When it hit me
Last Friday, I started doing the necessary practicalities for my departure. I did a laundry so as to arrive in Plum Village with clean clothes and to ensure Marloes can sleep in fresh bedsheets next week. I finally got the flat tire of the bike fixed and found the container to recycle some glass jars. I arranged my moving on Sunday (thanks a thousands, Erik!) and started sorting out and packing my stuff. All that happened in a rather light, practical manner, without noticeable emotional impact. Until that moment, when all of a sudden it hit me.
It hit me when I was finished packing and decided to go for a swim in the natural pool. Walking to the pool, I realised that I’ve grown very fond of this place, it’s people, this simple life in nature. Yes, I would love to stay. Diving into the water I was simultaneously diving into spaciousness, into now, into my heart. Wow, this beauty. This variety of plants around the pool, the abundant vegetable and flower garden next to it, the mild weather and soft sunlight.
It hit me. How much I’ve come to feel at home here. How much I love and treasure living on this piece of land. Oh, my heart is full of a bittersweet mix of melancholy and gratitude. Just take this moment in time, the wealth I experience while typing these words. Sitting in the pipowagen in my summer dress, all doors open, my hair still dripping from my evening swim. Birds singing, light changing ever so slightly due to the retreating sun, soft tones of green embracing me and a mild breeze caressing my skin.
It hit me and I knew, it’s time to say goodbye. Honouring this present moment, honouring what was and through that, making space for what’s yet to come.
So here’s a love letter to the land
Written by heart, not merely by hand
A journal of magic to recall and remember
The wish to come visit again in September
I’m so grateful for this paradise and the opportunity I had to call it my home for the past months. Besides the experience itself, it also showed me the abundance of possibilities that is out there. I remember the first time I came to visit this place and I just couldn’t believe my senses. But yes, it’s true! Yes, there are magical places of nature in the Netherlands. Yes, I can live there. Wow!
Just as animals live there. Let me give you a short selections of my encounters on the land. One of the most impressive was a deer galloping away at night when I passed. I didn’t see it, but heard and felt it’s footstep on departing. I saw another deer during a stroll in daytime. Then there was the hare. The hare sat quietly in the grass, just a meter or so distance from the path I was standing on. We remained there for a moment, before it slowly made its way into the other direction and I too moved on.
Then there is the frogs, the salamanders in the pool, the snails and the insects. The birds such as woodpeckers in the trees, redbreasts in the bushes, buzzards in the air. One recent day, a babybird even visited in the pipowagen when Mirjam and me were having breakfast. What a tiny, beautiful, cute creature! My heart grew ever so tender while watching it sit climb the curtain and finally fluttering into freedom again. Last but not least, mice rushing around in front of the pipowagen made for entertaining ‘hippie tv’ (a term coined by Marloes). Though I love their sweet looks I was glad they were merely neighbours, not housemates.
At times, I also had the pleasure to share this home with friends. Thank you so much for coming over and sharing love, meals, conversations, music, silence and so much more together dear ones! Thank you for making me even more aware of the magic here and in those moments. Same goes for all those moments and encounters with lovely people in other locations and settings. I want to focus on life in the pipowagen here, so maybe I will share more about my experiences with tantra, mushrooms, sweatlodge, women circle, kirtan singing, and babysitting another time. What I do want to share at this point is how my ‘retreat to nature’ was also just that, but also cruised around quite a lot and enjoyed the freedom of having a car in the countryside.
At home around and within
Oh dear nature. How I love to come home to this exuberant sea of plants, soil and fresh air. To be indulged in the sounds of songbirds and mosquitos, the brook or the rain. Trees swaying, leaves waving. Nature invites me to come home, not just in that particular location, but more crucially in myself. It’s these small moments like brushing my teeth in the moonlight, walking around the land, breathing in the air, getting up in the morning and moving from ‘still a little tired and heavy’ to ‘I’m awake and happy to be alive’ just by making my way into the bushes to pee.
Thank you, land. For the open arms that embrace me every time I return to you. Reassuring me that it’s okay. That what matters most doesn’t ask for rushing or doing my best. As a matter of fact it doesn’t ask for anything at all. There’s nothing I need to fix, reach, prove. Moments of knowing that this is it, this is more than enough. A sigh of release and relaxation. A heart heavy of gratitude. Tears of loss and recovery on sinking into nature and thus my own being. It’s the dancing trees, the changing colours, the growing greens, the various weathers – all that’s alive outside that invites me, reminds me to get in touch with the aliveness inside as well.
Okay, to be honest the current season helps a lot to foster an enthusiastic feeling about living off grid in nature. It’s easy to live comfortably outside, when temperatures are mild to hot, grey skies and rain are a welcome alternation instead of an everyday reality. It’s very rewarding to work on the land at this time, when everything seems to explode and go wild. As the (wise) woman of the land stated recently, summer is about crossing boundaries – personal, geographical, or other. I can just second that after the last weeks’ activities and the travel plans ahead. Nevertheless, I’m also curious and hopeful to experience life in nature during the rougher, colder seasons later this year. Looking forward to living with all the seasons and weathers.
From discomfort to new routines
I mentioned this before, in my newsletter. In the beginning of my stay, it took some more time and getting used to the practical sides of living a more simple life. Preparing meals and doing the dishes, washing myself (the ‘bathroom’ being the natural swimming pool on the land), going to the ‘toilet’ (the bushes and a hole in the ground)… It all feels very natural by now, but I do remember the first days, when all those small actions demanded a lot of time and effort.
Same goes for my use of the internet. Before moving, my intention and expectation was to be able to work online in the pipowagen. When my mobile internet connection proved to be less than satisfactory, this first caused me quite some frustration and irritation. How would I be able to prepare for my dance ceremony? What to do about the newsletter I was supposed to send? And all those administration to-do’s that were on my list? In time, expectations have been adjusted and I feel quite happy to reduce online work to some hours a week in the local library or café. It invites me to use both my offline and online time wisely. It allows me to be more at home, from which arises beauty like reading books, staring outside, drawing…
From integration to enrichment
Besides the practical aspects of everyday life, it also took some time to settle into the new surroundings. The social contacts with the other people living on the land, the broader surroundings of the village and landscape. The Mondays when we worked together in the vegetable garden or elsewhere on the land, helped a lot in the integration process. I enjoyed doing this beautiful, physical work together and then connecting further over lunch.
Despite all that, I realise that I’m only starting to fully land and integrate. And that these roots in the ground are somehow necessary to build or start something new here. Marloes invited me to feel free in building a compost toilet, growing some plants or organising life in the pipowagen in a new way if I see fit. Due to the above mentioned landing process, however, I only feel able to move into that direction since a few days. I look forward to the chance to spend more time adding to and enriching some magical place in the future.
On the significance of chopping wood
Wouldn’t that be an amazing title for a book? It wouldn’t surprise me if I saw workshops in chopping wood popping up in the spiritual/conscious world soon. You see, I’m a fan! First of all, it is super rewarding when you finally see this piece of wood split off, when you can hear and feel that happening. Besides, in the process of healing and balancing my third chakra (inspired by the massage training by Connie van Dam earlier this year), getting (myself and) my energy moving is vital. So one day on the land, I suddenly felt the calling to I hit the wood (instead of the gym) in order to start my inner fire. And oh how it burned! From feeling tired, demotivated, lazy, heavy… I ended up feeling awake, centred, energized, empowered. It worked instantly all the moments I tried.
Nourishing my creative and spiritual practice
Next to living in nature, my intention for this period in the pipowagen was to make space for my creative and spiritual practice. Even though I haven’t had a recurring daily practice, I am happy to share that I filled the pipowagen with music and even dance, with love and life. Thanks to my intention, the lack of distraction and the subtle invitation of nature, I regularly grabbed my guitar and started jamming. I took time to write my newsletter, blog and diary.
I meditated, walked mindfully among grass and trees, did breathing exercises, danced or did bodywork outside. Nat made space for ceremonies around my menstruation and other meaningful moments. For instance, I offered the blood to the earth but also used part of it to draw. I had a cacao ceremony with a dear friend and lots of everyday magic. I read books in sun- or candlelight which inspired me to learn, grow and continue on my path. Oh and did I mention these moments when I was just being?
Last but not least – the mess that is also life
Oh and did I mention the inner conflicts, unhealthy eating, self doubt, sleep deprivation… Because these were and are also part of my life in paradise. They come and go as do the more pleasant experiences. Haha, yeah, I feel I need to counter balance the above paragraph. I just want to reassure you that I am indeed a human being. A human being that experiences a lot of flow, magic and love these months, but still a human being. And maybe in another blogpost I will share more about the difficulties, inner processes, etc.
Off to new adventures
The day before ‘it hit me’ I was also writing. But before words were streaming like a waterfall, I first got distracted big time. Looking back seemed to make me look forward. Suddenly I submersed myself in a research for communities and organic farms that I could visit or live/work with from August onwards. Wow, what a joy to see all these possibilities popping up and to feel this movement and motivation awaken within myself! And how wonderful to allow this detour, instead of forcing myself into writing.
Everything at its own time. Trust the flow. Even if it doesn’t seem wise first. All those moments when I let go of my plans, my ideas of what should be done, my expectations… Time and again, magic occurred right then and there. Happy to see what the next moments will bring.
photo by Jurriaan Koot 🙂