Thursday, October 26, 2006

down the rabbit hole

This one's for you, Thailand Gal.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted something different. And until recently, I haven't known where that might lead. And while I can muster up some courage occasionally, I still like to have some sort of a plan. Or at least an escape route.

But when the crisis is spiritual, having a plan is much harder to come by.

Simply put - my spirit is incongruent to life in the US. The capitalism, the production and consumption and pursuit of the individual simply does not work for me. I realize it works quite well for some, and moderately well for others. And that is fine. If it works for you, that works for me. Because at the bottom of each day and belief and word that I speak I geniunely hope for the happiness and peace of heart for others. It's one of the things I truly hope and wish for. I'm happy if you are happy, because life is blessed struggle enough without other people chiming in. Period.

But this place doesn't make me happy. What does make me happy is indigenous culture. And open space. And community based mentality. And less technology. And markets on the sides of roads. And growing your own food. And not going to war. And not destabilizing third world countries for a selfish gain.

So for me, jumping into the void is having the courage to turn my back on all the things I was taught I was supposed to want and to give it all up for a life of precious little in the way of material goods and long term financial security. And to feel that I am being courageous in doing so. And while still believing I am a good mother for doing it to M.

But it still scares me. And sometimes I interpret that fear to be a sign. Danger. Bad Mommy. Suck it up and deal. Don't you know how blessed you are. No place is perfect. Get over it. Quit yer bitchin'.

But then I feel sick all over again. Because when the crisis is spiritual it doesn't let you forget, and it doesn't lie dormant for long. Our spirits crave peace and harmony, and mine is hungry, and gnawing on my bones. And the ache keeps me awake late into the night, searching for that wrong-eyed jesus.

A slow sort of country! Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to stay in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run twice as fast as that.—Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


Thailand Gal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Thailand Gal said...

Let me know if you got a copy of the comment I deleted. I'm assuming it was emailed to you.


Thailand Gal

Anonymous said...

Oh Jen! Don't doubt for a moment that you are courageous.

Although I don't share your strong need to realign your life (perhaps because I long ago packed it up tight and tiny and jettisoned it into the realm of impossible), I believe there is absolute truth in what you have written. When absolute truth is present, all of life just reduces down to its pure essence.

Motherhood makes us smarter. It doesn't mean you can't still have the life you believe in. I could argue that in fact it makes it more necessary! But you have to be smarter and safer for M. Think it out more thoroughly and make allowances for her needs, but do it nonetheless. YOU are her greatest asset.

I love you and I love that first thing in the morning you have me so wide awake and alive, tears brimming behind my eyes.

acumamakiki said...

I think you know what your soul needs and you and J are working towards that goal, with your property in Belize. I admire you my dear, for being able to answer to your soul and yet making sure that you're doing the right thing for your girl. You're an amazing mother just for that. And as long as M has the love of you and J, she'll be fine whereever you live, because truly, all you need is love. I like to joke that if the only thing our daughter is upset about (as an adult) is that she's an only child, than we've done a good job and you can take that statement for your own. If the only thing M is upset about as an adult, is that we moved her to a simpler live, than we've done a good job.
Questioning is ALWAYS good,lying down and taking it, never is.

Anonymous said...

Two things I believe - those of us with a moral consciousness about what isn't right about our country need to stay here and be part of reforming it, and secondly, the expat lifestyle is still really, really colonial - and all that connotes.

Just a little devil's advocate for you early in the morning...

penelopeto said...

i understand your dilemma, and i think that you will raise the kind of citizen this world needs because of it.
and it's a big, beautiful world worth exploring. sometimes the getting away helps illuminate the good things that hide under the bullshit at home.

Thailand Gal said...

I guessed that one wrong! Oops.

Basically, all I had to say is that 1) you've said it perfectly, spoken for me and I hope many others and 2) I think by examining this so carefully, you are doing a huge favor to your child. Your child will have an interesting, meaningful life in a more socio-centric culture than this one. There's a lot to be said for being raised by a mother who lives by such an ethic.

I see no reason to "suck it up". When something is wrong for our soul's development, we know that. We know when it's running ~ and when it's something necessary for our well-being.

"Stepping into the void" is scary, no doubt ~ but sometimes necessary.

Much more, I'm sure. I'm still half-asleep here and the creeping crud is still hanging 'round, making my thinking a bit fuzzy.

Hopefully, we'll hear much more from you on this topic.


Thailand Gal

Anonymous said...

I find it so hard to tell the difference between the fears I should listen to and the ones I should overcome.

As the others have said, your questions, challenges and uncertainty indicate that you are raising and will continue to raise your daughter beautifully. I think the danger comes when we question nothing.

Thailand Gal said...

Jen, I just finished reading your entire blog. One thing's for certain: Your heart is in the right place and you are headed in the right direction. In the final analysis, what more can we ask?

Noli nothis permittere te terere.


Thailand Gal

Momish said...

Don't doubt about your courage, Jen. Anyone can see just how strong and purposeful you are, which translates to courage. I can understand your dilemma, it is a tough one. I wish I had some words of wisdom. But, alas, instead all I can offer you is support and understanding. And hope. Hope it doesn't take you long before you tap into all your inner resources and lead youself right back out of the rabbit hole. You'll be off and running in no time, regardless of what country you end up in.

Anonymous said...

Jen-I have had similar thoughts to yours. I didn't want to live in a big city anymore, so I moved to the country and almost everything I put it my mouth comes from someone I have met that grew it or raised it. And that made me happy for quite some time, but now I feel the same restlessness. The focus on material possessions, on objects that when stripped bare of their price tag have so little meaning - it makes my soul sick.

HOWEVER, I was raised by immigrants, one who came here alone at the age of 16. She has told me all my life I am so lucky I was born in a country where *women can be anything*, women can go to school, women can choose to have babies or not. It is the reason she left her country.

You are right, no place is perfect. WE CHOOSE FOR OURSELVES what we need to be at peace. And as her parent, you are choosing for M. Is it better than making sure she has a brand new car for her sixteenth birthday and enough toys to make her puke every holiday? I say yes - some say no. You can make money wherever you are - you can't do over your childhood.

And who is to say that if you do go, you can't come back? People are allowed to change their minds.

I think your uncertainty is a good first uncertainty is the path to all possibilities, and the more possibilities you consider, the more likely solutions are to spontaneously emerge. In uncertainty you are open to an infinity of choices, there aren't only two. It isn't black and white.

I love you in your search.

PunditMom said...

As I make my way (not so successfully), though my own personal crisis, I admire that you are finding a way through yours and being true to yourself. You are a wonderful inspiration.

you da mom said...

knowing you only through your blog, i can say that you are more courageous than i! when i want a change of pace, i just listen to a different record or return home to the small town in which i grew up. i can't deny that i love to shop, spend and earn money, but i've also had this dream since i was little about living on a farm, growing my own food, and the whole bit. who knows...maybe one day it'll happen, but for now i'll look for those spirit savers in the small places i can. as for your daughter, i think you are giving her a gift only few can give, and that's a really special thing.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jen, would you be interested in being my next guest blogger for Flashback Friday? Probably in a couple of weeks...

liv said...


After reading all these people who can say it much better, I have to tell you that one statement in your post spoke to me. It was the bit about spiritual crisis. I have been no stranger to this, and I think my yogic rambling path has been a source of solace for me. That said, I also realized that a spiritual crisis (for me, at least) was mended by working on healing the spirit. And no distance that I might have moved would have improved that. That's not to say that I don't think moving to a far away land would be absolutely groovy. I just think that spirit must be heavily tended to no matter what environment you live in.

Anjali said...

Jen, I wish more people in this country were as enlightened as you are. I spent a lot of time growing up in India, and the differences between there and here are stark and troubling. You are brave to seek the truth, and find out where it is you really want to raise your child in.

Deb said...

Jen, I nominated you for October Perfect Post and I need to email you the button to put on your post.
My email is

Questioning sometimes can feel circular, but it always leads to growth. You can rest in confidence that you know your soul will lead you and your little family where it needs to be.

mrs. incredible - aka Tabba said...

I've said the same thing....that I'm just not sure I 'belong' here. That If I could, I'd be out of here..... But Oh The Joys got me thinking.....about staying & reforming.
You do have a beautiful soul & I wish I had the perfect words for this comment. But I don't.
I think that what you need to do for you and M - is totally up to you.
The only thing I (selfishly) ask is: do they have internet connection in Belize?

meno said...

I can only believe that in order to be the best mother that you can, you need to raise your child in a community, culture, environment that you believe in. While i appreciate the comment about the US needing people like you to stay and change this country, you must do what you need to survive.

KC said...

Follow your heart. You will be a better mother if you are whole.

Lucia said...

You've got the wisdom to know what you need to do. I have friends who are wonderful mothers and brought their kids up heading to Turkey in freighters or learning capoeira in Brazil. If you need to be here, or you need to be here for now, it'll work out. If you need to be somewhere else, that'll work out too.

Ruth Dynamite said...

You're itching to go, and you'll be itchy until you either go somewhere or find new ways to scratch. There are so many places within our borders - the small, rural communities, for example - that fit your description. Maybe a change of scenery doesn't necessitate a change of country?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, most of western society seems to be primarily focused on capitalism and consumption and keeping up with the neighbors. For most of us, this translates into longer hours at work to make ends meet, longer hours on the road going places or getting things, and fewer hours at home with those we love. It can be quite soul-sucking for those who take the time to think about it.

I don't have any real advice for you in this area; you have to decide what you and your family need to do to be happier. My only half-*ssed suggestion is, if you want to stay in the Bay Area, perhaps move a bit farther out to areas that contain more farmer's markets and open spaces, etc. (I don't know how much the wider Bay Area has changed since I left it in 1996.)

Anyways, so as to end on a frivolous note, something I think everyone needs once in a while, I would like to say I smiled when I reached the end of your entry. Why? Because my very first blog entry was a quote from Alice in Wonderland; it was the discussion between Alice and the Cheshire Cat about his take on rabbit holes. Great minds, and all... ;-)

crazymumma said...

Follow your ache Follow your bliss...

I think M would be happy anywhere as long as she were near her parents. I do not think changing stride at this point in your life is selfish at all.

If it is keeping you up at night, maybe there is a divine (and I am not a religious girl) I mean divine in a more open minded sense, maybe there is a reason for it.

Penny said...

Many people emmigrate.

Finland. Sweden.

Check them out.

Not kidding. I have.

flutter said...


The only perfect place, is the place you are. You carry that in you, not around you. That being said, your heart will be whole when you are amongst like minded people. Bless you.