During the sittings that led to those recent insights, a conversation that I had with a friend several years ago came to mind. The word “compromise” came into discussion. This friend basically said that compromise was an illusion that leads to unhappiness by both parties involved, because neither one is fully satisfied. At the time I thought that was quite a harsh statement, but in retrospect, I get it. There are two sides to the coin of compromise, one is to “concede”, or to relinquish; the other one is to “cooperate”, or to find a balance. I think there is a subtle difference between the two, to concede seems to have a much stronger connotation of dissatisfaction, whereas compromise seems to have a more neutral undertone. “To compromise” can also mean to put yourself in danger.
In yoga and Ayurveda, BALANCE equates HEALTH, and being a firm believer of the middle path, I believe that we can find balance through compromise in a way that does not lead to dissatisfaction or suffering. Realistically, I understand that we need to make compromises quite frequently in order for the world and our lives to function, especially if we have partners and families. We can easily compromise about what we are going to eat for dinner or which beach to go to over the weekend (sorry, mainlanders) without creating suffering in our lives. However, if we find ourselves regularly conceding to others and feeling dissatisfied, especially in choices that have a huge impact on our lives such as what career you choose, where you want to live, which school you will send your kids, who will take care of ailing tutu, perhaps we are endangering the capacity to express or embrace our inner selves and need to seriously re-evaluate our lives.
That’s exactly the position my husband and I experienced about two years ago…we knew something needed to shift. We had made a compromise with our extended family that initially made everyone sort-of-happy but by the end, stressed out all parties involved. My husband and I had always promised to prioritize our nuclear family and found a balance that suited us: I was able to stay with the boys full-time, homeschool and teach yoga and he worked a full-time carpentry position and had less housework to do. In order for this to work, we intentionally pared down as much as possible, such as having only one vehicle, being thrifty at the grocery store, etcetera. However, the lifestyle and living situation that evolved out of the original compromise ended up tearing our relationship apart, we were both unhappy and stressed which was impacting our children, and we needed to make a BIG change. It was either remove ourselves from the living situation (break the compromise, live our ideals) or drastically change our lifestyle by me taking on a 9-5 job and putting our kids into public school (concede, give up our ideals).
You know which direction we took, as we now live on the big island. BEST DECISION EVER. My family and I are happy to be establishing roots here on the big island, in perhaps ways that are unconventional compared to social norms but by no means uncommon over here. That is one of the reasons I am writing today, as we are about to go off-grid and join the “dirty hippy” club, as some friends have joked, and in the next few months I will be less accessible than I have been. Please give me at least 48 hours to respond to emails, and 24 hours for phone calls or texts. Why? Because we have decided to move out to our property this summer and camp while we begin to build a home, which I’m sure will be quite the adventure! There are no county water lines in our area and everyone is on a catchment system, which by the way, is quite awesome! The challenging part is that our road does not have power lines and so we will have to rely on natural energy sources along with a generator…this has many implications that I will elaborate upon as this experience continues to unfold. I plan to keep a journal for our family during this time and I’m sure many of them will turn into blogs and themes for classes that I will share with you. For us, this is an opportunity to live out our priorities: simplicity, balance, emphasis on family, respect of nature, being mortgage-free, et cetera. Living this way also gives me time to continue developing several projects that I intend to bring to our yoga ohana in the next year, including a 300-hour yoga curriculum.