It's been a little while since our last blog post, and with our European and Sri Lankan adventure approaching fast, we thought it was time to write about what we have been up to in the last few weeks! Besides working on various interesting new candle collaborations and having family visit from the Central Coast and Germany during March, both myself and Sean felt the need for some serious quiet time. We decided to sit "Vipassana", a 10-day long silent meditation retreat in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, allowing both of us to step away from the busy-ness of civilization for 10 days without communication, phones or access to the internet. Vipassana literally means "to see things as they really are" (as opposed to the way we'd like them to be), and is a practical way to achieve peace of mind and live a happy, productive life. The technique is taught at ten-day residential courses during which participants follow a prescribed Code of Discipline, including the observation of noble silence and eating a purely vegetarian diet.
Without wanting to go into too much detail, suffice it to say that the benefits of the course were amazing. Not only did we feel much lighter, healthier, and more peaceful but most importantly did we realize how simple life can be. After the end of the course, we chatted to some of the old students and also some of the managers who live on-site to do what's called a "sit/serve" (meaning you alternate sitting and serving a course for usually up to three months at a time), and they all explained how much it had changed and simplified their life. With living expenses literally being reduced to zero, one can really start to focus on self study and asking those deeper questions of life, rather than being distracted by the grind of everyday life. It allows one to jump off the hamster wheel for a minute, take a good look at oneself and evaluate one's current existence. Am I living my life to the fullest? Am I happy with what I do for a living? Am I accumulating material possessions to achieve happiness? These are some of the questions that arose for us. It is an opportunity to go back into the past and make peace with it, and it is an opportunity to stop, breathe, and make sure we're on the right track.
Having been advocates of the simple life for some time now, this time of silent contemplation only strengthened our desire to live gently, collecting experiences rather than material things, and focus on quality rather than quantity. It's re-confirmed our goal to live in a van for three months over the European summer this year, spend some time backpacking through Sri Lanka and making friends all over the world, rather than being stuck in a full time job in some office. Yes, it is important to earn a living, but not at the expense of life. Working 2,000+ hours a year to get 160 hours off just doesn't seem right. Working your butt off to buy things you don't need to impress neighbours you don't like doesn't seem like a very effective way to spend one's life. You weren't born to just pay bills and die. The list of sayings and quotes could go on and on, but you get the point. Life is simply too short to work hard for the majority of life only to "retire" at 65. It might be too late then to do the things you've always wanted to do. So go do them now. Today. This year. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Live a simpler, richer life, now.
We'll be flying out of Gold Coast airport in precisely 33 days. We've sold endless amounts of "stuff" already and continue to do de-clutter as much as we can. We'll be selling our car and renting out our apartment, donating old clothes and saving up as much money as we can to follow our dream of the open road ahead. Stay tuned for more regular updates and pictures soon, including our three day stay in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and our upcoming van conversation in Germany.
Anna + Sean