An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of December 18, 2016
Issued from Rancho Regenesis near Ek Balam ruins 20kms north of Valladolid, Yucat√°n, Mexico

HOLE BESIDE THE HUT

hole beside the hut

I live beside a hole that's deeper and wider than the hut. It was dug to be a cellar, but the project was abandoned before the pit could be roofed and covered with dirt. Whenever I leave or enter the hut, with one wrong step I'd plunge into it, and possibly die. The hole sets the tone of each day the moment I awaken and look out the door, to see its gaping, inescapable mouth right there. It colors my feelings about living here, same as if the hut were at the ocean's edge, or on a mountain peak.

I think about that hole a lot. One reason is that I've come to think of it as a useful paradigm in everyday life.

For instance, the hole creates a lush microhabitat for plants and animals that aren't found in the surrounding woods. The hole's depths are moister and cooler than the surrounding woods because neither sunlight nor wind enters there. Maidenhair Ferns cascade from the hole's walls, and umbrella-like Cecropia trees with kite-size leaves rise from the hole's floor. The hole, then, is an example of how by taking away -- by creating a hole in a matrix -- something worthy and desirable might come about.

Thinking further on the matter, my life here is itself a kind of hole. It's a hole in the surrounding societal matrix of which materialism and busy-ness for busy-ness's sake are prime features. To me it seems that in my current life-hole, tranquility, freedom and a sense of living an enriched life spontaneously arose just as the Cecropia trees and Maidenhairs came unbidden into the hut hole

In fact, this kind of hole-making in society appears again and again throughout history. It happened whenever individuals and communities disconnected from their oppressive or otherwise wrongheaded governments or overlords and "went underground" to live differently than before. Often in these new society-holes there arose gorgeous and inspiring, Cecropia/Maidenhair-like new ways of being. Think of the Mennonites and off-the-grid, gardening "hippy" communities up North, Thoreau in his woods, Jesus in his desert, and the Buddha beneath his Bo Tree.

Of course, all this hole-philosophy is just another way of saying that the path to happiness is to simplify. Holes teach the charm of paying attention to and dealing with what's close at hand.

Finally, don't miss this point: The hole beside my hut isn't teaching us to find a hole, climb into it and vegetate. It teaches that sometimes holes, metaphorical and otherwise, are simplified environments in which unexpected pleasures and insights might spontaneousy appear.