May 25, 2010

Simple, not Plain (please)

When you live in paradise, where do you go for vacation? We are so thoroughly happy here on this blessed land with our beautiful neighbours, abundant garden, etc etc that the idea of leaving is always hard. Foreign travel doesn't beckon, and even a 20-minute drive to get to a beautiful hiking spot or beach seems unnecessary when we could be just as happy and together here at home.

BUT... are we resting our contented heads a bit too deeply in this sacred sand, and missing other layers of richness? Would taking Mt. Tzouhalem or Bamberton Beach as mistresses cheapen our committed connection here?

How many layers do we need to strip away before we've reached a level of simplicity where life is pure, uncluttered and enriching in its clarity, without going so far that it's just plain boring? Or if not boring, at least missing out on some core life experiences that would bring even more colour and Joy to our world.

It's not just travel. Less furniture and toys and wall hangings clears a room of heavy energy, but at some point some fun and functionality and personal quirks also need to shine through to make it Home. Meal schedules and bedtime rituals bring a sense of security, but the occasional late-night marshmallow roast provides a sweet point-counterpoint that sharpens the positive impact of both the routine and the treat.

We made the difficult decision to spend last weekend at our annual Quaker gathering with Friends from across Western Canada. It cost us $700, some frantic late nights getting work and house in order to be able to go, and 1,140.3 km of carbon footprint. The whole beautiful drive up, and most of the weekend, I wondered if it was worth it.

We could have had a beautiful long weekend at home, playing with friends long-overdue for visits and a garden long-overdue for planting. Instead we chose a 5-year family tradition with a group of like-minded friends of all ages, a once-a-year community that we have chosen to make a commitment to. It was a deep, fun, grounding, inspiring weekend, the kids thrived and mark their spring calendars by it. Yes, it was worth it.

I guess the question isn't whether this experience was worth it, but how many such experiences do we need, and why this particular one? There are other yearly Quaker gatherings, music camps, multi-family camping trips, music festivals... we all have found traditions that punctuate our normal reality, and we all opt out on many others that could be equally rich.

There is, of course, no answer to this question. Just a measuring stick by which we look at all the wonderful opportunities in our daily and annual calendars, then pick out just enough to make special memories without wiping out the beautiful everyday.

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