I'm certain that I am not the only one who struggles with the balancing act we call modern/western life. I've been thinking about this in particular because I live in a nearly 40 year old double-wide trailer with a perpetually leaky roof, and I have also been reading a biography of the painter, Renoir, written by his son.
Renoir lived through the arrival of the industrial revolution, seeing how it displaced artisans, farmers, craftspeople and traditions, even as it brought more affordable goods to more people. The loss of individuality of dress (recognizable by profession, for example, or by the good tailoring whereby a suit might be worn by 3 generations of fathers and sons), the loss of artistry in ceramic decoration and in murals (to be replaced by cheaply printed plates and wall paper), and the loss of the closeness of people to their livelihoods (living above one's shop, for example) are all losses which I believe we still feel as a society... and we have not found anything to replace them. There has been a dis-integration and dis-connection of people from the lives we lead. Where is the value in reality television or being a sports fan?
When I live in a cheaply manufactured home as I do, no matter how much time, money, and effort I invest in keeping it from falling apart, the fact is that the house was never meant to last. It was not built to stay in a family for generations. Trailers are made to be temporary shelter, used for a short while until a permanent home could be constructed. The fact that so many people never actually attain the "real" home, and stay stuck in decrepit, rotting, disintegrating structures, is an artifact not only of the debts we incur just to find shelter, but also that our entire system is geared against any one person's ability to build their own place. We are stuck on the treadmill of work, trying to earn enough money to keep paying our bills, and not having enough time or daylight, let alone energy, to invest in ourselves.
What good is it for people to struggle so much for a home that isn't even going to keep its value? Isn't your home supposed to be that place of solidity, of refuge, of safety? Will I never realize my goal of being able to live in a solid warm home, with my garden and farm animals, where people who need to see me could sit with me first in my garden, or inside by a fire, to feel the earth, to feel the safety and sacredness of the space, before we get down to work?
I have written before about my struggles with time, seasons, and the need to do things while they are fresh and need to be done -- for example, when it's time to harvest fruit, or time to prune the trees, I feel an overwhelming urge to cancel all my clients and do the seasonal tasks so that my family and I will eat well over the winter. Maybe some people will even understand that. But what about when it is time to paint, or write, or meditate? These are things that do not fit into a schedule, no matter how much the life coaches tell you that you can schedule time to work it into your day. If a thought or line pops into your mind while you are driving the 30 miles to work, how are you supposed to catch it without stopping?
I know I ask a lot of questions for which there are no easy answers. My hope is that in doing the asking, that maybe the Universe will hear me, and guide me.