A rich life…
I have been wandering through Asia looking for ways to live a rich life with little stuff. I have spent quite some time looking at concepts like detachment, being inventive, skill, using local resources and enduring discomfort. Qualities that enable travelers and nomads to take few items along. But what does it mean to be rich, and what does a rich life look like? So far I defined it as an abundance of something positive in your life. A resource that enables you not only to survive, but to thrive in your habitat.
Now that I am preparing interviews I need to get a good grip on the concept. How else can I ask my experts about the wealth in their life? According to the site Oxford dictionaries it means to have a great deal of money or assets, but also to exist in abundance, and in colours or scents it can mean pleasantly deep or strong. But there is one definition that fits my project almost perfectly: ‘interesting because full of variety: what a full, rich life you lead!’
I feel that for many nomads the variety is one of the key ingredients of their happiness. At least that is what I found so far. It is perhaps the ability to switch between roles, tasks or environments that gives my nomads their sense of freedom. But an abundance of variation is not the only thing.
Ooltsjie pointed out that their livestock is the source of whatever wealth they have. They provide food, trade, structure to their life and maybe even a sense of purpose. I can imagine that their impact goes way beyond these basic things. As I am going back to the family with an interpreter I hope to find out more about this.
John talks about his ability to enjoy life every single day. When he sits in front of his house drinking a beer while the sun is setting, he enjoys the peace and quiet of the courtyard. On such moments he feels truly happy. But it is not just the abundance of space and tranquility of his house, or the fact that he can receive guests – although he feels over the moon about it. The true riches of John is that he wakes up every morning feeling glad that he is alive. He has a new day to influence the pupils on his work, to share moments with friends and to overcome whatever fears he has when he enters an unknown situation. The true riches of John is his beginners mind and his gratitude towards every (positive) experience that comes his way. When I have seen a few sunsets I’ll stay inside, doing something useful. John never grows tired of them. In his mind every experience can be new and every beauty is there to be appreciated.
To me this is as rich as you can get, to be able to appreciate what you already have. But this is not a Buddhist project, even though I would like to look into that aspect of the nomad culture. There are many more forms of riches that are hidden in everyone’s life. Some material such as a business, some shared and some completely personal such as the knowledge of Enkhzul. Some people are lucky to have many, others struggle to come by. During my last month in Mongolia I would like to uncover how people get through difficult times, and what allows them to move beyond survival to enjoy their life.