In life there is always the tension of reaching for security versus the need for adventure; the comfort of ‘womb temperature’ versus the stimulation of the new and the challenge of change.
I have just entered the second month of this three month ‘grand tour’ of Europe and feel the urge to record one or two reflections triggered by leaving the womb temperature of home and placing myself explicitly in the care of others. There are the numerous public ‘others’ who, largely on a fee for service basis, feed me, transport me, provide bed and shelter and generally guide me through the unfamiliar. In exchange, I help fill their rice bowl to feed themselves and their families. I feel the blend of dependence and interdependence as I choose and receive their offerings. We smile at each other, give thanks and move on.
And then there are the private others. The loved family members and special friends, unseen for six years but instantly connected with and warmly welcomed. They too reach out to look after me; treat me with their best food and drink; and generously share their homes and glimpses of their lives, hopes and fears. Laughter, hugs, kisses, filled with joy and love, warm the heart and ‘feed’ my body, mind and spirit. It is such a wonderful experience to be so warmly welcomed and plied with such generosity.
So what is this niggly feeling of wanting ‘space’? These little pushes to move on and be alone with my beloved, driving our own car and choosing our own pace? Ah! Methinks it is about control! That strong predisposition to do it my way. To be in charge. The one coin you pay when luxuriating in the generous hospitality of another’s home is that you follow them. You try to fit in; to help and not disturb their usually different ways of organising their home and domestic activities.
One of my little insights on this trip has been to notice how ingrained is this need to feed the illusion of being in control. Yes, one does notice certain ways of cooking the food, washing the dishes, organising the kitchen that you want to copy but, more often, a little voice murmurs “what a strange way to do things” or “I couldn’t do that all the time!” I find it curious that, at least in this being, the delights of being plied with delicious treats and looked after in so many generous ways cannot stop me from reaching for my own space where I can kid myself that I am in control. And it’s not even that I like cooking, cleaning or any of the other domestic chores! Crazy really! It seems that the power of our individualist conditioning remains even when you recognise the interdependence and impermanence of all things.
Moving on… moving on…
Push! push! And all that stress!
Another little observation I feel moved to share following three weeks in England, moving from house to house and also playing the tourist as one drives through the lanes, highways, villages, towns and cities, is the speediness of everyone. Everyone feels so busy. In a rush or juggling tasks.
Again, of course, there were exceptions but the most notable exceptions were our good selves! The busyness around me triggered question about our quiet lifestyle and choices to go for simplicity and spaciousness in our lives. Are we being lazy (a refrain from my childhood)?
Looking more deeply, I feel enormous gratitude for the Buddhist teachings that entered my life thirty odd years ago. The combination of so much wise teaching given to me; so many silent retreats; so much daily meditation practice and, last but not least, the wonder and joy of being in a loving relationship with my husband and my children, have given me and my man the courage and support to leave the dominant rat race of the materially-driven world and live quiet lives, enjoying the simple things and making good use of our garden swing seat!
…And you call a three month Grand European Trip simple, you say! Well, I do, because that’s how it feels in my mind. Little spurts of excitement as one explores the wonders of London and places like The Louvre in Paris but, overall, the mind is still quiet and peaceful.
Yes, it’s OK to take a different path. After all, we are both unique and interdependent. A wonderful paradox!
That’s enough thoughts for now. Have I triggered any reactions or comments from you?
With warm wishes,
PS. If you missed Alan’s latest missive on England go HERE