Forgive me for re-using this quote from “Walden; Or, Life in the Woods” (1854) by American essayist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau. But my current situation calls for it.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”
Well, we haven’t gone to the woods, we have moved to the jungle!
Yesterday we moved into our new house. It is a bamboo house, and it is located in the middle of the jungle. It has no windows and no doors, and hence nature is always present. Being used to an urban environment this in itself is life altering.
As I am sitting here by myself, at my new bamboo desk on the second floor of the house, I can hear and feel the wind blowing, I can see the many beautiful organic shapes that the house contains and smell the musky smells of the bamboo and the weaved straw that the house is made of, I can feel the different textures of the surface of my bamboo desk and hear the nearby River Ayung flowing. I feel aesthetically nourished, not only visually, but multi-sensuously.
It is quiet here in the daytime. And I can feel that living here will provide me with plenty of peace and time – time to write and time to develop my theories on sustainable design and living. Time to “drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” Perhaps even time to be bored (what a luxury!). Time and space to think new thoughts, and to try out simple living in its truest sense.
Our house is located in a small eco village with seven bamboo houses, in walking distance from the Green School. There is a shared community dining house, and once a week all villagers gather to eat together. There is a large organic garden with vegetables, herbs and fruits growing for the villagers to use in their daily cooking, and there is a natural swimming pool with spring water located right next to the River Ayung.
Our four suitcases of belongings that we brought from Denmark suddenly seem very sparse. The house is furnished with beautiful bamboo furniture, but sparingly equipped. I find myself longing for some of the colourful vases and rugs that are stored away in Denmark, and that would beautifully decorate the house and make it feel more homely. But at the same time there is a part of me that loves this extreme simplification. Especially because the limited amount of decorative artefacts really makes you notice the organic shapes of the house construction, the tactile variations of the materials, and the way that the light shines into the house from different angles throughout the day.
While I have been writing this it has started raining, and the house has gotten darker. I can smell and hear the rain.
I am here, now.