Location: US & beyond.
“…Bike the talk if you don’t want to walk it.”
How do you currently live life?
Currently, I live in an intentional community that focuses on “honest, effective and direct communication”, and seeking employment. Work-exchange is how I pay for rent and all I need is to find a job to feed myself and hopefully pay for some of my student loans and my phone bill. Keeping only a few bills to pay is part of my simple living strategy.
By profession, I am a translator/writer/educator/filmmaker. Yet, that does not really summarize who I am or what I do. I am also a staunch bike activist. Having given up on my oil and automotive dependency four years earlier while living in LA (yes, it is possible.), majority of my time is still spent trying to figure out how to get around Asheville and travel to hiking/camping spots without a vehicle. Needless to say, I read a lot and spend a lot of time conceptualizing/structuring communal living and other alternative life styles such as creating edible gardens, creating a system for alternative economic exchanges, etc. Living off the grid in a way that doesn’t necessarily mean living away from urban/suburban settings… Is it doable? To be seen… Still putting a lot of time into thinking about these within and outside of my communities.
What does Living Simply mean to you?
That’s a tough question… Living simply carries a different meaning for everyone, and I am being very specific here, for me it means to enjoy simple foods (foods I can pick from a garden, prepare and cook in no time and it also means not to crave gourmet dishes all the time); cherish things you can enjoy that don’t cost anything (meditating in a garden instead of watching a movie in a theater), to have a lot time to think, create, process, write, read, travel; to have a license to change my mind about where to live, what to do and how to leave at a moment’s notice (flexibility); not postpone life for anything or anyone; always cherish the moment, live it as if it will be your last at any given moment. So, simple living is not as easy as it sounds as far as I am concerned.
Therefore, I don’t live a regimented, agenda-driven life. I live it with the above “awareness-es” built in. So, what does that mean? It means if I get an invitation to travel to Maine with someone I intuit I would like traveling with, I’d leave without much thinking. Or, if I find a job that requires me to work 60 hours a week, I’ll do just that until I no longer want to do it or I’ll do it till the end of my life. I guess simplicity is freedom as far as I am concerned. Freedom from all regimented, agenda-driven ways of existence.
How does your life reflect/differ from your upbringing?
Growing up, my family (mom, dad and my brother) lived out of three homes: A suburban family house, a summer house and a winter home. We migrated from one house to another and my father always commuted to work. Even though we owned a lot, we never really fully settled in one home and never bought into the lavish luxurious lifestyle.
Once I became a mother, not much has changed. My daughter and I never owned a TV but always had a garden or pots of plants. We spent our time hiking, walking and enjoying nature in general. While she was younger, I refused to take jobs that’d take me away from her for a long time. We were poor (as far as the mainstream culture or whatever that means is concerned) but we had all the time to enjoy what surrounded us. Our biggest dream was to own a horse carriage, decorate it as a gypsy cart and travel the country in it. I think she was around six or seven years old when we first started dreaming about our gypsy lifestyle.
My daughter, at times, thought I was the dullest person on the face of earth who knew nothing of pop-culture (she used to exclaim, do you really know about anything in life? Referring to a movie star that I had said I didn’t know about…) First her reaction surprised me, and then I realized it had to do with her steady TV diet at her father’s house. Her father and I had joint custody and her life style was significantly different in each household.
When she lived with me, we always enjoyed observing bugs in our yard, spending endless hours on the beach and studying plants on our hikes/walks… Fishing for baby frogs after rain in Griffith Park used to be a seasonal sport for us.
Living simply was my goal (I was more aware of doing so) when I started downsizing further with the hope of ending up with only two bags (so that I can carry all of my earthly belongings while I take the bus or do rideshare across the country) which was about a year and a half earlier. Most of my friends found the idea not that revolutionary as they thought my life was already as simple as it could ever get. Two bills to pay, no car and a tiny guesthouse full of earthly belongings which consisted of alleyway digs…
It was around the time my, then 17 year old, daughter got into alternative lifestyles and started traveling with the Rainbow Kids and Dead Heads and other transient youth groups that often visit Venice Beach, CA which is where we had been living for over a decade. She was talking about train hopping (which freaked me out at first) and hitchhiking and at times, disappearing just to do that.
The fact that she had plans to travel even more extensively after she turned 18 and that I was getting ready to graduate from my MFA around the same time sparked the question: Why not do the same? My daughter had already extended me an invitation to go train hopping with her so I thought, how can I become uprooted ahead of time so that I can do just that, go on an adventure with her without any time limitations? She is the one that reignited the intense desire I had when I was her age… Around her age, all I wanted to do was to shoot documentaries around the globe, become a globetrotter.
My daughter’s always been my best teacher. She taught me about unconditional love, purity, honesty and the importance of nurturing one’s inner child. Our children are here to teach us and not the other way around. The experience of being my daughter’s mother, I would not exchange for anything in life. By this, I don’t mean it was always pleasant and easy, on the contrary, I had to reassess the meaning of life once again with her. And it was well worth it.
What are your goals?
According to Toltec beliefs, we may just be living the dream while awake and living reality while we are asleep. I am living in a dream, in my dream. Goal-less life is the goal.
What values do you treasure?
I am walking the talk (literally, without a car) or biking the talk. There are environmental issues we are facing (unfair distribution of food, water, shelter) and educational (class perpetuating class via education) challenges, etc. We live in an era in which we are aware of these issues, and if so, we need to make a decision to either be a part of the solution or the problem. I feel that by modeling the do-ability of shared living, shared transportation, peer-learning, by making use of shared resources all around, and by not feeding the military-industrial complex we are surrounded by, I am loving life simply and doing my best as far as I am concerned, for the next generation: Be the change you’d like to see, as Mahatma Ghandi says (an overly-used but true to the core motto and words to live by!)… And bike the talk if you don’t want to walk it (and that’s my addition)…
Simply put, just enjoy every second of the gift of life you are given now.
Find out more about bUrCu’s work here: http://www.archaeologychannel.org/resources-guide/film-production.