A Laissez-Faire State of Mind

Living apart and at peace with myself, I came to realize more vividly the meaning of the doctrine of acceptance. To refrain from giving advice, to refrain from meddling in the affairs of others, to refrain, even though the motives be the highest, from tampering with another’s way of life–so simple, yet so difficult for an active spirit! Hands off! Yet not to grow indifferent, or refuse aid when it is sincerely demanded. Living thus, practicing this way of life, strange things occurred; some might call them miraculous. And from the most unexpected quarters astonishing, most instructive lessons...

And all the while an obsessive desire was shaping itself, namely to lead the anonymous life. The significance of this urge I can explain simply–to eradicate the zealot and the preacher in myself. ‘Kill the Buddha!’ the Zen master is known to say occasionally. Kill the futile striving, is the thought. Do not put the Buddha (or the Christ) beyond, outside yourself. Recognize him in yourself. Be that which you are, completely.

Naturally, when one attains to this state of awareness, there is no need, no urge, to convert the other to one’s way of thinking. It is not even necessary, as Vivekananda once phrased it, to go about doing good. The unknown Buddhas, those who preceded Gautama, he asserted, made no stir in the world. They were content to shed the light which was in them. Their sole purpose in living was to live, to live each day as if life were a blessing and not an ordeal or a curse.
— from "Stand Still Like the Hummingbird" by Henry Miller

On Hosting Houseguests

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The most difficult adjustment I've had to make since moving out here to the ranch is having houseguests. And I don't mean the kind of friends and family that come around during the holidays or even the ones who visit for a weekend. I'm talking about a consistent stream of guests who stay for long periods of time. For a girl who has spent the last three years coccooning in her New York apartment, being around people almost all of the time is pretty overwhelming. 

It's funny because I've always thought the idea of running a bed & breakfast was quite charming–you know, to fully manifest your vision of a cozy experience and share it with new people. This is essentially what we're doing, or, rather, in the process of doing. We're currently building an biodynamic garden and planning to put an outdoor shower on the deck. During the day, we go on epic hikes around the property and, at night, we snuggle up outside under blankets to watch the moon rise with wine glasses in hand. I mean, it's simply too special of a place not to share. Naturally, who wouldn't want to come?

Hosting, though, takes a great deal of energy, especially when it's so frequent and for such long periods of time. It starts to feel like a job, and, for me, that takes the joy out of it. I have a natural instinct for nurturing, looking after, and taking care of the people that I know and love. But when it comes to people whom I don't know very well (or love), I'm more reticent. I'm still polite and accommodating and social, but it feels draining. In fact, to be honest, I start getting irritable after a couple of days. I think it's because I've grown accustomed to carving out my own private space and time after all these years that I feel this need to protect it.  

Before I go any further, I have a confession to make: I originally wrote and published a different version of this post in the form of a comedic rant. But then I decided to re-write it. The first one was meant to be facetious spin on the many annoying observations I've encountered, but I felt that it wasn't very nice of me as a host to use it as material. Everything was, of course, rooted in truth, but perhaps the ultimate truth, above all, is that I simply can't be around houseguests on a regular basis. We've had some really enjoyable guests, but also ones who don't know the basic etiquette of staying in someone else's home. It actually drives me kinda nuts. 

I asked my friend Charles for some advice. He has a house in the Hamptons where he has invited groups of people out on the weekends and seems to deal with it well. Charles agreed that hosting can be super stressful. "Laziness has been my policy," he told me. He has a laissez-faire approach where guests figure out the weekend for themselves. Because they don't have any expectations from him, he's not stressed by it. Maybe I should try that.

Going back to that fantasy about running a bed & breakfast, I think I've gotten a good dose of reality to make me realize that I'm not cut out for being an innkeeper. I'd rather be a gracious host to loved ones who come to visit every so often. That, I can handle.