I have been inspired to speak up.
For some reason in my subconscious I have struggled with caring a bit too much about what people think of me. I am afraid of being judged and it has caused me to never be completely myself around people including close family and friends. It causes me to take a very long time to be comfortable with new people and opening up. It even took me a while to be assertive with my very own husband who currently takes first place in being the person I am most comfortable being myself with in the world. But even he has yet to see some natural parts of me including singing at the top of my lungs while driving by myself or getting into the music while alone at home and dancing around the kitchen.
The main reason for writing this letter is to finally tell the world what my life is all about. My true goals and aspirations.
I feel misunderstood by family and friends but maybe that is my own fault because I have never really laid it all out and have only shown bits and pieces of my true life. I am not a person who expresses much or well in spoken form.
I have left a lot out and maybe that’s confusing.
I have been afraid of being judged and criticized but the alternative hasn’t been all that better. I almost feel like I am living a secret life and having secrets can be exhausting.
In 2009, when I was 20 years old, I made the decision to change my life and live the life I have been living since. I decided to go against expectations, I dropped out of college, I cut financial ties with my family, I moved out of the country and joined my soulmate to live a life attempting to surrender to God.
Over the last 6 years my life has been constantly changing, we have moved 8 times, lived in 3 different states and two different countries. We have sold everything we had but our suitcases more than once, we have lived in our car and traveled across the East Coast for months, we have encountered disease, opposition, exhilaration, happiness, comfort, discomfort, friends, humanity, evil and some very good movies and food.
We have experienced having just a few cents in our pockets, giving away our last few dollars to a homeless man, as well as lived in a nice house by the lake with two kitties with a whole bedroom to themselves and spending hundreds on Christmas gifts one winter.
We have never gone hungry or cold. In spite of at one point reaching complete poverty we have never been without shelter or food and I attribute that 100% to my faith in God.
One very important thing to note is that we have both chosen this life.
Not a life of poverty or wealth, not a life of comfort or discomfort, not a life of moving a lot or staying in one place, but a life of surrender to God, a life where money is not the priority, nor is “success” or fame, where having a nice house or car is not the goal, where being in debt to achieve material gain is far away from our desire.
We currently live in a basement apartment. When people ask about my current situation I tell them I live in the beautiful state of Oregon in the country in an old renovated 1920’s schoolhouse with a lovely kitty cat near the amazing city of Portland.
All of this is technically true but the part where I’m not truthful in fear of being judged or misunderstood is the things that I leave out, and this is what I’ve been doing for years.
The complete truth is we live in the basement of the aforementioned schoolhouse which above us is very nice, but our place lacks natural sunlight and all of the furniture is used and was gifted by our landlords from their auction-goings, and where the traffic noise is a nuisance because we live near the highway and this country area isn’t really that nice, with no suitable place nearby to go for a jog.
That is the truth but it doesn’t end there.
The truth is also that we get to share a wonderful garden with organic produce, we don’t go hot or cold and we don’t have to deal with utility bills.
The truth is also that we have chosen to live like this because this we know is where we are supposed to be at this time.
We could change our situation but we don’t. I don’t believe in forcing anything but going with the flow.
Hubby could get a 9-5 job with benefits and we could live in a nice house and have a nicer car but we choose not to… We choose not to play the game; we choose not to climb any corporal ladders. We choose to put no priority on money or things.
We live on a cash only basis where we only purchase what we can afford. We have no credit cards and no material debt.
We choose to live a simple life, have little, have enough; remain detached.
I am content. I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is my path and how I choose to live my life and follow God, this is the path He has chosen for me.
I simply choose to follow Him, and He chooses the rest for me. This is how I can be content by following the path He lays in front of me and not the path I decide to take.
And I am so lucky to have found a partner/a soulmate with whom I can lead this life, who allows me to follow, gives me the freedom to follow, and even enhances my true values.
Unlike me, (I nag him all the time), he never tells me what to do.
I admire him because unlike me, he is not afraid to speak his mind and will not do things that go against the truth of his soul just to please others. Because he doesn’t give in to other people’s desires, so many have gone against him and it only goes to show how much we are all actors in this world. We need to get back to our true selves, we need to stop expecting others to act a certain way to please us, we need to stop being selfish and give importance to the roots of God in humanity, to love one another and to be honest.
We are not ascetics.
We do have a lovely kitten and enjoy the occasional outing in the city. We often fantasize about owning out land and traveling to Italy.
I am not a saint. I do give in to desires, but I try not to.
It is hard to describe this life to family and friends and I don’t even attempt it with strangers or acquaintances.
They believe I am not happy because I don’t lead a conventional life, because I am not settled in a nice house or a career or a job. After all, this was not the life I desired growing up, but it is now. And who is to say those things bring happiness? I can be willing to attest that many people who have those things aren’t truly happy.
I am not going to pretend (as I have been) that I am happy all the time, but I am content, and being content is better. It makes everything easier.
I have been very happy and I have been sad just like any regular human being living any kind of life.
And I am happy in knowing that I am leading the life I’m supposed to.
My goals and aspirations are:
To be kind
To be honest
To love God
To love everyone
To surrender to God
To be desireless
To be selfless
To have no attachments
To remain cheerful in spite of suffering
To hold on to His daaman
To find the Truth
I am no expert in any of them but that’s why they are goals I aspire to achieve and live up to, and I try to do so by living this life and straying from worldly goals with no meaning and no lasting value like financial and material success. Never will those things give me true happiness nor help me find the Truth.
I find very hard to live up to these values and reach for them in this world where more and more people have lost faith in God and worship money instead. I also find too much judgment and illusory temptations which is why I try to guard myself from it by not expressing it.
I really wish I didn’t care about what people think of me. That would be very lovely. I would love being able to be free to be completely myself no matter the cost.
God has taught me that one of the worst things to be is a hypocrite; to pretend someone you are not and I’m afraid I have done so many times by not expressing my true values and beliefs out of fear of rejection or criticism.
With this letter I am taking a step forward to being not a hypocrite, to being true to myself, to be free.
But how to remain this way?
I face challenges. I lack strong will. I am more of a go with a flow gal than forcing anything.
When I visit the home where I grew up it is hard not to fall back to my old habits and my old life. Things that don’t matter to me most of the time begin to matter. I wear makeup and dress up to go out for drinks with friends, I go shopping with mom, I dine in nice restaurants with dad, I gossip and talk about salaries with friends, while the whole time justifying and giving excuses for my unconventional life. And I enjoy doing all these things.
But it’s like a take a vacation from my true self.
I want to own up to my chosen life and values, but another thing I am keen on is not shirking worldly duties and responsibilities.
But what are those?
Do they include being a good daughter and friend? I think so. But how do I do so while not being a hypocrite?
Am I being a hypocrite when I accept a plane ticket from my dad to go to the most peaceful place in India or a ticket to Mexico where I indulge in a “wordly life”?
Some of my other responsibilities as I see them are to be kind and honest, being a good wife, and feeding the cat.
I have taken a step forward today. I no longer have to pretend I lead a “normal” life. The secret not so secret is out. I am not stuck on a life I didn’t dream of, I am not unhappy and I don’t have much.
As long as I have God I will have everything I need.
Disclaimer: my life may change tomorrow or in a few years, we might keep moving, we might live in a car again, we might live in a mansion or we might endure great pain and suffering. It is all His will. I don’t see the future, I just try to live in the present and follow His wish and will for me.
I don’t have a permanent home, I don’t even have a home and that is what I seek but will not get there until I find the real Truth and break from illusion.
Till next time,
Mani, the nomad
“Want nothing and you will have everything.” – Meher Baba