Life isn’t to be studied, it is to be lived!
The other night I dreamt I was at a wedding and some one said to me, very clearly, “It’s just like Plato’s cave.” I can’t remember much about the rest of the dream, but that remark stuck with me. So much of our experience is performance that we can’t even recognise what is real anymore and, just like the people chained up in Plato’s cave, we resist it when it’s forced on us.
When I lived in London it felt a bit like the allegorical cave. The shadows on the wall seemed real, and the majority of people around me ‘knew’ they were real, but I always felt something lacking. I thought it was me; I changed career, made new friends and worked on myself. As my awareness grew I realised that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a cave watching shadows on the wall, or talking about shadows, admiring them and even wanting to be them! Ditching the TV was never going to be enough.
It’s hard to escape the illusion in a place like London when you have a mortgage and bills to pay. We had to work to pay for these things and as soon as you enter the world of paid work and employment, you participate in the illusion. How many unnecessary and meaningless meetings have you sat through? How many hours have you spent form-filling for worthless bureaucracy? How much of your life do you spend doing something that is utterly meaningless and unsatisfying? We decided that we had to leave London to create the lives we want to live.
We are experimenting with creating our experience and making our lives joyous and meaningful by being conscious and aware as much as possible. We are exploring reality through awareness of our feelings, our doing and being and what shows up in our lives – philosophy-in-action, perhaps. It’s very difficult to have joy and meaning in your life if you spend most of your time doing and thinking about things that are ultimately meaningless and do not offer any satisfaction and therefore can’t make you happy.
Are you here?
So ,what is real? What reality are we creating? What do we want to create? What do we want to be experiencing more of in our lives?Taking care of our physical needs is real; building a cabin, making a vegetable garden, putting in a new water supply and dealing with our own shit (literally) is very real. If I had known that this is what we would be doing before we left London, I might have had second thoughts. It seems like a step backwards if your aim in life is to have more leisure time, but why do you need leisure time? How much leisure time do you need and what do you do with it? How does it make you feel?
We have significantly less so-called leisure time here. We haven’t got a TV, we don’t go to the movies, the theatre or shopping for anything but food. We don’t make any distinction between week days and week-end. There’s always the dogs to be taken care of, wood to be cut, gardening or housework to be done and we haven’t even begun the renovation work yet. However, it feels very different to be doing these things as the mainstay of our lives, rather than as activities that need to be squeezed in around a job. We are not financially wealthy. We have just enough to cover the basics, but we have much more freedom.
We use this freedom to make conscious choices regarding the situations life offers. It is one great experiment and we are always facing unknowns and challenges. Every time we need to do something new, we ask around and we can ask six different people and get 10 different answers! For example, we bought this property with two wells. One is contaminated with bacteria and the other clean, but with not enough water. We started with the clean well and ran a pipe to the cabin and the water is lovely, but it is running out. If we had more storage we would be OK with the clean well, but we need more water now before the summer is out. We could clean out the other well, which one of the neighbours says has always been good (but that was 40 years ago) and we don’t want to use chlorine to clean it. Another said we should connect to the mains, but we prefer to have our own water supply. No one here uses an ozone generator and the plumber said that we would be better off digging a new well with guaranteed clean water. So where do we put the new well? The neighbour said one place and the well-digger another…..and so it goes on. We don’t know what is the best course of action; we have no previous knowledge of these issues, but does anyone really?
All we can do is set our intention to trust that it will all work out in the end and make the best choices we can in the spirit of playfulness and experimentation. This is our philosophy-in-action.