Macrobiotics – from the city to the countryside
If you usually read my posts you’ve probably realized that I live in the countryside. But it was only about 2 years ago that I decided I wanted to leave the city.
Born and raised in Lisbon, I was fortunate to have grandparents in rural areas of Portugal. For this reason, on the holidays of my childhood I always went to the countryside. I had close contact with vegetable gardens, chickens, sheep, cows, goats, saw and helped to make cheese, to make bread and all those things that over the years I then got used to buy, without normally questioning where they came from and how they were made.
I remember being a teenage and wanting to be in the city, where everything happened, where I could go to the cinema any time, go shooping, go to bars, or discos any day of the week … “fun” 24/7. I went through all the path that fits within the normal standards of this society. Went to college, and I remember starting to work with the belief that I would “conquer the world”, have lots of money, high heels, buy good cars, a good house, perfect marriage, and a lots of children.
As Hollywood movies and commercials show, I believed that happiness came from the outside, that the more I had, the happier I would be.
And then I began to work, being able to buy what I wanted and to have my own independence. And to value more and more the experiences. And to question myself more and more about what I was doing and what I wanted for my life. After all, the myth in which I had believed until then didn’t satisfy me that much.
I traveled a lot, worked and lived in many diferent places, and when I finally decided to came back to Portugal and started to study Macrobiotics, at IMP, I found a philosophy that I truly identified with. Initially, the food was what really attracted me. But as I discovered it more and more, the fascination turned to the harmony with nature.
Then, I found myself overwhelmed with everything I was learning, and frustrated because I could not live it in my daily life.
I was still driving my car to the office where I worked, from 9 am to 6 pm, in a business in which I didn’t believe. Losing hours and patience in traffic. Buying all the food I was consuming. Running to get on time to the weekly yoga classes, where I was trying to find some balance and move my body a little (“atrophied” for so many hours sitting in front of a computer). And to wish that the holidays came fast so that I could travel to some distant place where I could just be me.
In the middle of this process, I almost opened a macrobiotic restaurant, I started to use my vacations and weekends to cook in retreats and events … and suddenly the Universe gave me the possibility to start everything from scratch.
I moved to the Alentejo, where I live now, in a place surrounded by trees. In the morning, the birds wake me up with their singing. I open the door and go outside to the lemon tree to pick one of its fruits. I drink a glass of warm water with a few drops of lemon juice and start my day. I usually go up the mountain to see the level of the water tank. When it isn’t full, I look at the sky and if the sun is shining, I turn on the pump (powered by solar energy, like everything here at home) that takes water from the well and fills the tank, above , which supplies us.
After going up and down the hill, some 15 minutes of a beautiful walk, I have my breakfast. I then go to the forest to pick the wood that in the winter warms our house, or go to the vegetable garden, where I usually have to pluck herbs, pick the vegetables I’m going to use to make lunch, kill or catch some caterpillars that eat as much as we do, help build the walls that tomorrow will be new terraces to produce more food, planting, sowing, watering, or simply contemplate so that everything grows stronger.
The morning passes so fast that we usually start to prepare lunch by the time I was used to finish it. I come home with a basket full of life and daily I have the chance to create something new, transforming our kitchen in a place of pleasure, harmony and alchemy. Meals are almost always made outside and even when the wind blows hard, we laugh if a leaf falls inside our tea, or glass of wine.
The tea cup, which marks the end of the meal, accompanies us later in the task of taking the leftover food to the compost, bringing firewood into the house, lighting the fire and watching it in the first few minutes , ensuring that the flame rises and warms us. Every day is a pleasure to watch the fire.
And when it’s all warm and usually night, we have time to read a book, watch a movie, try a new recipe from a cake or a pickle, hang a picture on the wall, discuss the work plan for the next day, or whatever we want to.
By the time we go to bed, the only thing we’re sure of is that birds will sing again in the morning, but all the activities will be conducted by the force of the wind blowing, or the thickness of the rain drops, that when fall as strong as today, brings me back to writing.
On many other days I’m out of our little paradise, training or cooking in events, but I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to live in a place where daily I can contemplate mother nature, live it, feel it, respect it and love it. I can always take deep breaths in the not so happy moments, and breathe out watching the horizon, with the certainty that sadness is also part of each one of us.
Above all I am grateful for the time that now seems neverending. The madness and neverstoping life I lived before were exchanged by serenity and the possibility to live one day at a time, in which I make less money, consumed much less and hardly travel. And the curious thing is that I feel much richer. Because I consider a great wealth to have the opportunity to do what I love to, to have time for myself, to be able to produce much of what I consume, to feel responsible for all my attitudes and decisions, to be able to respect the environment and to believe that with my actions I am contributing to my children to grow up in a better world than the one I have found.