Once upon a time there was a young girl who grew up in China. She lived in a simple, poor village. But she was not poor. She did not have much money, but her life was rich. She had wealth in that she had caring parents, caring siblings, a roof over her head, food in her tummy, and plenty of hugs and kisses.
Let’s call this little girl Lucy. Lucy woke up every day and did the same things – she dressed in her simple room, ate a simple meal of rice and she followed her mother into the storeroom behind the house. There they sorted rice, packed rice and cleaned rice. They then took it into their shop where they sold it in varying quantities to the people of the local village.
Lucy grew up. Soon she was a teenager, waking up every day to follow her mom into the rice storeroom to pack and sort rice. Then helping her mother fell the rice to all the local villagers. One day, Lucy celebrated her 119th birthday! And yes, Lucy was still there, doing the same things every day. By then, of course, her mother had passed away and her own children were helping her in the rice storeroom and in the shop – doing the same things every day.
Do you know why Lucy lived so long? She never looked back into the past because she had no regrets or shame. She never looked into the future for she had no huge plans or aspirations or almighty goals. Lucy lived in the simple present. The here and now. Lucy breathed, worked, ate and gave thanks. Lucy loved and was loved.
I have been thinking a lot about Lucy. And asking myself: why do we in the civilised modern world set so many goals? Why do we aspire to make millions? Why do we always want to be better and bigger or have things that are better and bigger? Look at the state of our Planet Earth! Our Mother! What have we done?
There is another side to the coin, of course. My 11-year-old son asked me, “Would it not be boring, mom, selling rice all day?” I remembered that every person is unique. Many of us cannot help but aspire to do better every day. Many people want more because they simply want excitement. I get enough from my walks, yoga, children and animals and garden. I like the simple life but many people like to pack their lives with events and things.
I have been thinking about addiction a lot too. Was Lucy addicted to anything? No! She had no reason: she had stability and love and she could predict each day and go to bed knowing that was today, that was yesterday, this is tomorrow.
What are the Root Causes of Addiction?
- Trauma in childhood and later in life
- Abandonment and loneliness
- Mental health
- Genetics and environment
For me, modern living is the root cause of addiction. Stress dominates our lives. Our thoughts are what drive us, and our thoughts are mere energy. Think about it: thousands of years ago, our ancestors lived in caves and their main reason for living was survival. Like all animals. Watch the birds. They eat all day, fly all day, lay eggs, raise their young, and start all over again. All the time, birds are happy creatures. How many 100% happy people do you know?
What can you do to be fully present? What can you do to leave the past in the past, the future in the future? How can you live today as if it was your very last day on Planet Earth?
Rituals are how we step into our private field of dreams, a small Elysium all our own. Rituals are made not just for us, but for those we want to pass them on to. (Andre Aciman)
Do you have Rituals?
Carl Phillips wrote these beautiful words about the power of simple rituals:
Walking in nature.
Basking in the morning light.
Noticing the first signs of Spring or Autumn.
Making time to watch the sun setting.
Listening to the birds sing their songs.
A long walk to get nowhere in particular, just for the sheer enjoyment of the walk itself.
Sitting with white space.
These simple rituals, and ones like them, are available to us in the every day. There is power to be found in identifying our own versions.
Refuge to be found in linking them together and personalising. A source of joy, comfort and positive routine.
Simple, accessible but powerful. A winning combination.
Do YOU Believe in Goals?
I also found this wonderful article on a Zen website and would like to share it with all of you, unchanged. It is called “the best goal is no goal”. The writer acknowledges how for years he lived according to goals he set to achieve.
When he decided to stop doing this, he felt enormous liberation from the goal-setting that society has kind of ingrained into our cultures. Having no goals may just set you free from the consequences of then failing to achieve those goals. The wonderful effect of having no goals is to live entirely in the present.
Pretty soon, you may find that you are achieving the most incredible things, just because you can, and not because you are hindered by the brittleness of goals. What if you try this one day: walk out your door with no plan, no watch, no phone. Just your walking shoes. Walk in any direction. Change direction. Keep going. You will probably end up somewhere! And when you eventually get back to your front door, you will feel amazing.
Many people work for huge corporate companies where goals and hierarchical systems seem set up to keep the employees in a rigid system of goal setting and achieving. There are strategy meetings for this and structural meetings for that. Dates are set, diaries are filled, and computers rage all day. Why?
I know what you are thinking: is it not true that having no goal is a goal anyway? And how do I make a living if I don’t set goals? Read the article here. Journal your ideas down and think about them. Or just don’t think about it. Just be!