Sometimes I do wonder if I’ve just cut myself too big a slice of the crazy pie with this journey to a simpler more meaningful life.
Over the years I’ve slowed things down so much that sometimes it seems as if I exist in a parallel universe, one that is running at half speed from all the normal people. And it can be isolating, when everyone else, or so it seems, has their clocks set to the same time zone, all dancing to the same banging tunes and not only am I not at the party, I’m not even on the guest list any more.
I often get flashes of what it’s like to be living a ‘normal’ life.
Sometimes these flashes are florescent and made of lycra worn by the troupe of incredibly diligent joggers that race past my window every morning at 6am…
I wonder where they are running to… or what they are running from. What are we all running from with all this busy busy busy? It’s like some manic marionette’s dance, except we aren’t the ones pulling the strings.
Or maybe it’s not a crazy mess, maybe I’ve just opted out, can’t keep up with the pace, can’t take the heat in the kitchen…it’s true that over time I find I just can’t stomach the things that used to be part of my every day without question.
But then I look a little deeper, I listen a little more closely to the murmurings of my heart and sometimes I’m lucky enough to connect with another rogue traveller who’s opted for the path less travelled and I see something else…I see that:
To live a simple life takes courage…and I don’t blame anyone for keeping busy.
When you no longer neatly define yourself by what you do for a living or your financial or professional achievements, when what you produce cannot be so easily measured, how do you know what you’re worth?
When you no longer cram each day full of places to go and people to see, how do you maintain purpose?
When you strip away those emotional crutches and all too effective suppressants; food, cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, TV, endless consumerism what comes to the surface?
When we unplug from the eternal validation-seeking-sinkhole of social media does our ‘status’ still matter?
Once you strip away all the busy-ness, all the unimportant, all the noise and simplify, what remains?
Yourself. You’re left alone with yourself.
Without the distraction and suppression from the outside world, the internal world begins to open up and this can be wonderful…or… not so much. And that’s where we have the opportunity to go gently and quietly mad or be brave.
I used to regularly speak in front of groups of over 500 people, something folks tell me is far too scary to contemplate and yet I never felt brave. I became a climbing instructor (with a ridiculous fear of heights) and yet I never felt particularly courageous. When I was just starting out, I would take business opportunities waaaaay out of my depth in new arenas without hesitation, but I didn’t see myself as particularly bold.
But these days when, honestly, on some days my greatest ‘achievement’ can be getting to the end of the day without killing the children, or myself, I am far braver than I ever was before…well on those days when I’m not hiding in the bathroom not wanting to come out and play, that is.
Sometimes I can feel so heart-achingly vulnerable that I don’t know if I can hold the fragile threads of life together but I’ve got to hope it’s worth the risk.
I see all the potential and possibility that living a simple life opens up. Where instead of mindless consumerism, we have mindful, conscious living. Instead of jumping for the next distraction we create space for reflection, time for total immersion in each moment.
But seeing the potential and living it daily, are two very different things. Am I really brave, or do I just think I am? Can I really show my kids there is another way to live? Do I wholly trust that it is, and will be, just as fulfilling as all the frills and fanfare of a ‘mainstream’ existence?
I think perhaps I have no choice now. The blinkers are off and I see the harsh realities of the sugar-coated promises of the world. It’s no longer enough for me and I want so much more for my children.
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life” – Socrates