What is a therapeutic life? "Therapy" seems to imply illness, but I like this definition, from the good old Apple dictionary:
"Having good effect on the body or mind; contributing to a sense of wellbeing."
An example? Exercise. For most people I know, what is designated "exercise" is the only exercise they get. So they push as hard as they can.
At Farmette, everything that happens outdoors, which is most things, is exercise. But almost all that exertion is goal-oriented: bringing in wood, throwing around straw bales, lugging grain and water, digging garden beds and compost.
|This was where I ran today|
Exercise has become meditation: a chance to shut down the inner voice and focus instead on the trail, on the wind direction, on stretching out. There is no need to convince myself to keep on, to push or compete. The act is free and its own reward.
That's therapeutic running. Similarly, a therapeutic life has its struggles. You still need to negotiate and argue and wish and long. To pay bills and run late and wrangle schedules and chase invoices and and manage sick animals and love sick people. But I focus on having the aspects of life that I do choose be a therapy to me, a tonic that contributes to my sense of wellbeing: actions without burden.
For me, this is waking up with the sun and the birds. Watching the apple blossom disintegrate slowly from the tree. Catching a glimpse of a wallaby bounding through the forest. Making my own bread, pasta, preserves. Making friends with the guy at the local winery even though I'll never know his name. Making the bed so that when I get into it at night it will be still and unconfused: a sanctuary of sleep.
Growing food. Growing animals. Listening to the wind butt the eaves on a dark night. Listening to the rain on the roof while I'm in the bath. Feeling feathers and soil and grass; the warmth of goats' lips nibbling your finger; the reptilian coolness of hens' feet; the sun and shade on your face in the forest.
These are acts without burden. They are their own rewards. This is a therapeutic life.