Monday, October 29, 2012

Reality Keeps a Ledger

It is raining today.  The tropical storm that is sweeping up the eastern shore bears with it the weather of change.

I feel strangely at home in the rain.  And lately, though I never thought I would say it, I feel strangely at home with change.

Dewey, thank you for helping me refine my use of these familiar words.  You are right that I have lived with them so intimately and so long that I find it difficult to separate them out from the substance of my life.

I thought about this question of meanings over the weekend.  Today I want to try and answer some questions.  But first, if it's all right, I would like to expand just a little on our definitions.

Thanks to this welcome exercise, I have come to see that what I call the Innermost Life is a hidden place at the heart of life which has to me the defining character of reconstituting the world upside-down and outside-in.

What I mean is that the life we gained at Innermost House was something actually very different from anything we could have arrived at merely by elimination and simplification.  We did eliminate and simplify, certainly, until we finally moved to Europe with only a suitcase apiece of belongings.

It was only after two years of belonginglessness that we received the invitation that would become Innermost House.  So that the house itself was, in every way, not an elimination but an addition to what we had.  And in building it we found ourselves, step by step, reconstituting the world we had left behind, but with a difference.

The difference took us by surprise.  There it all was—the world both we and our guests recognized—but somehow so constituted as to reverse all the relationships of ordinary life.  Little became large, lowly became high, less became more, last became first, and outside became inside.

The very elements most conspicuous and honored of the world became the leastmost, hiddenmost things in Innermost House.  The world did not go away there. It was turned inside out.  And that inside-outness, whatever it is, is what I call the Innermost Life.  I think I'll leave refining the definitions to you Dewey!

Let's go back to your comments.  You raise an important question about which I think much has been misunderstood—the economics of Innermost House.  This is a good time at least to begin to try to understand it.

I'm afraid I am the last person to talk about economics!  I can't even dependably balance a checkbook.  But I have been through this so many times that I have acquired a feeling for it, and I want to share with you what I hope will be words of encouragement.

Getting all the way to Innermost House took us a long time.  There were very many steps and stages along the way.  At every stage we were somewhere, and at every next stage we were further on.  It is true that in the end it had a kind of all-or-nothing, here-or-nowhere feeling about it, but I can see now that every step we took made the next step possible, and all were necessary.

We had some advantages.  I will mention three of the most important ones because I believe I recognize the same ones in you.  First and most important of all, we were on fire.  I don't mean we were determined or committed, I mean we were on fire.  That is different.  When you are on fire you can do things that otherwise just never seem necessary enough to be possible.

If sometimes you feel a little "grumpy" maybe that is why.  Maybe you are just feeling a little singed around the edges.  I know that feeling.

And like you, we had a high expectation of life.  My expectation was something that had haunted me through every day of my life from childhood.  I could not justify it and I could not explain it.  I still cannot.  I think people come by it in different ways.  As you say, some acquire it through formal education.

But whatever it is and however you came by it, it always made the actual world incomprehensible and unacceptable to me.  And alone I could do nothing at all about it.  I was stuck with it.  My husband was the first person I had ever met who could do something about it.

And then, in a way that was most unwelcome to me at the time, but to which I look back with gratitude, we began our married life very deep in debt.  My husband was more idealistic than realistic in those early days, and he set off on his own with no capital and too little worldly experience to build an ideal village to solve the problem of Place in America, and of course he failed.

But in that failure lay the seeds of all our success at last.  For against the advice of those who wished us well, he assumed the debts of the venture personally, and we were thirteen years paying it all off.  I thought it would never, ever end.  But that made no difference to him.  Our years of living in one tiny rental after another while he worked hard only to pay almost everything we made away to debt formed us toward the Innermost Life.

So it was inward fire, outward debt, and a high expectation of life—all these pressures together at once—that made it possible for us to break through over time.  In my experience at least, those are inestimable advantages, not disadvantages, in the pursuit of the Innermost Life.  Perhaps you are closer than you think!

There are a few particular points I want to address.  We did certainly meet some very interesting people around the fire, but we have always been fortunate to know interesting people, I think perhaps because we are interested in them. Still those seven years were lived very largely in solitude, and we often passed weeks at a time without receiving a guest.

Michael has always supported us solely with his work in the design fields, nothing else.  People who came for his Conversation believed they had finally found in him “the real thing,” and as one regular guest said, they “would not think of touching Michael with money.”  I will not say that this was not sometimes a little inconvenient!

Through our years at Innermost House our needs were so exceedingly few that Michael would go months without visiting clients, and they were willing to wait for him.  Of course both before and since that time he has been more active in his work, but our Conversation has always been the highest priority of our life.

I think my grasp of modern America has not so much evaporated as it never materialized in the first place!  I have always found the modern world incomprehensible in its motives and in its means.  I cannot walk down Main Street without encountering a hundred occasions for wonderment. Why would anyone do that?  Why would anyone want that? Why would anyone be that?  And I'm sure the world looks back at me and asks the same questions.

As for children and schools, health insurance and hospitals, we have mostly gone without them.  That is too high a price for many to pay, I understand, but every expression of what I now recognize to be the monastic instinct requires similar renunciations.

Still, one has responsibilities.  Ours were to Michael's parents, whom we helped support each month of the last fifteen years of their life.  We lost them the year before Innermost House was built.

Al, you too have raised some important questions I want to try to answer, beginning with my unseen husband.

Let me say this much about Michael, who is the innermost dimension of my undivided Innermost Life.  If his example has any meaning beyond our own circumstances, then it means that a man must sacrifice far more than a woman for this life.  He must willingly surrender his pride, he must bury his powers in the heart of the earth, he must yield to the darkness and die to the world in a way a woman need not.  I am not what he is.  I could not have done what he did.

Nothing of the world magically melted away at Innermost House.  The garden we do not tend, the animals we do not care for, the loads of laundry we do not do, the property tax we do not pay, all are the result of deliberate choices we have made on our way to the Innermost Life, and every one has cost us something else.  We have both always been willing to pay.  We have been glad to pay.

As you say, Reality keeps a ledger, and payments are due.  That to me is the real meaning of economy.  I have never liked fantasy, not even as a girl.  I always wanted reality, if only I could find it midst the confusion of appearances. The Reality I found at Innermost House I loved with all my heart, even if I chose to leave it.

I am moving outward now in a new direction.  My life is changing.  Innermost House was the price I paid for this new life, and I would pay it over again for all I have since gained, most of all for the earnest Conversation I share here steadily with you.  

I trust in what is happening.  This too is Reality.  I do not believe the world and the Innermost Life are irreconcilable at last.  I think that is what we are all struggling toward together.

Leah and Pam, Bri and Sherry, we have this stormy week still to talk about your questions, and I look forward to it!


  1. Wow, this was a powerful post, Diana. I felt a particular tug on my heart with your description of Michael: "If his example has any meaning beyond our own circumstances, then it means that a man must sacrifice far more than a woman for this life. He must willingly surrender his pride, he must bury his powers in the heart of the earth, he must yield to the darkness and die to the world in a way a woman need not. I am not what he is. I could not have done what he did." I might add that this is the role of a conscientious and generous, loving man!

    I also am encouraged as you reveal your success at realizing an Innermost Life:
    "So it was inward fire, outward debt, and a high expectation of life—all these pressures together at once—that made it possible for us to break through over time." -- Yes, we do have much in common and therefore hope!!

    I have one further question, and I apologize if this is prying: You mentioned that Michael has increased his visits to clients; does that mean he travels a lot? (I am trying to imagine if his clients are following you across the country :)

  2. Thank you Diana for the down to earth post. We humans just can't seem to let things rest until we know every thing, can we? Some of the mystery is really clearing for me and I am feeling a bit more comfortable. You have put yourself and Michael out there a bit more so that some of us simpletons can understand. But really, we are just searching and your journey is such a model.

    I hope that you are safe from the storm!

  3. Such an interesting post! Thank you x

  4. This was such a great, down to earth post! I always feel like I kill a post, so I know that more of you out there with something to say!

  5. Diana, I loved your comment: "First and most important of all, we were on fire. I don't mean we were determined or committed, I mean we were on fire. That is different. When you are on fire you can do things that otherwise just never seem necessary enough to be possible."

    How few of us are really on fire with an unquenchable passion for one desired thing in life! Most of us allow the current of life to take us where it will, assuming that our life will unfold exactly as it is meant to and trusting that what we need to learn and grow from will be placed at our feet. Of course, for many (and I include myself in this category in some areas of my life), those suppositions are unfortunately based on an internal laziness, a lack of serious self-inquiry, and an inner groundlessness built on accepting the shifting sands of popular thought.

    I remember reading a teaching story once about a man going to a spiritual master and asking him what it would take to become enlightened. The master walked the man over to a nearby river and waded into the water with him. Then, unexpectedly, the master thrust the man's head into the water and held it there until the man was near drowning. When the master finally released the man's head and the man came up gasping for deep gulps of air, the master said, "Only when you want enlightenment as much as you want air to breathe will you have a chance at understanding the nature of enlightened living."

    This is the fire, I believe, that you have described as directing the course of your life. It has been single-pointed in its focus and laser sharp in excising all that would not contribute to your dream for yourself throughout the years of your searching. It has been uncompromising, stubborn, inspired and inspirational, and guided by an internal compass that apparently has never veered from true north. That quality of feeding one's personal fire is the stuff of which genius is made. How fortunate you have been in your life that you eventually found another person who shared the same fire for the same dream as you! That doesn't happen too often in intimate relationships. That's why, I think, for some people the option of remaining single is the only viable option they have if they have a fire in their belly that would be squelched by the compromise that is usually required in relationships.

    I think it's important to note, too, that you have mentioned that your quest was not without its costs in other arenas of your life. We have to be selective in what we choose for ourselves, so that at the end of our life we will not be left with the feeling of having lived a half-life that missed the mark in fulfilling our dreams for ourselves. And yet, to be fair, on the other side of the equation there is always the realization that no matter what decisions we make in life, there are no wrong ones, just decisions that teach different lessons that illustrate to us how awake or asleep we are. And, it's also important to refrain from comparing our life journey to someone else's. Sometimes it's easy to forget that we're all on the same path, but are at different points along the road. Some of us may even be on a side road that will eventually lead to a dead end that will force us to retrace our steps to get back on the right trail, but is a necessary path for us to be on nonetheless, if only to show us what we will not be missing.

    1. Thank you Pam for these explanations. They really resonate with me and are comforting and inspiring.

  6. "What is so difficult to believe about life in Innermost House?"

    Not so much now, I'm glad there are elegant bookends on that inquiry.

    Afire, indeed. Always have been. My fire provides great drive and ambition, but it can be as dangerous as a lightning strike in the wilderness. When I try to hamper, tarnish, or misuse it, my soul literally revolts. My subconscious rides in and starts to cause real trouble. I know better now. Hence, my need for an Innermost Life and a disconnect with modern America.

    I do have "high expectations" out of life. My closest friends would tell you that I repeat ad nauseum, "This ain't no dress rehearsal."

    This is way more than I want out here--but touche', Diana.

    "My life is changing."--The only thing that is constant in this wonderful world is change.

    "I do not believe the world and the Innermost Life are irreconcilable at last."--That makes me happier than anything I have read in weeks. Good for you!

    I am going silent for a while and let the other conversationalists move this monster.

    Thank you for your insight and compassion.

    1. Dear Diana, Funny thing: I started to set down my answers to Pam's questions late yesterday, and they seemed so bare-boned that I was certain I would get an argument about them from someone. Now today, you have set the matter straight. My future life is only going to seem austere to anyone who is not living it--to anyone NOT PAYING THE PRICE to have it. What you have said about expressions of the monastic instinct requiring renunciations is just right on! "all are the result of deliberate choices we have made on our way to the Innermost Life, and every one has cost us something else. We have both always been willing to pay. We have been glad to pay."

      Now I AM beginning with inward fire, outward debt, and a high expectation of life— not that I'll have much in the way of debt actually, when I start--BUT A COMMITMENT TO A DEEP AND VOLUNTARY POVERTY WILL BE ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. My Innermost life won't succeed without it. So it's the same thing, really.

      Here is how I began to answer the questions: "My ideal life is very close to the life I now have, except that I will have a tinier home and NO ELECTRICITY of any kind. No plumbing. I will heat and cook with wood. The main of my time will be devoted to silence and prayer, a bit of a garden, and the care of a minimal tiny house next to the creek. Some reading. Some local travel. For the most part, I want no one by my side. I do not intend to "connect" to a community. It isn't necessary. I will entertain very little in my home. I won't be joining groups or causes. Obviously, I won't be on the computer much. I will live upon $5000 per year: THIS IS THE PRIMARY ASPIRATION OF MY LIFE."

      Wow! Sounds ROUGH, doesn't it!? Really, utterly BLAH...Now, thanks to Diana, I see today that I have simply described the Innermost Life WITHOUT THE PRETTY PICTURES! Our friend Dewey has merely described to us HIS Innermost life--WITHOUT THE PRETTY PICTURES!

      Reality does keep a ledger. My truest, deepest Innermost Life will not be the FABULOUS PICTURE I'll one day have to show of it. My Innermost Life will be, in the end, the PRICE I HAPPILY PAID!

      I'm saying that we have often looked too longingly at the stunning photos of Innermost House and not longingly at all at the real cost of the thing. But a ledger will be balanced won't it, Diana? Thank you, Friend.

    2. Julie, as I noted on FB, I tried twice to answer Pam's questions. I had 3 pages worth to condense down, but it went 'poof'. But that is ok, because I DID answer them. There is nothing really noteworthy in the answers except to me and that is who has to do the work, right? The main thing comes down to "what do I want and what am I willing to exchange for it?" That is where the rubber meets the road. A lot of my desires are the same as Julie's. I don't want to mingle very much with the world. I have a home that I can afford and use for all of the purposes that I am dreaming about. I have to have a car and I want water and electricity. I will be able to live on about $10k or less. I have no debt except a small house note. This is what makes my life possible and anything that I really want to do possible, because my wants are few.

      Balancing the ledger (which I actually do in everyday life, lol) is a wonderful feeling and so freeing!

      Oh! The question "What is stopping me?" I am not going to do anything very drastic for a while until I am over some of my grief. I have found that to be a sure-fire way to make unsound decisions. But I will get on with it as I heal.

    3. I had a "go poof!" experience earlier on facebook too! But, as you say Sherry, we did get our questions answered for ourselves whether they were published or not. How far you have come already!

    4. Julie, for me, your aspirations point to the thing about the original Innermost House that - from the start - I have been trying to illuminate. What you describe sounds to me like a life of poverty. You have no support system, no cushion for the unforeseen. What I have been trying to understand through Diana and Lou is that there is much about Innermost House that we STILL don't see.

      I admire your plans and I appreciate what Diana has so generously shared with us, but I still look at these as a source of inspiration rather than a handbook. Life can be hard and we all need help and resources to enjoy a happy and healthy one.

      A life can look pretty in a picture, but when you get to see the whole video, the real story becomes clear.

    5. Thank you, Al. That was my point, and I believe Diana's point as well. "Nothing of the world magically melted away at Innermost House. The garden we do not tend, the animals we do not care for, the loads of laundry we do not do, the property tax we do not pay, all are the result of deliberate choices we have made on our way to the Innermost Life, and every one has cost us something else." If there was ever to be a "handbook" published on the Innermost Life, Then Diana's post today is surely it. Reality Keeps a Ledger.

      For myself, it's been clear all along that I have very little to work with. I am indeed describing a life of voluntary POVERTY--to be embraced for the joy that is set before me--or to be bemoaned into a pity party. It's up to me. Only me, at last.

      The reality of my present economy is different from yours. I am hardly "giving up" anything but a mortgage. Simply moving house. I have never, ever, had a support system. Never enjoyed a "cushion" for the unforeseen. But I am a happy, healthy camper nonetheless. Now that I am faced with the possible opportunity of running for cover, I find that the cost of that option is too dear. I am unwilling to pay the price. ; )

  7. Julie, have you plotted out how you will live on approximately $100.00 per week? Will you still have a car that you will need to pay car insurance on as well as cover the cost of gas for? Are you planning on foraging for wood for your woodstove or are you planning on purchasing wood to supplement what you can find in the forest? Are you planning on using candles like Diana did (they were pretty pricey, esp. if you're on such a limited budget)? With a $5000 annual income will you be able to get government food stamps and Medicaid? Are you planning your future with an eye to living more as a hermit?

    1. Yes. Of course I have plotted it out. We are speaking of a ledger today, after all. Mine balances. In addition, I have neither the intention nor the need to go on the public DOLE...even though I have paid into them, there will be no food stamps or Medicaid ever.

    2. I applaud your determination and optimism, Julie, but how can you be sure you will never need the assistance of any people or the need for Medicaid? We can never guess what age and life will bring (accidents?) -- I am one of those people who believe the sign of intelligent, healthy communities (countries!) is the caring of their aged. Also, I don't think there is shame in sharing the energy and conversation of someone or many special people as long as you are not self-sacrificing to do so. My personal network of health-supporting people is small but they enrich my life. I think you are lucky to have children and grandchildren who I imagine will be your network. Nature walks and 'hanging out' with children has many rewards. I hope you don't ever need Medicaid and that your journey is completely rewarding at you have planned it. But I would like to add that every person's IH will present differently depending upon their circumstances and life choices and for many, a beautiful IH will include more or less material things than Diana's IH. Poverty is relative and need not be a term that any one of us need apply to our lives. If we are in touch with what is REALLY important to us, and obtain it, there can never be any poverty or sacrifice. We make choices everyday, even the choice to not do anything to reach our supposed goals! Injuries and deaths may befall those closest to us, and that is tragedy, but the rest is choice including the attitude we wear.

      ...And you, my friend, have a wonderful attitude which enlivens this group. Thank you.

    3. You are so kind, Leah. Yes, my "poverty" will be embraced completely voluntarily as a spiritual principle. I realize that this is not for everybody.

      It is more common than you think for folks not to have health insurance these days. My husband I don't have it now, since when he went out on disability, he lost his so-called health care too. If he obtains his Social Security Disability, he will have so-called "health care" but it won't be available to me. Be that as it may, when he goes to the doctor now, it costs us less than one third of what it had been costing us out-of-pocket with insurance! This is surely one of the best kept secrets in medicine. The only way insurance is a benefit is if he is hospitalized--believe it or not. It is way cheaper without it.

      As for myself, having been a nurse, nothing would induce me to use the services of a doctor. Nothing. I am not a consumer of medical goods and services. Someday when I am older, I will be eligible to receive my husband's Social Security Retirement Benefits complete with Medicare--but I don't intend to use the Medicare even if there really is still such a thing then. That's just me. Many, many people in this part of the country don't have health insurance and never have had. This is a very heavily traveled road.

    4. As a Canadian, I find living without emergency care hard to comprehend, but I understand your choice not to want to see doctors. The simple life for me won't involve much travel or dangerous activity and will involve healthy, regenerative habits so hopefully I won't need medical care. Diana (or the IH friends?) mentioned that Diana and Michael tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to tend to their own teeth and eventually required the services of a Dentist. I have to admit I am happy to know the medical field is out there, even if just for emergencies.

    5. ;) I agree Leah. I am in good general health but also have some concerns about my teeth. The trouble is that no one will touch you without x-raying your head. That's a big no-can-do. I will admit to you, because you love me, that at the moment I am swishing my gums out with moonshine...Nothing is perfect.

    6. The problem of health care here in the US places severe limitations on lifestyle options available to most of us. We are slaves to the system just to pay for insurance, so unplugging and tuning out is just not an option for those of us that don't want to roll the dice and hope that something that is disabling or deadly but readily treatable does not ruin us. We have had enough close calls to have respect and appreciation for the medical system. I just wish there was a better way to pay for it.

  8. What a beautiful and very powerful posting! You said that "you trust in what is happining". That is so hard to do for me at least, but so important. I think in order to embrace any change in our lives we have to do just that, Trust. I think we have to trust what is unknown which in turn becomes our reality.

  9. Diana, thanks so much for writing this. I have a sense of this ledger too. I think part of my quest is to find a way not to take what is not mine - not more than my fair share of the earth's resources. I think that the systems of exploitation, in which the industrial society tries to wrap us all, take time and effort to untangle. When we really listen to each other, when we take the time to reach into what is whole, we are in the process of untangling.

    Sometimes I wash my clothes by hand, because I have a sense of touching the ground when I do that. I get it when I haul a bit of wood in to boil a kettle, when I get to visit at a house with a chimney. I am moving in the direction of that sense of touching the ground, though I am moving slowly.

    1. I like your idea of "touching the ground," Alice. It resonates with feelings I've been having about seeking the true essence of things. I think much of it has to do with looking at the old ways of doing things and seeing that much of our modern way of living has been created, packaged and sold to us by corporations.

      Maybe it is really and finally time to 'get ourselves back to the garden.'

    2. Words of wisdom! Thank you.

    3. Oh and SO WELL SAID Alice! xxx

    4. Thanks Al and Julie and Leah. It's great to have other folks who get what I am on about. It's like there is a great current of healing and restoring power that is at the centre of my life - and touching the real world of water and fire and earth helps me to feel the nearness of that river of life. I love that each of us is finding our own way to what is most real for us.

      Diana, your articulations of your journey are such good clues for my own. It is making a real difference to me, that I have heard your words in these pages.

  10. Diana, I was rereading your post and was struck by this statement:
    "I am moving outward now in a new direction. My life is changing. Innermost House was the price I paid for this new life, and I would pay it over again for all I have since gained, most of all for the earnest Conversation I share here steadily with you."
    I was curious what other 'gains' you have noted... I believe that you are enjoying this Conversation... I just find it hard to believe that this is the most important gain that you have acquired since giving up IH. We, your faithful posters, are all lovely (smile) but IH was so wonderful for you. Was this just a figure of speech? And if so, I would love to hear more about your experiences (gains) since leaving IH. It might help us to understand how you could give up something so great.

  11. I'm feeling quite conflicted right now. On one hand, I totally get and appreciate a person's desire (including my own!) to live a simpler lifestyle. However, on the other hand, I personally see nothing wrong with enjoying the comfort and support of modern conveniences and services as long as I am not attached to them as being essential for my happiness. I begin to question underlying unconscious motivations for a desire to live a life of EXTREME simplicity when, for my own self, such privation is not essential in order to develop and live from a state of inner simplicity based on equanimity and non-attachment to any sort of preconceived goal. For many of us beset with the challenges of modern life, it's very easy to become overwhelmed by the intensity of our fiscal responsibilities, the needs of our family and friends, the suffering we see in the world, and the current and residual unprocessed pain in our own emotional landscape. When I imagine what a simpler life would look and feel like, I'm aware that my daydreams could have as their underpinning a reaction to these internal and external pressures of daily life. I think that for any of us who contemplate and dream about a simpler life, it's really important to first examine our deepest subconscious reasons for choosing an alternative lifestyle. Even if we think we are moving towards a more positive way of moving through life with the noblest of intentions, we might also want to consider what or if it is that we may feel the need to reject or turn away from and why. Where does our longing for a new and improved life dovetail with our unconscious needs and fears? For example, in trying to simplify our life are we really subconsciously just looking for a way to appear unique and special? Or, are we just profoundly tired from treading water and not getting anywhere and feel like if we simplify we're giving up our need to 'achieve' yet are still doing something productive that will validate our loveability that is based on performance? Are we just tired of dealing with people in general? Do we want to move off the grid to insulate ourself from witnessing the suffering in the world that we are bombarded with in social media? Are we tired of being told "What's wrong with you?" and just want to escape from the badgering? Are we feeling bored with our current life and perhaps want a new adventure to amuse us and make us feel more alive? Are we exhausted from taking care of everyone elses' needs and feel like the only way we can find the time and space to nurture our own self is to withdraw into the woods? I'm not saying that anyone on this site may be having these underlying unconscious motivations, but these are valid questions we might want to consider as we forge our way to a simpler life so that we bring as much light into the process as possible. Simplicity is a lot more complicated that we might think when we take the time to examine our unconscious motivations that are part and parcel of having a personality and a personal history. This, too, is a component of recognizing that reality keeps its own ledger.

    1. Great thoughtful questions Pam , Simplifing my life came from being tired of treading water feeling like I had to force myself to fit in with the norm,when all along I wanted to retreat to the quiet the peace.It was'nt till I allowed myself to choose a simple life or an innermost life that I felt whole. I was tired of dealing with people in general, and choosing this life has made me more selective of those I interact with.
      I read a quote once '
      "Its none of my business what others think of me."I said that to myself alot in the early days of changing consciously and its been liberating.
      I too like my comforts washing machine not handwashing everything and am not attached, but I remind myself of gratefulness,this comment is all over the place,I just love coming to this place to read all the comments and how the people here have chosen, a gentle,conscious way to live.

    2. Pam, I can't see that there is any reason at all for anyone here to feel conflicted about the choices that other people are making for their own lives. You aren't being asked to agree with or participate in them. Lay your burden down, Sister. We are having a Conversation only, and discussing many possibilities. None of us are seeking a consensus. As far as I can tell, no one is requiring a rubber stamp of approval from the others. Diana included.

      In our Conversation, we have had to deal much with semantics. Terms. Whereas you are seeking a "simpler" life, I for myself, am working toward accomplishing a SIMPLE one. The differences between these two terms are so numerous that they would fill a chasm as wide as the east is from the west. It is comparing apples to oranges. We run the whole gamut here; No one is wrong and no one is more right than anyone else.

      Clearly, you are attached to the many comforts and conveniences of your modern life, you are convinced that they make your life simpler and you are resolved not to "give them up". Conversely, it would be folly for me to consider the simpler life that you're speaking of because it would involve "giving" up a thousand things that I don't even have. It would require me to complicate my life to the hundredth power to come up to that level of simplicity. When it comes down to it, I am only laying aside a $400/month mortgage payment and a $40/month electric bill. So while your lifestyle would be shocking to me for it's infinite layers of minutia, my lifestyle is shocking to you in its nakedness. Yet, Pam, you and I love each other. I believe it would be impossible to measure the esteem you and I hold for one another, it is so great.

  12. This reflection is good, Pam. I have asked myself similar questions in the past. The main answer I keep coming up with is that I want more time for ME to see what physical and spiritual gains I may acquire with this focused attention. My time would also includes selective interaction with an evolving group of people who are key to my spiritual growth in life, and the falling off (gentle release) of all the other people and 'stuff' that currently occupies my thoughts and day.

    I used to have issues with fitting in and do occasionally find that sound track playing in my head telling me I 'should have done' something different in my career.. but in recent years I have been able to recognize it for the temporary insecurity that it is.

    I do admit to feeling some pleasure from setting an example that others might learn from but I also really like to learn from others' experiences so hopefully my ego is in check ;-)

    The "treading water" scenario does touch a nerve so I am sure there is something there for me to think about. I am very tired of the life I had and have made a major change in my life recently that has taken me from the edge of the waterfalls back to a moderately deep pond (at least there is tranquility here!) But I am not yet on dry land where I long to be (I am definitely an earth sign!)

    In past years I would say that if I came into a large sum of money I admit that I would have designed a LARGE "eco" house which might have had the latest alternative technology but because of size (footprint) and complexity it could hardly be considered simple living. Ask me today what I would do with a lump sum of money and the answer would be quite different... and the house design MUCH simpler. Where my challenge lies is how to accommodate teenagers(now young adults) with a fully separate space due to different eating and lifestyle preferences and the numerous other reasons for personal space we have discussed at length on this site. I know I am not alone here on this site as someone with other (not-so-like-minded) family members to consider. Perhaps I am dreaming away my responsibilities to them - in which case I perhaps I do need a reality check. I confess to being a bit of a dreamer, unlike Diana.

  13. Pam, Diana said: "I do not believe the world and the Innermost Life are irreconcilable at last. I think that is what we are all struggling toward together." I know I must seem a curmudgeon by always asking Diana and Lou about the unseen support systems for Innermost House, but we all must make choices and compromises as we balance an innermost life while living in the greater world. I tend to think the modern world has many miracles to offer that can make life so much better, but we must choose wisely with our eyes open. We also must not forget the wisdom of the past. For me, the challenge in seeking an innermost life is in the way I balance the two.


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