World Travel with a Twist of Zen - Fields of Indulgence  
 
As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.                                                           ~Henry David Thoreau

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This morning I woke up and learned how to make homemade yogurt from my father-in-law, Petko. After that, we mixed up the batter for some Palachinki (similar to a crepe, only with more egg) and went to work cooking up a delicious breakfast. The Palachinki are topped with honey (from bees Petko raised himself), hazelnuts (which are picked from Petko’s tree), and raspberries. After breakfast, we went on a hike up into the hills surrounding Stara Zagora with our neighbor, Albena. As we rose in elevation and left the well travel paths behind, we started encountering almond and walnut trees which had yet to be picked. We laughed and played as we helped each other pull branches down and “hunt” for the best picking on each tree. Neda had brought a bag with her and our little hike turned into an almond and walnut picking festival! What a wonderful day!

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Reaching for a Walnut
Living in Bulgaria now for a month, I have been fascinated by how utterly joyful simple, sustainable living can be. Neda & I have always admired simple living and have some friends (a shout out to Meiku & Kuryo!) who have made an art of it. But we were only partially effective at implementing the creed in America. Now, as the TV and computer go on less and less, and are replaced by more, well…wholesome activities, I see what Thoreau was talking about above. It isn’t expensive to live a simple life and it isn’t very complicated. Yet at some level, paring down our lives, even just a little bit, provides a psychological clarity about living that a busy life seems to obscure.

I’m not saying to live a lazy life, but to have a life uncluttered enough that you find the few things you do make time for you can do wholeheartedly. The question each of us must ask ourselves is what do we want those few things to be? The constant attitude of consumption and procurement in American society makes it hard to pare down your life to just a few things. Societal cues are prodding us to add more to our life all the time out of a fear that we won’t have enough if we stop. Of course, this addition is usually done through adding “things” to our lives instead of fulfilling experiences. But if we prod ahead for too long in this way, a hollow feeling develops that can lead to loneliness and isolation. At the point we realize this, we can drive even harder in our quest of addition, or we can realize that the quest of subtraction leads to all the opportunities and fulfillment we could ever want.

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The spoils of our walnut and almond hunt!
Check out some other fun pictures of our time here and the food we've been cooking below!
Kuryo/Claire
10/31/2011 02:25:56

Your post is in turn very inspiring to me! It is difficult to live simply here. I find it too easy to add worthwhile activities onto what I'm already doing, only to discover eventually that as worthwhile as they are, there are just too many of them. Your wonderful post reminded me of the value of responding to the opportunity of the moment, and I can only do that if I don't have every minute already scheduled.

You are very lucky to enjoy so many delicious nuts. The squirrels ate all of ours, again. Perhaps some year I will have enough for them and us, too.

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7/6/2012 17:12:46

Good reading

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