On Quitting The World and Staying Home…

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I have spent the morning doing one of my favorite things — having a penny shopping spree. Well, not so much a spree, I spent a nickle + shipping, but every once in awhile I go to amazon and by chance, when doing something like buying dog food, end up with a review of a book on the same page that entices me to visit the book’s actual page and then to the other books by the same author and all of a sudden I fall in love with a new — to me — writer. Today it was 4 books by Alice Steinbach, starting with Without Reservation: The Travels of An Independent Woman, and one book that caught my eye and sounded like something I would love, Tales of a Female Nomad: Living At Large In The World, by Rita Golden Gelman. All of these books were a penny each. This is one of my favorite types of books to read, and I, like most everyone else in the world, fell in love with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love a few years ago. But I do not long to travel, no, I am an armchair traveler. I decided 15 years ago to leave the world and stay at home, I chose a life of silence and solitude, reading, writing, study, prayer, contemplation, and it is the life that is right for me. The funny thing is that I find that these days people look at my life as far more dangerous than these women adventurers and nomads who cross continents and find themselves in foreign lands. They see me as having chosen a lonely existence, cut off from much needed stimuli and relationships with other people and the outer world. People try their best to convince me of all that I am missing, when, in the end, my life is so full there isn’t enough time to accomplish everything I want to on any given day. The question posed most often is, “Don’t you get lonely? to which I can only honestly reply, “I might, if I had the time.”

This is not a post about a woman with a basket full of mental health diagnoses that caused her to make a choice to leave the world to survive in peace. It’s true enough but it is only part of the story. No, today I really wanted to write about the beauty, the glory, the adventure, of being a woman who has chosen to become a nomad on her own acre, to become a wanderer in her own forest, an adventurer who travels breathlessly around a small section of ground just to discover the world that is teeming with life under her own two feet.

A week or so ago my dear daughter-in-law who is just delightful, full of zest and energy, and enjoys, with my darling son, traveling and having fun and seeking out new adventures posted something on Facebook. She wrote that she couldn’t understand people who never left their own neighborhood, she wrote that if you lived in New York City you wouldn’t just stay in your own location but would wander “all over Manhattan.” I certainly understand her feeling, especially at 30, but twice her age, this was my response…

“Or you would circle the wide wide world that is your own back yard and you would learn every single tree, and wild flower, sometimes known as weeds, and you would discover how, even on a square foot of your property, there are so many miracles and wonders that you could spend your whole life time and not discover them all. And then there is the whole business of the lusciousness of kissing pug noses and planting gardens and reading amazing books and learning how to cook new things. No, I may not often go farther than my own little acre but there are wonders enough, here, for me, for a lifetime.” And that is exactly how I feel.

Today I am going to get a lot of work done out in the garden, and there are still things to unpack, put away, and arrange here at the cottage, it will take a long while to settle in. I am about to make a late breakfast, brunch really, having just had a glass of Kefir and my coffee so far. I am going to make something I saw on my favorite new cooking show, well, new to me. I don’t watch much tv but I love the cooking channel and PBS and a few other shows. My “new” show is The Pioneer Woman’s cooking show (and I bought her penny books too!) and I am about to make an easy dish that she makes for her family for breakfast. You melt butter in a skillet and toast your bread in the skillet, then cut a hole out with a glass or other implement and drop an egg in and fry it in the bread. Now this is a very old fashioned way of fixing eggs and I’ve read about it in my favorite old books by Gladys Taber but I’ve never made it myself. And if you only use a toaster you don’t know what you’re missing making toast in a skillet. Yedoggies it’s good!

So off I go into a day of adventure on my very own acre. My Magic Ship is gone, but there is still magic everywhere here. This is a dazzling life, and I am so happy to be home. There is so much work to do,  and a rich and textured life here. Tonight I intend to knit or crochet while watching a movie, and then having a nice long spell to read before going to bed. But at this juncture I have miles to go before I sleep so off I go into the day ahead. There are so many adventures to have right here at home…

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Comments

  1. Maître, you’re a girl after my own heart! Now that I’m retired, I love nothing more than to do exactly as you do with the exception of going to my local library 2 miles away instead of buying any more books (I already have nine tall bookcases full of well loved books and books still yet to read). The joy of staying in the present moment with my full attention has transformed the ordinary contours of my day into the extraordinary. My life feels full and deeply textured even though to others it might appear quite simple and isolated. I am at home in my own heart and feel no need to seek outside of myself for reflections of my loveability. God perfuses my life with love all around me wherever I look and I am richly blessed.

  2. Maitri, I so loved this post. And resonated with it. I too spend endless hours and days in my little spot of paradise in northwest Montana. At home. Enjoying the adventure. Your words are dazzling in their resonance and beauty. Keep on noticing and being with all the wonders that surround you. And, thank you for sharing. p.s. glad you’re home!

  3. Maitri this beautiful post resonated with me a lot as well. I travelled overseas (I live in Canada) for the first time last year and intend to do so again because I loved it, AND this year, for various reasons, I have stayed close to home, travelling my “acre” (which is really a small city lot). There is room for both. And YES, there is much to discover in our own back yard! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I feel less alone in my enjoyment at staying home.

    ps – I just discovered The Pioneer Woman’s cooking show last night and quite enjoyed it too! Hee hee! : )

  4. This is so beautifully written and speaks volumes to those who would insist that people who live in solitude are dangerously self-isolating.

  5. From the small condo in an urban high rise that I share with my partner, I look out on such wonders (parks, lake, people) I will never know every inch of it. My camera comes with me everywhere and catches nuances – a certain shade of orange as the trees change color, the play of light on the lake, reflections in the water of the marsh, a new arrival among the migrating birds. So I understand completely the joy of finding the world in a small patch of land. So beautifully written.

    Our library is three blocks away – and accessible 24/7 for digital downloads. Tomorrow five friends are joining us for Canadian Thanksgiving. We’ll squeeze around the table and feast on turkey and trimmings and love.

    And you’ve made toad in the hole – an old name for the toast/egg combo. A cheap and easy way to delight children on a single mother’s budget.

    We have little money, but we are wealthy. And you are a part of my wealth, dear one.

  6. Beautifully put! Now if I could convince my own children that I’m not depressed but content in my little piece of the world! I may just have to show them this

  7. Your life seems wonderful to me! Would love to be creative and be present in that moment. Sometimes we get so busy making a living we forget what makes us truly happy.

  8. What a sweet and wonderful post. I found you via Dancing Monks and I just love your thoughts! We have just under three acres and there is so much that I don’t know about our land, old pasture land out in the country. I’m 53 and my husband is 65 (still working) and there is lots to do on this land, and sometimes it seems like a bit much, but when we slow down and smell the scent of the leaves changing . . . or the silence of snow falling, or baby birds is the spring, it’s the best sort of quiet. I’m going to go and check out the penny books!!! I did not even know there was such a thing. I’ve heard of the Pioneer Women but have not watched yet. I do have my mother in laws cookbooks that date back to the 20’s and 30’s and before that were here mothers. You’ve inspired me to pull them out. Delighted to have found a new friend. Happy reading. : )

  9. So glad you’ve fallen in love with your new/old home again. Home is good.

  10. I have to admit, I found myself chuckling at your daughter-in-law’s romantic notion that a NYC dweller would most likely spend their free time exploring all of the city… In my five years here, I’ve found that rarely to be the case.

    It was true in the first year, when I didn’t know where things were or how long it took to get from point A to point B in the middle of the night when the subway cars don’t run as frequently and I was too broke to take cab.

    But the truth is, New Yorkers are just as much creatures of habit as our suburban and rural dwelling counterparts. We know the ins and outs of the neighborhoods we live and work in, and we rarely stray from them without a good reason.

  11. Ah Maitri. I have known you, in this online world of ours for a very very long time. Back when you were a woman named Marsha trying to find your way in a world that truly is too much for some people. I know your story and I known you and your growth has been consistent to who you are today.

    As someone who is also attuned to the nuances of the world and her people, I have walked more physically in the world, perhaps doing what you do but in a different way. In my nuts and bolts way, while still understanding that need to not be enmeshed within. I have known many people, myself included, who had many choices. Some fell victim to their own misfortune; some to their own inability to work with what they ‘do’ have.

    You introduced me to Taber. And Sarton. I met Sarton’s bibliographer and became friends with her. You both have that eye. To see into the last vestiges of simple and quiet. Yet still bursting with the vitality of one who can see music and hear colors.

    My life would be quiet but in truth the world asks for my attendance in person, and perhaps I have allowed that , for whatever reasons, many that I have explored and answered already. But it does my heart good to know that someone, a person without clear labels or flush bank accounts can find themselves a world that works for them. I know there are many others that are either just to sensitive for this world or too damaged. Too often they fall into a system that really is beyond their ken and beneath their needs. Such is the word we live in.

    Unless or until we learn who we are and how much is enough. And then how much is too much. And accept that one’s path is simply one’s path to lived simply. As my friend sometimes says to me, “Sometimes the world is too much with you.” And sometimes it is. But I have my womb woom .My sanctuary, of Tabers and tomes, Amazon and Amazons, Cats and a machine of other peoples visions. I too do not care to venture that far out anymore, and I do not have a cottage of colors as you do, but I have our shared journey, our joint wisdoms and of those we have travelled with, and I have the knowledge that a room of one’s own is also just enough.

  12. It’s so interesting that people of different ages have different ways of dealing with the world.
    From the first steps we walk when we are young, to wanting to discover the whole world outside our comfort zone, and returning back to understanding that a whole world is inside ourselves and we can fill our lives with all that’s to discover on a few square metres.

    My dream is a small house, with a dog and a few other animals outside. I have found the house, near the sea in my own country, but it also might be a small crofters farm in the Outer Hebrides at the top of Scotland.
    I don’t have the money…. yet…. but I feel that being there, even when my health is not OK, will give me something rich which I don’t have here in my busy live

    To show people how much one place on this earth can change I’ve been photographing a single piece of wood and a field with a bit of sky for two years now. None of the weekly photos is the same.
    That says enough.

    Huggggggsssss.

  13. Oh, how I wish I could “leave the world” and stay home! My friends think it’s odd when I say that because most of them would be bored to distraction if they weren’t going 90 mph all the time, but I would never be bored. It would be so luxurious to have time for thought, meditation, reading, cooking, walking about, etc. Perhaps one day….!

  14. I’m always mindful of Thoreau’s phrase “I have traveled a great deal in Concord” – telling, even though he traveled more than most for his day, as this post points out (http://matadornetwork.com/bnt/what-henry-david-thoreau-taught-me-about-travel/).

    What this fellow writes (in a post bumbled upon checking the exact quote) is also true: “Thoreau understood something that many of us modern day nomads would do well to recognize: travel is a matter of perspective, not location. With curiosity, an open mind and a broad horizon of free time, it’s possible to travel in your own backyard.”

    I’m also mindful of a comment from a very wise person (in the wisdom circle) about what truly being a nomad means — it’s not about mindless traveling, for sure.

    I’ve benefited from much traveling in my life; it’s been culturally expanding, informative, and reminds me always, of the human connections that all of us (wherever we live) share, with hopes and dreams for good lives.

    Thanks for a lovely post, Maitri.

  15. Amen! I too love being home. There is so much to see and do on my 15 acres of land. My husband is buried here so I can sit and talk to him. The simple life is what I enjoy now.

  16. Sharon Blessum says:

    I identity completely with your post. I have traveled a lot, especially in my 50’s and 60’s and now feel called to a more quiet, contemplztive life which brings great joy to the mysic in me who has longed for such freedom. Carry on, good woman!

  17. What a beautiful post, filled with joy and peace and wisdom. I think we all crave simplicity yet don’t quite know how to find it. You have found the path. Teach me.

  18. Judy Hornbrook says:

    I love the way Maitri describes her contentment! I love that you shared here, Maitri! It gives me permission to be content in my small house, on (just over) an acre, close enough to the Bay that I can walk down and enjoy summer’s sun Sinking into the Chaleur Bay. Take a walk on the beach, and only seldom meet another person. My 3 dear little dogs are loving companions, and give me plenty of chuckles. Books, books … And lately, an interest in ZENTANGLE (Yoga for the mind), a bit of writing, sewing, gardening. I have learned, over the years, that it is a blessing to be alone, without being lonely.

  19. Karen O'Brien says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post, which was forwarded to me by a member of our little spiritual circle “The Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks”. 🙂 Anyway, I left a busy life in ministry to stay home and become a homemaker/contemplative, although I have to admit, 3-4 a year I do travel, and I do love it. But even the type of traveling I’m doing is changing as I have a lower tolerance for “chatter” at this point, and, once you’re spending a lot of time by yourself and in contemplative prayer, “chatter” suddenly becomes very obvious, and something the soul has a difficult time with. Interestingly enough, I’m never lonely either–I’m great company for myself! 🙂 Blessings on your good decision, and keep on writing. Your words resonate with many of us!

  20. Abby Marrs says:

    The beauty of living in the moment is sadly lost on many. I too, love to travel to new places but as I age I have found such peace in solitude. Thank you Maitri for sharing — it’s nice to hear words expressed that I can easily relate to.

  21. I found the comment about traveling around Manhattan interesting, because that is where I live and yet I do isolate and stay at home with my computer and my work at home. I find it hard to run out and do hundreds of things that can be done in NYC each day and a big factor is that it is so easy to spend a lot of money here and the prices are high, cost of living, food, apartments, clothes.

    I don’t go out when I don’t have a chunk of money to blow. I also keep to myself a lot and miss my dog who died last year. He used to get me out walking around each day and I’m lonely without him. We used to travel to the parks and I feel sad going without him so I don’t go. He was my close companion.

  22. Each of us has to find our own way to happiness. There are no two people alike and so no general script to happiness for everyone.
    It is great that you found your own sweet spot and that you don’t feel pressured by the lives of others and the shoulds of society 🙂

  23. This is beautiful… Maitri and all the lovely comments. For years I lived in a big city. In my humble opinion it is not what it is cracked up to be…in fact it can be quite annoying. Too much noise and confusion all the time. There is enough going on in my head, I certainly do not need more. My husband and I moved to a small town in the middle of the DelMarVa Peninsula. A town, where everyone knew your name. It was amusing as we became known as the family that bought Dawson’s place. Over the years they have come to know and accept us, and when my husband passed I was amazed at the outpouring. While I still acknowledge where I was born, I would not leave here for the world. No indeed.
    It is my intention to retire here and be buried in the small cemetery next to my husband. Until then I want to sit on my porch in the morning and have my coffee. I want to paint, draw, knit, crochet, quilt and garden to my heart’s content. In other words SLOW DOWN and let the outside world ( outside of this town) whiz by at whatever speed it chooses. You dear Maitri have given me permission to do this, and for that I will be eternally grateful. Until then I may have to be employed, but when Medicare comes I am GONE! 😉

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