access to our innate wisdom
I’m not suggesting that everything should be inconvenient. I am suggesting that convenience isn’t the driver for decision making.
You see I’ve realised how much I’ve allowed convenience to be my master and I’ve spun it brilliantly well, so I’ve not been aware of how fiercely a decision made on convenience, and continued to be made for the sake of convenience, undermines the very fabric of my being. Sound a little dramatic? Maybe, but hear me out..
One of the meanings of convenient is ‘involving little trouble or effort’.
Now I understand that sometimes creating things to be convenient is valuable – like creating paint colours already mixed so artists don’t have to go out and find their own cochineal beetles and grind them up to make that perfect shade of red. But if a painter can see a particular colour in his imagination and resorts to a ready-mixed colour because it’s less hassle even though it’s not quite ‘right’, then we don’t get the full expression of his creativity. When a writer uses a well-worn phrase because it so effortlessly flows on to the page, rather than deepen his experience of what he wants to express, the life bleeds out of his prose and we, the reader, disengage. The integrity of the artistry is lost.
I get that the creation of a fridge makes it wonderfully convenient to keep our food from going off so fast. And perhaps some of the ingredients made which enhance the shelf life of food may not be so bad… but here comes the point where we disengage our wisdom…convenience food on the whole is made with some seriously nasty chemicals which don’t marry well with our body…and then we heat these manufactured meals in a microwave, which has also been seen to destroy any goodness in our food (if there was any left) as well as radiate energy which is also destructive to our own bodily tissue.
This leads us to the more subtle conveniences. The ones which undermine our own authority, our own best wisdom about who we are and how we want to express ourselves in the world?
A friend of mine recently pointed out an older woman who hasn’t driven a car in over twenty years because her husband ‘does the driving’. It’s convenient to be driven, it’s convenient not to challenge the status quo, but her confidence in her ability to drive gets eroded month by month and year by year. Each little sap of confidence goes unnoticed, it becomes a part of ageing, it becomes a part of life.
How many times have you chosen a course of action, however few steps are involved, because it’s convenient rather than in your best interests?
How many times have we not played with our child because it’s inconvenient right now as we need to finish some work? How many times have we missed a good film in the cinema because…chosen a mediocre holiday because…taken a less challenging education option…not taken one at all…accepted the advice of our MD because…taken the knock back by that publisher, literary agent or casting director as truth…had an abortion/not had an abortion…put everyone else first…not marched for justice…not spoken our truth…let go of our dreams..?
When we compromise our truth, by using ‘convenience’ as an excuse, we allow something else to steal in – a ‘second best’ approach to life. If we keep doing this decade after decade we end up not knowing who we are, we get inflexible in body and mind and we get old before our time.
Moving in to a yurt for the winter as I turned 60 was not the convenient choice. I had no history which said it was a good idea. I’m not fit, I have little in the way of resources, I’ve never even been in to camping… so why on earth didn’t I just stay where I was where light, heat, running water and plumbing, internet and friends were all just an arm-span away? Because lovely as it was, it was not where I wanted to be. My heart and soul ached to be immersed in nature for at least twenty years but the compromise of convenience kept being my siren call…I allowed the ache but didn’t act on it. Until last November.
Each step of the way to even agreeing that rental was a challenge to me. I thought I’d have my logs and food as an exchange for what I do as easily as breathing. It would have been so much more convenient if I hadn’t needed a car (even though I was in the middle of nowhere) and didn’t need to think about sourcing logs and food. But I’d taken a step off the path of convenience and was being pushed further.
I was off-grid there. Almost everything was inconvenient. To have heat for warmth, to wash and to cook I needed to build a fire in the wood-burner. I had stacked my logs outside. I made sure I had three days worth of them inside the yurt at any time because it’s far simpler to light and burn dry logs than wet. So I explored how to make things as convenient as possible – but not to the point where I’d get a gas heater…but then again that wouldn’t heat the water in the kettle or cook food on the hotplate. I brought a container of fresh water in each day so I had enough for washing myself and my utensils and make tea! For internet I had to get my snow-boots on and all my warm and wet weather gear and march off to the farmhouse or drive to the nearest town…
So why was I there? To fall in love with the dark, to develop a more intimate and direct dialogue with nature, to feed my imagination, to write and make videos and to toughen up, become more resilient and self-reliant, stronger, healthier and more connected to life… that elemental life energy which courses through our world in trees, plants, wildlife, landscape and weather. And I also realised that I was there to track and meet some of the worlds most untameable beasts but more of that another time! Well, talk about convenient – all of that was right there, all around me, a canvas skin away.
We don’t need to know ‘how’ to do what we’d love, we don’t need to build a raft of reasons about why we should follow a particular path, we don’t even need the resources… we only need to decide. Really decide. Not a ‘sort of, maybe, one day, perhaps…’ decision, but that ‘I’m going to do this come what may’ decision.
Our life is a work of art and an extraordinary privilege however challenging ours might be. So if we are the artist of our own life then just like a painter or writer compromises the integrity of their artistry when they take short cuts for the sake of convenience, we compromise the integrity of our lives when we do the same…
Compromise and convenience are two other big ‘C’s – we just may not have realised how terminal they can be.
But another ‘C’ is the solution… as Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.’.