Friday, November 30, 2012

Ten Paces

I am deeply moved by your beautiful words.  Thank you Julie and Sherry and Pam, you constantly reassure me.  It makes a difference.

I am so glad to meet you Nicole.  Your new comment back on The Conversation post recalls a world of memories to me.  The abandoned child. The orphanage.  The why?  I think you are right that the Conversation is a forever seeking of Place in the world, of our Place and Place itself.  

Rebecca, you touch upon so many points so near to my heart that answering you as I wish to do tonight is beyond me.  I'd like to address what to me is the essence of your story, for I believe I recognize your experience.

Leah, a few weeks ago you speculated about Innermost House that, "Although their home and life have been showcased on simple living websites and movies, I would argue that IH is so much more complex than anyone would have imagined."

That is simply true.  Speaking only for myself, the Innermost Life is outwardly very simple but inwardly deeply complex.  The relationship between that simplicity and that complexity is a Mystery.  It is the central mystery of my life.

Rebecca, your story of the difference that just thirty feet between your big house and your little house has made in your life at home is so vivid.  In everything you say I recognize my own experience.  The fire.  The storm.  The silence.  

To me, the world is the "big house" you leave behind when you walk to your studio.  The world is full of luxuries and comforts and conveniences, but just ten paces into the woods it relaxes its hold on us a little, and we relax from our dependence on it.  Those are steps toward the simple life of having less and wanting less and doing little.  There is great peace in simplicity. 

And then there is the fire.  The actual experience of it.  The gathering of wood and the kindling of flame.  The warming of hands, the cooking of food, the feeling of making the difference yourself.

Inward still of all that, a living complexity of inner life truly awakens.  Who has looked into the fire that burns between herself and cold and hunger, and not heard the voices of countless human generations, and felt their dreams and thoughts and lives all live at once again?  Around the fire is born the Conversation.

For decades of my life I thought what I wanted was simplicity, for then all I knew of life in the world was its endlessly complicated web of seeming advantages.  

But what I found at last in the Innermost Life was a simplicity that opened inward upon complexity.  That inward complexity is to me the innermost thing, distant-most from the complications of the world.  

It was that inward fire of Conversation that was missing.  It was the complex and beautiful inward order of life that opened to me there in the woods around the fire.


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  2. I see myself in this post. I've often said that I need to live simply to level out the sometimes overwhelming intensity of my emotions and inner life. And I do live simply, but still closer to the World than I am comfortable with, and I feel somewhat lost, because I don't see how I can live the quiet life I need while making a living.

    1. Heidi, I would like to answer your comment if I may.

      Many of us here share this concern about how to live the life we think we would like to, but still be able to have an income. This is one of the great puzzles we wrestle with. The alternative seems to be 'choosing' an attitude of grace living where we are, simplifying as much as possible and others around us to just be. I am working with that construct at the moment and I do understand the difficulty of maintaining stillness and peace with so much going on around me. I believe it was Rebecca who stated in an earlier post something like: "..the stickiness of the couch." A lot of the trappings of the modern world are just that, traps.

      I am coming to realize that for me, it may come down to just simplifying my life to the essence of what is important to me and learning to live with smaller amounts of money than what I 'believed' I needed to. Simplifying does not have to mean sacrifice, but rather being clear with ourselves about what is most important and if you have exhausted the options that would allow an IH life that includes your job, the time then comes to intellectually choose between the job and 'something else'. In my life, I have been trying to look 'outside the box' and am researching co-operative living, earth-bermed homes that would minimize or eliminate utility charges, smaller (tiny) footprints, and even small condo's in town that have proximity to the library and market for the limited things I might require. I admit to having a preconceived idea of the 'perfect' IH for me and will likely have to see a workable alternative before I give up on that dream.. but I am learning from the experiences of Diana and others here and elsewhere to see what has worked for them and endeavor to be clear about my real needs and then open to receiving what the universe creates for me. It is truly a day by day exercise of letting go of ideas and opening and trusting the unknown.

      This little essay is for me as much as for you or anyone else out there. I hope you don't mind me commenting.

  3. There are a number of eager paths of response off of that, Diana. I think I'm going to pick a response to inner complexity and keep it :-) simple :-). Our first assignment when I took the Monk/Artist class was to write three poems: I Am Going to Begin to Live My Life as a Monk....I Am Going to Begin to Live My Life as an Artist....I Am Going to Begin to Live My Life as a Mystic. I had never written poetry AND had some issues with owning the absoluteness of the titles. A stated aspect of this class was friendliness with Not Knowing, so, encountering it in this, I used a Not Knowing strategy that I have of seeding the question into my sleep garden and see what is sprouting in the morning. This is a faith filled hope that honors the complexity I think. Though conscious thought does not play into it, out of the seemingly quiet simpliticy of sleep comes what seem to be thought out outcomes of precise relevance. Couldn't do better awake, I tell you. While still under my down and fleece the next morning, my waking thoughts were strong scaffolds for the poems, so strong that when I went to my chair, the flesh literally flew onto them. In the usual understanding of my day to day self, I didn't feel like I wrote them. No labor, no wrestling thoughts. But they were perfect mirrors for fine tuned for me in the moment for the questions that the assigned titles posed, like teachers housed within the student. Talk about Mystery. I should say so.

    I Will Begin to Live as a Monk

    Without grudge or clinging I will slip lightly clad
    into the ancient soul of the world                                          
    And with the other children in quiet faithfulness
    tend the hearth fire of faith, hope, and love                                             
     In the heart of that vast and sprawling house.

    I Will Begin to Live as an Artist

    I will slip into my diaphanous gown, my cloak of many colors,                                                  
    And the midnight boat across the lake.                                                                                                                      In the magnificent shining hall I will dance
    the soles of my shoes and the night away                                                          
    With all the dazzling princes and princesses.

    I Will Begin to Live like a Mystic

    I will slip into my facelessness, weightlessness, agelessness.                                                          
    More featureless than a breath                                                                                                            
    Lighter than a shaft of down                                                                                                          
     Fresher than the newest bloom                                                                                                                    Unspeakably, boundlessly, gloriously still.

    1. there was some unintended slipping & sliding in the physical spacing of the poem when it published. Has no intended poetic meaning or purpose.

    2. Beautiful images appear with your words, Rebecca. Thank you for sharing your work.

    3. Rebecca, those poems very clearly and concisely say so much about you. They are wonderful.

  4. Oh, Diana, how beautifully evocative your statement is: "Who has looked into the fire that burns between herself and cold and hunger, and not heard the voices of countless human generations, and felt their dreams and thoughts and lives all live at once again?"

    I immediately had a vision of all people throughout history, holding hands across the bridge of time and creating an infinite, repetitive chain of blood, sweat, tears and joy. It is like the wheel of samsara forever turning upon its own axis. Your comment felt absolutely IMMENSE to me, too large for my limited mind to hold and comprehend.

  5. Too many adjectives folks.

    Chop wood, carry water.

    I cast a line today that got hung then broke, as I pulled it in by hand a catfish hit it. I reeled it in by hand. It was the most gratifying thing I can remember in a while.

    Too many adjectives folks.

    Get out of that second-layer mind and just focus on chopping wood, carrying water, and watching the fire burn--each individual flame lap--and remember what it is-just a fire.

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    1. Oops! I used the wrong word and needed to re-edit.

      D.B., I would agree with you that it's important to handle each task as it arises with our attention firmly focused on the task at hand. That is taking care that the mind does not add another layer of mental construct to the task. However, I also feel that when one's heart is fully open, the 'feeling tone' of an open heart will add an extra layer of connection to the task beyond the form and movement that is NOT a second layer of mind but rather an enlarged intuitive sense of connection and meaning that is felt with the entire body and not limited to an 'idea' about connection. Notice in Diana's comment that she used the word 'felt'. In trying to comment on such a 'feeling' that instinctively arises not from the mind but from the body, words have to be used to describe it and that, by necessity, involves using the mind. However, that does not mean that as Diana sits by the fire she is necessarily 'thinking' about all these other generations of people. I get the sense that Diana 'feels' herself in those moments to be a part of the overarching mindstream of humanity as a whole, without fixed identity as a separate personality, and is therefore experiencing the moment transpersonally, so to speak. I have no doubt that Diana chops wood and carries water with full attention. It is evident to me in the video that this is so. She just doesn't do it as 'Diana' per se, but rather as the flow of Life without fixed identity or mindset. From all that Diana has said over the course of this blog, I believe that she is coming from a much deeper place than the rest of us typically come from that goes beyond individual perception and attachment to a particular personality.

    2. Keep me in line Pam--I've been living very quietly as of late. Check on compassion noted--however I am sure you've read about some of the old monks--but I would never want to be lumped in with those old grumps--so keep after me.

      I've also been wondering about the direction of this blog--seems like we are going back over already circled well-trodden ground.

      This is one Conversation that I almost DEPEND on for good earth to dig in my mind hence probably my selfish frustrations.

      Humble prostrations from the grumpy one,

    3. Hi, D.B. Since you feel that we're repeating ourselves in our conversational topics, perhaps you might be interested in commenting on Diana's reference to Nicole's statements about feeling like an abandoned child and the Conversation as being about finding our place in the world. In what ways has abandonment come into play in your own life? How have you worked with your life circumstances to feel at home in the world and feel a sense of belonging? I'd be very interested in hearing some of your own life story so that I could place your perspectives within a personal historical structural framework that has formed the viewpoints you hold today. You've hinted at a life of solitude and I'd love to hear more about that as it pertains to your own journey of finding your place in the world.

  7. Diana,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. It makes me feel "not so alone" in this massive world. Last night, I sat in front of my fireplace; which is rather a small one but on a positive note, it is a wood burning one. I could never understand why some people would choose a gas fireplace over a wood-burning one. However, I think the answer would lie somewhere between modern convienence and popular demand. Interestingly enough, I have not gathered my own wood. I never have thought of this being an experience that would somehow enlighten me to a new perspective. Interestingly enough, most wood in now readily available at grocery stores or even some of the locals will sell a truck load. That brings me into thinking about the whole idea of convience and how it may possibly rob us of something our souls actually need. I would say we are yearning for answers in every regard. We are constantly searching for some kind of revelation in this life. It appears that ironically while we search, we again rob ourselves while falling into the modern lifestyle. Interesting... And while I did light the fire by my own gathering of kindling. I usually use pinestraw ( as it is readily available around me) and so small sticks, this I take much delight in doing. I think now I just need to get brave and go further into my own backyard to search for the logs. And very good to meet you!

  8. My goodness, Diana. So much of our Conversation has converged here at once--beautifully so. Thank you for this post.

    "In everything you say I recognize my own experience. The fire. The storm. The silence." Me too, dear. Me too. And our friend Rebecca's ten paces makes me think so much of the tiny house I'm considering building just at the other end of my own property. I am literally in very close proximity to my lifelong dream.

    As for worrying about income and means, I have evidently "finally decided my future lies beyond the yellow brick road." Somewhere along the line, I have stopped being concerned and realized that I don't really have the same financial needs that many people do. I honestly don't remember when I stopped thinking about that. Hmmm.

    So many complexities have fallen away on their own, to be replaced with much more fascinating ones on the tide of "chopping wood, carrying water, and watching the fire burn."

    And D.B. I loved the story of you getting that catfish! That must have been SINGULAR! (just one more adjective for you dear...I think it describes catching the fish AND yourself, very well.) I envied you a bit.

  9. Fire. We need fire for warmth, cooking food, sometime light. When I sit around a fire I don't really think of anything very deep. Sometimes I dream. According to many Asian teachings Fire, Wind, and Water, are three elements needed for life. Some add metal and wood. I limit my thinking of these elements to simple ones. Fire has it's purpose as do water and wind. I don't usually delve deeply into them. I take them for the gift that they are and am grateful for them. When I try to dissect them, then they become complicated.

    I am searching for simple. Yes, I love the "chop wood, carry water" theory. It isn't complicated..... it is necessary. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't pay attention to the moment at hand. I think of children; they don't think about the intimate details of what they do, they just do. That is the kind of simplicity that I am searching for.

    Forgive me if I step on literary toes, but I think that most of you know by now that I am a "to the point" kind of person.

    And there is ALWAYS a place for deep thinking and deep conversation. I am like D.B. in regard to wearing a deep path around the firepit.


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