They say we shouldn’t wait eternally for the circumstances to be perfect before we find contentment. We should be content in the moment where ever that may be. While this is true if we wish to avoid suffering (suffering is caused by wishing that the moment was different than it is) it does not mean that we have to stay in the given situation permanently.
There is a famous story of a monk who, wanting to spend some time meditating decided to go somewhere he wouldn’t be disturbed. At each location he was, of course, disturbed and left in search for another location where he finally would have the peace he needed in order to meditate. Lastly he ends up in a remote location in the forest, very far away from any noise or people. Sitting down to meditate he could hear the water flow from the nearby stream and was even disturbed by that. The moral of this story being that we have the power to choose, in any given moment if we are to accept the moment as it is or be discontent with it and look for the greener grass which is inevitably always on the other side.
The moral of the monk story, although good, has also sadly strengthened the words of society at large telling me to ‘like my lot’, that ‘this is the way the world works’, that ‘everyone else is doing [whatever happens to be normal in your society] so why do you think you should do any different (and possibly, God forbid, actually be more content doing it)?
I’ve felt for a long time that the rat race lifestyle society expects of me is not for my higher good. I know many people, like myself, who are sick with stress related illnesses and the suggested treatment is to use all of our meditation and mindfulness wherewithal to be in the moment, make the best of each moment, breathe through the moment and this way we can stay in the toxic environment a little longer without completely being destroyed. Never does treatment suggest that the environment is what is actually sick and we should instead be looking for an entire lifestyle change.
After eight months on the move and living in over ten different places during that time I find I’ve struggled to find places where I find peace and harmony. I berate myself for never being content where ever I have ended up and believe myself to be like the stupid monk constantly looking for something better. But the conclusion of all these different experiences is that I’m really finding out what I need in order to give myself the most enriching circumstances in which to grow. You can’t expect a plant to grow without soil, light and water, and that’s more or less the same criteria I’m finding for myself too. I need nourishment in the form of nature, calm, clean air, fresh food and pure water. As I become surrounded by nature my soul feels enriched, the tension in my shoulders drop, my mind clears and motivation starts to stir with creativity and ideas. The closer I move to city life and unnatural noise and the opposite is true.
I write this article from my favourite window seat, smelling the damp tropical vegetation after the rains in the Kerala monsoon. A spot where I’ve found contentment and peace. Hearing the water beating on the banana tree leaves, the air rustling in the leaves and gently blowing over my skin; feeling the fiery warmth of the sun now hidden behind the clouds, smelling the damp earth; a butterfly plays in the treetops, a mongoose scampers into the foliage; the birds chirp and the insects hang lazily in the hot air. I thank my beautiful Indian family for allowing me to enjoy this space where my inspiration stirs and my heart lights up.
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
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