10 years ago I tried to imagine myself with 30 years. I thought I would be a serious guy, someone wearing a tie, the important type. Today, very close to the 30, I learned that little people in little places, can change the world and transform the harsh reality built by those guys in suits, serious and important ones. I chose to be a little person.
A quiet life sounds like an option that only the defeated lives. Our age well know the benefits of a way active and dynamic life. If someone offers us a great salary to work in another corner, we move. If someone show us the road of fame, we take it. If someone invite us to the party, we go. This sounds like pure gains and in-ambiguous, while a quiet life has its eccentricities. Part therefore, because the defenders of a peaceful life are considered from the most implausible areas of society. Lazys, Hippies, someone who has been fired. People who seem like they did not have choices, who could not organize themselves.
It looks like a quiet life has been imposed on them by their own inability. But still, when we look closely, we see that a busy life has quite incidental costs that are often ignored. For example, we have little control over our time when we take a certain position in society. We may close a factory in India, while our words are carefully heard with some respect, but what we can’t assume is that we’re tired and we want to spend all afternoon reading on the couch. We can’t express our most spontaneous, imaginative and vulnerable sides along that we become strangers to those who love us out of our afflueance and status. Our children see us less, our wives go biter. Our prosperity can be tremendous, but we lose the chance of doing nothing for at least one day.
But we are very resistant to understand and accept it. We prefer not to get to this edge and keep petting the swallowed toads that fill the marshs of our chest. Until one day, we surrender because it reaches the edge of the fight against the acception of the limit itself. And finally, we give ourselves to all that is collapsing inside our head, body and soul. We end a little closer to ourselves, because we finally understand that accept what we don’t want to be and do is also honoring. Honoring our pieces, is somehow to give them the most beautiful clothes that we have in the closet, even if they are unpleasant and ulgy, but it’s ours.
Perhaps the most famous figure in the culture of Western history was someone very interested in the benefits of a quiet life. In the Gospels, Jesus told his disciples not to take anything beyond what is necessary. No bread, no bag, no money, but only a pair of sandals, but not a pair of tunics. Christianity opens a space in our imagination to create distinction between two types of poverty. On one hand, voluntary poverty and on the other, involuntary poverty.
At this moment in the history we are so passionate about the idea that poverty is always involuntary and result of a lack of talent that we can’t imagine that it can be the result of a skilled and intelligence person’s free choice, based on rational valuation of costs and benefits. It can honestly be possible for someone who chooses not to take a well-paid job, not to publish another book, not to pursue a better position, not for having no chance, but because having considered the externalities, decided not to fight for them.
One of the key moments in the history of Christianity was in 1204, when a wealthy young man, now known as Francis of Assisi, willingly renounced the worldly goods he had, which were not few, and did it not by external compulsion but for believing that these things could interfere in other things he really wanted to persuit, such as a chance to contemplate Jesus and his teachings, honor the Creator, admire nature and help the poorest of society.
Similarly, the Chinese culture also has revered what it calls Yin Shi or Solitude. Someone who lives outside the busy life, politics and the business world, and live a more simply life, usually side of a mountain. The tradition began in the fourth century BC, when a high government official, called Tao Qian, surrendered and handed his political position to live in the countryside, farming, producing wine and writing. In his poem “Drinking Wine” he tells the riches what poverty gave him:
“I pick chrysanthemums by my eastern hedge;
far off I see the southern hills.
How fine the sunset through mountain mists,
and the soaring birds come home together.
There is some real meaning in all of this,
though when I try to grasp it I forget the words”.
There are for us many options for the ways our careers can carry great prestige. We could have something deeply impressive to answer those who ask us at parties, what we do. But that does not necessarily mean that all of us must follow these possibilities when we know the price of some careers, but perhaps slowly understand that we are not willing to pay for envy, fear, anxiety. Our days are limited on this earth. We may, for the sake of true wealth, wish to, without losing dignity, choose to become a little poorer and a little more obscure.
I don’t have to live on the edge, but feels like I need to go through it from time to time. As in nature, when some animals switch housing or skin when the old one no longer fits them more. Today, at the present moment, I recognize myself in a new body. I honor what I left and, with grateful soul, close the door behind of that place where the teachings happened. I left the limit and I came out here to breathe the fresh air of the transformations that I have chosen to collect.