One of the luxuries of blogging is that I can be self-indulgent and waffle on. And the topics are many and varied. I have the luxury and extraordinary privilege of a good education, of a secure job, of being born into a first world country and into a family where reading was encouraged, religious beliefs were not enforced and it was not expected that my role in life was to get married and have children. Of having enough money for all my needs and some of my wants. Being able to have my dogs, my books and a partner who loves me and is learning to live with my quirks (and vice versa, I will add. Much harder for me because I lived with just my animals for so long).
I have access to the interwebs and I travel them avidly. Partly for information (for work, health, family issues, dogs), partly for amusement and diversion (drawing a distinction between the two) and to feed my recent enchantment with fashion. Although I've been interested in decoration for a very long time, it's only recently that I've shed the idea that I don't deserve adornment and learned to have fun with clothing. Most of my clothing is second hand. Gotta love eBay, it's the only way I can afford Vivienne Westwood clothes. Sometimes I worry that I'm just sucking information up and not digesting it. But then, my recall is rather spotty, so I'll just assume that everything is stewing quietly.
Which is a terribly long-winded way of wanting to justify, in these zeros and ones of the ether, how I try to live my life. This is no vaunting, it is as much a clarification for myself. There's a pyschologist's tool where you have a number of different value words, such as admired, loyal, solitude, health, knowledge, creativity. Pile them quickly into "matter a lot", "don't matter at all" and "in the middle". Then consider them. And from the ones that really matter, try and pick a top 10. Look at those. Which ones are you actually managing to live?
My top 10 were: health, spirituality, self-knowledge, inner peace, solitude, ecology, comfort, honesty, tolerance and faithfulness. I don't meet these all the time, but I try and I'm also getting better at letting go when I don't meet my own far too high standards. But I'm meant to be expounding. These values are all intertwined. They come down to what I consider to be the basic premise of all true religions: "live with respect".
Those top ten are in a lot of the way I try to live my life. I try to be tolerant. Stupidity annoys me, but I don't give a damn about gender, belief system, sexuality or genetic background. There are also people that I just outright dislike, but that's personality. Dogs don't like all dogs, people don't like all people. Health - meh, could be better, but I've been eating respectfully for decades. And by respectfully - respect for my body, which really does an amazing job despite all I've asked of it, respect for the planet, respect for the food itself and respect for the people who grow it. We don't throw out much in the way of food - bones mostly. Everything else gets eaten by us, the dogs or the chickens or put in the compost to feed the soil.
Spirituality. I could dance about this, but as my mother has regretted, her daughter is not particularly good at subtle. I'm a kitchen witch, a solitary. I need to feel the soil in my hands, the moonlight on my skin, to be connected to this good earth. I am terrified of what humanity has done to Gaia, of how little time we have left, of how she is changing. Despite having no great hopes, I will do what I can to live with respect, to leave this bit of soil in better heart, to try and tread more lightly. It's bound with health, but using orange oil, vinegar, soap and bi-carb for cleaning. Cooking is magic. Gardening is magic. Growing some of our own food is magical. To be able to travel into someone else's mind and time via a book, that's magic. Music is magic, oh it can swing my moods and I can lose myself in it. Being able to co-exist with our furries, feathered and finned ones is magic. I do draw the line at mosquitoes. So the ecology is also bound in with spirituality.
We've put our money where our mouths are, there are solar panels on the roof for the hot water and to feed back into the electricity grid. The house is insulated. Even the lights in Nan's chandelier are compact fluroescents. Grey water goes onto the garden. We've four cars between the two of us (oh, the shame), but two of them are babied street machines (one of which runs on gas, the other is in a state of slow rebuild and hasn't fired a cylinder in anger for some years). The other two are well maintained and rarely driven just for the heck of it. Most of the household furnishings are inherited or acquired second hand. And I've also tried to work with the concept of objects being both useful and beautiful. Sometimes the use is aesthetic or tactile pleasure. And certainly my espresso machine brings me much pleasure.
I'm also trying to live with nothing "for best". All the contents of this home, all the clothes, all the books, all the china and crystal - they were made to be used, to be appreciated. I think this also helps me focus on what I have, how much joy and beauty it brings, how lucky I am. And to be able to give some of it away, to be able to make life that little bit easier or pleasurable for someone else.
It's a kind of magic.