Living the dream vs. Living The Dream

Today marks a month since we moved onto our farm and into our new life. How time flies! It feels like yesterday we were sitting in the airport on our way from Denmark to the big adventure of finding the exact piece of Earth that was just waiting for us to adopt it. The place where we would learn and do so much; where we would be stewards and guard the land with our heart and soul.

The adventure didn’t start in the airport, though. It started months (or is it years?) before with dreams, hopes and expectations. We took permaculture courses, went on dragon dreaming workshops and sat for Vedic Astrology readings. We put post-its on cupboards, made mind-maps and hand-drawn permaculture designs for fictitious sites. We discussed, argued and pored over books. We made budgets en masse, cash flow forecasts and profit-and-loss statements – and somehow along the way figured out how to do these things in the way that The System has said it must be done. We researched prices for farm equipment, calculated fuel costs for excavators, read up on tax laws and worked out how much linen you need to have to run a guesthouse. Somewhere along the way we picked up a lawyer to help us with the endless legalities of setting up a company in a foreign country and buying a property with said company – he was so friendly and helpful that we called him “Uncle Henning” until he sent us his first bill.

What we did most, though, was start sentences with “when we have our permaculture place, we’ll …” There was so much we were going to do! Be self-sufficient, build our own furniture, meditate near waterfalls, learn Xhosa, wash our clothes in the river, create a medicinal herb pharmacy and amongst all of that, be so happy and so free. It’s all sounding great, no? Needless to say, nothing much of these grand ideas have actually come into fruition yet.

In this past month (and all the months before that) we’ve done so much and worked so hard, yet sometimes it seems that when viewed through the eyes of The Dream, things are going incredibly slowly. Self-sufficiency looks far off when you haven’t even had time to plant your vegetable seeds yet. Learning all of the plant names seems unrealistic when you’re struggling to find the time to actually go outside, likewise with meditating near waterfalls. And building our own furniture sounds great, but we’re still at that seldom mentioned pre-building-furniture-stage where you just don’t have any furniture.

Looking at it, this whole process of getting here has been a lot like life is in general when you’re a bit caught in the loopholes of the mind: always putting the next milestone on a pedestal, like it’s the end-all-and-be-all of Happily Ever After. “As soon as these contracts are signed, we’ll own our place for real.” “As soon as we move in, we can really get started.” “As soon as we’re growing our own food, we can be happy.” And so on and so forth in an endless rambling of hypothetical yard sticks for when we can allow ourselves to just BE here. (Speaking of which, I have actually built a piece of furniture: a table. It’s nice and all, but completely rickety and not fulfilling its purpose as a table at all, besides standing all wobbly in the garage looking pretty and rustic. Where in this milestone-division of life and accomplishments does it fit in when things don’t turn out the way you wanted them?)

The lesson I’ve taken from this is so simple and glaring that it’s a wonder I forget it almost every day: there will always be more. The mind will always come up with more things standing in your way of Happiness. The Dream is not something to be achieved at a certain point in time, once a certain task has been finished. It’s happening all the time if you only take the time to look for it. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and probably not in a month or so either.

So for today, with the one-month anniversary of Goodwill Mountain, I will focus not on what it’s supposed to look like sometime in the future, but on how grateful I am for what it looks like today. The baboon-proofing for our veggie garden is almost finished, and one of four beds have been dug and prepared. We have guests in our cottages this weekend, and practically every weekend from now on until the high season is over. In some magical way it seems that we will not be going bankrupt before our first financial quarter. We have learnt so much and grown so much, and somehow we are managing to not crack under the pressure of doing everything (every single thing!) for the first time. And yesterday, when it started pouring down with rain, we took off our clothes and stood in it – and that, I can say with almost complete surety, is living the dream.

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