Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Kingdom for a Yurt?

There's an article in today's NYT about a couple of Buddhists, he a very high-ranking monk and she a teacher on the same path, who are living chastely (they insist) in a yurt outside of Tucson with few physical amenities, trying to carve a new path towards spiritual enlightenment. They have committed to never ever be further than 15 or so feet apart, and they eat out of the same plate, and read books together with each waiting for the other to finish before turning the page. Apparently they've been doing this for several years now.

Brother Dan has some friends that live in a yurt in Maine under somewhat similar conditions, although I'm pretty sure they're a traditional couple. I had the privilege of sharing dinner with them and their son one night, and was amazed by the tight functionality that yurt-dwelling requires. I'm an admirer of that kind of spartan living (door, bookshelf, seating, clothes storage, bed, well-disguised commode, wood stove, dining table & chairs, coat rack, and we're back to the door). But I know without much reflection at all that I could never do it. And I love Rick completely, passionately, and in a disgustingly mushy way - but never to be more than 15 feet from him for the rest of my life? No quiet knitting afternoons in front of the tube while he putters in the grease under a car? We'd kill each other.

We have this piece of land in Arkansas where we envision building our retirement home. Sunny, lightly wooded acreage in a quiet area which is still close enough to town for emergencies. In the unfinalized plans, the garage/workshop area is at least as big as the house. I envision a little patio just outside the slider door off the bedroom, with rose bushes and an outdoor shower stall for those muddy garden days. And I'm lobbying for a small out-building just across the patio, with room enough for a sink, a Franklin stove, a fat cat, some shelves, a work bench and a floor loom on the first level and a sleeping loft under a gambrel roof, a space where I could putter with hobbies and we could offer overnight guests some private sleeping quarters. And we're talking about a small boat, too - just big enough to mess about the lake, and maybe sleep on the water occasionally.

I'm not sure if this makes me a bad prospective Buddhist or a good consumer or merely predictable. But it's certainly been my "happy thought" when grey days were dragging me down.

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