Monday, December 10, 2012

You can't lose paradise if you always take it with you

It's typical of me that my last blog post was all about how I shall keep on writing despite having landed back home for the time being, travel be damned!, and that said post was a good 8 months ago. Oh, the dedication! The discipline! It's overwhelming.

As it turns out, after that last post, I began working on a new one, which was about money: our relationship to it in this society, my own relationship to it, where it all comes from (as in history, not as in banks or jobs or the ATM or whatever). But as I delved into researching currency, I discovered it was a really big topic. Even just understanding my own views about money and how that relationship evolved was a really big topic. I was overwhelmed. And then, I stopped researching and writing about it, and went back to work to earn some instead.

Sometime in April, Sam and I headed out into the wilds of Vancouver Island in our beloved Lulabelle the camper van. We found a perfect spot way off in the bush past Port Renfrew in an old clearcut. We watched eagles fly around our heads. It was grand. While we soaked up the peacefulness and the tender loving shelter of our home on wheels, I pondered my next steps. Money, I thought. What the heck is that all about? Jobs, I thought. If it weren't for this stupid crazy idea people have formed in our collective (un)conscious that we have named The Economy, we wouldn't need to have this other figment of our imaginations we call Money. And then we wouldn't need to have Jobs, which to my mind are just tools used by others to usurp my personal freedom by having me perform tasks that serve those others but don't serve me. All I get in return is Money, which I continue to think ought to be unnecessary. The whole system seems totally bizarre and I am not at all impressed with those wizards who created it in the first place. However, here we are.

Honestly, I had been feeling a bit bored or restless since about the time we decided to return to Canada. I'd looked a plethora of job postings and found next to nothing I found interesting. So I sat out in that old clearcut, watching the eagles (and slugs, which although rather less majestic than eagles, are surprisingly interesting creatures - great meditation), and as I sat in the stillness, I projected a picture of myself sitting at a desk at my previous place of employment. I waited for a reaction.

In the past, the reaction upon such an exercise has been visceral: a clear, unequivocal, "Nope. Don't go there." There are many reasons for this, which I will not bother going into now. This time, however, the reaction was, "Huh. That doesn't seem like such a bad idea. You've learned a lot and grown a lot. You might have something new to bring to that work that you lacked in the past, and consequently, that work might have something new for you to gain from it." (My inner dialogue is a bit wordy.)

So upon our return from the camping trip, I contacted my former Director and asked how she'd feel about hiring me back to do some temp work. She seemed to feel pretty good about it, so I went back to work on May 1. I dove into the work with something approximating gusto and found what I was enjoying the most was working with colleagues in Victoria that I'd never had a chance to work closely with in the past. They are great people.

In July, I was asked if I'd still be willing to travel for work. Work and travel, I thought? Heck yeah. So Sam and I loaded up our little Honda Prelude (we bought a great little car for really cheap when I went back to work) and headed to Terrace for two weeks. From there, we were supposed to head to Vancouver for the rest of the summer, but we were diverted to Williams Lake. Then to Prince George. Then back to Williams Lake. Then there was a week off to go to Victoria, put away the flip flops and pack the woolies, and we went back to Prince George.

I loved it in Prince George. The surrounding area is a wilderness lover's dream. The people in the town are friendly and welcoming. The work in the office was pleasantly engaging without being soul-sucking and my colleagues in the office are a delight to work with. The work I was doing there was coverage of a vacant position that is due to be posted in January, and I have been encouraged to consider applying for that permanent position. So we spent a couple months this fall, feeling out Prince George, making new friends, and I considered how I feel about being back at work on a longer-term basis.

Then this new thing came up: it turns out that on that magical thing we call "Internet," there are other magical things called "websites" and some of them are dedicated to advertising housesitting opportunities. In my random browsing of the internet, I stumbled upon such sites and discovered that there was a couple at Nimpo Lake, BC (look it up on a map) looking for a house and cat sitter for a few months. They advertised it as a "Northern getaway/winter retreat for artists/writers" or something along those lines. Since Sam and I regularly discuss the idea of retreating into the wilderness to work on our various artistic endeavours, it was incredibly appealing. The timing coincided nicely with what was supposed to be the end of my term at work. Of course, it wasn't that easy: I was offered an extension of that contract to the end of January, and the dilemma emerged: do we stay living in a hotel in Prince George for a few more months, earning income but feeling a bit confined (renting a place meant acquiring furniture, etc - a bigger expenditure than it would be worth for the short term)? Or do we give up the income and set out once more into the unknown?

As I've said, we've talked a lot about retreating to work on creative projects. I think a lot about turning my experiences of the last three years into some kind of book (despite my lack of blogging discipline, I think I can write a book. Really.) and Sam has both musical and photographical works underway. The possibility of housesitting meant that we could afford to live for awhile on the savings from the previous six months. And it occurred to me that if I do want to write about my experiences, I'd best get to it before the freshness of them vanishes. I have a window of opportunity here that narrows with the passage of time. So the opportunity was seized. I declined the offer of continued work, somewhat regretfully, because as I said, I really enjoyed my time in that office and particularly enjoyed the people I worked with.

Sam and I are now very comfortably holed up in a charming, cozy, quirky old log house right on the waterfront at Nimpo Lake (you can see where we are by going to We are the caretakers of a purry old cat who strongly suggests the spirit of a wise, patient (ish), occasionally grumpy old man who really likes to be fed ON TIME. We have wood stoves to feed as well, keeping us warm, and a view of the lake and mountains that nourishes the spirit. We have quirky neighbours, Mary and Logan. Mary built this house and owned the resort for 40 years and now lives in a log house on the property, a short walk away. They host happy hour every day at 4:00. We have been twice, I think, not because we're not happy, but it quickly becomes apparent that trying to go every couple of days is a much bigger commitment and expenditure of emotional energy (all that visiting and small talk!) than we're interested in. We're here to work on creative projects, after all. Still, the neighbours are all interesting folk and we've enjoyed the visits we've had.

We are studiously avoiding deliberations on what comes next. We're here now and there's no better place to be. I'm immersed in writing, though its early days yet, and I'm amazed at what I've learned over the last three years. This is a fascinating process and whether a book emerges and goes anywhere is far less important to me at this point than the actual engaging in the work itself. I've decorated the walls with flipchart pages of notes. It's great.

Other than a bout with some sort of flu that is wearing us down a bit, we are both in a great space (literally and metaphorically). We look around every day, marveling at what we can accomplish for ourselves by creating a positive vision and intention of what we wish to experience. We are so grateful for this time and place and opportunity to nourish our spirits, individually and together.

We couldn't have asked for a better time to live this dream. Sam's birthday is coming in another 9 days, then Solstice, then Christmas, my birthday, New Year's, and another month after that, our one year anniversary of our handfasting ceremony. This is a time for contemplation, celebration, and thanksgiving - living in joyful communion with the world around us and most especially, with each other, as Sam and I receive the gifts we've given each other through our hard, dedicated work on ourselves and our relationship.

I wish you all the peacefulness, joy and love for yourselves that we share with each other every day. Love life. Live the dream.

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