SIX WEEKS: LEARNING THAT NOTHING IS EVERYTHING (part thirteen)
Journal Entry, Uspallata, Argentina, February 22, 2016, a little after midnight
It is Tuesday. There is a full moon tonight. In a week from now I will be lying on my mother-in-law’s couch trying to fall asleep. The light flowing in is like headlights on a dark road illuminating my husband’s face as he restfully sleeps. My 8 year old daughter’s warm hand is still reached out towards mine; she has gotten into the habit of holding my hand now that our sleeping bags lie side by side each night. I am awake between the two. Kenia sleeps soundly one bag over. It has become familiar like walking back and forth from town 3 times a week, waking up with a child’s pose and down dog, turning my head to the left to see the orange tinted mountains glowing as if on fire… like the sound of the water boiling from the kettle and pouring a scoop of instant coffee into my mug… like taking our food scraps to the pig pen, greeting Slatco, our neighbor’s dog, each morning, writing 10 minutes a day in my journal… like admiring the clouds and the colors of the sky transform themselves into magic every evening… like losing myself in everything.
Intruso, the cream colored pony, is still grazing outside my window; he has been eating all day, moving around the dojo with his long legs and new born coat; smooth and shiny on one side, scruffy and wild on the other. I think about the texture of my life… too flat, too scruffy, anything but silky smooth. In a week from now I will be writing from another angle… happy to be there, yet dearly missing the one I have left behind… and my dear, this is only side of the story of our life…
Reading my blog it may appear as if my free family is almost always in turmoil. ‘What freedom?‘, many may think. The past weeks (or years, for that matter) I have spoken about choices, indecision, doubt and frustration… once again… what freedom? We talk too much, but we actually communicate. We fight and we do this real big… but we also make up, and fortunately we do this even bigger! We make decisions and then we doubt, we make mistakes, we say lots of sorrys and then we try to learn and correct. We do some things very right and some things quite wrong. We never, ever REGRET!
Last year we made a promise.
We all love our life on the road – even my daughters (Kenia, 11, Havana, 8) – however the female portion of the family (a 3/4 majority) also thinks about a place… a homebase to come back to. Andrea and I made a promise, THE PROMISE: by the end of 2016 we would have a place (at least a base) and also a dog. Our clock is ticking and the girls are not likely to let us forget it.
Journal Entry, February 27, 2016, Uspallata, Argentina
We are still in Nowhere’s Land enjoying our last days and beginning the process of purchasing a piece of land in an ecovillage that turns out to be anything but. I’ve said this too many times before – the place is amazing. In theory, it could be the one… but, the project is a flop, the people estranged (and a few a bit strange) and the country in a turmoil of its own, economically speaking. Last week a banana cost 15 pesos per kilo. This week it is up to 25.
Andrea and I find ourselves in the center of nothing, loving everything except the colossal sized decisions that we need to make.
Our clock is ticking as February will roll into March, March into summer and summer will roll right past the falling leaves into the New Year – BAM! – 2016 will already be gone!…
if we haven’t got the place… the dog and the promise will explode into broken pieces right along with the dream of it all…
so we talk (communicate), fight (make up). I no longer sleep (soundly). I spend my last nights in paradise thinking, breathing, listening to an overabundance of silence, observing the horses (and all their elegantly lived freedom), praying on an entire universe of stars outside my window… this is one amazing place (there, I said it again!)… it is magical and all its pureness is capable of bringing ghosts out in the day, and all night long… in this unique silence I search… I encounter myself many times over, get intimate… with myself, my fears, my flaws… my marriage, my family, my choices, my life. I see things that would be easier not to see. While other families are sitting in front of several tv screens, playing games and chatting on tablets and smartphones, filling up their time (or lack of it) with PTA meetings and soccer games, dressing up fancy for some special event… living their real lives… here we are living ours.
Some may say that we are in constant search for something. Friends and family included. No peace for the free at heart, right? Too many choices to make… leaving Andrea a frustrated soul, Dannielle a meditating fool..
I received this message about a month ago:
Hey dannielle… read some of your recent blogs. U definitely live an alternative lifestyle but I wonder if u r missing out on what others have. Its great to be close w ur daughters n husband but what about all the other ppl in ur life? Friends…parents…brother…don’t u miss that? It seems u r always on the move… and I am starting to wonder why… whatever ur issues… they will always be there no matter where u r. U have to find happiness in yourself first. Life is about life experiences alone n experiences w others. Being somewhat closer to where others live, allow u the chance to see them more. Too much isolation is not good for anyone. It can be a nice break, but eventually its time to come back to reality… When r u coming back to new York? Miss u n wish u were here… love, a truly caring friend. Feb 24th, 7:00pm
This is my response to her (and to all those other loving people in my life that think we may be doing it all wrong and trying to escape real life). Thank you sweet friend. Miss you too. Sorry the response took a while:
We all have choices of how to live our lives, how to raise our children, how we want to work, how much time to dedicate to the people we love, to ourselves. As everybody else, my choices in the past have brought me to where I am today (one of the biggest was falling deeply in love with an Italian boy over 20 years ago). I doubt only long enough to remember how wise we are to be making our own choices (which inevitably includes not having all the stuff that we have not chosen)… choices that bring me away from family, but makes it so much more special when we do reunite, that allow us to create profound relationships with friends and family (which are often one in the same) all around this great, big world of ours… choices that have enrichened all of us and that we have made with our daughters’ wellbeing on the top of our list…
with these choices have also come SACRIFICES (Sacrifice gets a really bad rap these days, but did you know that the word sacrifice comes from the word sacred which was once considered a very noble and necessary act of love and survival? Put it this way, sacred choice sounds so much better, doesn’t it!?), however without this adventure – our life, all these sacred choices and sacrifices – my daughters surely wouldn’t have grown up thusfar seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling… feeling so very much. They wouldn’t know what it is to become best friends with a little girl that has absolutely NOTHING or sleep on the floor of a stranger’s home… be comfortable with having lots of complete strangers sleep on ours. They wouldn’t have learned three languages or how to create play for 6 weeks without anything but a couple of dolls and their creativity (especially at the age of 11 in this era of techno everything!)… they wouldn’t have learned to trust or to trust in themselves if there weren’t times when we needed them to do the laundry, cook, clean, move heavy boxes, or wash their own hair… eat bananas an entire day to avoid throwing them away… if there weren’t times that we required them to do without, to adapt and re-adapt… to make their own choices…
if we would have made other choices (which may be absolutely perfect for others) like living in the same house, in the same place, with the same people… shopping in the same stores, going back and forth to the same school and job… watching the same news at dinner every evening with the same images and messages of fear, perhaps texting and posting in between forkfuls. Less uncertainty, less fighting, less isolation… maybe or maybe not. These too are choices. They are all choices… even the choice not to choose for one’s self and follow what is considered ‘not alternative’. Right, wrong… somewhere in between? This is left for each one of us to decide for our families and for ourselves.
We fight and we make peace. We communicate about just about everything, and ’til we feel like ripping our hair from our heads. We demand and we make sacrifices. And, once in a while we sit in a circle and pass around our sacred stick.
This is what we say…
The Dojo, Uspallata, Argentina: February 28, 2016: The stick is passed around for the first time. (we ask the girls to express something that they feel):
Havana: I feel hurt when you fight. It makes me sad. I love that we are always together.
Kenia: I miss my friends and family in America and Italy. But, I am so happy to have made new friends everywhere and I really like to see new places and move around. I know we can’t have both all the time.
Daddy: I am happy with this family. We are crazy, but we are real and really living. We have things to work on, but so does everyone.
Mommy: I miss having space, especially in the bathroom (as I am thinking, what mom doesn’t?). Two sinks are nice (we actually have six here). I miss having my own space to workout, and time too. I am sorry when I get uptight about these things. In these moments I am unable to see clearly. Besides these times, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. (Havana: mom, you’re not a girl. Kenia: yes, she is!)
The stick gets passed around one more time (say whatever you want or nothing at all):
Havana: I would like to go to Cuba next year for some ice cream.
Kenia: I really want the dog.
Daddy: Thank you family! (he gets up to kiss and hug us all)
Mommy: I want to thank Daddy for having the idea of the sacred stick.
Some say that we are searching… six weeks here in Argentina has taught me that I am searching for Nothing… it has left me with a feeling that completes the pureness of the human soul … no cravings – none that go beyond the basic… no thoughts that aren’t entirely your own, no escaping oneself or anyone else… There are no walls here in Nowhere’s land. Just tons of space. Nothing to hide behind… don’t count on those mountains…
Tears of gratitude fill my eyes (this place brings on lots of these as well) as I type away these last words… some may say that I ask too many questions, search too much to understand… too much for what?, for whom?… we only have one life…
and, as the full moon that I no longer see right outside my window, this too will pass us by… no asking, no searching, no knowing…. leading to lives flatter than our flat screen tvs…Our life is certainly not flat; our lives like the world we live on were never destined to be as smooth as newborn, pony fur… man continues to create the walls, the boundaries, the lines… use phrases like ‘hope all is going smoothly’, ‘let’s get out of this one neat and clean’, ‘stay in line, young man’, ‘my little one is a straight A student’.
We, my darling friends are in it for the entire messy trip. I have said it so many times in the past. I never asked for the easier road. The pigs enjoy their mud. My life is teaching me that so do I!…
I met a really cool guy named Pierce a few days ago in Mendoza… He was from the US and travelling with no limit. We only spoke for about a half an hour during breakfast, but he told me that he was taking some time off from a successful career to search for his Best Self… I LOVED THIS… I am right along with him, stopping for Nothing… every uncomfortable, filthy mile of the way… and wishing all of you sweet friends to do the very same!
Thank you Pierce and thanks to everyone that read this post. Writing is for me. But, it is so much better when shared.
Happy Birthday to Andrea, the most wonderful and biggest Sacred Sacrifice of my life!
All my love to him and love to you all,
ps Looking forward to hearing from you. Write or message me on FB (Dannielle Levy) or on my blog: http://www.freefamilyontheroad.wordpress.com.