I came to a crossroads and decided I needed to address the issues at the core of my perpetual self-destruction. I needed to take a good look at the societal issues that fueled my inner hatred and face their existence within my own thoughts and actions. I could no longer rail against pollution, warmongering, corruption and greed while, at the same time, corrupting my mind with chemicals, polluting my own blood and tissues relentlessly and passively contributing to the nihilistic consumer-driven emptiness that is mainstream society.
Through a spontaneous inner realization, I seized the power and inspiration to liberate myself from the spiral. In my multifaceted independent study of human existence, I explored higher consciousness, natural health and healing, and ecological relationships in an effort to contextualize my innate connection to nature. Using this connection as my fundamental grounding force, I set out to build a life of integrity and service.
I found myself to be very passionate about a natural diet so I adopted the diet that I felt to most closely align with that of a natural prescription. A raw food diet, to me, was a way of understanding and accepting the design of nature and letting go of the urge to adulterate the perfectly designed package with which we are inherently nourished.
While working three jobs, I was able to start a raw food catering business and eventually a raw food restaurant. I taught and counseled children, adults and seniors on the joys and freedom of a natural diet and lifestyle. My drive was very strong because it was fundamentally driven by my intimate connection to nature and the liberating potential of nature’s providence. I really felt as though this movement could bring radical and significant reform to our society, and all my energies were fixed on that vision.
Yet, the more I saw into the depths of the raw food movement, it became more difficult to deny the blatant idiosyncrasies in dietary philosophy and lifestyle practice. I ultimately began to feel as though the institutions of raw food and natural health were subtly perpetuating the innately oppressive and divisive structures and systems of the mainstream consumer culture. All the raw food marketing, fame-seeking, petty squabbling and institutionalization was mirroring the same fundamentally flawed culture that led me to seek an alternative in the first place. It seemed the reformative potentials of this ideology were being squandered and the socioeconomic and ecological implications were being buried beneath the glitz and glamour of raw food vanity.
Fortunately, I recognized that whenever I encounter external experiences of injustice or perversion, the only effective solution is to take a look into the proverbial mirror and seek a reform within my own life and expression. I knew that I needed to bring my own lifestyle into a deeper natural connection, so I sold my business, gave up my car, left my single-family home and built myself a yurt in Eastern Pennsylvania.
Upon encountering that particular crossroads in my life, I sought greater integrity and sustainability in my lifestyle. How could I live as a fruitarian for the sake of my personal health when the means of procuring my food were perpetuating ecological destruction and oppressive conditions for my brothers and sisters around the world? In an effort to actualize these realizations and to find a climate that would offer me further sustainability, I shed all possessions that I could not carry and set out on bicycle for my ongoing journey.
I set out on this journey to find a lifestyle that truly addresses the health and harmony of the whole self. It became my purpose to find the universal path to nature, and every step along that path I’ve learned that there is so much we need to let go of if we are to allow ourselves to accept and receive the freedom and abundance of nature. We must realize that we are not separate from any other life in this universe and that our health, joy and prosperity is bound to that of the planet and one another. This is the perspective we must attain, and every aspect of our lifestyle must be attuned to it. When we can identify and let go of the thought patterns that perpetuate fear and separation, then our diets and lifestyles are no longer a means of survival and temporary gratification but instead become a path to self-realization and eternal joy.
In practice, this means a complete shift in culture and society. It means an exodus from the urban and suburban captivity to reinstate our intimate symbiotic relationships with all the systems of life that surround us. We must maintain a drive to find greater harmony in our fellowship with nature and in the spirit of nature’s wisdom, work with the community to find a better society; a society built upon real principles of virtue and human compassion that moves us away from arbitrary capital and deceptive manipulation. Above all else, we must value our commitment to uphold the integrity of our perpetually evolving relationship with our natural world.
My partner and I are devoted to a life of service, and as we travel from place to place, building systems of sustainability and aiding others in their quest for natural health, we are sure to maintain the integrity of our own relationships with the ecological systems of which we are a part. We help build communities that are independent of the irrational systems of the current culture, and our services are always offered openly to all who are open to them, regardless of finance or affiliation. It is the way of nature to provide freely for the sake of one’s true self.
Currently, we are undertaking a project in the Shenandoah Valley of Central Virginia. We are working with a universalist spiritual community that provides healing and support for those who need it. Our project involves implementing systems of permaculture, alternative energy and sustainable raw whole food nutrition to provide the abundant resources that only nature can provide. When a center of healing is fueled by nature and independent of systems of capital, then the opportunity for growth and healing is available for all.
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Explore In the Garden Is a Mirror; in the Mirror Is The Beloved, Matthew’s guest stories for Fruit-Powered Magazine!