a life well lived: revisiting the theme of ‘finding ikaria’

Camping, gardening, lifestyle October 1, 2015

It has been a number of years since J and I upset our lives and our goals in search of what we wanted.  I think it an appropriate time to re-visit what birthed this blog, how far we have come, and where we now want to go. 

Sometime in 2012 after the birth of little boy number 1, I lay in bed nursing said child while J was off in a studio class for his   Masters degree in Landscape Architecture. I was nearing the end of ‘maternity leave’ (10 weeks of unpaid leave from the local Public Defenders office), and crying every time I thought of leaving my still very small and very helpless infant in the arms of someone else while I ran off to defend people in court for crimes they did and did not commit.   I stumbled across the New York Times article described and linked in the ‘about’ page to this blog.  

The perhaps too romanticized (or perhaps not) protagonists in the story were old people on the Greek island of Ikaria. Old because they managed to live long lives. And celebrated in the article because of their longevity. They woke up naturally, they gardened and climbed mountains (or steep hills) daily. They drank tea and ate vegetables from these mountains and gardens.  They napped. They sat and drank wine and ate goat cheese and laughed with friends in the early evenings.  They lived near family and their community was close. 

This life struck me as beautiful, peaceful, natural, ideal.  I shared it with J. And it got into our heads and under our skin. The courtroom and its hard wooden benches filled with people mired in a variety of problems ranging from the tragic to the annoying repelled me. The stress of J’s studio critiques and how much time they took away from our newborn dramatically decreased his zeal for his chosen path. We wanted another way. We wanted Ikaria. 

And so we burned it all down, sold the house and moved North to the small beautiful town where I grew up. And here we are. He is building his landscaping business slowly. He spends his days cultivating beautiful gardens and witnessing their owners’ delight in them. On some days he works with a colleague whose company he enjoys, others he is solo. I get to be the primary caregiver for our two boys and have the luxury of being able to slowly build a legal practice that doesn’t suck my soul. 

It is not all roses of course. Money is tight, we rely too much on credit cards. I get frustrated with my delayed career and my decidedly maid-like daily activities.  J’s winter job is low paying and sometimes grueling.  We are concerned about education quality and are anticipating a move when the boys need better schools. 

However we are driving to the coast in a week, camping along the way as one last hurrah before camping season gives way to ski season. We didn’t have to ask for the time off and don’t need to worry about hotels and restaurants and airfare. (Our spring and summer was dedicated to building our ability to travel cheaply, lightly, and relatively comfortably by car). We have a lovely home that sits on land where the boys can stretch their legs. The mountains are in view and in easy reach. We enjoy beer with friends while children play in the grass at our local drinking hole. Our gardens are extensive if neglected. My dad is close by and the boys know and love him well. We have come close to our Ikaria.  

  1. As the winter approaches, landscaping will give way to ski tuning and I will hopefully work more as J has more time to care for the boys. The dramatic Rocky Mountain seasons stave off ennui and as does a lifestyle dictated by them.  We are pretty content. I wish everyone a beautiful fall and the ability to carve out an existence that serves their truest and most cherished priorities.  

 

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