The Owl and The Pussy Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful 'red and white'(!) boat, They took some honey, and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, And sang to a small guitar, 'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love, What a beautiful Pussy you are, You are, You are!What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Edward Lear

Saturday, 19 November 2011

My perfect life (or not)

I recently read an article in a Nov/Dec 2007 copy of Resurgence magazine which I've had for years (4 in fact!). It's got so many fabulous deep and thought provoking articles in it that I've felt no need to buy another issue, I just keep re-reading this one.
The article that really touched me recently was one called 'Economics of Happiness' by Helena Norberg-Hodge.
These are the two paragraphs that summed up something going on for me at the moment.

"When I first arrived in Ladakh, or 'Little Tibet', a region high on the Tibetan plateau, it was still largely un-affected by either colonialism or the global economy. For political reasons the region had been isolated for many centuries, both geographically and culturally. The Ladakhis were the most contented and happy people I have ever encountered. Their sense of self worth was deep and solid; smiles and laughter were their constant companions. Then, in 1975, the Indian government abruptly opened Ladakah to imported food and consumer goods, to tourism and the global media, to western education and other trappings of the 'development' process.
Romanticised impressions of the west gleaned from media, advertising and fleeting encounters with tourism had an immediate and profound impact on the Ladakhis. Sanitised and glamorised images of the urban consumer culture created the illusion that people outside Ladakh enjoyed infinite wealth and leisure. By contrast working in the fields and providing for one's own needs seemed backward and primitive. Suddenly, everything from their food and clothing to their houses and language seemed inferior."

 The article goes on to talk about our expectation that children are naturally insecure, and depression is a universal affliction, and, on the positive side, the importance of community.

I feel that a lot of my life has been like those Ladakhis. I have never bought or regularly read newspapers, I have never had a television, I turn off the radio when the news comes on, I spend a lot of my life working amidst the sounds of nature, the silence of my home or music of my choice. I read all the local village newsletters, take an active part in many community activities, and would probably be unable to walk from one end to the other of any of our local villages without meeting someone I know. (By contrast I often drive 3 miles to work and don't see a single other vehicle!) I have often thought of myself as the happiest person I know.

When I first discovered blogs I was manically inspired and uplifted by all those other creative people making lovely things. But it's become too much now. I find that reading 'my beautiful and creative life' blogs gets me down, it feels like reading the 'Romanticised, sanitised and glamorised images' of the west. My life seems poorer, I don't sell many books, I get stomach ache, there seems to be endless paperwork to do. I spend way too much time reading about what strangers, millions of miles away, are doing in perfect moments of their perfect, creatively fulfilled, lives, and not enough time simply being and doing.

But I am also often inspired and uplifted by other peoples blogs. I need to strike a balance somehow.
I'll let you know when I've worked out how.

I've also decided to give up trying to sell books, it's just not me. I feel hugely relieved.  I need to do it just for pleasure and stick to gardening and farming for money.

1 comment:

  1. Nina - you're an example to me, and I'm so glad there's someone else who refuses to listen to the news or buy newspapers. Is there a balance to be struck between living in the modern world and rejecting it? I don't know. I tend to look on it as my karma to live in a highly developed Western nation and part of my life's mission to work out how to do so and still be happy. (I think I feel another blog coming on . . .)
    PS Have just spent a long weekend with my family in Kent and it's MUCH worse there than here.
    PPS Current solution - disappearing with Dog on long walks.