A journey that lasts a lifetime (part three)
When you are able to see the big picture, 360 degrees, you realize that it is all interrelated – views regarding consumerism, ecology and the environment, eating habits, health and illness, spirituality, family and relationships, respect and overall values. One decision naturally leads to the next, and although you may find potholes and detours along the way, it is highly unlikely to lose the momentum… two steps forward, one step back, but ultimately you just keep moving ahead, one baby step after another, towards a richer, more connected existence. It has nothing to do with pressure or deadlines or a sense of sacrifice. You just need to follow your instinct and learn to grow as an individual and as a family.
SLOW DOWN: DETOURS AND POTHOLES AHEAD
Satisfying everyone’s individual comfort zone requires patience, persistence and love driven compromise. This is one of the bigger challenges. If you are in it alone it may be difficult because you are responsible for reminding yourself to move away from comfort. At times, it may seem as if you are constantly being challenged and have to work up the strength to overcome the fear all on your own. At the same time, you don’t have anyone pushing you beyond what feels comfortable for you at the moment. When there are people journeying along with you, the true test lies in finding a balance. We are family, but we are also individuals with individual desires, needs, and boundaries:
In our case, it is a I go one baby step forward, two baby steps back,
my husband leaps ten giant steps forward and maybe one baby step back kind of thing!
Besides from being a very personal journey, freedom is also an extremely difficult thing to hold on to. We are vulnerable and easily influenced by our friends, family, colleagues and surroundings. Although we may rationally understand that without freedom everything we experience in this material world is just a facade, the fear (there it is again!) to appear different frequently prevents us from travelling forward. Like us, freedom too is fragile. It is constantly changing form, quality and meaning. As soon as you are certain that you have a tight grip on it, it overpowers you with its impermanence -constantly challenging you to redefine yourself, redefine your individual sense of freedom. This is why the search for freedom is a lifetime endeavor. You may wake up feeling completely free. By the time you pour your first cup of coffee you may not be so sure.
Back to MY PERSONAL JOURNEY FROM FEAR TO FREEDOM (JUST AN EXAMPLE)
For us, true freedom meant continuing along the road of freeing ourselves from the things that were weighing us down and keeping us from taking flight. Some things came more natural than others. We had already voluntarily downsized much of our life including the way we spent our money, what we chose to do in our freed time, and who we preferred to spend time with. We were already eating a predominantly vegan diet, buying organic and local food whenever possible, and had eliminated all chemically based products from our home and life. We had survived lots of the detours. We had visited and revisited many of the un-comfort zones. One change naturally followed the last and the less we had, the happier and freer we felt.
Then in 2008, Andrea leaped one of his giant steps forward and enthusiastically blurted out 4 terrifying words: Let’s sell the house!
It felt something like tripping head first into a humungous pothole. I was in complete shock and choking from the bitter taste of pure FEAR! I knew that it was impossible to eliminate all the fear, but I also knew that I could decide to react fearlessly towards this major change. I needed to pick myself right back up and call upon the fearless prisoner* for courage . This however, took much time and effort…
It was one thing not buying the extra clothes to hang in my already overstuffed closet, waiting for sales to buy a new swimsuit, to read more and go to the movies less, to learn to make my own pizza- dough and all – instead of ordering it in, to spend more than half of our time sleeping in 4 (5 if you include our pit bull, India) in a small, used, 1986 camper on the road, instead of in our new, oversized, Japanese style bed made from reforested wood.
But, the idea of selling our home – the place where we rested and restored ourselves between one weekend of work and the next, the idea of giving up my address, my large kitchen with a double sink in the island where both girls still bathed, and the bathroom that I had always dreamed of since growing up in a 2×2 apartment in Brooklyn and dealing with the tiniest bathroom that ever existed (at least it felt that way back when much of my time was spent in the bathroom straightening my hair or laying on the floor while talking on the phone half the night with my legs hanging over the tub)…
and then, there was my gym – 450 sq. feet of mirrored paradise set up with the best equipment ‘money could buy’ where I worked, worked out and literally escaped for the past 9 years – this was my sacred space.
This was just too much. This was ATTACHMENT.
STOP, Breathe, Observe, Ask and Listen…
The voice inside recognized this feeling for what it was and as something that I needed to overcome. I needed to stop grasping, stop holding on for dear life.
Along with the fear, the attachment had to go.
I knew that selling the house was our next baby step forward. The house was nice, the gym was incredible, but it wasn’t our future. It was time for us to move on. It was too comfortable. Those days, we already spent much of our time away from home either travelling for work or for pleasure. It was just a house, to be cleaned and maintained and paid for, and it was the only major material thing left preventing us from the free lifestyle we dreamed of.
After weeks of soul searching and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, our house was officially “In Vendita”, that is FOR SALE.
It took 4 years to sell our house and then another 2 years for me to truly feel comfortable with this choice.
Journal entry, Sept 29, 2013, On the road, Italy:
I miss the space. I miss the sunlight on my face in the morning and the colors of the sunset that entered my kitchen in the evening. I miss the smell of lavender in the spring and the fields of sunflowers along the road in June. I miss my pots and pans and rolling pins. I miss all my jars of paint and recycled scraps keeping me creatively busy when I couldn’t sleep. I miss my photos in every corner and my books messily inhabiting their shelves. I miss the lazy, winter mornings of doing nothing and the smell of homemade muffins and bread that filled the house in the afternoon. I miss my closet space. I miss my space. Now my life is filled with boxes and bags of clothes travelling back and forth in weighted arms. It is filled with small spaces and much disorder. I am lost in chaos and confusion. My mind is wandering much of the time. I feel unsettled and disoriented, and I often feel as if I can’t find my way home.
The year after we sold the house, we rented here and there. The girls changed schools twice. I packed up boxes and unpacked more than a dozen times. It seemed as if as soon as I was settled in, and the place that we called home for the moment started to feel homey, it was inevitably time to pick up and go. Andrea was great with it. The girls were always excited. I was tired.
I don’t know when the change actually happened, but it finally just did. After much meditation, some hysteria and lots of tender loving care from my 3 fellow travelling warriors, one morning I woke up feeling good about the nomad lifestyle we were living. I felt free. Not the pleasant type of free that you feel walking on a beach early in the morning with the salty breeze caressing your hair… the free of true freedom – weightlessness. Freed of things to fix, maintain and adjust. Free of bills to pay and junk mail to sort through. Free of having to have the perfect house, cozy atmosphere, vases and candles and other trinkets in all the right places. Free of a large house to clean and put back into order every single day, straightening up after everyone else’s mess. Small felt right. Impermanent felt good. The lightness of it all felt amazing.
Suddenly, I found myself talking to all sort of people about it with an enthusiastic perspective. I, a person that could have probably lived her entire existence in one place, perhaps in a small town, doing the exact same things every single day, was actually flaunting this on the road, no street address lifestyle like a terrific job offer, and feeling darn proud of myself too!
I was probably always ready for the decision all along. After all, wasn’t this just another pothole in a long line of potholes tripping me up a bit, testing my agility and balance? It appeared to be fear of the unknown. However, this fear was not real. It was a product of my thoughts, completely invented by my own mind. This decision wasn’t that much different than all the previous seemingly “life-shaking” decisions that we had already made. The real change came from my change in attitude towards it (Remember Jerry? See Baby Steps…part one). Fear came creeping back into the big picture along with my sense of attachment and a bit of What is everyone else gonna think? What is my mom gonna say?:’You are living like gypsies with those two poor daughters of yours’ (which, by the way she subtly did say more than once. I finally learned to accept it as a complement**).
When I let go of all this fear, when I listened to my inner voice and followed what was already inside me- inside my heart, I was finally able to remember that being different is a good thing… and that I really was fearless enough to take the risk of doing it our way once again!
I also rediscovered a new meaning of home:
Journal entry, February 18, 2014, Tilaran, Costa Rica
It is a still day. The air is still. The rain falls straight down making a rhythmic tapping sound on the plastic covered roof of the outside, garden patio. Tip tap, tip tap, tip tap – my heart beats calmly and my breath too is still. The wind is slight this morning slowly moving the clouds past the gray, still sky – slowly making way for patches of blue. The colors of the birds – yellow, blue, red and green, and the colors of the flowers – pink, purple, orange and lime – appear with intensity and vibrancy – an overpowering vision of nature’s wonder against the stillness of this very moment. The perfection that I helplessly longed for these past two years has spontaneously found its way into my very being as my body relaxes into the sound of the tip tap, tip tap, tip tap. Once again, I am reminded of a very valuable lesson. There really is no need to seek “home”. There is no need for me to fear “placeless-ness”. For the moment we allow ourselves to truly live all that is around us; the moment we are capable of easing into a state of simply “being”, we automatically return home. Home has a way of finding us – inevitably and naturally – despite the chaos that was filling our minds just moments ago. In the still of the day, home is and will always remain within each of us- although covered at times by fog or clouds or judgmental words underneath we can be assured that there is always a place we can eternally call “home” when we listen, when we open our hearts, when we give ourselves the freedom to become absolutely ‘still’.
To be continued…
What better time than the beginning of Spring and the celebration of Passover and Easter to also celebrate a new kind of personal freedom and the start of your everlasting journey? Happy Holidays to everyone!
Ps: Click follow this blog to read more about Baby Steps to Freedom (Baby Steps 101 – A practical guide on TAKING ACTION!) (part four)
This post was written without stress and without stealing any of my freed time!
*See Baby Steps to Freedom (part two)
**Andrea refers to gypsies as one of the last, truly free people who are unfortunately persecuted and badmouthed along with the minority of other truly free people left in this world.