Back to Eden
If you ever find yourself in Seattle on a Sunday afternoon, hit the I-5 South by about 12:30. In Tacoma you’ll catch the 16 heading north. You’ll pass Port Orchard, and then take the 3 through Navy Yard City. Look for the naval ships on the Sound.
The 3 winds its way up until it runs into the 104, which crosses the Puget Sound on a long bridge at Port Gamble. Head inland and stay on the 104 until you join up with the 101.
Before you hit the small town of Sequim (pronounced squim, population 6,669), you’ll turn left on Chicken Coop Road. When it curves around to the right, you’ll see Craig Road, a dirt road on the left. Take that about a quarter mile until you see the street number 411 on your left.
You’ll pull into the driveway of Paul and Carol Gautschi (pronounced gout-shee). It should be about 2:30 when you pull in, and you’re just in time for the Sunday afternoon tour, the only time you’re allowed to come.
You’ll join the other tourists (expect about twenty others) and be greeted by Paul. Sixty-five years old. Short man, about five foot five, I’d say. Sandy hair. Crooked teeth, bright eyes, quick and infectious smile. Warm and inviting spirit. Pulls himself along with a cane very slowly (he suffers from some neuropathy issues in his legs).
Leave your cell phone in the car and soak up the spirit of the place. It’s something special. Feels like coming home. Calm and peaceful. Like no matter what craziness is happening across the globe, here, right here right now, the world is just as it should be.
Paul is a reclusive old organic gardener who became famous when an amateur filmmaker from Louisiana discovered him and created a documentary about him called Back to Eden.
As an aspiring organic gardener myself, I watched the film a couple years ago and was entranced by the elegant simplicity of his system.
I can tell you, his garden is every bit as amazing as the film portrays it.
Sequim sits in the shadow of the rain forest and only receives an average of sixteen inches of annual precipitation — about the same as Los Angeles, California.
Paul has been gardening here for thirty-seven years, and using the Back to Eden system he discovered for about seventeen years.
Walk with him through the garden and listen in fascination as he explains why he never has to till, weed, water, or use pesticides or fertilizers and yet his garden is the greenest, lushest, most abundant garden you’ve ever seen in your life. He never goes to the grocery store. He eats nothing but freshly-picked food straight from his garden year-round.
He’ll periodically pull up a vegetable, slice it with the kitchen knife he has stuck to a fence rail, and offer you a piece.
You will “ooh” and “ahh” as everyone does, amazed at the potent flavor. I guarantee you have never tasted vegetables like this in your life.
Even if you’re not a believer, you can’t help but smile as Paul interjects scripture in about every other sentence. He speaks with the honesty and simplicity of a child. No ego, no ulterior motive. Just a pure-hearted man who has found his purpose and lives it fully.
And it will occur to you that everyone’s life should be like this — simple, effortless, abundant. You realize that if you’re struggling, something is wrong. Something in your life is misaligned with the nature of reality or the nature of your heart.
You realize that the abundance and richness of Paul’s garden, and the way it grows with very little effort and zero struggle, is a metaphor for the aligned, purposeful life.
If you’re tilling and weeding your way through a job or career that you don’t enjoy or doesn’t pay enough, if you’re struggling but can’t seem to get ahead, if you feel shackled by scarcity, go and see Paul. If you can’t see him in person, watch his film.
Don’t watch it as a garden or food film — watch it as the most important film you’ll ever see in your life about how to live your life. Watch it as a metaphor.
Take notes. Realize where and why you’re struggling. Identify where you’re misaligned with reality or your purpose. Look for the seeds in your heart that lie dormant and uncultivated.
Above all, realize this: When you’re off purpose, life is a struggle. When you’re on purpose, life is effortless and abundant. Everything you need at just the right moment flows to you spontaneously.
Take it from Paul, the reclusive old gardener who has the world beating a path to his door.