In January 1994, I left my job in church work because my mother’s health had diminished to such a state that she required a great deal of care and I just was unable to handle a job plus attend to her. On February 7, she died. In hind sight I thought perhaps she had set it up just that way to get me to move into a different work and a different life-style.
During that time, I read several books on simplicity that fed my soul and imagination. This is my journal entry for June 20, 1998:
First day of summer. The longest light. I awaken early to hear the first bird. She probably held off as long as possible to let her out her morning chatter. Laying there in her nest like I in my bed, feeling the cool air on my face. Unlike her, I have to close my window in the winter and live with the stuffiness. She goes to warmer places…though some birds stay here where it is cold. I want to learn about birds, and trees and forest berries and small critters.
Janet Luhrs (in her book The Simple Living Guide) writes of inner simplicity that comes when outer clutter is reduced. She asks a woman who lives alone atop a mountain: “With all that stillness, what about your inner demons?” She explains: “The more still your outer environment becomes, the more aware of what is going on inside. No more staying busy and running away from yourself.. There you are.”
As I live simply, and I think I have begun this journey, I am becoming aware of the demons of others. One symptom is talking too much, over-explaining, over-load of opinions. Somehow, as I find peace, I have less need to explain myself. Being happy with my life is becoming enough. I don’t need to convince others or pull them along. As I find inner peace, I feel less need to change. I am happy to be here if others drop in now and then. If I spend time alone, that’s fine, too.
Bernie has said to me recently, “You are quiet today.” It is true. I am getting more quiet. It is good. I have less to say because I am listening – with my ears, my eyes, my touch, my nose…all of me in and out. Jack Kornfield writes: “Stop and listen to the heart, the wind outside, to one another, to the changing patterns of the mysterious life. It comes moment after moment, out of nothing, and disappears into nothing. Live life with less grasping and more appreciation and caring.”
Luhr’s reflection on Jon Kabat Zinn’s book Where You Go,There You Are…”Once you learn to find fulfillment on the inside, you will not have to look outside. You always have ‘you’ with you, and you can always be ‘at home’ right inside yourself no matter where you are. This does not mean you shun the world. It simply means that you build a strong foundation within yourself first; then the pleasures of the world are simply adornments, not sustenance. It also means you live with more intimacy in the world. You are fully present and intimate with the things and people around you, rather than passing them by on your way to somewhere else.”