Friday 5 October 2012

A simple life

No travel for me lately, and that’s been just fine. Instead I’ve been embracing ordinariness. You know, hanging up the washing, doing the dishes, having lunch in the backyard with my feet on the grass and the neighbour’s cat by my side.

Flowers in the kitchen
All in the name of finding more writing time (tick) but I’m finding the simplicity quietly nourishing. Besides, there's plenty to explore, plenty of internal and vicarious travelling to do right here. 

Lately I've been riding the coat-tails of MarthaGellhorn (reading her clear and true war stories) and 52 Suburbs Around the World photographer Louise Hawson (she’s in New York now).

A window I know well
The other night I watched the first episode of a documentary about the Amish. Though they have some odd rules (buttons are forbidden but they can use a generator to power their primitive washing machine?), I admire their sincerity, simplicity and uncluttered lives. (To be honest I would have liked less on the British teenagers forced to spend a week without their various devices, and more about the Amish couple they were staying with; still, the clash of cultures was fascinating.) 

It’s television like this that makes us think outside our own lives and, at the same time, rethink our lives. What is enough? What is really essential for a rich life? (For me: the sea, contact with animals, including a few like-minded humans, nature, writing, play, freedom, learning, purpose...) I felt a kind of relief watching the Amish – they seemed utterly peaceful and happy, seeking happiness not through pleasure but hard work, community and faith.

Coming to a horizon near you
So I’ve been walking to the nearest little harbour beach for morning swims, sitting on the sand just looking at the sea, hanging out with kookaburras. Surfing with friends I haven’t arranged to meet (I love those spontaneous encounters that happen when everyone with the same idea has decided to get up early and paddle out at the same spot). Visiting friends for cups of tea. Watching the sun set. 

Nothing special. Like the title of a Buddhist book I once read by Ayya Khema: “Being nobody, Going nowhere.” That’s something to un-aspire to. Here's another thought: some people say you have to go out and get what you want to be happy. I think happiness is within our grasp all the time, if we stop hustling and let it come. Listen, pay attention, give thanks. Maybe I'm becoming a little bit Amish (some of my friends probably think that happened long ago).

What do you (really) need for a happy life?

1 comment:

  1. Freedom & space, time in nature, a little cash, a positive outlook, and nothing to prove.
    Thanks NoImpactGirl, for keeping it real.