Today we are halfway through the year.
When I began on this year of pruning out possessions, giving away 366 things, I didn’t expect so many interior changes.
At this point, my mind is drawn ever back to relationship with:
Silence has a connection in my mind with Gelassenheit and humility, with waiting: as the Tao says, “Who can wait until muddy water becomes clear?”
Money – well, I have gone through my accounts of the last few months, and am shocked, really shocked, by the amount of money I spend, and how pointlessly and easily. I am thinking through my relationship with money, and how to sit more lightly to money. I have read intensively in recent times (and am still reading and researching) about modern-day people who live without money, and how they make provision for their lives, their choices, dwellings and daily occupation. From what I have seen, it appears necessary that for each person who lives without money there must be a substantial network of people dependent on the usual money system. In other words, the moneyless people are gleaners. I have no objection to this, just am interested. It is part of their contribution to society – treasure-hunting amid the waste, demonstrating that what is discarded was in fact valuable. I have not so far come across a moneyless group that includes children, old people, frail, chronically ill, dying or disabled people. I cannot see how they could manage without significant injections of money – not without great suffering. But I am interested in the idea of living without money, and at the moment I am drawing the information I can glean from moneyless lives to intercept my relationship with money, which needs taking right back to the root and re-growing. So I am gleaning from the gleaners. They live on the periphery of society, in it but not of it, and make a strong prophetic contribution to society as a whole.
In thinking about electricity, I have become interested in the change in balance made to my/our life as soon as powered facilities enter the equation – electric light, power tools, fuelled vehicles, central heating and so on. The changes to the overall structure of our lives are radical and no doubt beneficial – but they ramify into the deepest parts of who we become. I would like to begin disengagement from the powered life – when I say begin, I mean make a gradual, incremental change, a lateral drift.
Solitude is becoming increasingly necessary, and the stimulus of engagement and interaction makes my head spin. I am intrigued by the lives of solitaries, and I read about them. I’ve added a small list of links in the right-hand pane on this page in case you are interested too. I think my father was by nature a solitary.
All these things – silence, solitude, money, electricity – are bound up in immediacy. In silence, one faces the wilderness of wild beasts and angels in one’s own soul very immediately and inescapably. In solitude, one clambers about among the rocks and ravines of the spiritual territory, learning little but experiencing much, assailed by the terrors of peace. Money and electricity both create distance and isolation (oddly, isolation and solitude are very different things). They hold the living world with all its teeming vibrant richness, at a remove. Money and electricity are the means by which we refuse to be at life’s mercy, override the natural rhythms of day and night, health and sickness (even death). Money and electricity alter our sources and expectation of food and clothing, warmth and shelter. Without them we are plunged into a sudden urgent immediacy of life – what we can glean and gather, the necessity of firewood and the value of daylight, the grateful warmth of a sunny day, the precious arrival of rain, the treasure of wind to dry wet clothes and air the house. Making with our own hands is slow and mindful work, and we find our soul has gone into the finished creation. When we eat the potato, the cherry, the apple, the bean, everything about it is full of the memory of the long cold spring, or the dry spell in June, or the relentless winds of March that held up the planting, or the late frosts that took half the crop. If we ride in a trap pulled by a horse, we notice the comfortable back and forth rhythm of the pull-and-slack, quite different from the driving of a powered vehicle. When we go on foot, we know so much more of the terrain – the gradients, the wild flowers, the creatures who live there, the variations of shelter and exposure, the composition of the track. And when we go barefoot, the information magnifies exponentially in its immediacy. Life without immediacy is only a shadow, a husk, of what it was meant to be.
I am not sure of the place in my life of silence, solitude, money, electricity and immediacy, but it has become clear to me that these are the areas needing focus and revision – touch-stones or flash-points or something.
These small acrylic cups were packaging from store-bought desserts. Disconcerting. Unjustifiable. I kept them for a while to use as glasses, and for the Wretched Wretch to play with: but in the end I faced that they were clutter and rubbish, their manufacture and purpose an inexcusable cost to Mother Earth.
Small cards are a form of clutter I have observed to be increasing. Store gift cards or loyalty cards, library cards, fridge magnets, appointment reminders, cards for blood donation, cards with sentimental verses for recipients to tuck into a wallet . . . every passing thought and intention and obligation seems to require bringing into permanent material form.