Getting ready for a book and DVD tour.
My husband and I bought a camper van from our friend Philip, a car dealer in Eugene, Oregon, and while the camper was still parked near Philip’s house I spent a few days learning how to drive it before setting off on my first crosscountry book and DVD tour. One afternoon I was in the camper when I saw a man across the street talking to, then hugging and kissing a woman near the woman’s car. I thought, “Oh, they’re Philip’s neighbors, and the wife must be leaving her dear husband for a business trip.” Two hours later, when the two of them finally drove off in separate cars, I suddenly understood I’d witnessed a paramours’ rendezvous. Later, Philip’s wife Divya told me that both the man and the woman are married, work in the same office, and come to that spot near her home daily – sometimes twice a day.
Beneath towering dark firs at the end of a quiet street, a couple jeopardizes their status quo in their family, at work, and in society for the overpowering dance of a happiness called love. This innermost need for completion, excitement, joy, for deep and requited emotion is the topic of uncounted songs, stories, sculptures, plays, poetry, paintings, dramas, films, and fantasies. It’s a need within all of us, yet the love that fulfills it is notoriously elusive and fleeting. Strange phenomenon, that.
For those of us who survived Sharanagati’s drawn-out winter, the varied greens that emerge from the moist and long-dormant soil especially gladden the heart. Somehow, whatever natural and man-made disasters plague our fragile planet, the earth is still robust and the sun still shines brilliantly.
In May I turned 61 (feels ancient!), and perhaps that’s why these days on my Sharanagati walks I often see decay and death juxtaposed with new life. Gradually, I’m getting it: these extremes are actually part of a continuum. “The material body of the indestructible, immeasurable, and eternal living entity is sure to die,” the Bhagavad-gita tells us, “and after death one is sure to take birth again.”
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada comments, “The soul is so small that it is smaller than an atom. That small particle is within you, within me, within the elephant, within the gigantic animals, in all people, in the ant, in the tree, everywhere. However, scientific knowledge cannot estimate the dimensions of the soul, nor can a doctor locate the soul within the body. Consequently, material scientists conclude that there is no soul, but that is not a fact. There is a soul. The presence of the soul makes a difference between the living body and a dead body. As soon as the soul departs from the body, the body dies.”
My husband, our younger daughter, and I live in an off-the-grid valley tucked in the foothills of British Columbia’s Cascade Mountains. (That little beige box above is our home.) We came here from Los Angeles some twelve years back, not only to get free of city burdens – traffic and pollution, noise and crime, high expenses and endless vistas of steel, concrete and glass – but to look anew at the direction our lives were taking and, along with the others in this valley, to create an alternative lifestyle that’s attractive and doable.
In this blog I’ll share with you our adventures here in the Sharanagati Village community. I’d love to hear your comments from wherever you may be…
John, Priya and me on our backyard trampoline and Shyam, Amrita and Kunja on our backyard hammock.
Below, Amrita and Priya surviving our first winter.