I’m taking a rare few moments this morning to feel the sunshine streaming through the window. I welcome the warmth and light after a painful winter.
I could ignore the sunshine and focus on my work, as I have a million things to do. Like everyone else I have to put in my hours and complete tasks so I can get paid. But my body and soul need a break from the daily grind, and the vitamin D vault needs replenishing.
This moment of reflection makes me wonder how life got so complicated, so demanding, so stressful. Childhood memories of frolicking in the sand and surf seem like someone else’s’ daydreams, maybe a movie I once watched. I’ve wandered far into the maze and I’m not seeing the way out.
Surviving Not Thriving
But my body is telling me this place is not healthy. The labyrinth of survival in the civilized world is dark, cold, and full of toxins. A brief reprieve of fresh air and sunlight makes me realize what I’m missing, and how tortured I’ve been in this trap. Which way to turn, how can I get out?
Hopes and dreams just beyond reach, like the carrot on a stick that keeps the mule pulling the cart. But the cart’s wheel falls off and the carrot and stick get tossed into a ditch when the cart tumbles. Story of my life.
It’s time to change the story instead of rebuilding the cart and recovering the carrot. I think I’ll set the mule free and take a walk instead. The journey is much more enjoyable without the stress of keeping that cart together.
Where did youthful joy go?
I just passed my 60th birthday and I’m saying it out loud because I still can’t believe it. My husband is 64, and he spent my birthday recovering from a bleeding ulcer. We didn’t celebrate. We looked at each other with tired eyes filled with compassion.
We never tried to be rich or famous. We weren’t trying to reach the moon and back. Our goals in life were simple: raise a good family, give our kids a good foundation for a better life, be there for each other and enjoy the journey. We tried to live mindfully, give back to the community, and take care of the environment.
We are not materialistic; most of our possessions are hand-me-downs, yard sale finds or Walmart stock. Acquiring “things” was never a priority, yet we have more stuff than we need. How does this happen? Our empty nest is not as empty as we’d like it to be. Actually we would prefer having the children and not the stuff.
Simplicity is Underrated
I think of my native ancestors living in tepees or wigwams, raising happy families and living off the earth. Maybe that was a hard life too, but the simplicity is appealing to me. Sometimes I contemplate going totally off grid.
While I was growing up my dream was to live in a small stone house by a stream, at the edge of a meadow and the woods. The alternate dream was to live in a small beach house. I really don’t need much to be happy, just the people I love, nature, and something creative to do.
I suppose we all want to do something productive that brings value to the world. But the complicated structure of civilization has developed based on skewed values. The excess manufacturing and consumption is fueled by an “I want, I need” mentality. What would happen to the maze if the whole world began to believe, “I have all I need; what can I give, how can I bring joy to others today?”
The sun has moved away from my window and it’s time to get back to work. My short reprieve has given me cause to set a new course. I can find my way out of the labyrinth with this new mantra, and I can enjoy the process as well. “Beauty before me, beauty behind me, beauty all around me; I walk in beauty” – paraphrased from a Navajo prayer to restore a state of balance called “Hozho”.