Ringing In the Year with those Big Questions

Like most everyone, I do a bit of life eval at New Years. My husband does it too, because I pressure him into it. On the last day of 2009 our big questions were the same ones I imagine a lot of other people were asking themselves:

Is this the life we want to live?
If there is such a thing as happy, is what we’re doing going to lead us there?
If you could picture your ideal life, where would it be? What would you do each day? What sorts of ideals and ethics would you live by?
and the really big one:
How do we get there from here?
And so, we find ourselves once again in a quagmire of living next door to the Joneses but feeling more like the Hatfields. Of desires and wants butted right up against the opposing force of our wish to be conscientious consumers, ethical walkers on this fragile, damaged planet.
Mark is a hunter. He is a man’s man and I mean that in the most hairy chested, grunting, scratching sense of the words. He does not talk about his emotions, especially with other men. He often does not recognize that he has them (emotions, not other men). He leaves everything to do with the house, home, hearth, children and homeschooling up to me and never even asks what we’re up to. He swears he can tell by watching Martina that she’s learning just fine and I guess that’s okay. He likes being the provider and I like my work at home status, so we are a good match. Beyond those basics, though, I sometimes wonder what in the hell we’re doing married. Mark likes plastic, styrofoam and more than one trash can to haul to the curb every Friday. I like minimal packaging, composting and producing as little garbage as possible. I started reading Mother Earth News when I was 18 and dreaming of homesteading in Montana. He was in the Navy and married to a go-go dancer 8 years older than him. To say we have disparate visions and life experiences would be to minimize things.
Like I said before, his goal is to be the provider and he is good at providing what he thinks he is supposed to, what he wants to provide. What is that? Is it lots of money so we can take fabulous vacations to Scotland or fresh, home grown crops and meat for our table? At this point in time what my husband provides is money and sometimes meat, labor in the garden, a strong back, a great work ethic and a warm body on the other side of the bed at night. I provide housekeeping and cooking services, child care, teaching, animal care, research capabilities and responsibilities, chemical free gardening experience and know how, angst and the cold butt on my side of the bed. In other words, we have divvied up our lives pretty traditionally.
But are these traditional roles what we want? Is what we want to do with our lives to spend them working and spending without ever catching a break? Are we, in the end, relentless consumers or are we really dedicated to changing the status quo in our own little way by consuming less, by providing more of our own needs, by *wanting* less? (And by ‘we’, I mean ‘I’, because here in Essertland, I’m the only one who cares. The rest of them would be happy with Ravioli and Coke every day.) There’s the rub. It’s hard, really abominably hard to quit *wanting* all the shit that we are supposed to want.
Here is an example: Can new curtains really provide a balm for my unquiet soul? Yes. The answer is, Yes. They can. You see, I just bought new curtains. They are aqua colored, thermal, watered silk with lovely flowers embroidered on them. In the mornings I wake up in a room that is the color of underwater in the Green Grotto. What is it about these curtains that soothes my soul? Was it the act of buying them, new! in a store? Is it the simple fact that I find them incredibly, unbelievably beautiful? Is it the way they keep the city night’s light outside and allow Mark and I cocoon into our bed with no more than a soft blue glow at the windows? Is it waking up feeling like I’m floating in the waters off Capri that does it? It is all of those things, except for the first one, especially the underwater feeling.
Now, how would I know about the Green Grotto if I’d never been there? How would I somehow connect my bedroom with a small X on the map just off the coast of Italy without the consumer dollars we spent to get there? Again, that damned quandary: my gluttony versus my desire to be an ethical consumer of goods and services.
It’s all so difficult and overwhelming, this noise inside my head. There are endless combinations that could equal my ideal because even still, I’m not sure what my ideal life is, where it is, what it consists of. Somehow I thought that by age 45, I’d have all of that ironed out. Here is what I do know: I want to do something. I want to make a difference. I want to go to Scotland, sit in a pub and drink too much Scotch on my way to Mykonos for a week. Yeah. At least I’m thinking about it. Are you?

About Bettina Colonna Essert

Illuminated Magdalene High Priestess and facilitator of empowerment and healing circles for girls and women, including a monthly Red Tent Temple. BA in English, minor in anthropology. Waldorf homeschool mom. Reiki master, cranial sacral therapist, herbalist, menstruvist, feminist, epicurian.
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