Monday, October 20, 2008


Yesterday I wrote about my mainstream fantasies fading to black.

Actually, that happened a long time ago.

My mother tells me (and I have a vague recollection) that when I was six years old, I told her firmly that I would not grow up, get married and have babies. Of course at such a young age, I had no idea what else was available ~ but I knew the "building" life wouldn't be for me.

It's not that I put these things in a hierarchy and determine that one way of being is more important than another ~ or even more socially relevant. Obviously though, householders are very important. Without them, there would be no "us". People need to have children and create that life. For those of us who are not attracted to it, it looks as foreign as something from another planet. It is hard to understand the basis of it.. or how it can appeal to so many.

For those of us who live nearly always in our hearts and spirits, fairly removed from material existence, it looks like a burden. Day-to-day responsibilities and the burden of having to be constantly building, creating and improving feels Sisyphean.

We are about ideas. My best times are spent in fairly deep contemplation, usually about the nature of life on this plane or some other philosophical conundrum. I'm an observer, rather emotionally detached from dailiness.

Some would view that as dilettantism. Self-indulgent nonsense. Many wonder why we don't just settle down and get busy shifting. As one person blogged some time ago, most of life is shifting things from one place to another.

Being contemplative isn't dilettantism though. It is something that drives us, makes us feel whole, gives us a sense of purpose in the world. When I was trying to live that other life, even in its modified form, it was like a trip through the hell realms because I couldn't find any purpose. Every day was hollow and meaningless. I could never create and build in the traditional way. My marriage failed because I couldn't connect into that world. When I returned at the end of the day to my house full of "stuff", I wondered if that's all there really is. When I looked at my husband, I wondered why we were doing what we were doing. That unrootedness led me to do a lot of drinking. When I stopped that, I was face-to-face with a full existential crisis and had to start making changes.

Any logical person might wonder why I am writing all this drivel. It's not of any particular interest. Simple. I'm trying to be understood. Often I feel like a singular voice in a universe that doesn't speak my language. The ghost in the machine.

Why I feel the need to be heard and understood at this stage is unknown. For now, I'm just going with it.

One of the ways I realized this is that when I think about what life would look like if I had no limitations, it always comes back to this basic path.

I wish all the cultures of the world, including my chosen one, placed more relevance on it.

So.. let me put this out there: If you had no limitations ~ financial, cultural, physical or emotional ~ what would your life look like?



heartinsanfrancisco said...

If I had no responsibilities to others, I would spend several years in some form of meditation. (I have always been awed and intrigued by those who lived in caves and smelled like roses.) Since I do have family, I will never have that luxury; nor would I trade any of them for the freedom such a life would afford me.

I would most enjoy being able to help people in need if I had no financial limitations, even as I realize that their burdens are their own karma, the path they must travel. (Or maybe it would be their happy karma to meet someone who could help them.)

I would write, paint, tend plants, care for animals, cook, all the things I already do because there are never limits on our creativity. If we perceive limitation, we are probably missing the point of our existence.

Village Farang said...

A form of that question, has been a guiding principle for much of my life. Therefore, my life would be pretty much what it is. You're on the path less taken, and should take solace from that and not feel such anguish. To be unique is not a bad thing at all.

flutter said...

A place where snow graces the trees and fall leaves are given room to turn from green to red to yellow.

A place where I write as my living, letting the pictures in my head dance across the page.

A small place, where trees outnumber people and the smell of pine is true and clear. A place where I would need to have a noise machine to sleep, because the night would be just that quiet.

FranIAm said...

My life would look much like what it is today except that I would not be worried about money and I would not be looking for jobs that I do not want.

Which are the things I am currently doing that I wish I were not.

And to that, instead of taking one class this semester and next, I would take more.

I love so much about the life I have now, except for what I have mentioned. We have cut back far far far on many things, but the need for cash flow still exists.

It is interesting as this is the life I prayed for, imagined and dreamed of for many years. Not exactly of course- but in its core.

So I am hopeful that the money thing will work itself out, but until it does, I seek work and am almost always relieved when I don't find it.

Then the worry begins again.

Thanks for this thoughtful and thought provoking post.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine having no emotional ties, even though I have no spouse or children - my ties are to others.

Aside from that... I think that I would get myself a little house in the woods. Nobody would know I was there except for close friends and family. :-)

Border Explorer said...

I want to thank you for this post. The more I read you, the more I feel like I've found a kindred spirit here.

I'm living the life I dreamed of, though I too went through some difficult times of having to work in a system I did not feel whole-hearted about.

Take heart. It will happen. You're on the path. I did it, and--I pray--so will you.

Stacia said...

I would travel all the time. During my travels I would learn about culture, food and others, but I would also practice my Christian beliefs of helping the poor and those who had less than me. I would also do more to help the environment and educate those who want to learn but don't have the means. If I ever won the lottery (which won't probably ever happen since I never buy tickets) this is what I would do.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I think my life might look the way it does now.

The things I'd want to fix can't be fixed with a different financial picture - a safe place for my mom, more writing time for me, more ease for my son (although he's getting there). I might want to travel more.

The point that you brought up that I found the most interesting, though, is that yes, we need the householders, but we also need the meditators, those who live outside society, etc. We are all a big ecosystem, and if we didn't have those who contemplate, who would help us to see things more clearly? I believe that's an enormous service to the universe.

Molly said...

I don't think you should think of yourself as "outside of society." I grew up Catholic and the nuns were always impressing on us the need for contemplation.There are religious orders who devote their entire lives to prayer for the rest of us. Maybe under different circumstances you would have joined such an order. Meanwhile, I don't think that because one is a "householder" and has a traditional role in society, that one cannot also meditate and not be controlled by materialism. Our lives are not black and white. "They also serve" who only sit and think!

MsLittlePea said...

Oh this is easy. There's a farm in the hills of West Virginia my Grandparents used to own. I would be living there, raising horses and painting all day.

I see what you mean because I get this same reaction whenever I run into old friends and have to say,"no, not yet," when asked about having kids. Like I'm a fraction of a woman because I haven't experienced mother hood. I think one can be a whole person with out all that "stuff". I've even had other women tell me I must be too selfish to have kids then-because I want to keep my freedom. I think it's the opposite. Having kids before you're ready or just because society tells you to, if you're not ready to really be a parent, is selfish. Oh well...

Chantal said...

When I read this it made me think that you might find solace in a setting of contemplation (like a monastery or religious order).

If I could I would work with the most vulnerable in my society. The Native and Innu in Canada. Volunteer as much as I could. And I would spend a lot more time with my kids. Enjoying them, teaching them, and learning from them.

I wish this was my life.

QT said...

I've even had other women tell me I must be too selfish to have kids then-because I want to keep my freedom. I think it's the opposite. Having kids before you're ready or just because society tells you to, if you're not ready to really be a parent, is selfish.

I'm with ms little pea on this one. Altho I have to say I just truly don't know yet....

I would live on a farm, hands down, and try to be as self-sustaining as possible. That is my meditation & contemplation, to be in nature. I get satisfaction from nurturing plant and animal life.

Amy Y said...

Honestly? It would look much like it does now... only with more travel (after taking away financial constraints). I know it's very cliche but the house, 2 kids and 2 cats with a mostly doting husband is appealing to me.

Christy said...

This is a cheating answer, but I wouldn't change anything. I'd just be accepting of my current life. My hips, my money, my town....I'm already living in my head most of the time.

I would just not ever feel guilty about it!


Anonymous said...

Much of what you wrote I resonate with seriously. I too never thought that marriage and children would come to me. The marriage thing did at age 49, but of course, no children. I am contemplative, and no doubt would be in a convent had they allowed me at the age of 44. I don't know if it would have been right, but I certainly feel that pull. Society requires all types, including the contemplative to function properly I think. Thanks for sharing.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I found this reflection interesting, not drivel, even though it is very different from my path.

I would be writing more fiction and more devotional material, and I wouldn't care if it were published or not. I wouldn't be doing educational publishing. Instead, I think I would start doing volunteer work. I'd still be married to Michael though because he is my best friend and he helps me to be my better self, and I'd still be active in the same chruch.

Carol said...

I am happy where I am.

AND if something happened where I was no longer married for some reason, I'd definitely join some kind of monastic community.

I don't consider what you write to be drivel. Thank you for sharing yourself.

Peace to you this October evening!

Angela said...


I tried very hard and I could not imagine no limitations, but I can certainly imagine less of them. I would have more time, more freedom from the daily grind, more time to write, contemplate, cook, create, and basically embody the goddess. Thanks for asking. Hey, I could use your input at the church. Thanks!

Leann said...

I knew I was always meant to be a mother. That gave my life purpose. I have spent my 'empty nest' years looking for another purpose to focus my energy on. I have a very difficult, being single even, time spending time and energy on myself, even tho I know that is where my focus most likely should be. I got totally off topic... :-0)


TaraDharma said...

I think we all learn so much when someone shares their introspection and journey the way you have. Your perspective validates my own in many ways, and I celebrate your integrity!

Gosh, no limitations? Hmmm...maybe a singing sensation selling outl coffee houses across the globe (no big stadiums for me...).

womaninawindow said...

My mind can not even begin to fathom living without those limitations. I have to steady myself for a minute.

Without financial limitations - I would have more art around me and travel more (with my kids at my side.) I don't really think there are any cultural limitations on me. I try not to hold them for others. Physical - I would be more active, but then you would have to lift temporal limitations 'cause right now I have to choose where to spend my time. Emotional limitations - I don't think I'd even want to give them up. So much payback in the rise and fall.

Olivia said...


I too, strongly object to the description of your writing as drivel! You write provocative interesting posts, Chani!!! (scold) (scold)

I read your post yesterday and today still do not know how to respond. This is because I see my life mainly with imaginary limitations. I've realized that they are my limitations from my 30's when I had chronic fatigue syndrome. Now I still have limitations, but they are fewer, and some are different. But I still see the old ones. They are not even real!

It will take some work to picture myself as I am, with my current limitations, and then to imagine myself without them.

Right now, I cannot even imagine myself limitless no matter what I do. However, this is something very, very good to think about.

I'm still stunned by the epiphanies and will get back to you when I know more :)

Love, O

Anonymous said...

I'd have several cats, read and garden all day, play with my daughter and go for car trips with my camera. Very prosaic.