So much of this lifestyle is about fixing things yourself. The rain washes away the path to the pool? Use rocks and the leftover posts from the adobe house and build steps. Internet doesn't reach here? Maneuver a telecom box up a cork tree closest to the place you last got cell reception. Want organic produce in a country that doesn't seem to care about it at all? Build a glorious mandala garden on permaculture principles and eventually a greenhouse using over abundant eucalyptus trees and clay roof tiles. You break it, you glue it. You paint it, you saw it, you sand it, you size it. When you need help, you call a nearby friend, but usually it's completely self-help, ultimate DIY.
When I decided to leave my good job and my good life and make this first stop to Portugal, the question was always why and sometimes what. Why now. Why Portugal. What will you do. What are you thinking.
I didn't have good answers, I still don't. I knew I needed time, I knew I needed space. I knew I wanted to get my hands back in the dirt, that I needed nature to be the given in the equation, not the weekend exception to the rule. But once in awhile I'm able to articulate that I really just needed space. Physical space and mental space. To think a thought through to completion. To untangle my head and turn the volume down for a little while. Regroup to the core of whatever or whoever I am or want to be or am capable of. Remember what it's like to feel actually creative or to think critically about something bigger than yourself. To be yourself.
Almost a month in to this chapter, I am already feeling so much closer, but I'm still not sure I could be an advocate for such a drastic change. I say this because am still in the midst of high-risk behavior. There's no safety net, no security here. There's really no set course. This is not reality (or is it?). But these thoughts? They are so much more often complete. They can wander as they see fit, but they can, when I want them to, proceed uninterrupted. I wake up peacefully in the morning and am able to lay awake and think about the dreams I have had rather than begrudgingly rushing for the snooze button, as I so often did. My daily tasks can often feel repetitive but they never lack purpose. My brain is starting to come alive again, in spite of all stimuli being minimized.
I stumbled upon a pretty cheesey but potentially accurate metaphor yesterday while building the aforementioned pool steps with David. I told him that in many ways I feel like the rock that was flung across the canal in order to get to the other side - arguably the rock that came loose from the cable only to narrowly miss breaking windows and assorted planters. But it's like I have thrown myself as far as possible, hoping to stay attached, hoping that the slow tow back to center will come with basic, simple rewards and clear reception.
In the meantime: peace and purpose. Quiet. Conversations. Healthy food, sunshine, clear thoughts. What I needed more than anything.
Ultimate self help.