An Authentic Life
Liz has got me thinking about what really constitutes an authentic life. She is one of the bloggers I read and engage in conversation with about not only knitting, but where fiber fits in the rest of the lives we are trying to live, as organic gardeners, as people living in rural places, as concerned citizens watching the proliferation of war, loss of civil rights, and crash course past the point of peak oil, among other social issues.
Some of you might notice that I recently added a quote by Simone de Beauvoir to my header; this is a very good summation of how I view my role on the planet. In my heart and in the expression of my being, I am an artist: a knitter, a writer, a photographer.
These are all expressions of living in society, in the culture I was born into, not just "American society", but the portion unique to me - my Portuguese Catholic heritage, growing up in California, which was populated by adventurous spirits from around the world in a very rapid fashion 150 years ago, and where tolerance for diversity has often flourished more strongly. That could be part of why the "peace and love" movement taking place in Haight Ashbury as I was entering high school could spring up in California, and influence my young adulthood. We are each unique sums of the common culture, and its variations and sub-sets.
I am also trying hard to live a life that is more integrated, where nature, animals, gardening and creating can thrive. An authentic life for me would mean being able to skip driving to work, as I had meaningful wprk within walking or biking distance from home, that adequately compensated my needs and a few of my wants (this includes health care and a plan for if I became disabled or too old and tired to keep working full tilt). It would mean that my work also left enough time to contribute to the community and to pursue my creative activities (read: more time to knit and read and write). I would live where culture flourished on an intimate level, through dinners with other people a few times a week and cultural outlets that didn't involve lots of travel.
Am I living this life? Is it only an ideal? These are the questions that I grapple with regularly. I have meaningful work, but not necessarily the work that best uses my talents, training and abilities. I have to drive 24 miles each way to get there, but I do meet most of my needs... and am working on re-aligning my wants so that they are less driven by the materialistic, disposable-ethic, mainstream. I am always wanting more time with the animals, more time with friends, and more time to knit. The stack of books to read never really gets any smaller, as new ones get added even as some get finished... often it is a few feet tall, reflecting the difficulty in finding enough time for reading, which to me is essential to keeping my own mind active, and to keeping up with the culture.
I am grateful that blogging and the Internet allow me more opportunities to engage in this conversation with others. How do you feel? Are you trying to live your version of an authentic life, or have you thrown up your hands, daunted by the demands of daily life? Talk to me!