Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Essence of Simplicity

Laura wrote this Lauratorial for the first issue of Earth Quarterly, May 1998:

Simplicity does not happen "out there." It is the effect of what has already happened within me. Simplicity happens within me, and then it flows out, becoming my world.

I am a wife, mom, and full-time student who works at our home bakery, publishing and beekeeping businesses, and I have a passionate interest in dancing. I am also on my food co-op board of directors. This seems like a lot of activities to take up my time, and indeed it is plenty. A couple of years ago, when we started up Dry Country News again, I remember noting how frequently I was hearing people say how busy their lives were, how they felt like they were trapped on a treadmill, going nowhere at top speed. Many times, as a bread and honey vendor at our local farmer’s market, I heard people say that they felt out of control of their lives. I could relate!

But something has changed for me since then. Lately I have been more and more aware of relaxing because I have realized that I am not in control of my life. I have become grateful that I am powerless over my life. As people have harangued their way around me, I have become aware that I am no longer so bothered by issues like flat tires, final exams, computer lab problems, deadlines, sick children, broken water lines, tax errors, wind, weather or fat on my hips! It’s not that these things have stopped happening to me (because they haven’t), but I do not get as upset as I used to about them. It is as if I am standing back from them, watching them on a video, not completely believing they are real.

When this happens to me, I find myself moving freely and rightly in the action, moved by an unseen force to take a healthy part in the drama. (Not getting upset sounds like it might be apathy. I have experienced apathy in my life, and this is not apathy. I have discovered it to be exactly the opposite.) I have found that this process frees up loads of energy that had been hiding in all my previous life hassles. These days I am happily busier, more involved in life than I ever could have been in the past.

I am becoming more aware that this is the essence of simplicity. It’s simple, the quintessence of simple, to lean back in the boat, drop the oars and let the river take me. I am fully participating in life, and yet am not under my own power or direction.

When I was a little girl, I went to an amusement park and rode on a boat ride. I got into a boat that went down a river, over a waterfall, through the rocks and safely back to the dock. This experience took all of about three minutes, during which time I was tugging, twisting and turning the steering wheel on my little boat. I was "piloting my craft" for all I was worth, as if my success depended on it. I was scared, excited, overwhelmed, anxious, thrilled and very triumphantly proud of myself during the course of the ride. I remember years later when I realized that the boat was secured to a fixed track underneath by a powerful cable, pulling it along on its predestined path. All of my "efforts" to steer were entirely futile. The only place it mattered what I did was inside my own mind. Not bad for a 25¢ playland ticket! I thought I was happy, scared, sad, all those human life feelings and emotions, when what I really was, was fine. I was fine, safe, taken care of, on my path back home to a home I only thought I had left. The happy ending back at the dock was ensured from the moment I "left" the quay. Simple. Home.

I find my true home within, in a deep, silent, no-place place. Then I open my eyes and see my homestead, river, garden, mountains, husband, son, dogs, cats and all the other "characters" of my life that are so important, lovable, needy and dear. The difference now is that I am not so frequently fooled into thinking that my sense of home comes from out there. I know it flows out from within me to appear as "home" out there.

I am the movie camera projecting the film of my life out onto a blank canvas. The difference now is that I have come to the realization that I don’t always write the best scripts for the drama I am living. I write the scripts with the anxiety, pain, despair, overwork, loneliness, dissension and need. The beautiful, peaceful, purposeful, effective scripts come flowing through me as vehicles for that powerful underwater unseen, unknown cable, which guides my boat along where it wills. What a pleasure life then becomes! I then know that life has no meaning; it is simply to be lived, as well as possible. When I stop fighting with the steering wheel, stop worrying about the rocks, stop trying to avoid the plunging waterfalls, I am simply taken safely along. In gratitude about my powerlessness, I know I have never left home, despite the picture show "out there." There is no "out there"—it all happens within me.

The experience recognizes itself. If you recognize what I am saying, then you also have it at a conscious level. If "something" within you says that what I am saying is true, then you are awake to your own reality. Rest in that. Trust in that. It will be your home.


Anonymous Jacques Conejo said...

Well, there it is... Earth Quarterly, May - 1998.

Wow! Miss Laura, it seems that over a decade ago, you put your finger directly on central issue of the human experience...

The little boat analogy is beautiful... wonderful imagery and story telling... I think anyone alive can get that one... thanks!

As your story unfolded, I actually had a visualization of myself, at the controls, with great "emotional" commitment, twisting and turning and fretting and churning - certain that I have everything to do with the outcome of the adventure. If I'm "good enough" I'll make it. I had to laugh aloud...

That story alone, and the laugh at myself was worth getting up for. Thanks.

I appreciate the mystery that your realizations point to and the feeling of organic ease in your alternative view.

Finding gratitude in powerlessness?
There's a challenge for the modern ego huh?

Terrific stuff Laura... Thank you for writing that. I'm grateful that this piece of wisdom has been culled from the archives and shared again.. The realization that there's no "out there" out there, that all is centered in the "true home within" - Timeless... Perfect.. A gift to all of us...

Much Gratitude....


6:08 AM  

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