We all pine for a time in life when things were simpler. Even when they weren’t necessarily simpler, hindsight makes them look a lot simpler. The reality of it was that it wasn’t. ~~ Ben Gibbard
When I see old photos in black and white, I often take my mind time capsule to travel back and imagine those days. I falsely attribute them as simpler.
I am not alone in having a somewhat hectic life, nor am I am alone in the quest for simplicity. Many of my conversations with friends center around what we are doing to clean out, purge, release, simplify.
I landed in Lakehurst, NJ, in 1988 clearly due to a direct plop by the hand of destiny. I never had the intention to live here, and yet now I couldn’t imagine myself leaving. There is some comfort in the thought that I am happy where I am rooted.
In the late 1800’s, a beautiful resort named the Pine Tree Inn was built in Lakehurst. A winter resort, open from October to May, complete with sun porches, fireplaces, tennis courts, and my beautiful Lake Horicon.
I feel very connected to this place, though it was razed in the 1940’s. The school sits there now. I learned that in addition to the recreational activities, there were healing modalities offered as well. A place for rest. Many stayed to allow time for recuperation. This all amazes me, as I strive to find my center in the single digit temperature weather we are experiencing in January. People came here, in the cold, on purpose. My soul connects with many stories that somehow do not fully surface to become words.
I say, maybe too often, that my lake is magic, but I truly believe it so. She has healed me. I am evidence of her power. We create blocks of appointments, responsibilities, things and build towers around us. Life itself throws blocks of illness, disasters, life changes at us, and we grab them with gusto to build the walls that block the view of what is truly essential. The personal battle of Jericho, the tumbling of our walls, occurs when we find the silence, and allow the self-care to begin. Without self-care, we will never find our core, where simplicity must be established. It doesn’t matter if it is 1930 or 2014, the very nature of life includes getting the crap beat out of us. The very essence of serenity is to lock into the stillness. Mother Nature, in her infinite capability to offer healing (from food, to flowers, Mother Ocean, and so much more), will open the door for us the moment we make the commitment to accept her gifts.
“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one”.
~~ the Venerable Thupten Ngodrup
The path through the woods at my lake during the time of the Pine Tree Inn, doesn’t look much different than the path I walk today. This is not lost on me. As I wrote, at first I felt as if I was jumbling my topics – simplicity, self-care, life. As my words tumbled onto the page, the truth spoke to me that they are connected by a thread that cannot be broken. We are simple by nature, complicated by design. Our desire for simplicity is always fueled by our aspiration for peace. Self care is the only way to find our personal center, the center of our lotus self. Self care is the only way to actually maintain the strength we need to support others if that is our chosen mission. Let me put this in bold print to lovingly yell at a couple of you reading this. SELF CARE IS NOT SELFISH. In his powerful book “THE LAST LECTURE” Randy Pausch stated ““Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” (If you haven’t read this book.. get to it, but have tissues handy)
Watching the woodpecker enjoy the species specific feeder that our neighbor Peter gifted us, and the chickadees and wren, along with a cranky blue jay flitting from feeder to branches, I am comfortably sliding into the knowing of the NOW and the simplicity of that fact. It is NOW. It is all I have. Choices for simplicity and peace in this moment, a commitment to myself at this point in time, are the tools to topple the walls.
** Aside from the Pine Tree Inn and the b/w path photo, they are all actually my shots at Lake Horicon.