Earth, Wind and Fire: The Reality of Following Your Most Radical Dreams
From the earth elemental energies to the fundamental permaculture principles, I reflect on what I have learnt so far about the reality of following our most radical dreams.
If you have been following this blog since its inception in 2020, you may be surprised that after so much energy and movement of the first few years of this journey, I am still writing this blog post from a cafe in the centre of Madrid.
I am also surprised about this. This was not what I foresaw when I started this blogging project. Perhaps the fact that I have decided to invite you to come along with me makes me feel somehow responsible.
I got you here by promising an epic and radical journey of going from the city to the country. And yet, despite all the trips to the Spanish countryside, my permaculture studies and quitting my 9-5 job, I am yet to know the answers that so many people ask me:
When are you moving?
Where are you moving to?
I feel increasingly stupid not knowing the answer to these questions. If I was just quietly getting on with following my path in anonymity, maybe the slow and winding path of this adventure would be easier to walk.
I have met many people with long-held dreams that are yet to come true. “Some day” they say. “When the kids have grown up”, “When I have retired”, “When I have paid off my mortgage”. For others, it’s just not been the right moment to commit to it.
But I did commit to my dream. I made a vow in public. Mine was not “when I xxx xx”. It was: “I do, until death do us part”.
I, Olivia Grundy, joyfully declare that I am going to dedicate my life, my energy, and all my love to creating a beautiful space in nature to share with others that reflects my innermost values of respect for the Earth and all her living creatures.
I vow that in this endeavour I will tread lightly on the Earth and live in a sustainable way that supports the eco-systems of which I am a part.
I promise to share the knowledge and experience that I gain with the world for the greater good of all beings and future generations.
I give myself in abandon to the purpose of my own soul.
I hereby give my life in service to the more beautiful world that my heart knows is possible.Taken from the post ‘A Declaration to the World’
Previous to writing this vow, a new wind had started blowing in my life. There as a quiet whispering in my heart telling me to start to move in a different direction. I sensed movement and change was upon me and it pointed me in the direction of my long forgotten dreams of living in the countryside and forging a different way of life.
That was 2019. Once I committed to go in the direction that the wind was taking me, that’s when the heat really started to get turned up.
The intensity in which I started to follow my heart in the direction of a different kind of life was no joke. I felt like I was on fire with passion. My vision was so clear I felt like I could almost taste it.
It felt like it was close, intimately close. Like the naked body of a lover close to mine, heat radiated towards me, tempting me forward. I took firm strides, strongly and radically, throwing all caution to the wind.
Consequently, it was this state of fiery passion that propelled me through 2020-2022. I proceeded to blow up my previous life and I did so without looking back. I firebombed my way through, expecting only the very best to line my path as I continued to walk and throw bombs behind me.
The fire bombs blew up not just the structures such as my job and some of the connections and friendships I had, but also the person I was before. As far as I was concerned, if it didn’t belong to my future and the person I was becoming, I had no interest in it. I removed all investment in the old me, trusting that the new me and my new life was in the not too distant future.
Whilst this fire energy was with me, everything seemed possible. It was passionate and exciting. So much seemed to be happening. I expected this fire energy to be the gunpowder and I the cannon ball.
I jumped in the canon without hesitation. I was sure that it was going to be set off at any minute, spitting me out at record speed into the wild hills of the Spanish countryside.
How naive I was!
After spending some time in the canon, I had to get out and see what the hold up was. Turns out there was no-one there to light the string! The box of matches lay empty on the floor. The fire energy that had been pushing me forward at such a strong pace, had ceased.
I looked around at the rubble that lay around my feet. In the cold light of day, all I could see were ashes of what was before. The destruction of the old lay calmly all around. The dust had settled and I was finally able to see what I had done.
The views were stark. Empty nothingness for as far as the eye could see. I felt deflated and sad. What just happened? The clarity of the light of day only made me feel confused. How did I get here? The party was over. Time to face the realities of the firebombing and fire dancing.
As I came to my senses, I saw a wooden sign in the distance. I quietly inched closer to get a better look.There was a picture of a stick man hiking, the kind you see on walking trails. The sign read: “Dreams this way”, with an arrow pointing away from the smoky remains and onwards in the direction of the distant hills.
So I wasn’t getting a lift in the canon after all.
I was going to have to pick myself up and walk.
This has been the reality of 2023 so far. The fire energy has been replaced by reality. Feet on the ground. Less passionate excitement. More steady stability.
This is a new energy to work with. It is the Earth element. It is less exciting, less provocative, less chaotic. Less interesting to write about. Less inspiring to read about, maybe. It is the equivalent to washing the dishes and doing the laundry.
For me this has translated to slowly making my way with online teaching business. It’s meant dealing with the here and now realities of survival outside of the comfort of a monthly pay packet. I needed to learn new skills and use trial and error to see what works.
I am seeing that this new energy is important for real, grounded change. Playing with fire is fun but the purpose of fire is to burn away the old, to cleanse away what is no longer needed. It means certain death but also offers us the promise of renewal and rebirth.
The indigenous communities of the Americas knew this well. Controlled burning of certain parts of forest and land was used to give the land a rest, to give it a chance to renew and become fertile once more, as well as to lessen the probability of wildfires. This was common wisdom that in time, has become outlawed with the colonisation of those lands.
It was tempting to use that fire energy to throw myself out of Madrid without any clear plan. The temptation was real, but luckily, I have a partner whose feet are very much on the ground. Thus, recklessness was averted and we avoided moving somewhere without a plan and the possibility of a subsequent return to the city, as happens with a lot of people who try their luck in rural Spain.
It is only with your feet firmly placed on the Earth are you able to build a solid base. Now I can see that this is the next step for me on this journey, facing reality and building a new life for myself, step by step, brick by brick.
The Reality of Following Your Most Radical Dreams: Transformation
You may be thinking “yes but why would you build that base in Madrid if you don’t want to be there”.
Trust me, I know.
How I wish that this wasn’t the case!
But I use the principles of permaculture to guide me:
Start with yourself.
Start from where you are.
Start small and expand outwards from there.
The life that I originally set out to create for myself needed me to transform in order to be able to step into it. The old me had to go. I had to step out into the world in a different way. For me this meant risking being seen for who really am, finding my voice, aligning more deeply with values, admitting to myself my most intimate dreams, and stepping up into bigger shoes.
By no means is this a finished process. If anything, it is only just beginning. I still have a long way to go. A lifetime of transformation to go.
This is the reality of following our dreams: it requires you to transform yourself entirely. That might sound appealing, but the reality of transformation is anything but pretty. For me it has been a continual process of highs and lows, magic and pain, joy and grief, satisfaction and insecurity.
I don’t know if it looks like this for everyone. All I can do is report on what the views are from where I am so that we can all get a wider picture of the whole. I hope that your journey requires significantly less Kleenex than mine has, but I also hope that it brings you just as much joy and miracles as it has me thus far.
As much as I feel a deep sense of disappointment about my current life situation, I am also in awe of the generosity of life. My fast track to my dream life in the countryside is yet to materialise, yet I have received so many other unexpected gifts so far on this journey that my heart fills time and time again with overflowing gratitude.
I am seeing the sprouts of the new within my own being. This is where the real change happens. Start inside and the rest follows.
Or so goes the theory. At this point, continuing to write this blog is an act of faith.
As always I look to the Earth for reassurance. Roots grow far underground long before the first shoot appears above ground.
Boots on the ground, we go on.
One foot in front of the other, without hurry.
The More Beautiful World starts inside of us.
That I know.
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