“Everyone should live a life you don’t have to escape, take a vacation, or retire from.” Simms Goff, an expectant father in his mid-30s, is moving ever closer to realizing that ideal.
Simms grew up in the Philippines where his father, uncle, two brothers, and one sister all served in the military. At age 24 Simms quit his position as an account executive and moved to San Francisco. “I had just broken up with my girlfriend and life was not right.” Immediately, Simms knew San Francisco was his heart’s home. “When I arrived, a sea gull flew down to me, looked me in the eye, and gave me a telepathic message ‘welcome home’. Unfortunately, I partied like it was 1999 and spent all my money. My oldest stepbrother said, “Come to Texas and learn to be a man”. Simms came to San Antonio and became Director of Communication for a large medical practice.
Simms and his ex-girlfriend are expecting a baby in March. They plan to raise the child together. ”This shattered my illusions. The whole idea of love, commitment, marriage and family vanished. I had to accept this is how I am having a child.
“I knew in my heart it was going to be a girl. I want her to grow up to follow her heart. Then I thought what if she asks me if I followed my heart? That’s when I realized what I was doing wasn’t right. I quit my job. People were surprised that I quit my job when expecting a baby. But I’ve done some consulting, I had my first art show, I am paying my bills.” Simms does 3-D multi-media art. After his latest show, the main piece was moved to display at a local office building.
Like many who live beyond the constraints of ordinary jobs, Simms lives a simple life. He shares the 1960s era ranch he purchased from an elderly friend with a housemate. His New Year’s resolution of 2015, to live a vegan lifestyle, has simplified many aspects of his being. “Vegan is not just a diet. It is a philosophy.”
Simms made us a delicious dinner. He started with his own five-bean blend, which he soaks in water for one day, vinegar for another day, and slow cooks on the third. He fried up onions and spices; he burnt them a bit. Then he added full tomatoes with vine and simmered everything another hour or more.
“Vegan is a way of living. All beings are sentient. The diet is just one part of living in a way that respects and does not harm to other sentient beings. 400 million less animals were killed in 2015 than in 2014 for human consumption. That makes me feel good.
“Even though I’ve been successful at many jobs, our real work is to heal the earth and help each other. We desensitize ourselves from our enemies and other animals. Chickens don’t want to die. They are active in this world and see god in their own way.
Simms is extending his vegan lifestyle by training to become a Shaman. “Shamanism is healing through spirituality and natural substance. When you know yourself you can heal yourself. God is whatever has the power to extend and further life. God is the bud of spring and also the force that tells trees to drop their leaves in the fall and conserve energy. All living things have inherent divinity.
“Ancient civilizations lasted ecologically through understanding plants and herbs. Modern pharmaceuticals distill pieces and parts of plants to find a curative component. They’ll ravage the rain forest in search of one particular ingredient but they don’t embrace the complex whole.
“Modern medicine reflects modern culture. It takes the good out of man. It says goodness is an external applied to us, that we need a path to goodness, instead of accepting that man is inherently good and the goodness that exists in nature holds everything we need.
“We live in a culture where it is not acceptable to be anything but ‘good’. It’s okay to be sad or hungry. Sit with it, let it be. We don’t always have to act on it.”
As Simms moves further away from our dominant culture, his commentaries on life become more astute. “If god is omnipotent, then why pray to him? If he has a plan, it’s the plan. Why do Christians believe they are in his hands and yet think they affect the outcome?”
He considers himself an anarchist. “Anarchy is not chaos. It’s village democracy – government without leadership. As an anarchist I feel Hillary Clinton is the first representative of the Empire who would sell our personal freedoms. Donald Trump is the same, but he’s more of a clown. Hillary knows what she is doing, selling out the citizens to her corporate sponsors.”
The clearest evidence of how Simms would like to live is how he interacts with his four-year-old dog, Xerra, the mellowest dog I’ve ever encountered. Xerra is silent and attentive. “Xerra has no need to bark or wag her tail. She can look at me and I can understand her needs.” Simms looks forward to developing a relationship that transgresses mere speech with his soon to be born daughter.
How will we live tomorrow?
“Armed with the wisdom we find today.”