Moving to where we already live

A recent post by Lindsey at A Design So Vast captured my imagination as it introduced us to her sister’s friend (and now Lindsey’s friend) Luana, who is spending a year with her husband and children living in France.

I suppose I’m something of a Francophile, as I’ve certainly fantasized my own year in Provence, working on some arcane novel that could care less if anyone would ever read it; but I’m also a bit of an Anglophile, fantasizing a year in London doing workshops on parenting or writing a screenplay.  Maybe I’m really more of an armchair traveler, loving to hear about my friends and clients’ adventures from Tibet to India, from Europe to South America while not really wishing all that much that I could go.

I found Launa’s story, and her languid and leisurely blog, both a gift and an affirmation of my own life at the moment.  Things sounded enchanting, but also difficult.  She speaks of one or another in the foursome being the wonky wheel on the market cart, and I could all too easily relate to the ruined moment, whether in the Marais or the mundane Monday meltdown at home sweet home.

So, my thought was to invite myself (and anyone who cares to join) to re-imagine life today as if you were from France or Brazil… Imagine if your home, the local market, the cars, TV and radio, the things people say, do and wear, the local flora and fauna were all exotic and utterly new and unfamiliar to you.

Imagine that you were not just visiting, but moving in for a year or more, settling into the cadence and rhythm of life as you, a local, lives it.  One of the hardest thing Luana has had to deal with is the insularity of the French—they seem to love their families, friends, hobbies, food, etc., and are less than keen to invite outsiders in.  Yet you already have friends, family, etc… but what if you could experience it with a renewed sense of wonder?

When I was studying filmmaking, one of my teachers encouraged us to realize just how much we block out as we acclimate to life—re-sensitizing us to seeing, smelling and hearing, in this case New York City.  It was both astonishing and overwhelming to actually hear the roaring screech of the subway after having learned not to be destroyed by it, or the smell of the street, but also the beauty of flowers in Washington Square Park, or the image of a mom and her daughter in matching yellow rain boots and rain coats splashing through the puddles near the big fountain.

I’ve also noticed that “close calls,” as with health scares, sometimes send us into a surreal space, a more real consciousness where so much that doesn’t matter drops away and a crystalline sort of clarity sometimes arises.  When this has happened to me, I felt extreme peace and surrender, in contrast to the gripping fear that comes when you only suspect that something may be actually wrong, doubt mingling with terror.  At least for myself, when they wheeled me into the ICU, I felt utterly free, quite the way you wish to feel on holiday but rarely do.

So, trusting that consciousness might spare us the need for big scares or big moves and instead allow us to move bravely and with eyes and ears open wide into the lives that we are already living, let’s dedicate today to mindfully exploring, savoring and experiencing the lives into which the vast collective dream has woven us—in the service of presence to lives, as they stand, shared today with each other and all our collective children.

Namaste, Bruce

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16 Responses to “Moving to where we already live”

  1. Helen Says:

    Beautiful!

  2. JT Says:

    Ever since I shook my own core with thoughts of leaving this city I love (the one in which, coincidentally, you were born), I have started to heighten my senses and found new ways to appreciate this city. I savor the little mom and pop stores in my neighborhood, delight in the views of the magnificent skyline (which continues to take my breath away every time) and pause to appreciate the larger-than-life trees and the brownstones full of history that adorn my street. I sing praises and describe my own love affair with this city, MY city, to anyone who would listen.

    But I’ve been here for years, tired of the bitter cold and length of the winter grey, and I don’t want to be someone who is too afraid to move, to try new things. And so with a heavy heart, as described in my post today, I have decided to leave, though it will take some time for the stars to align for that to happen. Until then, I will continue to relish the sights, the sounds, the essence of this beautiful place, down to the very daffodil that pushes through the earth each spring, as if to say, the worst is over, the warming sun is here, please stay.

    I wish I could.

  3. joely Says:

    Everday I try to do something new. Be it eat a new food, i.e. cooked a rutabega today, or walking a new direction. There is such brilliance in the simplicity of not being predictable, and finding the beauty in the simple things surrounding us.

  4. Christine LaRocque Says:

    Wonderful reminder…though I felt myself wishing I could do just what she is, uproot my family into a foreign country so that we could all grow together and learn from the experience together. It would be so amazing to experience it, new and wonderful and scary for all of us. I’m not nearly brave enough. We chickened out when we had the opportunity just to move across country. I suppose we would be wise to learn to find more adventure in our daily lives as they are.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      I know what you mean, living “It’s a wonderful life,” while wondering if it should have been “A year in provence.” It’s cool to keep in mind that our own mundane lives really would be an exotic dream for so many people whose lives would be our own fantasy of something different.

  5. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Having done just that – uprooted – and more than once, I can say that it is both difficult and liberating. Even re-establishing yourself in a foreign place that is not entirely foreign means letting go of the proximity of another place, or at the very least, accepting its considerable distance.

    Doing these things solo is both easier and more of a challenge, but for me, perhaps – more on the “easier” side.

    All of this, whether armchair imagining or literally voyaging, requires health. Or some measure of health. And that brings us back to your point about the aftermath of a health scare. Its clarity.

    We do live in fear. Most of us. Fear of different sorts, for our own reasons. It’s a dreadful way to live and sometimes the only way we can survive at all. Still, when fear is gone even for a time, everything good floods in and fills us. And we’re appreciative of those times. Lighter. Wherever we may be, or not be.

    Another thoughtful, lovely musing.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      I’m just hoping that the liberation from fear comes, at least in part, from love—which may show up in any one of its myriad and shape-shifting forms. The courage to trust that we are both alone, and also NOT, can bring a “Man’s Search for Meaning,” sort of freedom sometimes in the very bleakest of circumstances.

  6. Katrina Kenison Says:

    I read your post while standing in the Orlando airport, a layover on my way home after nearly a month away–and my eagerness to return to all that is familiar is a reminder that sometimes the best part of travel is how much it makes us appreciate what we so easily take for granted: the life we already have in the place we already live.

  7. Beth K Says:

    I know what Luana means about the insularity of the French. Years ago my husband was a visiting professor at Universite Blaise Pascal. His academic host, a mathematician, and his wife, a Spanish teacher, would leave their offices every day for 2 hours to eat lunch (and maybe have a nooner?) together at their home. I was inspired by, and a bit envious of, the level of interest in each other they still maintained on a continuous basis after decades of marriage.
    The mathematician had a very French approach to math. He would do research only when the spirit moved him; never just for the sake of publishing. I like the French joie de vivre.

  8. Launa Says:

    Hey there, Bruce… Not sure how I found my way to your post, but I’m honored that some of my words bring you back to experiences that were so powerful.

    And I LOVE the idea of bringing the traveler’s level of awareness back home. As you put it, “move bravely and with eyes and ears open wide into the lives that we are already living.” I’m hoping we can pull that off, even in small ways.

    Your commenters hit on some of the crucial truths we learned here – the difficulty of uprooting, the value of seeing the world with new eyes. I agree with Beth K — these two hours mid-day to be with my family are pretty wonderful.

    Thanks for giving me a new perspective!

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      Hey Luana, I’m glad you’ve made your way over here, and in the middle of Momalom’s whole five-for-ten thing. It’s like we’re all living these vastly expanded lives somehow, as our consciousness shifts and our capacity to really be alive and drink life in, infused with the sort of spirit we all yearn for but which we are discovering through our myriad connections, intimate, “real” and virtual (which are real in their own ways).

      Sending good wishes for all your adventures.

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