An Imagined Life

Please allow me a moment. I’d like to imagine a world that I’d like to live in. I’d like a world where I can go to sleep when I get tired. A world in which I can retreat when I need to be alone. I’d like to only be tempted by the foods that will leave me feeling good after I eat them, and that will be good for my health. I’d like to read Rumi. I’d like to see an astrologist and to figure out my enneagram. I’d like to live in a world without jealousy, because I’d like to feel like I have enough, and need not be jealous for any reason. I’d like to live in a world where I can follow my urges without worrying. What will happen if? What will s/he think of me if? Will I be able to perform well enough if? I’d like to live long enough to be able to figure it out. What out? Figure out how to give myself this world.

When I was young, I wanted to be a subsistence farmer. I imagined that as the easiest way of life. One in which I would not have to decide what to be. I guess I felt threatened by having to decide what to be. I wish I could ask my younger self about that fear. It was something about wanting to provide for myself, and let that be enough. About not needing to, well, make money doing something else, and then use that money to provide for myself. That seemed, perhaps, like one step too many. Just having a job to make money…What is a job? Isn’t that a social construct? When did that concept begin? I listened to a book on tape once, about the geography of bliss. It was called The Geography of Bliss. And Iceland was one of the happiest places on earth, and partially because people did not see themselves as being defined by one thing, job, talent, skill, profession. People were many things and could do and did do many things. We are all many things, and that is something I’d like to do better at embracing. Why need to be the best at one thing rather than be good at many? Is there even such thing as a true best?

When I got a little bit older, and felt confused about being a student in school, about why I was paying forty thousand dollars a year to be in school without even knowing what I wanted to do, without knowing what school was helping me pursue, when I felt depressed, or helpless, or trapped in a way of living that didn’t feel good, I wanted to move to an ashram, to Kripalu, to a place of communal and spiritual living. There were times in my life when I wanted to live in a monastery, or when I wanted to go to west point academy. I viewed these options (with the exception of west point academy) as an easier life. An all-inclusive life.

I went to Nepal as the second best thing to dropping out of school and going to work on a farm. Ha. I went to Nepal because I thought I could learn about happiness there, about how you can be happy without all the money and riches and “luxury” I had in New York City. Yet, in Nepal, I was driven by my expectations of myself and the world I was trying to leave behind. I took my work and my papers and my assignments very seriously. Out of fear of not being a good student. Did I see happiness in Nepal? I saw a different way of living. I saw that people have strong families and ties and accept that life is made up of the happy and the sad, the good and the bad, the sukkha and the dukkha, as they say. But Nepal was hard. Complex to analyze here and now. Not only happiness, a lot of unhappiness and desire to move to America. Everyone seemed to want me to take them to America. But I’d seen their people in New York, working hard, separated from their families. That did not seem to me like something they would want, should the know the life they would get in America.

I don’t know of anywhere that the life I want exists. I think that living communally is a challenge. I’d like to ask my friend Lily about her experience of living with the people she works with. Running a farm, a way of life, a household, a business, with a group of people who have become her family. Where are the challenges? Are there any?

I want to go back to imagining this life. I want to imagine a life filled with learning. Spiritual learning, that I and everyone around me does. Philosophical learning about the way to live and about who each one of us is, and how we can live authentically to ourselves and appreciatively of one another.

I want to live in such a way that I can feel like I am working hard and accomplishing much, but without needing to sacrifice myself, my sleep, my diet, my need for peace and solace.

I want to love. I don’t know if that will mean one person, or love all people and feel that that is enough. Can I feel full, satiated, from the love of all people, or do I need to love just one to feel that? We usually associate fullness with more, but with love we want just one? Just one love? Or is it really about finding one partner, and still loving everyone? Is partnership about practicality, safety, sharing? But what if that can be found with many? Maybe it is about physical intimacy, with just one rather than many, so as to prevent jealousy. I don’t know. This topic could be endlessly explored. People live with different arrangements of love and partnership and sex. (I just re-read this last sentence and considered deleting it, because what if people read it and think I am a complete weirdo who wants poly-amorism or polygamy or to go back to a time when men had many wives, or move on to a time when women have many husbands? But if I deleted it I’d be editing myself, and this is all about authenticity. But I do want to say, this point about love and partnership is not conclusive. It’s a topic that I find interesting, philosophically, spiritually and practically. I’d  be interested to have some conversations about it.)

I’d like to live in a world without the noise clutter of information that I don’t need to know. There is so much of it. In the news and on the internet. So much crap. Who am I to decide what’s crap and what’s not? I am not one to decide that for anyone except for myself. So does this world include TVs and cell phones and internet? I think so. I like cell phones to call those who are not right next to me, or to have really great conversations if I can’t actually go and see the person, or to make a plan to see a person. I pretend to like cell phones for texts. But do I really like texting? Could I live without it? It might mean I’d need to make a phone call more often. It might mean I have less people in my life who are far away, and more people in my life who are right next to me. I’d like the internet to read really good blog posts, and be inspired by what people are doing who I can’t actually see with my own eyes.

I’d still like to live in a world with travel. I do love to travel.

Ok, so for years, much of my world has been about food. I had major body image issues. I think I get why. I feel bad about my body and myself when I eat foods that are not good for it or for me. Even still. Like grains, bread, too much alcohol, too much coffee, too much sugar. Shitty food. Processed food. Yet we want and need a variety of food and flavors and textures, and lots of calories to live active lifestyles. I want to be surrounded by food that is real and good, and live in such a way that I am always mindful when I eat it. I don’t want to be responsible for preparing all the food. But I want to know who is and trust them and care about them. And I want to see the food grow and be a part of that. I want to live off of what I/we can grow responsibly. Why? Not because eating local food is cool. I think it’s because that is a way to guarantee that it is nutritious. I know nothing about growing food. I want to learn.

I want to live in a way where there are aesthetics. Where things are not always the same or mundane but this doesn’t mean we need to go out to a fancy restaurant and spend tons of money to have a special event. It can mean that there is a day where we transform our house and dwelling place through decoration and design, and through the preparation of a unique and special meal, to stand out, to be a special occasion. We can use creativity and inspiration and education to make something unique. We don’t need to buy the unique experience, or pick it from a list of options. We can create it.

I want to live in a world where I don’t feel fear. Do I want to live in a world without responsibility and obligation?

Where I can always do whatever I want, whenever I want it?

Is there a way to have duties and responsibilities but still listen to myself and my needs, and follow them?

Maybe in food, we need restrictions.  I think that food, more than anything else in my life, effects the way I feel about myself. Right now I feel like crap, because tonight I ate crap. Bread, beer, diet soda, granola. With crappy ingredients that came from who knows where. These are the foods that can make me sick, that can make us all sick. I can feel it. Anyone who has subsisted off of non-crap food can feel the difference the body feels from eating crap food. Restriction of eating only what you grow will probably mean you eat less crap food, unless all you grow is wheat and GMO corn. That takes a lot of resources and a lot of money, and a lot of land, so…that’s not the farm I’m describing. Restriction of eating what you grow may mean that sometimes you feel hungry. But I think with a better blood sugar level, and eating the right foods, you don’t even need to eat that much food anyway.

OK, so this is a vision I want to work toward. To play toward? To live toward. To move toward. To be toward. This vision has to have time for learning, meditation, contemplation, playing and also working. I want to be a partner in developing this, developing the foods we want to eat. Figuring out what to grow and plant to get the foods we need year-round. The foods we need for daily consumption, as well as for rituals and special occasions, for relaxing, for working, for stimulatory effects…the foods we need to lead strong, healthy, creative, exciting, grounded lives. It’s not about what sells. It’s about what we want as humans, to feel good.

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