A deep yearning for less…a tea house dream

So many people, myself included on one level, crave for more, more, more. It is the driving force and message of our society: the promise of more and better. I remember when we were planning to build our own house the plans just kept getting bigger and bigger, with a room for this and that added by the day.

This year I allocated “the Year of Enough”. Enough racing about, enough trying to do too much, enough buying stuff. Yet here we are in November, and nothing has changed. What creates most discord in my life is tidying up endless mess and being deeply distressed by the level of chaos in our house – caused by too much stuff. With kids come stuff and, scarily, we are not particularly materialistic. Nor is our house particularly big. But on every surface is stuff and more stuff. And it exhausts me. It is messy, excessive, unnecessary. I yearn to be free of it.

We were down by the thatched Japanese tea house in the woods of my father’s house today, where we were married seven years ago, and where I now work, and a real fantasy formed in my head.

What if we were to live there? That for me would be heaven. And it would force me to down size. Force us to simplfiy. We lived in a 7 foot by 5 foot room in Japan for a year with roll up futons and a small shared bathroom, kitchen and living room and we were so happy. There is so much about the Japanese way of living that we loved, so much that we miss – including the open air hot bathing pools.

The tea house is one big Zen space. It could only be lived in uncluttered. It’s about 12 foot square with a 3 foot by 12 foot space behind for a shower/ kitchen, and sleeping platform above. It looks out over the bog, the sea, the island. You see the sunrise and set, the moon over the water. You hear the wind in the trees. You are always immersed in nature, in the seasons and the magic of the natural world. But you are warm and cosy and safe. Beside it we would have a compost toilet and the outdoor hot tub we dream of, and of course a little herb patch. It would be a Japanese life in an Irish wood, uniting all that we love.

We would simplify, simplify, simplify – live lighter in every way. There would be no worry about each child having a room – no one would have a bedroom! It would demand us to be uncluttered.

 And then I think – but would you change? Don’t “what if”, start from where you are – down size here. Unclutter here. But here we live in a normal house, one which demands furniture and has space to be filled. I cannot get my head around getting rid of lots of stuff here. Then it would just feel too austere, because we live a different way here. Oh how wonderful a thought the tea house life is… the children dreamed with us… it would be a simple life, one closely attached to the seasons, living in a place which is secluded yet in the village. In a beautifully handcrafted space, with cedar floors and underfloor heating, a thatched roof. Like a modern yurt.

We would need less money to live on, so the sense of “need to earn” would diminish yet another level. I cannot imagine it being viable for the next four years or so, it would not be a fun existence with little energetic children with lots of toys. But when they are all at school, that bit bigger…

I trust in the magic which happens when visions are articulated clearly. I trust in the magic of putting it out there. Dream with me!

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