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Co-ops and non-profit cooperative organizations: Mountain Equipment Co-op eccentric employees

excerpted from IN AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey, by Jack Haas



                One of those directions in which I unknowingly ran came as a job, which was bestowed upon me, thankfully I may add, at a time when I both needed a thorough shift in my life, and, more practically, needed to earn some money as well.

                I maintain that there are few jobs on this earth worth having, few tasks worth doing, few buildings worth entering, and few options worth seizing. And yet there are hidden designs and forces at work in the fabric of the soul’s destiny which guide one, knowingly or not, into situations which, although seemingly commonplace and perhaps counter to one’s own will, turn out to be cornerstones on the path which one ends up gratefully taking. The spiral always leads to the center.

                Everywhere there is intention and design running invisibly through the world. To look closely into life’s sublime patterns is to not need the I Ching nor the stars to tell you why life is bringing to you what it is bringing, for life carries to you what you need or deserve, or what others need or deserve from you, because nothing is arbitrary in life, not in my life anyways.

                For myself such a well choreographed and serendipitous event came about, as I said, simply by landing a job in an organization which would become the epicenter of my Vancouver existence, and would provide most of the reasons for my continued coming and going from a society I had long ago forsaken. That job was at a wilderness equipment cooperative which sold outdoor gear for camping, mountaineering, kayaking, and so on; an organization devoted to help people return to the splendor of nature, and therefore to help return them to that long lost aspect of themselves- their true nature.

                It was a ‘good job’- as the cultural lie goes- but for me this was truly the case, for, among other things, it was one of the only places of employment where I could carry on an itinerant lifestyle and, upon returning to the city, at a moment’s notice, sign on for some shifts to earn some green, instead of having to head to the welfare office, employment center, or soup kitchen, in order to get by when I had nothing to get by on.

                If you must toil, a non-profit Co-op is as good a place as any to hang your hat. For a cooperative mandate instantly removes all the pernicious tricks, false smiles, and histrionic courtesies which are part and parcel of every purchase and interaction in the world of profit.

                This particular Co-op specialized in, as I said, wilderness gear. Specifically hiking and camping supplies, tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, boots, rock-climbing equipment, kayaks, canoes, telemark skis, and cycling gear. It was an adult’s toy store, if nothing more. And, to be sure, there was a lot more. For it was under the hallowed roof of this collective that I would find something far greater than a mere livelihood, or a niche for myself outside of the tiresome round of useless toil and fruitless labor so common in our day. 

For it was here, beyond my wildest expectations, that I would meet my brothers and sisters on the Tree of Life; here that I would learn the skills necessary to set me free amidst the forest and the sea; here that my soul would grow from the dark unconscious seed it was, into a plant as yet unheard of, and I would begin to see some of the secret ways of the one great being flowing through and all around us, and I would learn to dissolve and merge into this being, and I would come to see and know the world from the center of its happenings, like the genus loci of old, whose ubiquitous spirit comes to encompass all and everyone, infiltrates the dreams and psyches of every soul around, quickens all, and vivifies all into the one life of which we are all a part.

                Never have I found in a single organization like the Co-op such a varied and eclectic array of black sheep, dark horses, white elephants, renegades, mavericks, outcasts, and free spirits. The building was a continually changing cast of eccentrics, artists, writers, pioneers, explorers, adventurers, political refugees, wanderers, scholars, nature lovers, partiers, drunks, druggies, nymphomaniacs, dancers, alpinists, mountain-bike racers, river-rafting guides, white-water and sea kayaking guides, mountaineering guides- both men and women alike- mystics, angels, craftsmen, bush women, druids, gypsies, hedonists, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, dykes, inventors, dropouts, outcasts, and all the rest of life’s improbable ones, mixing together in a Pandora’s box of work and play and every event in between.

                It was as if this forum had been constructed specifically for these individuals, iconoclasts, and wayfarers to have a sublime convention of similar spirits, brought together to gather and commune with their brethren, under one roof, once and for all.

I could write volumes on each individual from the Co-op who crossed my path, entered my life, and changed the inner sanctum of my being forever, and barely would I scratch the surface of the lives and destinies of these unique and unheard of individuals who were drawn together for a while to grow, and learn, and heal each other. So many hearts, so many minds, so many diverse fragments of the infinite whole- it is enough to drive me into a stupor at the slightest thought of the wonder and implausibility of the remarkable sea of mankind into which I found myself gleefully bobbing about.

excerpted from:


author Jack Haas, west coast British Columbia wilderness, ocean forest island



IN AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey

by Jack Haas



















Mystical books, visionary art, and fine art photography by Jack Haas




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