Our friend S once described himself as “slightly Buddhist”, and I immediately thought that fit me pretty well too. For those that have been following along with this blog, you’ve probably picked up that I’ve been trying to apply some spiritual ideas to this experience, from handling bees to coping with joblessness. The problem with liking the ideas but being only marginally committed to the practice (of any spirituality, I guess) is that it is hard to make the philosophy work for you in times of challenge.
Times such as when you stumble upon a small organic raspberry farm that is for sale just down the road from your new friends, for a reasonable price given the location and amenities – only you don’t have a job and can’t even consider a mortgage. Man, I want that raspberry farm. And enough room for some goats to graze, which will produce milk that we’ll use for cheese. And maybe some sheep too, for wool. Plus some blueberries, a big kitchen garden, and lots and lots of herbs. Flowers too, for beauty, and to attract the pollinators and birds and good bugs. I want to try to raise some rabbits, for fur and meat, and maybe also ducks or geese. Chickens too, of course. And bees for pollinating and honey. I want a place for Gypsy to run and play, and for Rousseau to climb and hunt and stretch out. A cozy little house made with natural building techniques: locally harvested wood and stone, straw bale or cob walls, lots of passive solar heating and lighting (maybe some photovoltaic too), rain barrels and/or gray water systems. T will use his permaculture design know-how to make it all run efficiently and sustainably.
Oh, and meanwhile, I want a job that is rewarding and intellectually challenging, with some room for growth, that uses my science background and creative skills, pays decently, with health insurance and retirement benefits. It can be hard, but has to be more rewarding than it is draining. Maybe science writing? Teaching? A different kind of position in my former realm of health care or counseling? Research? Science museum exhibit design or curating?
I want a sewing studio, with organized nooks and drawers for all my fabric and notions. I want to try to selling my work. I can use the same space for my yoga practice. Maybe I’ll take a yoga teacher training course. I want to learn to play the cello again. I want my piano back, and my big cushy bed. I’d like to take a class in sign language, maybe take up printmaking again.
I want these things so badly, sometimes it makes me crabby. I can pass two hours weeding in the garden so fixated on all that I want, but don’t currently have, that I have completely failed to notice the songbirds, bees vibrating in the clover, warm summer sun, or amazing mountain views. In the dark, I sometimes lie sleepless, my wants rushing through my brain like a river, failing to appreciate how lucky I am to have T next to me each night, his encouragement and support during the day, his never-ending quest to make me laugh.
T and I have both felt the challenge of investing a lot of our energy, time, sweat, and heart into someone else’s life. Tending to someone else’s farm is a big responsibility. If we don’t get out there and pick the beetles off the plants, they might not have any beans for the winter. It is meaningful and rewarding to do this work, especially for such wonderful people as H & M. But what they have is something we so badly want for ourselves. I frustrate easily because the path to having it is still very obscure. And, the sense of responsibility makes it difficult to set limits, to force ourselves to make time for job hunting, meeting new people, building our own lives. Of course, this challenge is all in our own heads – it is not imposed by H & M, who have been incredibly flexible, generous, appreciative of our work, and encouraging of our taking the time we need to make a go of a life here.
It’s embarrassing to want so much, and feels blasphemous. Truly the universe has been unfolding ideal opportunities for us at just the right times, and I feel guilty for not simply feeling grateful for the blessings in my life. I have my moments; there are specks of time in which I can make the incessant longing for more go away, and tune in to the joy of now. But eventually the wants always come back. I’m not very good at practicing the Buddhist principle of “non-striving.” I love the idea of simply going with the flow, letting the universe, or God’s plan, or fate, unfold for me naturally – of making the most of what is already in my life. But I struggle with how to invest in the process, without getting too attached to the outcome, without trying to force things into the shape and timeline that I want. And, part of me believes that you have to make your dreams concrete for yourself in order for them to manifest; state them clearly and throw them out into the universe like seeds to see if they can sprout. So I guess that is what I’m doing with this post.
For those who may have been following along regularly, I’m sorry for the long hiatus! We’ve had lots of visitors, or else have made lots of visits, in the last several weeks, that have kept me away from writing. We’re also spending almost every spare moment that we aren’t working on the farm looking for paid employment. The latest news is that we will be moving in August into an inexpensive little rental place of our own in another region of rural Western NC. We’ll be able to continue gardening on a smaller scale, and to have some chickens and possibly bees – so I expect to continue the blogging about what we are calling “Phase Two” of this adventure.