LEAVING THE RAT RACE BEHIND
Our journey started in 2004. Our children were respectively 6, 3 and 1. We never expected that having children would have had such an effect on our thinking, the way we looked at the future and the way we looked at our Western society as a whole. We held up a mirror and asked ourselves what it was we were really trying to achieve. What was the value of our success? The more we had, the more we could afford, the more restless we seemed to become. What was our true contribution to the world our children would grow up in?
We felt an urge to break away, break out of the system.
We decided to take a time-out for a few years to re-connect with ourselves, re-connect with nature. And as we made that conscious decision, serendipity started to happen. Out of the blue we were invited to meet a clan of Native Americans in Upper Michigan. Meeting these people was the start of an adventure that would change our lives forever.
We both felt a strong draw to the land and the people: the Anishnaabe (first Native Americans), people who lived on those lands for thousands of years and whose way-of-being resonated so much with us. Looking back, it’s amazing how quick the decision was taken to pack up and sell everything. We bought a piece of woodland along the North shores of Lake Michigan, on the ‘Land of the Dancing Spirits’ and started a new life.
We went without any plan other than to learn and grow. We built a house, built a school for our children, and a garden to grow our own food and medicine. We saw it as an opportunity to do something completely different, an opportunity to find a renewed perspective on life. We had no idea that this move was only a steppingstone for what was to come.
ANOTHER WORLD – ANOTHER REALITY
In the four years we lived in the woods we embraced many of the Native American teachings, realizing how fitting they actually are for our modern world. Yet, what really shifted us, was meeting Nowaten (He Who Listens), the teacher of our Native American friends. We had heard many stories about this medicine man, about his wisdom and his ability to heal people from incurable illnesses. When we finally met him in person, our eyes were opened to a whole different reality. How was this humble man, living a secluded life in the woods, able to tap into this seemingly infinite source of wisdom? How was he able to heal people who were given up on by the medical field? How did he always manage to answer the questions we hadn’t even started to ask, the questions that lie in our hearts?
We realized that there are people like Nowaten all around the world: Wisdom Keepers, people who have held on to a connection that most of us have lost. We felt a calling to record Nowaten and medicine people like him on all continents, to share their wisdom with the world. We felt that those Keepers of the Earth might hold the key to a renewed world. But when we asked Nowaten how he felt about being filmed, he didn’t answer. It was almost a year later, on our seventh visit, that he responded to our question. This moment marked the beginning of what would become DOWN to EARTH.
FINDING THE KEEPERS OF THE EARTH
How do you find people who live under the radar of our modern society? Individuals like Nowaten who live in service of their community and who have never been interviewed or filmed before. Initially we had no idea how to manifest such a huge quest. A year of research followed and slowly but surely the necessary pieces started to fall into place, including the funding for the journey we were about to embark on. We decided to travel around the world for a year, together with our children, now 10, 7 and 6. No crew, no production team, one backpack and a camera each.
We lived with an aboriginal family on a remote island and with the San (Bushman) in the Kalahari desert and had many more amazing encounters. But our journey was more than an fascinating adventure. The memories, the friendships and teachings that the journey brought us, are forever. Throughout the process of making this film, we were severely tested, over and over again. That way the journey was one big lesson in having faith and following one’s intuition. In every country we had to start from scratch as nothing was laid out. The experience of the journey to find and meet these people was and always will be more important to us than the film itself.
TIME FOR CHANGE
The Keepers of the Earth, as we came to call them, weren’t eager to be filmed and some had to overcome their traditional stance about being filmed and recorded. Therefore it was very powerful to experience that, without these people being linked to one another in any physical way, they told us over and over again how they felt that now was the time to step forward. It often happened in the process of meeting these people, that they changed their mind and, to the surprise of the community, accepted our invitation to be filmed. The Keepers of the Earth are unified in their vision that the time of change is here and now.