CRIMEA vs US
I love the US so much! I love visiting San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Santa Cruz. The 14-hour flight, post-flight customs lines, unavoidable jet leg and uncertainty – what if I’ll be a total alien there – nothing can stop me from flying! Once I am through customs, I walk out of the airport, rent a car or hop in a taxi, and here I am cruising down the freeway, excited about my amazing new life.
Yeeey! I am in America! Here it is – the hub of the universe!
My dad loved Crimea so much! Perhaps, Crimea and me are the two things he loved most in his life. Or me and Crimea. Once we covered Crimea’s whole coast on foot. Another time, we spent about a month in Mishor and every evening went to see the illuminated music water fountain. In Frunzensky – whatever it’s called now – we rented the loggia of an apartment, and once dad turned clumsily and the glass fell down from the 14th floor. We had to pay for the broken glass to the owners. The absurdity of this episode, perhaps, made it stick in my memory forever.
Now I love Crimea too. Crimea is my memory about my dad, my childhood, my first sea experience. For me, a girl from Saint Petersburg with its cold temperatures, a trip to the seaside meant a lot.
As a child, I also loved Lake Chudskoe or, to be more precise, Kauksi, a camping site in Estonia, where my parents and I liked to spend summer at. It was a 5-hour bus drive from Saint Petersburg, after which we walked down a forest road for a short while, pitched a tent by the lake, and stayed there for a month or two together with my dad’s buddies from work.
In Kauksi, while living in the forest, I clearly understood it was Estonia. We were guests there. Yes, they had delicious milk and cottage cheese, and we didn’t have to go through customs, but it didn’t belong to us and the Estonians didn’t like us, even though technically we lived in the same country.
As for Crimea, it was different. My mom and dad used to tell me that Crimea had become a part of Ukraine, but I couldn’t escape feeling some perplexity and irritation in their voice. They said something like, “Khrushchev was a fool to have given Crimea to Ukraine… but in fact it’s ours…” And back then it was really ours. As a part of Ukraine, it was totally nominal. All the people there spoke Russian. All prices were in rubles. A lot of monuments, palaces there were built by Russian tsars and connected with Russian history.
As I was growing up, my dad was growing old. My interests gradually focused on the center of the world, California. Even though Crimea was located close by, it no longer interested me that much. It was my dad’s passing away that made me remember about my love for Crimea and think that, maybe, I could visit that place again, at least to pay tribute to his memory.
If it weren’t for Burning MAN an radical self-expression festival held every August in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert), where I look at the dark side of human nature and went on the run, I wouldn’t have made it to Crimea.
Well, not exactly. First I came to Chişinău to attend the conference of the European Transpersonal Association. To be honest, “European” is not exactly the word to describe it. There were a bunch of Americans there – three out of the four keynote speakers were from the US (Jim Garrison, Tobin Hart, Steven Schmitz), and the forth speaker was an Englishman. There was not a single key-speaker from Russia or Moldavia. Although there are a lot of guys in Russia interested in Transpersonal Psychology. And a lot of just talented guys, too. Naturally, I asked the president of the EUROTAS if I could deliver my report on Global Enlightenment and the Future of Transpersonal Psychology as a key talk, but my request was turned down. Actually, he was present when I delivered that same report in Moscow. He even said he liked it… looks like he was just being polite.
America has conquered the world already.
The European Association Board made a unanimous decision to hold another annual meeting (regular meeting) in California. And I don’t mean the California in Odessa, the hotel I stayed at when I left Chişinău.
In Odessa, I met a local hippie who told me a bunch of stories about his psychedelic trips and his life. For example, I learned that when he returned to his hometown in the 90s, he realized he had to study Ukrainian at school. It was pretty stressful for the kid. Perhaps, our biggest and most heated discussion was about Timothy Leary’s role in the psychedelic movement. We almost set the fur flying! I insisted Timothy was a good guy and giving freely psychedelic drugs were a necessary part of studying those substances, while he disagreed and demonized Timothy. Nevertheless As a result, I left with a few magical pieces of sugar.
The next day, Natasha (a friend of mine) and I took a car and headed to Crimea. All that time America was with me.
In the middle of the night, as we almost reached Simferopol, we stopped by a roadside café called Arizona. I just couldn’t miss a café which such a name and lose an opportunity to visit Arizona – its beauty was something I’d heard a lot of from my American friends.
“Can I have two espresso, please?” I asked in English.
The girl was so confused by my question that she left and I hadn’t seen her ever since. Even after I switched to Russian.
About two hours later, to have some rest, we stopped at Ecocamp, a mountain campsite not far from Bakhchysaray. A seminar of some American contactee was to take place there the following day.
That night was mellow and very quiet. As if we were the only people there. Just huts and a few houses.
Ecocamp was awesome. It was grandiose. I mean not the camp, but the nature around it. The stars were luring, the mountains were temping, and the trees were attracting with their castaneda contours. That’s when I decided it was the right time for good process.
First of all, I contacted Rick Doblin, Executive Director of MAPS.
The awkwardness of my spontaneous leaving Burning MAN because of the fact that Rick was sleeping when I felt an urge to speak to him was distressing. That night, I realized it was the best time to call him, and I knew his phone number was somewhere in my mobile. However, Natasha was already frightened, while my body was not quite ready to move, to look for my phone in the dark, because we tumbled into bed once we got to our hut. My desire to resolve the tension was so strong that I forwarded a letter to Rick directly, without the Internet, computer, or paper. I just wrote it in my head and clicked the Send button.
Amazingly, a couple of days later, when I returned home, I received a reply from Rick. He contacted me himself. My message had reached him. And let the American contactees keep attacking Sirius!
That (may be After that) pressing issue resolved, I entered a World (?).
The sky was studded with stars. It was tempting and frightening me with its infinity.
I headed up into the mountains, closer to their peaks.
I reached a giant geodesic dome (invented by Richard Buckminster Fuller (by the way, it’s the US again!)) The dome was fundamental. It was standing on a large wooden platform, which allowed people to walk round the dome. Standing on the platform edge, one could see the entire campsite that was a bunch of scattered huts, one of which was ours.
I was looking for the place which will resonate with me. I found it by pulling a chair out of the geodesic dome, putting it next to an apple tree, and seating myself on it. The apple tree was standing in my way and didn’t let me do a parikrama around dome.
I meditated on that obstacle in my way. What does it mean?
At the same time, I was pondering over my life.
Where am I going to and why?
That’s when a knock-down impulse overwhelmed me, making me squat down and поКАКала (poop in russian) in front of the chair.
That’s when I saw the Truth about who I am.
I am the Master КАК (HOW).
The meanings of those words were piercing.
What I was doing then seemed to be an answer to the pomposity of this place. To the rules which we had to accept by signing the agreement once we arrived at Ecocamp at 1 a.m. that we wouldn’t make a noise, drive, run, jump, eat… in other words, live in freedom and so on; to what I’d seen in the dome – a pompous table for “enlightened guests,” microphones and almost classical “decanters” on the table. It was my answer to the American channeller who held the seminar there. From a Russian, directly.
That’s when I also clearly realized this: what really matters is not what I do, it’s HOW I do it.
That act of mine, immoral from the point of view of cultural traditions, was so me! It was who I was.
After that, sitting on that chair in front of my creation, I experienced the harmony of my act and realized that harmony could be found anywhere. While some zen Masters kept theorizing about it, I was experiencing it, at that place and at that very moment.
I proceeded down and ran into another obstacle that was a tent. I couldn’t walk round it, as it was standing in my way blocking it. It was about to dawn. I was standing there throwing small apples from a nearby apple tree at it. I seemed to myself a God sending my weak signals to the man – hey, it’s time to wake up. Some bizarre power lured me and I crawled into the tent. It was empty. It had an inscription on it which read “Oregon.” I was excited. Here it was – Oregon. I was in there. Osho’d been driven out of it and it was empty. The tent was empty. An empty form. Maybe, America was an empty form too?
Osho was driven out. Timothy Leary was broken. Werner Erhard, EST founder, was persecuted.
I could fill it and go to Oregon to establish a community there again. To right the historical wrong and establish a new community.
But, maybe, I am in Oregon right now? I want to go further! Why go back to Oregon if I’ve been there already?
But where? Tver region? Shiram? California? Moscow? Sheremetyevo?
What’s after Osho?
When I was reading his biography, I realized he gave up while in the US prison system. He gave up when he signed some paper he’d been forced to sign. Yes, he was tortured in prison, and he yielded. Then he was kicked out of the US to find himself in Pune, India, where he established his ashram. Yes, Osho was an outstanding personality, but he failed to overcome the US, the US state system, that monster enslaving the whole world.
How can you overcome it then?
I proceeded down the slope, gradually leaving the campsite.
Or it was the Truth that dragged me forward.
Forward and downwards, where Natasha picked me up. After that, we continued our journey by car together. While I was in the car, she was dragging along, hesitating, worrying, suffering… Although in fact she was at the wheel.
We traveled a few miles and found ourselves in a village called Tankovoye (Tank-ovoye).
It was a miracle! Just a couple of hours ago, I was thinking about a tank (sensory deprivation camera) which I once almost bought on e-bay, because of Rick Doblin, and which John Lilly presented to Timothy Leary. This tank situation had been on my mind for quite some time. I even found a guy who bought this one and almost persuaded him to sell it to me. But something went wrong, the guy disappeared, stopped discussing the price with me, and the deal was suspended. Now I can neither buy it nor let it go. I’m stuck in the middle. “What should I do?” I was reflecting in the hut. I could launch a huge PR-campaign through crowd-finding networks, raise a lot of money and buy it, find the money directly, or spend some six months and make it myself by hands…
But it’s all for Andrey, to show him that it’s possible.
But he’d say, “That’s you. It’s possible for you. Not for me.”
But why would I need a tank then?
So here I am in the village of Tankovoye, in the back of beyond, among a few ramshackle houses and a bus stop.
We drove up to the bus stop (it was really small) and I asked the first young man I saw in perfect English,
“Good morning, could you help me? Could you tell me where I can buy a tank here?” It was not joking. I was just integrating the reality in my subconscious mind. Or, to be more precise, it had already been integrated that way. At that moment, I actually wanted to buy a tank. And I didn’t really care which kind it would be.
A tank is a tank is a tank
(author’s note – A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose (A. Huxley))
The young man was taken aback and confused.
He started mumbling something, embarrassed of his poor English skills, and moved closer to the bus stop. That’s when I realized there were no tanks for sale there, so I drove on, feeling completion on the tank situation.
And a miracle happened. There were tanks everywhere. And you don’t have to bring them all the way from the US.
Now, in March 2014, given that you hear continuous cries that Russia has declared war on Ukraine, my questions and thoughts acquire a new meaning. You don’t have to bring the tank from the US. Tanks are already here.
Yes, it’s Timothy’s tank.
Yes, I can make people pay attention to the tank and initiate pilgrimage.
But the people will come not to me.
This kind of fame is cheap.
Yes, the US protects Ukraine and Crimea, now in March 2014, but it’s cheap fame. It’s anything but true friendship which comes from mutual understanding.
We were driving down a narrow country road in the mountains, when suddenly I saw a dinosaur! It was standing calmly by the road, chewing glass… Both the reality and irreality of what I saw was mind-blowing. Yes, I understood that I was driving down some desolate mountain road in Crimea, it wasn’t Hollywood; on the other hand, a giant dinosaur was standing on the roadside and I was the only one to have seen it.
“Look! It’s a dinosaur!” I yelled, but my yelling only made Natasha more scared.
The dinosaurs were behind and the crisis came instead.
The relationship crisis which always strikes when you least expect it.
Especially, when one person doesn’t competely believe the other.
How can you overcome this crisis?
How can one overcome loneliness and the feeling of being abandoned? This can happen to any people regardless of their current relations.
I haven’t overcome it. Perhaps, had I had enough guts to escape into nowhere, get lost in Crimea, it would have helped me.
Unfortunately, something stopped me: lack of courage, understanding, determination.
I stayed physically, but mentally we were no longer together. We were in the same car, perhaps like Ukraine and Russia, or like Ukrainians and Russians in Ukraine, and we even talked to each other, but we were no longer a whole.
And the gap between us kept growing.
I guess this gap had always been there, but at that moment I could feel it, I realized it, I experienced it.
Where are we going and why?
Natasha gave me no answer.
By the way, I knew I would accept any answer, like to swim or lie in the sun, to the seaside, gardens, Saray… but she wouldn’t say anything.
So I kept questioning. She was driving and, as it turned out later, had no definite destination. She just waited for the drug to wear off. It means we pursued different purposes. Hers was waiting, while mine was to come back from the US and be me, here and now.
We were speeding down Crimea roadways.
There were road signs around, pointing to Bakhchysaray, Simferopol, Yalta, Balaklava, Sevastopol. There were so many of them that I didn’t know which way to go. Natasha chaotically turned left and right, depending on what I said.
As we approached Sevastopol’s Cape Sarych, I felt a desire to drive down to the sea and that’s where we headed. We saw a man walking towards us. We pulled over and asked if we would reach the sea by following that way. It turned out the road led to the lighthouse and the man was its keeper. The lighthouse was built several hundred years ago and served the Russian Navy faithfully, just like the man himself did. “I’m not going to swear allegiance to the Ukrainian Navy. I’m not going to betray my Motherland.”
It was sunny and warm. Juniper bushes were glowing and smelled nice.
What the man said sounded patriotic, inspiring and sad, because we realized the man didn’t belong there and neither did the lighthouse. We gave the man a lift up. We learned his wife had called him. She had some heart issues, and he was going to see her. I offered him a lift to Sevastopol but he refused, “Have fun, girls, go to Yalta, I’ll take a bus or try to get a ride in a passing car”
He got out of the car and we drove another mile towards Yalta. I was conscious-stricken, so I decided to turn around and give the man a lift. We drove up to the bus stop he was standing at and asked if our car was good enough for him to hitchhike. The man smiled, got in, and we continued our way.
But, or I was too altered or it was getting increasingly oppressive in the car. It was like the man wasn’t with us, didn’t accept our help, and took no responsibility for it… It was like, “Okay, since we’re going the same way, drive me.”
He didn’t ask us, didn’t even thank us… Instead, he was trying to be funny, to entertain us (that’s how he thought he paid us for our help).
I was irritated. Or, to be more precise, sad, because the man, who devoted his whole life to serving the Russian Navy, proved to be not a man at all.
He was not a man because he couldn’t ask two girls on a spree to give him a lift to his dying wife…
Speaking with that man after two days spent in Ukraine awakened me I realized that Crimea’s being a part of Ukraine was some horrible mistake, it was Nikita’s accidental, reckless decision, and that Russian people, including my parents who often took me to Crimea, tried not to feel it, block it out, forget about it. Yes, we enjoyed spending summer in Crimea, but the people who went there on vacation had to block out the deep shame at their country their hearts were filled with.
Also they tried to block out the fact that they were just pawns, while their Leader could do whatever he wanted.
Like transfer their land to the jurisdiction of another country. Yes, back then it was of little significance, but now it’s not.
Now it’s not Russia’s land anymore.
Now, to see the lions presented to Stalin by Churchill during the historic meeting of three leaders – Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt – in Alupka’s Vorontsov Palace during World War II in 1945, you have to pay with hryvnias. Moreover, the beautiful park my parents took me to a bunch of times is now divided into several parts, and visitors are required to pay for each part separately. Do you want to take photographs? You gotta pay! Want to see the lions standing in front of the palace? Gotta pay again!
It’s like the Arabs in Egypt who make tourists pay for visiting the monuments which in fact no Arab has ever participated in their construction.
That is a Russian architectural monument and so are the lions. Having to pay in hryvnias for seeing them is humiliating.
On top of that, the absurdity of all that makes it twice as humiliating.
As a Jew, I know pretty well the Arab-Israeli conflict. I’ve heard a lot of stories from my friends, family and mentors from Israel and Russia, and I know what a real conflict is, when each piece of land – well, at least every second piece of land – is soaked with the holiness of both Jews and Arabs, and sometimes Christians. If those lions are Jewish, then the base is Arab and the bush near them is Christian. It’s not my phantasies. It’s just the way it is.
If the money for seeing them is charged by the Jews… at least the lions are theirs…
Each of the sides can argue their claims, historically and culturally, forever.
That’s when worrisome idea crossed my mind, “How so?”
How can one just give away the territory defending which so many Russian warriors have died?
Saint Petersburg’s Tauride Gargen is a place I used to go jogging in and still do sometimes. While at school, my mom used to go there to do her homework. The garden was called in honor of our victories in Tauride, and so is the Tauride Palace. Tauride is an old name of Crimea. I’ve known that since I was a little girl.
So, how come such a great country – Russia – has given away an amazing, strategic peninsula just like that… to satisfy a whim of Nikita Khrushchev, a figure whose role in history was so insignificant? If you remove just one letter from his name – Никита – you get Никто, meaning “nobody.” He is Nobody as a person, he’s not a leader, not a hero, not a wise man, nobody…
Peter the Great (I grew up in Saint Petersburg, remember?) won a victory over Sweden. To gain access to the Baltic Sea, he founded Saint Petersburg, building which lots of people laid down their lives. Then, during the Crimean War, Russians continued struggling to gain more access to the sea and won it in Crimea. So how could anyone give Crimea to Ukraine just like that?
Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out what caused my sorrow.
Actually, I’m a Jew. I’m a guest in this country. My forefathers have never fought for Crimea.
What can I be sorry about? Even if I’m Russian – one quarter – my forefathers have never lived in Crimea…
What am I doing here at all? On this land?
There’s nothing special about it, and it only makes me suffer more.
I look at the people around, the man from the lighthouse, a lady on vacation who’s been persuading me that she’s from that part of Donbas which is on Russia’s side.
The fact that lots of people must be thinking the same way makes me sad, too… But they can’t do anything about it. They are helpless. That’s why they prefer to bury their heads in the sand. They want to enjoy their vacation, not think about the problems.
That’s why mistakes are made – ignorance.
In this case, ignorance gives rise to suffering.
What comes after suffering?
A war? A revolution?
Perhaps, in 2014 Crimea will return to Russia and this little problem will be resolved. But it won’t change what caused the problem.
Are the people of Ukraine true owners of Crimea’s land?
The same is true for Russians. Do they really own their land?
If you ask me – no, I don’t.
I have a right of ownership of several pieces of land in Tver region, but in fact I don’t own any of that. According to the law of the Russian Federation, I can change the use of land, I can use it for agriculture, but in fact none of those laws works, and the local government uses the land the way it wants. Common sense, initiative, agriculture – it means nothing. Even money doesn’t mean that much.
That’s just the way it is. It has always been and will be like this.
The government doesn’t like me, so it kills my initiatives. At the same time, when ROSNEFT (Russia’s largest gasoline company) starts building a gas station nearby, none of the land transfer laws is observed – and the land simply gets transferred.
Now, in March 2014, to make sure my land use rights are at least kept as they are, I have to bribe some government officials, so they approve a city-development plan which doesn’t encroach on my legitimate rights. I will be very grateful if my bribes are accepted.
That’s what I’m talking about. Some dude, some local executive who is in fact a NOBODY – it’s not his title or something, he’s just doing his job – unqualified and with no good qualities whatsoever, except obedience to an executive of a higher rank, decides the fate of my field.
It depends on him whether I will be allowed to plow it, set up rabbit hutches, or build a house and start a farm.
What does the US have to do with that? Or Ukraine?
It’s the same everywhere.
THEY decide, while I’m just a small man. Really small…
I decide everything here.
It’s all ours, Sarah… Where do you want to go?
It all belongs to me. If you want, we can go to this government residence, or we could go to that one.
It’s all mine.
I am the man of Earth.
The whole world is mine…
Borders are conventional. A convention is just a convention…
Today, one thing is a convention. Tomorrow, we change it to another.
I’m glad that the conflict has revealed itself. One of the Russian writers has taught me that nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest.
I am for Ukraine. Ukraine – U – kraine (krai – means «edge»), so Ukraine is near the edge – possibly, this came from an idea that Ukraine is the land at the edge of Russia.
I am against state borders. I am against the state as an institution for people control, which allows such leaders as NIKITA Khrushchev to move the borders, rivers, lakes, cities… and all I can do is shout, gather crowds, and carry out revolutions.
I am for new forms of management administration. Do we, today’s society of post-modernism, need state borders which cause so many wars?
Crimea is Russia’s territory. It’s a fact. Also, it belongs to Tatars. It’s a fact, too. These nations have a right to Crimea. Maybe, we should let them negotiate?
We need to establish a new institution of state power which will allow peoples to negotiate.
Where there’s power, there’s injustice, malcontents, victims, and so on.
At least, provided today’s system of power-holding structures, where power goes hand in hand with business and mass media, and truly wise men never run for an office.
I studied at the mechanics and control processes department of the Leningrad Polytechnical Institute, which is now called Saint Petersburg State Polytechnical University.
It is a very prestigious department.
We were taught how to control mechanical or biological systems.
A purpose is required.
What to control?
We steering the wheel going where?
Where are we driving and why?
Where are we, all people on this planet, going? And why?
Maybe, that’s the problem?
Our government leads us wherever it wants.
While we, the people, don’t know what we need… That’s why it leads us where it wants.
Why do we, humanity, live on this planet?
Is our purpose is the life itself? Is that all?
Is it possible to answer this question?
Apparently, an agreement can be reached if a certain number of people find their own answer to this question.
That’s when people can start negotiating with each other.
I believe we would live in a different society, if the first question each person running for an office was asked was, “What do you live for, man? You, not the man in general, but you personally?”
I wonder what today’s officials would answer to this question now.
Is it possible to create a community which can answer this question?
If it is, then, by negotiating, this community would be able to become the ruling power, leading the people in the direction these people understand.
Hopefully, the concept of “state” would die out eventually, because its decisions would no longer be effective.
Of course, this outlook is utopian. But if not a Utopia, an idea, what else can we be guided by?
In September 2013, walking along Crimea’s Nikitsky Botanical Garden, I saw a redwood tree. There was another tree which, according to the plate, was from Monterrey. Now I know where Monterrey is. And I know that there’re a lot of redwood trees in California. Now for me this kind of tree is very special, because it reminds me of James Fadiman, founder of the famous Transpersonal Institute, the man who showed me this tree and told me about it in his garden, and about Jai Hudes, creater of X-Game, who on my first day in California, woke me up at six in the morning and took me to the redwood forest located near his house.
As a child, while wandering around Crimea’s Nikitsky Botanical Garden, I saw those trees but they didn’t mean anything to me. They were just trees. I even didn’t remember they are there. Now, they are my friends reminding me of my friends in California.
P.S. Guys, Americans, come over! I will show you Crimea. You’ll fall in love with it and will love it as much as I do.
P.S. The first meeting of the community of the Enlightened (PRO SVET) and all those who want to join us will be held at Game Master’s School (Школа Игратехников) in Moscow, at 5 p.m. Moscow time, on March, 30. Looking forward to seeing you!