|Photo: Lisette Prince|
"What's your favorite thing about staying up on the alp during the summer months?" a woman asked a seven-year old local farmer boy.
"The sunrises and the sunsets," the boy responded.
This is why I choose to live here.
For those of you who don't know, in the summertime, many local farming families move up to higher pastures (higher than 1,400 meters above sea-level) to graze their cattle on delicious mountain grass and herbs. This is a time when they make their best cheese. The families live in huts using wood fires for warmth, and candles for light, as most do not have electricity (unless it's milking time, then the generators come on). This is a world far away from XBoxes, computers and other technological devices. This is a world where children have to rely on their imaginations for fun.
I like living close to nature and in communion with people whose lives are--for the most part--absorbed in in the evolution of life without hesitation or contradiction. Here, there is no alienation. Everything belongs. Everything is as it should be.
People often ask me why I've chosen to live alone in such a remote area. They ask me, don't you get stir-crazy? Don't you need shopping, cultural events, and people?
Yes, I admit. Sometimes it's fun to leave the mountains, view an exhibition or concert, wander busy streets, sip coffee in cafés, check out the latest trends and fashions, feel the excitement in the cacophony of traffic and voices.
Yet, for most of my daily living, there is nothing more soothing than living in a place where full moons are so evident that you can't help but pause to admire their roundness, their brightness, and the light they cast on ridges and slopes; or a place where stars twinkle above, their splendor still unmarred by light pollution. How about those sunsets and sunrises? No drama on stage can compare to a morning light illuminating the top of a mountain in a surreal glow. Then, there are the snowstorms that remind us of our vulnerability; and the droughts that remind us to conserve water; and the rain storms that replenish our aquifers and remind us to be grateful.
Even as I've yearned for love, companionship, understanding, and fellowship, I've pushed it all away with petty emotions, plans, and constant questioning. I've let anger or pride cloud my perceptions, and in doing so, I've hurt myself.
As Chinese American author Deng Ming-Dao wrote in his 365 Tao: Daily Meditations: "We need to let ourselves go, enter freely into the process of nature, and become absorbed by it. If we integrate ourselves in that process, we will find success. Then the sequence of things will be as evident as the coming of the sun and the moon, and everything will be as it should be."