two kinds . . .

by mulberryshoots


As I drove down Penzance Lane early this morning, returning from buying the morning papers, NYTimes and the Boston Globe, a large, dark red cardinal flew directly across my windshield. Maybe I am one of a handful of people who believes in omens and signs but I felt my heart lift when it happened. I mean, when you think about it, the bird had to launch itself exactly at a certain moment to coincide with the rate at which my car was moving forward in order for that to happen. And my spirits lifted for the day!

As I enjoyed my breakfast, I came upon an article in the NYTimes about David Hoffman, a rebel against building codes and other living requirements in Marin County, California. Mr. Hoffman has built a series of 30 structures, grows Pu-Erh tea and ages them in bamboo containers. He lives with his wife, a native of Thailand and together, they maintain a lifestyle of their own values, apparently ignoring convention and government code requirements.

This got me thinking about some of the dualities that we live amongst:

~ those who believe in omens and those who don’t

~ those who march to societal’s rubrics, and those who do not

~ Confucian principles which honor society’s norms for acceptance
and achievement

~ Taoist philosophy supporting an individual’s quest for,
well, individuality rather than conformity in order to gain someone
else’s approval

I come from a Mandarin family that went to great lengths to pursue individual values and goals, breaking convention and persevering through hardships during the Cultural Revolution. My Aunt Lucy, for example, completed her translation of “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman into Mandarin before she died despite personal tragedy and setbacks during her middle and late years in life.

Anyhow, this tea guy in Marin County reminded me of the kind of intensity to be himself in the middle of building codes and some such while carrying out his purpose–producing ancient tea. There is a documentary made about him called, “All In This Tea” that has won numerous film critic awards.

Our home is unconventional in that it is rebuilt from recycled building materials and is heated by a well dug deep under the house. There is no heating oil dependency here with a geothermal system put in by my husband, well over twenty-five years ago before it became popular as green technology.

We live in a working class town so our property is valued at less than half of what it might be were it closer to Boston where more conventional structures appreciate in value just for being located where they are, even when all the houses on the street look alike.

So, I guess there are people who live their lives according to the rules they grew up with and those who chafe at any rules at all. I’m of the latter persuasion and breathe a sigh of relief that I escaped a humdrum existence that I might otherwise have fallen into.

So, seeing red cardinals (3 in one day last week) another a couple of days later and then the one this morning, continue the drumbeat from the Cosmos to my inner spirit, reminding me that “you’re right where you’re supposed to be.”

I think it might be time to revel in this affirmation and live it up, wouldn’t you say?