Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Jesus of Nazareth
(Luke 17:33 and Matthew 6:34)
A lot of stuff has been written these days about finding yourself.
Find solitude…escape from life’s routines…live without distraction…eschew social obligations…lay work commitments aside…get ‘off-grid’…do whatever it takes to find your true self!
Neil Ansell definitely has a ‘take’ on this. As one who enacted all of the above, and more, he certainly has lived experience.
In “Deep Country”, he writes:
By the time the first frosts came in November, my shelves would be laden with jars of jam and pickled mushrooms, bottles of ketchup and wine, and whatever else I had preserved that year. What vegetables could not be left out to overwinter would be harvested and stored. I would be like a squirrel with my cache of nuts to keep me through the hard times to come. The hatches would be battened down; I was ready for the worst. Happiness is a full larder.From “Deep Country – Five Years in the Welsh Hills”, by Neil Ansell
This was the pattern of my days, a simple life led by natural rhythms rather than the requirements and expectations of others. Imagine being given the opportunity to take time out of your life, for five whole years. Free of social obligations, free of work commitments. Think how well you would get to know yourself, all that time to consider your past and the choices you had made, to focus on your personal development, to know yourself through and through, to work out your goals in life, your true ambitions.
None of this happened, not to me. Perhaps for someone else it would have been different. Any insight I have gained has been the result of later reflection. Solitude did not breed introspection, quite the reverse. My days were spent outside, immersed in nature, watching…My attention was constantly focused away from myself and onto the natural world around me. And my nights were spent sitting in front of a log fire, aimlessly turning a log from time to time and staring at the flickering flames. I would not be thinking about the day just gone; that day was done. And I would not be planning tomorrow; tomorrow would take care of itself. The silence outside was reflected by a growing silence within…I certainly learned to be at ease with myself in the years I spent at Penlan, but it was not by knowing myself better – it was by forgetting I was there. I had become a part of the landscape, a stone.