…it really is a rather difficult word to define. I find myself daily attempting to create a simpler life, which is rather ironic given that I am not sure that there is much more to do to make it any simpler. As you all know, if you’ve been following my journey, I don’t really have much in the way of material belongings. The only new acquisitions to my life since arriving in Eugene are a hydration day-pack and trekking poles for the weekly, or biweekly hikes I take, a bicycle and the appropriate gear to make it daily commute/weather ready and safe, and one book: Chanting From the Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Monks and Nuns at PlumVillage. In truth, I am still quite capable of moving within the confines of my car, with perhaps a bike-rack attached to the rear.
I suppose I should preface my current delving into simplicity with the fact that for the first time since I left North Carolina I am in solitude. I have had the house that I rent a room in completely to myself (Orion & Thor included) for the last 24 hours and I am fully enjoying the solitude. I cleaned my room at 10:30 last night without worrying about waking a house-mate. I slept in this morning without being awakened by the landlady at 4:20am as she fusses about the house without regard for the fact that I am sleeping (she is deaf and therefore is not conscious of the amount of noise she makes). Okay, truth is the cats have me up at 5:15am everyday (who needs a clock), but by 7:30 they were curled up on either side of me and we all slept until10:30…absolutely decadent!
I have had the opportunity to lounge around the house, more than just my room, without worry that I would be interfering with someone else’s schedule, and without hiding from the landlady and her need to constantly talk and ask questions and make endless requests to do something or another for her as “volunteer” work. It has just been me, my thoughts and my breath.
Admittedly, I found that the better part of the afternoon I was restless in my own company. I had no hikes to attend, no need to rush out and do laundry as I did it last night, no need to clean (with the exception of the cat’s litter box and mat). I had the time to wake up slowly and quietly, to make pancakes and tea, to sit and enjoy breakfast and watch a movie. I have enjoyed a simple bike ride to smell some delicious purple roses a block from home and pick up some ice cream. And it is only now, some 24 hours after the realization of solitude and quiet that I am finally feeling as if the edge has been removed and I can enjoy the peace of my home.
While it is not exactly cold out today, 70 and mostly cloudy, it is definitely cool, and soup just sounded welcoming, like home. I found myself standing in the kitchen to cook up some chicken to put with my salad and realized that soup was really what I wanted. Whatcha Got Soup! I put a chicken breast with some rosemary and olive oil into the pot of water, added some yellow potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, fresh corn cut off the cob, carrots, yellow bell pepper, onion, garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, paprika, cracked red pepper, fresh ground back pepper, a little sea salt and a bay leaf and the aroma of a fresh pot of soup instantly transported me in time to days when life certainly wasn’t any easier or simpler, but as memory serves felt easier and simpler.
So now I have this wonderfully small, simple pot of soup on the stove (for those who know my cooking you would be impressed at just how small). And beside me a cup of lemon ginger tea as I ponder my life through the passage of my past as it leads to the present. I realize that it is less the concept of simplicity I long for and more the reality of stability that I am in need of finding. The illusory simplicity of the past is just that, illusion. Life back then was certainly challenging, filled with years of anxiety and stress, worries about the future, the past crashing down around me, threatening to suffocate me if I did not come out of hiding from it and deal, head-on, plunging into deep waters of emotion and grief and frustration and sadness and abandonment.
Today, that work is completed, with perhaps brief reminders to stay mindful and present when the seeds of habit energy surface and require my attention to breath and weed the garden of my life. What I find I am in need of today is the stability of permanent full-time employment, which will lead to finding a peace and serenity in living arrangements better suited to my personality (and the cats) and needs for solitude, quietude… home.
For truly, there is nothing but the present moment, and in this moment…life is simple.