In Defense of a Simple Life

I can’t sleep. Up too late with thoughts running circles round my mind. It seems that life is moving faster all the time, each year, no, each month, swifter than the last. I can’t catch up. Here, in this culture where woman wear busyness like a badge of honor, I just want it all to slow down.

I an eternal optimist, I can’t help it, I try to be surly at times but to no avail. I always optimistically believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that I will have more “free” time, sometime in the near future…but sometime is never here. It looms, ever in the future, just out of reach, I could almost touch it if I just reach a little bit farther.

The ideal of the woman who can do everything is a crock of shit. I know this,I feel it in my bones. I know how marketing works, how swindled we all are. If it isn’t a fashion mag we are comparing ourselves with, its that perfect remodel on HGTV. There is no end to the cascade of false ideals dumped on our doorsteps each day. How can we know what is real amidst this storm of consumerist coercion? It insidiously creeps into our minds, thoughts we thought were our own, when opened for examination have no origin in us. This is madness. This drives us to madness.

I myself, am in a daily struggle. The desire to “produce” more, be it income, social capital, or even beauty. Weighed against the truth that I am tired, and I don’t want to play the game anymore.  I cannot hold it all up, and hold it to the standard that I desire to. Things begin to crumble. I cannot be it all, I cannot do it all. I feel this, and I am in a two income family with one grown child. What must this feel like for my friends with little ones at home and bills piling up on bills? Is this the equality we have been fighting for? Somehow it feels like we have missed the mark. “killin it” seems to be killing us.
And yes, of course this is a grand generalization, and I can only speak from my point of view. Still, I see so many women suffering under the delusion that we can multi-task our way to a picture perfect life, that it is time to pull back the curtain on that lie, expose it’s ugly underbelly and begin to engage in some real revolutionary work.

Could it be that in my relentless pursuit of becoming, I have lost myself? Lost the thread I am meant to hold throughout my life, the thread that William Stafford calls to us to cling tightly to? If this is what matters, and I think it does, what has to be sacrificed? What must I lay down in order to have a hand to hold the thread in?

There is this thing, called “too much” that surrounds us. We are so inundated by the cultural messages of acquisition that we fail to see how deep this patterning is. Peers of mine who eschew the commercialized ideals of the “American Dream” (who knows what that even means anymore) still ascribe to the doctrine of acquisition and hope, through a Hodge podge of progressive spiritual ideals that are in fact selling us the same thing. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. I am not above this, how many weekend courses have I taken trying to become a better version of me? How many crystals and smudges do I have right now in this very room where I write? Spiritual capitalism at its finest.

It seems that the only way to get off this mad train is to turn and face it looming behind me. To stand firmly in my two shoes and say “no more!” I am unwilling to trade growth for depth any longer. I am unwilling to sacrifice the sanctity of my life to meet some ideal that is not even my own. I will no longer be 3 miles wide and 2 inches deep, I want to be a  well, a spring,  dig deep and find sweet water, here.

I am learning to identify barriers to connection in my life, competition is one, perfectionism is right up there as well. What can I reclaim, or claim for the first time to bring sanity back into my life? I’ve been thinking on this and simple as it sounds, and not surprisingly, I think it has something to do with vulnerability and acceptance. If I can learn to see all the ways I am striving towards unreal expectations or doctrines, than maybe I can turn myself around. Connection is the antidote to bullshit, in fact,  I am pretty sure it is the antidote to all the woes of western civilization.

When I allow myself to be vulnerable, to show my multi layered imperfection, I am open to connection. I can have friends at my house that is messy, I can eat with joy and abandon without concern for what others think of my size or shape, I can speak my mind and heart, not tip toe around others. Which in this PC world feels like it is more an more necessary. Truly, it is not. Disagreeing with someone does not mean you don’t love them. In fact, differing opinions are a healthy thing, if we are all the same it is pretty boring out there.

So I am learning to be uncomfortable, to listen when the feelings of ” I need to be….” arise. It takes so many forms, there are so many things and ways I have been taught I need to be to, to  be worthy, to be accepted. It is a lie. I am, and will be, a whole healthy human woman, even if I don’t meet the standards, even if I look a little frazzled at the edges. I am taking a stand. Because you know what? No one else is going to do it for me. I am going deep, holy well deep. I plant my feet on this soil I call home and I will stay here. I will joyfully  grow my food, raise my hens, sleep beside my husband. I will listen to the quite yearning of my own sweet heart, and stay, home. I will, day by day divorce myself from the system that says I must be more. I am enough. I am woman,  I am home, and I am grateful.

Marianna Louise Jones

*image is of St Fumac’s holy well, Canmore Scotland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Lessons From Dog

My beloved dog is growing old, let me rephrase that, he is old already. Fourteen years of adoring companionship, I swear he loves me more than anyone else on the planet does. I do not say this with self pity, I have a life blessed in so many ways, love being the prime currency of blessing I experience. But Jasper loves me without holding back, without questioning, without doubt. Pure divine devotion. I pray that someday I become worthy of the love he gives me and perhaps learn enough from him to pass on a little bit of that beatific adoration.
He knows when I will be home and greats me at the door, each day with  excitement and joy unbridled, as if he thought I would never come home again. True love. There is a joke I have heard that says something along the lines of –  Want to see what true love is? Lock your husband and your dog in the trunk of your car for an hour and see which one is happy to see you when you let them out. I know, maybe not really a great joke, but there is a ring of truth there. Dogs love unconditionally. Not mostly unconditional with a few reservations, but the real deal- pure love, nothing held back for later.
On a recent walk with my dear old boy I experienced so much grief in seeing him moving slowly, breathing harder, he was tripping on his own feet. It seemed that he was much older than he was a month ago. The realization that he will not always be at my side hit hard. I adore this being, my companion. He has never been my pet. I hate the word and concept of owning a pet. We cannot own an animal any more than we can own a lover, it just doesn’t work. So I feel blessed to have Jasper as my companion and partner in adventure, but never as my pet.
I allowed the grief of the knowledge of his mortality to sweep over me, filling me with tenderness and with hot wet tears. I was half a mile away from my car, with no phone and no note pad, when the lines of a poem began in me. I held tight to one line as I walked  back to my car, and then began to write. I know better, a poet should never be without a notebook! Sometimes a poem knocks on the door of my heart and will not hang around if I do not open the door immediately. This time it waited for me to be able to write, I am thankful and I share the words that came here. As a love song to my dear dog and a calling in for all who love deeply. May we all be so fortunate as to know true love, of the quality and wholeheartedness that Jasper has so eagerly blessed me with in his life with me. I will treasure our days that remain in life together.

Time Changes

Time changes everything she touches
and everything she touches changes.
Raven black fades now to silver
bright eyes have softened somehow-
not dull, but dimmer.
We walk the river trail as always we have done
sun hanging low behind the trees
crows busy with their evening duties.
Where once you pulled hard on the leash
and never let me go first
now I lead and you lope along behind
I call ” come on boy!”
when you stop to pee, sniff and breath
even though I know you can no longer hear me-
I speak to you as always I have done.
Who would have thought, five years ago
that I would long for our daily battle of the leash
your 80 pounds of muscle pulling me hard down the trail-
but I do.
Time changes everything she touches,
and everything she touches changes
I read somewhere long ago
that loving and losing a dog
prepares us for harder deaths to come – and I believe this.
Someday, our walks will cease
or I will go alone…
Your leash will hang empty on the hook
your bed abandoned, no longer needed.
I have loved and lost three dogs so far,
if life is good, perhaps I’ll love ten more once you are gone…
But you- oh you- my darling one
my wild child
my black Jasper
dog of my heart.
You are so tired now that we are home
you lie on the linoleum- belly cooling
as your breathing slows.
I feed you broth from a bowl
and so eagerly you drink and drink
tail wags so, and your eyes meet mine.
I know, and you know, so well
time changes everything and everything she touches changes.
But for now- I sit down on the dusty floor
and bury my face-
in the soft blackness of your neck.
It feels like home.