Monday, March 11, 2013

Slowing Down

We're enjoying a relaxing day in Asheville bookstores and coffee shops and winding down after our busy weekend volunteering at OGS.

We've only been on the road for 9 days, but it feels like much longer, and already we've had some key realizations. Last night, Dave had some great insight into why time seems to be going by so much slower and why our days seem so full: "When you're not dulled from the monotony of everyday life, you can live in real time." Normally, people are consumed by the same daily routines. That's not to say that they are bored or miserable, but they are living in routine. Living in Orlando, I always felt like days flew by in a wink. Living on the road, it's the exact opposite. I feel like every day is an experience in itself. It feels full and rich. It makes sense that this would be attributed to all the new experiences we're having and the lack of routine in our life.

Also, everything we do takes a long time. When we want to cook, we have to go to the store, pick out a few ingredients that fit in our budget, find a public park, collect wood, light a fire in our portable wood stove, and wait for our food to cook. Obviously, this takes way more time than just cooking on the stove at home. This slower pace of life has incredible rewards. Food tastes so much better, and we appreciate every bite so much more. Yesterday, we had such a great experience cooking dinner. I loved sitting on the ground, chopping shallots, dicing potatoes, and pressing garlic. And those simple ingredients, mixed with couscous, tasted so much better than they ever would have at home. Growing your own food is very rewarding, but I'd say that this approach, mindful and slow consumption, is almost equally rewarding.

Additionally, we're learning how to be honestly, really truly flexible. For example, our original intention was to have a budget of $10/day. However, we've realized that was unrealistic. We've had to move up to $15-20/day. At first it was easy to be frustrated by that and see it as a failure, but it wasn't a failure. We just needed to be flexible enough to realize our budget needed an adjustment. There's no sense worrying so much about things. We can always pick up odd jobs and make some money along the way. I'm reminded of something I read while flipping though a book in a second-hand store today: Living simply does not mean living poorly, or ugly, unhappily. It just means living simply, which is the core of what we're currently doing. I don't feel poor, our life is beautiful, and we are happy.

We're living to live and enjoy the simple pleasures of life: finding a microwave in Whole Foods so we can heat water for hot tea, hearing the dawn chorus of the birds, using free wi-fi and people watching in coffee shops for an entire day, discovering donation based yoga classes, comfy chairs in used bookstores, and finding an outdoor faucet so we can wash our dishes.

For the first few days, I will admit, I really missed home and all its little conveniences, like a washing machine and a stove. Now, though, I think I'm fully adjusted to life on the road. (If there's such a thing as being fully adjusted to this life!) I'm reminded of a section from the Radiance Sutras I used for meditation before we left Orlando:

"Explore the life that is the life of your present form. One day you will discover it is not different from the life of the secret one, and your heart will sing triumphant songs of being at home everywhere." -Radiance Sutra #77

What a beautiful way to say "Live in the moment; enjoy the life you have!" It's a great motto to live by. I especially love the part about your heart being at home anywhere. I had to break away from my thoughts about "home" as one singular physical place. Home is something more than that...home is being happy wherever you are and making the best of every situation. It's our intention to always live by that.


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