The secret of contentment
I was asked in an email recently if I would reveal the secret of simple living. I have no secrets, I think I've been fairly open with what we're doing here. I have a set of values I live by and everyone knows my day to day activities, so that was my reply. An email came back that surprised me quite a bit - it said that she had done most of what I was doing, made sure she planted what I planted, was knitting dishcloths and cooking from scratch, making soap, and a lot of other things exactly as I had written about them, but she had failed to find contentment. "What is the secret of contentment?"
Let me answer that question first and then I'll elaborate. The secret of contentment is to live the life you want to live. It must be your authentic life, not a copy of mine or anyone else's. The secret is to find what you're passionate about and to carefully weave that into your life. The secret is to think carefully about what makes you truly happy, and then live a life that reflects that. I developed a certain set of values a few years ago and that value set, if I live true to them, makes me happy and content. I know deep down in my bones that if I am generous, kind and helpful, if I live slow and according to my values, and not those of mainstream Australia, if I give while expecting nothing in return, my life sails smoothly, even on troubled waters. It's a circle. What you give out, comes back. Always.
I often urge readers here to live their own lives. What Hanno and I do is what suits us, it's not written about because it's THE way. To find real contentment and to live well requires that you examine yourself and find what it is that makes you happy. You need to think about how you want to live, what kind of person you want to be, what you want from life and develop a set of values that helps you live that way. That is not easy to do and it takes a long time to figure out. This part of the process is slow too. You don't wake up one morning, think "I'm going to live simply" and then just copy how someone else lives. Every element of your life must have meaning; making soap because I make soap is ridiculous and time consuming. Make soap only when it makes sense to YOU. One of the advantages of this way of living is that it's organic and flexible and can be made to fit almost anyone. Unlike mainstream living you don't fit a mould, you break the mould and then start adding and taking away until your life suits you. You start with the mindset - the practical things that make up daily living change according to how old you are, whether you have children living with you, how much money and time you have.
Find what makes you happy and do it. If you can't do it now, actively and earnestly work towards it. And always remember, there is no final destination - we are in this for the journey and where it takes us.
Make a pastry case, my recipe is here, but you can use any good short crust pasty recipe. Blind bake the pastry and allow to cool.
4 large eggs
Half to two thirds of a cup of fresh lemon juice - depending on how tart would want the filling to be
45 grams/1½ oz softish butter cut into little pieces
200 grams/7 ozs white sugar
½ cup cream
Put all the above in a bowl and beat with an electric beater for about three minutes. Everything needs to be combined well and the sugar dissolved.
Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake in a slow oven, around 160*C/320*F. The filling should set around the edges and still be a little bit wobbly in the centre.