As Americans, many of us are trained to be doing something from the moment we wake up to the moment our heads hit the pillow. That’s one of the reasons that “Let Go, Let God” or practicing meditation is so very difficult for us. We know to press on the accelerator to get a jolt of excitement and forward movement from the time we are adolescents (or earlier) and to spend perhaps one day per week (Sunday) and two weeks per year relaxing.
What we find difficult to do is not to do.
Moreover, many of us have tied our sense of self-worth to our work. This is extremely advantageous to our ability to produce. Employers love it! But then we may suffer the consequences of becoming “human doings.” Many of us drink, drug or shop ourselves into a stupor. Worse yet, some implode and destroy a family.
The Europeans derisively refer to this uniquely American lifestyle as “living to work”. So, what’s the alternative? Working to live! Doing less to enjoy life.
During the first four months of our Adventure, I learned how to do less and love it. Over the last month, though, Beth and I have fallen back into the habit of living to work.
When we returned from our southern trip, we arrived rested and ready to do the work we’d booked in the NY schools. Out of habit, though, we fell into the rhythm of driving more competitively, talking faster, and producing products (assemblies, songs, yoga classes) simultaneously with the business of living. We’ve been doing it as NYers for most of our adult lives, so it was easy to go back to the grind.
Many people, notably our NY friends and family, have asked us, “What was your favorite place? Where do you want to live?” I didn’t know how to answer that until now. The simple answer is “anyplace that looks like this…
…and makes us feel like this…
…or, very often, like this.”
I say “very often” because if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll note that my happiness is fleeting, but so is the sadness or fear I feel on other days. Feelings come and go very quickly these days – as they did when I was a little boy.
What I’m looking for is a place and people and a way of life where we can accept it all – a place where we can feel emotionally ALIVE. And that includes all of the feelings AND an opportunity to do some meaningful (but not frenzied) work AND to wake up the following day, next to Beth, ready for whatever comes.
We’ve decided that the place needs to be the right environment with very few stores and a whole lot of trees. It needs to have flow (water and sky) and it needs to be populated by people who are in no hurry whatsoever.
This is not a place near a big city, perhaps not even a moderately sized one. The energy around cities no longer agrees with me (if it ever did).
I need a country atmosphere every day, if possible. It’s not the place I vacation or visit on Sunday. It’s the place to live. I can visit a city, but I don’t want to live there or in its suburbs.
When we find that place, and when we know it’s what we deserve – we’ve arrived.