‘No’, is the simple answer to a simple question.
The location for my inquiry is my favorite coconut-/egg vendor/ bike-taxi stand. What I am after are some free range eggs compliments of the chickens running around in the yard behind the place. I guess this morning they weren’t in the mood to assist me in meeting my daily protein requirements. Fair enough. I sit down to have a coconut instead. More than likely this fruit’s precious electrolyte-rich liquid is of more use to me in this heat than the fruit of a chickens labour.
Had I been in a western country I probably would have been off to the next shop surprised at not finding what I was after in the first one. But as it just so happens I’m in the very un-western India and there is no next shop in this town. In fact I was pleasantly surprised to find even one location where they could assure me with a radiant smile that their eggs come from ‘happy chickens’ only.
It’s funny just how used many of us are to getting pretty much what we want when we want it. This can make us easily take for granted the fact that a lot of things are so readily available to us, the odd time something isn’t we may notice that suddenly our good mood is equally nowhere to be found. Being in a place where there simply is what there is and what there isn’t there isn’t helps you let go of all that quite easily. I’m fast discovering that not having an endless range of alternative options can do wonders for one’s peace of mind.
While I’m quenching my thirst the coconut lady, as I call her, tells me it takes an hour and a half by bus to get to where her mother lives. She doesn’t get much time to go and see her as she works most days. I ask her if her mother comes to visit her sometimes but apparently at her age the trip is too much for her. Her mum tried living with her and her husband for a brief period but being away from the only house she’d ever lived in wasn’t making her happy so she returned home.
I let the concept of a single home for an entire lifetime sink in for a moment. Throughout large parts of the world there are no longer many people who can relate to that experience. Images of some of my previous dwellings start running through my mind. I don’t make any attempts to figure out the number there have been. I’ve never learned to count quite that far.
‘How many houses have you lived in?’ I ask the coconut lady. ‘Two. We get married and we come here’ she points to the building behind us. I tell her I don’t remember how many houses I’ve lived in. She looks at me puzzled by what she suspects to be very early onset Alzheimer’s. About three seconds later she appears to have dropped the thought and settles back into a position that can’t mean much other than a state of relaxation.
In contrast, thanks to spending some time in this country, my own body is just now starting to make its way back to functioning in a natural state of ease. Perhaps moving around so much had it wondering if it was allowed to unwind at all. The example of contentment next to me shows me there’s clearly something to be said for selling eggs from the same back yard for half a lifetime. It’s not impossible though I’m detecting just a hint of resignation swirled into her sense of peace.
It seems there’s a fine balance between never being in the right place and getting too comfortable where we are. In the same way, going after what we want has its moments of being very empowering but equally there are times where it’s important to know how to make do with what is in front of us.
It’s about recognizing whether our striving comes from a place of demand or dissatisfaction or from a genuine drive for personal growth and exploration.
Something else to feel into from time to time is to what degree we are behaving in a spoiled manner versus just making life as pleasant as possible for ourselves. Are we focussed on superficial desires or are we moving to something more true to our essence?
Since navigating all of this is a constant balancing act we might do well in finding some forgiveness for ourselves when occasionally our foot slips off the cord and we drop our little umbrella. For right now I’m taking a leaf from the coconut lady’s book as I find myself sinking back into my chair the way she has. Sometimes all we need to do is simply enjoy a coconut when there are no eggs to be found.