Lost & Found

Do you have the patience to wait

Until the mud settles & the water is clear?

Can you remain unmoving

Until the right action arises by itself?

~ Lao Tzu

On our morning walk, Shanti, his new friend Eena, and I wandered some trails in the nearby woods. We meandered from the red trail to the blue trail and back to the red. We were rambling with some sense of location as we passed other signs of human activity — shitake logs, a patch of covered fruit trees, a pile of stones that looked surprisingly like a grave, and on and on. It gradually occurred to me that we were perhaps a bit lost. Not totally lost. I mean I knew that if we walked in some direction or another we’d eventually come across our friends’ house and our new orange tent, or a road, or someone else’s house. But there is a lot of land back there and a lot of trees that start to look a lot alike. As I stood silently taking in this fact, I turned in a full circle, and about ten feet away I spotted an old birch tree. Just yesterday Judy, Shanti, Eena, and I had walked through these same woods with a bit of an eye towards birches that might be mature enough to harbor a chaga mushroom [Inotus obliquus, a fungus in the Hymenochatetaceae family, high in antioxidents] yet didn’t come upon any birch at all. I had no such intention on this morning’s walk, and yet here I was lost and steps away from one with two chaga mushrooms, in fact! We eventually found our way back to a trail and to the homestead, grateful to the birch for the piece of chaga it almost purposely seemed to have shared with us. This seems to be a manifestation of our deliberate approach to life these days: Our aim is to find answers through ease of attraction rather than stressful pursuit.

Similarly, last week, after spending a month agonizing over a design for our tiny house — trying to combine various rooflines, incorporate stairs, balance form with function, etc. and just not “seeing” it – the design just came to me in a moment when I wasn’t thinking about it at all! I remember this being true with my dissertation work years ago also. After spending eight hours a day (day after day!) trying to figure out and think my way through the qualitative data, it wasn’t until I took my evening walk in the river valley and let my mind wander that the missing links would fall into place. Don’t get me wrong – the research we’ve done on tiny houses has informed us and continues to (as did those 8 hours days staring at PhD. data!). And I also enjoyed yesterday’s walk where we were consciously seeking out the chaga. Yet, it wasn’t the pursuit or the seeking that led to results. We know this and we experience it over and over again in our lives, nevertheless it remains something that easily slips from our awareness.

Our friends want to know where we are going to land with the tiny house, what it will look like, when it will be completed, what work I’ll find (or create), how we will live, etc. And we are of course spending time researching, exploring, and discussing all of these issues. However, we are very intentionally not forcing any of it into a solid shape or even seeking concrete answers. We are instead just letting it all be as it is right now. Some folks seem to think we are a bit lost. And to tell the truth there are moments where we ourselves feel an inkling of this too (though our feelings rarely coincide with others’ perceptions!). And yet, we truly have faith that in some of these “feeling lost” moments we will simply turn our head to one side and — like the appearance of the birch tree with the chaga to share – the answers will reveal themselves! 🙂

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