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Change, Dilemmas, Acceptance and Happiness: A Journey Within

For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone.  The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes.  To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.

―Cynthia Occelli

I don’t even know where to start.  Really I don’t.

My first month here at Yosemitebear Farm has been such a whirlwind of intense romance, combined with new landscapes, new challenges, new strains, new friends and many new questions.

When I’m challenged so much, I know I am growing.  That’s good.

But growing is hard, and at the moment all-consuming.

I’ve fallen in love with a very complicated man. Of course.

He wants me to stay here forever.

Forever?!

“Forever” is quite a dilemma for a long-term solo traveler, isn’t it?

My soul already feels the familiar ache of wanderlust.

A major complication that will have to be worked out.

And yet, I’ve never been so happy with a man.

He’s terrible on paper.  Red flags wave.  But, he’s in my tribe.  God knows I carry a few red flags myself.  My intellect chews him up and spits him out.  Unsuitable!  My soul, however, is quenched by his presence.  He’s like a sparkling oasis in the endless desert.

There is a connection so deep and true between us that I don’t care much about flags.  Maybe that’s supremely stupid.  If so, it won’t be my first stupid move in life, and so far, I’ve survived.  And hey, if it isn’t stupid, then it will be great!

A Messy Dilemma

My boyfriend is a Couchsurfing host, and has welcomed over 1000 travelers and farm volunteers from all over the world in the last six years. They left more than just memories behind.

When I arrived, the state of the trailer home in which my object of affection resides was…ahem…filthy;  the result of so many visitors + one disinterested bachelor who would rather make art and have fun then clean.  I can’t really blame him.  But that didn’t stop me.

“I’m happy”, he says.  The mess does not bother him.

But it bothers me so much that I can’t think straight.  It’s dusty and grimy and my thoughts have no where to fly.  Instead, they ricochet amongst the thousands of objects in every room and fall into dusty corners, exhausted and defeated.  I can’t make art here.

He says he can’t clean to my standards.  If I want it done and I want a place to be comfortable, I need to do it myself and he will help as directed.  In exchange for creating a space that meets my needs, I have a place to call “home” for the rest of my life. Hmmm….

As usual, all I see is potential.  “This place could be soooo great.”  And as usual, despite the many people who have transited through here, I am the person who finds the overwhelming challenge enticing and digs in.

Can I turn this 35-year-old trailer home with holes in the floor, enough cobwebs to knit a bodysuit, frogs in the bathtub, a patchwork tin roof, and enough grime to cover Manhattan into a peaceful and beautiful palace that reflects the beauty outside?

If I want to stay here, I have to clean.  If I want a place to make art, I have to clean.  And this is no minor cleaning.

This is bulldozery stuff y’all.  All consuming.

I am not naive. I realize that this is in fact not my job, and I don’t especially like cleaning.  It’s possible that I could pour myself into this and when done, the man could say “Thanks for your help, sucker!”  Or the relationship could turn out to be unsustainable.  That could happen.  But I make a point not to dwell in “what if’s” and fear.  If that happens, I’ll still survive.  And there will be one exceptionally clean trailer home in the mountains of Mariposa, California.

And so I set about cleaning, starting with the kitchen.  I install a new kitchen counter-top.  My art is not getting done. I remove the cupboard doors.  I’m not doing my art.  I paint over faux-wood-grain walls that surely were fashionable in 1977.  No art made today.  I make a black toilet bowl white again.  Not inspiring.  I scrub and scour, and sweat, and shine.  Day after day passes.  I’m not doing my art.  I grow worried and resentful.

The property is isolated.  The nearest neighbor is 500 yards away.  Bear’s collection of wind chimes provides a constant dreamy soundtrack interrupted only by the crow of the rooster, the bark of the dogs, the buzz of a fly.  Fine, dusty, brown dirt surrounds the home, sprinkled with manzanitas and pines.  The sun rises directly over the mountain outside the front door and colors the mountaintops orange for as far as the eye can see in the evening.  There is no clock inside the house.  It’s a timeless place.

The time we have spent together is dreamlike, with one day merging into the next without seams or deadlines or commitments or children or any obligations to do anything.  Who gets that?!  It would be like a perpetual honeymoon were I not constantly covered in a film of scouring powder and dish soap. But really, it’s been totally magical.  And all the while, every five minutes, I’ve been tormenting myself with my own thoughts.

“I’m not doing my art. I came here to do my art”.  I become miserable thinking about how things should be.

And then finally, an epiphany, which provides sweet relief from my torment:

My whole life is art!

This experience of falling in love is art.

The act of creating a nice living space is art.

Surrendering to what is, is art.

“But it’s not what I expected! It’s not what I’m SUPPOSED to be doing!”, I shout.

You can’t ride the wave and simultaneously insist on arriving at a certain destination at a certain time. 

Right?  Right.

Expectations were making me miserable!

I’d be a fool to miss the experiences that have unfolded/are unfolding with this man because I had a “plan”.

I have faith that I will get where I intend to go in time.  I am trusting in the universe that if I do what I want to do, what feels natural and appropriate at the moment (which is all we have), that the stream will continue to flow unimpeded and my destiny will unfold naturally and to serve the highest good.  That is what I’ve asked for and that is what I’ve gotten so far.

I don’t believe it’s an accident that I’m here.

I am not neglecting my dreams for the sake of a man.  My dreams are changing because of a man.  For now, my dream is to create a nice living space that I can consider a home.  And to nurture a loving relationship that has the potential to last.

Letting go of expectations and accepting what is, means being happier.

Life is just an experiment.  Live it.  Flow with it.

Laura and Bear

Me and Bear living in the moment.

12 Comments

  1. I read this quote a few years ago…I feel it fits you right now where you are at in your life =) And before I leave it below I wanted to say I love Your writing it is well written beautiful you transported me from my home in Virginia to a small farm in Yosemite National Park…right now the words you put on paper i art (you should write a book about your adventure!!) Now here is the quote “Everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and your dreams. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.” ………Take Care =)

    • I love this quote Barbara. It’s a whole new way of perception for me to see “art” in all these things. Thank you for reading and for your encouraging words about my writing.

  2. You both look wonderful in this picture! Your writing is inspiring and very persuasive and as long as you’re not the one who’s being persuaded all is well.

    What is it the Buddhists say?…”What do you do before you are enlightened? Chop wood and haul water. What do you do after you are enlightened? Chop wood and haul water. Life is like that for those of us who don’t have servants.

    Isn’t your first responsibility to nourish and feed your own soul? There are many ways to do that, including cleaning and this sounds like a glorious setting with wonderful opportunities to be nourished.

    As this adventure matures and some of the initial bliss mellows, you will no doubt discover whether traveling and your art are prerequisites for your happiness. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t. Maybe there’s a way to have both or maybe there isn’t. You will know and possibly have a decision to make down the road a bit.

    But for now, may the bubbles always rise in your wine and keep you blissful. Congratulations for living your life in such depth and being willing to chance the unknown. You’re an inspiration.
    Cecelia

    • Cecelia…I always am excited when I see you’ve commented because your comments are always thoughtful and interesting. I love this Buddhist saying and had not heard it before. Yes, it will be interesting to see where travel and art fall into the happiness mix. Only time will tell. Thank you for your kindness and encouraging words always.

  3. Lovely wriitng–a pleasure to read.

    • Thanks for that Nancy! And thanks for reading.

  4. I follow Bear pretty closely and your description is very accurate. I am always amazed that the goddesses that visit him actually stay as long as they do.. lol

    Watching with interest
    If there were 45000 of me Bear would be making 6 figures

    • Thanks Andy! It’s getting better here, day by day. Thanks for reading.

  5. Just beautiful and so inspiring! Makes me want to remove my own clocks and dig into my life projects that I have put off simply because I feel like it’s not what I’m “supposed” to be doing in this moment.

    • Thanks Mandi for reading and your nice comments! That means a lot. Bear is teaching me a lot about going with the flow.

  6. I loved this blog, however more than that, I enjoyed the way your wrote it. What a gift you have for telling a story. I could feel, and see the things you were talking about through your words.
    I am at work today. I needed a break and saw your post on facebook. Thank you for refreshing me!
    Gloria rose

    • Thank you Gloria Rose! I so appreciate your nice comments about my writing. I’ve been having writer’s block lately so you encourage me.

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