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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dining Under the Stars

"All dreams, at least the ones you really want to come true, begin with work.  
And so one invents the next thing to do.  And the next one after that.  Simplicity
is not for the faint-hearted.  Nor for the feint-hearted either."
                                                                                              -Marlena de Blasi (Talking about her 
                                                                                              novel A Thousand Days in Tuscany)

This particular piece of the author's interview caught my eye, and became engraved upon my heart.  It's been a year since I took that leap of faith and finally retired from work - well, office work that is.  I am no longer subject to a bundy clock, or fingerprint scan to evidence my appearance in a cubicle, nor to the strangulation of traffic jams and an hour and a half's daily commute to the office and home, and the daily morning mantra I say to myself that all that crap at work is a beautiful tapestry that makes life engaging and fulfilling.

There were friends at the office who meant well.  One half knew I didn't feel I belong anymore and had to move on, the other half thought I was giving up.  But the real motivation for this big move is that ache and longing I have had for a simpler life, a life that I would like to take control of; to take a different direction and achieve more worthy things.

And so I did. But retirement from the office workforce isn't all a fairy tale, I knew.  As Marlena pointed out, it required work too.  It demanded longer waking hours as I became more hands-on in my food business.  There was no regular flow of income every 15 days, so every income that's turned in is more prudently saved up.  (I am not there yet, but getting there.)  Dining out, shopping and movies are very nearly out of the picture (the last time I bought a new blouse, dress or shoes was two years ago).  But I am more content, even happier at the turn of events.  

The reward?  Many.  For one, there is more freedom in being disciplined; more fulfilled in having less. (Throwing out my office suits, except for two good ones just in case, was liberating).  For another, I have more time to spend with my family, including visits to my mother, listening to them talk even about the most mundane of things; to hear their laughter at stupid jokes and funny accents, but still learn something new from each other.  More time for friends too.  Funnily, it is at this time of my life that I have more resources to travel, try out new dishes or places to eat, read, watch movies, and even write (things I love to do).  These things are savored and appreciated for each of its worth, to nourish me and my loved ones.

Idle hands?  Not in the least.  Idle minds?  Far from it.  In fact, having gained a bit more perspective on things, I am confirming that spending more time than necessary on Facebook is more idle than spending time with oneself, building a sound interior life.

Then, there is a house that is better taken care of, walks in the rain, and impromptu grill dinners.

Out of such meals, came more elegant spreads each time coals are fired up. 

From charming makeshift dinner tables

to nosy pets

to a more mindful diet,

even sinful burgers every now and then,

and cocktails while the sun goes down.

Yes, this kind of life is not for everyone.  It calls upon your responsible nature. And courage.  But, you have the wings of freedom, the breath of being ageless, and the heavens your laurel as you dine under the stars.