Thursday, February 11, 2010

what do i really want out of life?

Recently, Chris Guillebeau’s postcard project came to my attention via my google reader. In it, he asks 2 questions (from this original work):

1. What do you really want to get out of life?
2. What can you offer the world that no one else can?

And I hate to admit it, but these questions have me totally stumped. Ok, not totally. I can answer the first one with relative comfort, but the2nd question leaves me quaking in the corner, insecurity raging. What can I offer, really truly offer, that is unique?

So, following his suggestions (LINK), I visited Paul Myers text, Ideal World and found that he had some very insightful questions to help shape my answer to the first question.

The 2nd, I’m afraid, might be left up to me to answer. ARG!

Myers questions (follow link if you want to read the text yourself):

Where would you live?
Who would your friends be? What kind of people would you like to spend your time with?
How would you spend your time, if you could be doing anything at all that you wanted?
What would you eat? Wear? Listen to?
Would you work? If so, what would you do? If not, what would you do?
What do you want to learn? To know? To be?
Where would you like to vacation? What would you do?
What else would be a part of your perfect life?

Ever the dutiful student, I pulled out my paper and pencil, and started crafting my answers.

1.  Where would I live, if I could live anywhere right now?

The answer is surprisingly simple. I would live here, in Montreal, but back in my old plateau neighbourhood, east of the Mont Royal metro. Everything is in walking distance, from Nia to restaurants, grocery stores, and everything else I need on a semi-regular basis.
So if I could live anywhere I would opt for a ground floor walk up with 3 bedrooms and a yard (not big, but big enough for a porch and a permaculture garden), preferably with upstairs neighbours who would be interested in creating a green rooftop space and communal composting. Oh, and I have a garage for Paul, cause that’s important to him.

2. Who would your friends be? What kind of people would you like to spend your time with?

Aside from the friends I already have and cherish, I would love to have neighbours we get along with who would be interested in community building. I want to be surrounded by people who care about the environment and spirituality. I want to spend time discussing politics, art, culture, travel, social justice, the environment, and life with people who share similar outlooks and are striving to make their ideals reality. I want to spend time with friends who are less concerned with money and appearance, and more concerned with making a difference, be it through community, education, politics, environment, or spirituality. I want to be surrounded by a community that loves to cook and have potlatches, and cares about things like making a comfy home and living an ethical life. A community that is artsy, bohemian, but also grounded in our world.

3. How would you spend your time, if you could do anything you wanted?

Imagine my surprise when I realized that I wouldn’t really spend my time all that vastly different than I already do. Sure, I’d be more productive, and I’d be more involved, but at the core, I am happy with the steps I’m taking to make my ideals real.

I would volunteer at least once a week. You know, to put my ideals of community into practice. Make a difference on a local level. I would do activities that make me happy and help maintain balance in my life, like my Nia course, but also a day or 2 of yoga. Because for all that I love Nia and the exercise helps ground me, there is a component missing that I found in yoga. I would work 4 days instead of 5 in order to take a me day to just focus on creativity and crafts. Or soap-making, gardening and cooking. Or just reading. But one day would be mine to do what I wanted. I would get out of the house more and live a more social life. I would find community in order to learn more about living a sustainable, ethical, non-consumerist life. And then I would share it with others and help other people learn to realize this goal.

4. What would you eat? Wear? Listen to?

I would continue to eat vegetarian but I’d like to eat more homemade goods (pasta sauce made from home grown tomatoes and the like). I would like to buy a deep freezer and cook in advance in order to move away from so much processed, store bought food.
I would wear clothes that were handmade, by myself or by small independent companies and artisans. Fair trade and ethical clothes made in a sustainable way, outside of corporate culture and clothing companies that dump clothes in landfills in order to get tax credits instead of donating to charity.
As for what I’d listen to, well that wouldn’t change.

5. Would you work? If so, what would you do? If not, what would you do?

I’d work. I’d work in education, either where I’m at with reduced hours or as a teacher. I like the nature of the work I do. It’s important and meaningful. I would just like to have less wasted time behind a desk. And I’d like to be able to have time every year to go abroad and make a difference for others. At least 1 month a year to teach or learn or build projects abroad.

6. What do you want to learn? To know? To be?

Everything? Ok, not everything.
First of all, I’d like to learn harmony, balance and self-discipline. Because I think I could benefit from finding a little more Zen and harmony in my life. I rush around with too many different things going on at once… so balance would be a good thing.
And then, after that, the list is enormous! These are just a few things on the list:
· Artistically/Creatively: Photography, sewing, origami (more), shoe making, various crafts, pottery making
· Earth: Gardening, permaculture, grey water systems, composting
· Home: Canning, soap-making, better vegetarian cooking skills, green home remodelling
· Academically: Sociology, Education theory, more about postcolonial sonnets, world religions, international development, basic business skills, Photoshop
· Other: Yoga, Thai Yoga massage, holistic healing, Reiki, tarot (better than I currently know), writing a novel
I’d like to know that I’m making the shift from idealism to living my philosophies in everyday life. I want to make the shift from dreams to reality. I want to know that I’m walking the path that matches my words. And I want to be a calm person who practices loving kindness in every aspect of my life. Because loving kindness is my greatest aspiration and I know that I’m a long way from it yet.

7. Where would you like to vacation? What would you do?

Everywhere. Literally! I would work, watch, and learn. I’d like to alternate between trips of pure travel and seeing, and trips of service that allow me to live and experience the realities of another country.  I would go all over India, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, North China, Tibet, Africa (everywhere from South Africa to Egypt, but most especially at this point in time Ethiopia and Morocco), Argentina and Colombia, Mexico. And Peru, because I want to see Machu Pichu before I die.

8. What else would be part of your perfect life?

The simple things: love, happiness, gratitude. A house to come home to. Family and friends that give me meaning and a network of friends that nourish my goals and values. Spirituality, tolerance, travel and health. I’d like to live a life that is more holistic than the one I’m currently living.

And that’s all I’ve got for now. But the questions are food for thought, and well, are prompting a  lot of questions and examination that I haven’t done in a while.

Coming back to the first question that led me down this musing: What do you really want to get out of life?DSCF0222 (2)

I’d have to say that (in a nutshell) what I want to get out of life is something between the ordinary and the extra-ordinary. I want to live a life that sustains me and others. That educates and models the values that I hold dear: environment stewardship, ethical relationships, travel, creativity, and loving kindness.

The life I want isn’t vastly different than the one I currently have, only a few things that I’m still working on (but for the most part have already started). And that makes me happy.


  1. Wow! You're so fast - and so thorough.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Thanks for reading it.... though I'm not sure how to take the so thorough... :P



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