At some point, I thought, well, I’ve been really lucky to see many, many places. Now, the great adventure is the inner world, now that I’ve spent a lot of time gathering emotions, impressions, and experiences. Now, I just want to sit still for years on end, really, charting that inner landscape because I think anybody who travels knows that you’re not really doing so in order to move around — you’re traveling in order to be moved. And really what you’re seeing is not just the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall but some moods or intimations or places inside yourself that you never ordinarily see when you’re sleepwalking through your daily life.
Lately, I want to move back to California. I want to live with my family nestled on the crest of a mountaintop overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I’ve camped in such places. In campgrounds tucked along the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur. My imagined house being simple and modern. A square, flat roof with angles both sharp and soft. A home that is both interesting and unassuming, designed to honor the landscape it has been forged into. I see it made mostly of glass — where the inside and the outside merge together and you cannot tell whether you are inside or out. I’d build it with natural resources and its design would be one that treads lightly on our planet leaving a modest carbon footprint. That. I want that.
I imagine a vegetable garden with fruit trees and berry patches. Hearing the forceful break of the ocean crashing on the rocks below my perch. The perfumed scent of jasmine mingled with ocean salt and the stink of fish at low tide. I picture music playing and voices singing. Sometimes there is dancing in the kitchen where foods leave sultry aromas calling us together to linger over seasonal meals where time doesn’t matter. Lively conversations about silly things and soulful things. Laughter. Lot’s of laughter. And eyes lighting up followed by deep sighs of joy as foods that were created with time and love are tasted and enjoyed.
There is an empty hollow space within my heart that aches for this place I dream of. A place where there isn’t haste or rushing but a taking in of life and an opportunity to create, to dream and to be still. To have more time with the people I love and care about. What does this mean? What is my longing? What am I hoping for? It doesn’t feel like an escape — in fact I don’t want to escape at all — I want to fully embody myself after having left for so many years. My California fantasy feels like a quest to get to the root of living and to experience my wholeness in all of its pieces.
Pico Iyer hits a raw nerve when he says, “And really what you’re seeing … (are) places inside yourself that you never ordinarily see when you’re sleepwalking through your daily life.” I don’t want to sleepwalk though life. Not for a second. Not one. I almost cry at the thought of it. Of missing out on living passionately and engaged, with compassion and connection as my compass. Is it because I spent my childhood waiting for things to end that I want so desperately to live awake with presence and purpose?
Perhaps this is my longing — wanting a life that nourishes the places inside of myself that I desire so deeply to know. I want to turn myself inside out and see every fabric of myself. Beyond the mere stitching or the thread. I want to touch the soil where the cotton grew and smell the dirt on my fingertips. I want to see it all because it matters to me. I matter. My family matters and I want my life to reflect that.
But how? How do I create that in my daily living? To be fully awake when I do the mundane and so called meaningless things in my life? To not sleepwalk while doing, say, the laundry or the dishes? I wonder if in part my feelings are more about a sense of loneliness and a fear of loss. Time racing by with me trying to grab onto the wisps it leaves behind. Like an airplane’s tail of exhaust, where the end is dissipating more quickly than the trail is being laid. We lead busy lives and this busy-ness leaves me without a moment to clarify what it is exactly that I long for. But I do know that I want life to feel more like a celebration of the good things even when there are the tough, real things to contend with. Perhaps allowing the responsibilities and burdens of daily life to mingle with my dreams by making it a priority to allow for both.
Can I have both? Can we? I like to think so. But sometimes I feel like a petulant child being offered a kiddie cone and demanding the sundae. And maybe that’s the problem. Sundae or kiddie cone, they both melt if we spend too long wishing for the other. I read and observe and even believe that life is in the moments and what we make of them. Our perceptions. But what if — what if life would feel more full if I were in a different space than the one I now call home. What if?
My dream home connects me to nature and to the earth — both making me feel held and safe and acutely alive. When I envision myself in this space, I imagine having so much more time to be with the people I love. I see myself with so much more room, not physical room, but heart space and head space. I have a friend who longs to live in Manhattan — the hum and and energy of the city connecting her to herself the most — making her heart joy-filled. Perhaps I need to continue to foster time in my daily living to create the life that matters. Making the meals. Turning on the music. Slowing down and allowing for stillness. I think in the stillness we create more room for the things that matter.
I need more stillness. I crave the stillness so I can allow myself to be moved. So I can experience the people and life I love without it zooming by too quickly. I don’t want to miss it — life! — and I think I’m afraid I might.
Categories: Tri-Umphant Living