The Art of Love: How I Came to An Innermost Life

by Tammy Strobel on March 28, 2011

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Diana Lorence, an inspirational speaker on the pleasures of the simple life. Diana writes about her life in the woods at www.innermosthouse.com

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages…
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

~Dylan Thomas

Here in the woods it is spring again, the season of love and new beginnings. The trees are in leaf, the wild lilac is in bloom, and the birds are in song. All day and all night the woods are awake with a longing to begin anew.

Innermost House is my home in the woods, where my husband and I have lived for many years. The house is about twelve feet square, and there is no electricity or hot water. Yet we live a life of luxury. The greatest luxury in life is to live with what you truly love.

So many people wish to simplify their lives today. People I meet want to know how I made my way to what I call an Innermost Life. The great question is how—how to make a new beginning at a truly simple life.

There Are Two Ways to Simplify Your Life

One way is eliminating the things from your life that don’t really matter, until you are left with what you need.

This is the rational way to proceed, and it works. Experts and practitioners speak of it with authority. There are steps to take and things to accomplish and ideas to exchange. You can really get somewhere this way.

The other way is the art of filling your life with what you love most in the world. Love has a strange emancipating power that lets everything else fall away.

Your heart allows you to sense this mysterious force. In some way, Love has the power to displace many things.

The Art of Love

The way I took was the art of living only for the one thing I love most of all. My passion is contemplative conversation. I formed my home and my life around this one consuming love. It patiently taught me how I need to live and what I need to own and whom I need to know. It gave direction to my days. It brought me my husband, Michael Anthony Lorence, whose whole work in life is conversation.

My husband and I speak of everything together. We eat and breathe each other’s words. For many years while we made our way to this place it was “he alone with I alone.” Now people come from all over the world to sit here and talk of the things in their heart and soul.

The art of love is the art of letting one truth answer a world of questions. Loving one thing taught me to light my home with candles and to cook over the fire. It taught me what books to read and what pictures to see and what silence to keep. It taught me to sit low and to sleep on the floor. It taught me to understand high things. It taught me to listen to my feelings.

The currents of the world flow against those who love and long for a truly simple life. Before we came to the woods we moved more than twenty times. After a relentless search of the Innermost Life, it finally grew out of our need. Embracing grief, we loved and lost and found our way to this simple life.

There Are Many Ways to Love

Love has many worthy objects. By what craft can anyone prescribe to another the nature of their love? You may love your work or your studies or a place or a book. Love is the heart’s way to simplify your life.

I know a man who greatly admires Thomas Jefferson. He has shaped his whole world around that love. His work and life at home are among the simplest, happiest, and most inspiring I know. I know another man who loves nothing better than fly fishing from his finely crafted wooden boat. He expresses his love through written stories of his adventures outdoors, and similarly lives a very simple life.

I know a woman who lives for her handicapped child. Despite all the complications that has involved—or maybe because of them—her love has greatly simplified her life, and allowed her to let go of everything else without reservation. Her life has a heartbreaking beauty now.

Whatever it is that you love, the wayless way to simplify your life is to live only for that love. It is by love alone that you truly see, and see what truly matters. And when you see how much it matters, your confusions and griefs give way to purpose and freedom. If you make a way to live with what you truly love—not just with what you happen to have or want—then you may find yourself simply leaving everything else behind.

What I Have Learned

The simple life is a luxury few feel they can afford today. Yet its only price is to surrender what you do not love and do not need, whether by means of art or science. I have lived a lover’s life, suffering for and rejoicing in the things I truly love. It has not been a prudent life, or a secure one.

I have learned that simplicity for me lies in loving with all my heart and all my soul and all my mind. I have made my way to a simple life by loving the one thing that matters most to me as if nothing else mattered at all.

It is spring again in the woods, and I have learned that only the simple things return our love. Together with my husband, I begin anew each spring to learn what only love can teach me.

***

Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out Diana’s site and read her guest post on the tiny house blog.

1 Holly March 28, 2011

Yes! Thank you. I have found that as I am getting rid of stuff that I know I don’t love, it is easier to see what I do love.

2 Diana March 28, 2011

Dear Holly,

You are very welcome. Perhaps your one great love lies buried beneath it all, waiting for you to uncover it. Waiting for you to discover it.

Diana

3 Chris O'Byrne March 28, 2011

So beautifully written and so moving.

4 Diana March 28, 2011

Dear Chris,–Thank you for your very kind words.–Diana

5 SillySimple March 28, 2011

Fabulous! I really love this post (I seem to love a lot of things I find on Rowdy Kittens). This is my favorite part:
“The simple life is a luxury few feel they can afford today. Yet its only price is to surrender what you do not love and do not need, whether by means of art or science. I have lived a lover’s life, suffering for and rejoicing in the things I truly love. It has not been a prudent life, or a secure one.”

It is just so true, and beautifully written. I worry sometimes that I am becoming too focused not on truly creating a simple life but finding a really really great organizer that lets all that stuff fit in my closet.

6 Diana March 28, 2011

Dear S. S.,

I too am very grateful I found my way to Rowdy Kittens. The ancients defined true happiness as a whole life well lived. The simple life is like that. It sounds like you are ready to edge one step closer to happiness.

Diana

7 Hayden Tompkins March 28, 2011

“The other way is the art of filling your life with what you love most in the world. Love has a strange emancipating power that lets everything else fall away.”

I love this; I absolutely love this. I was just thinking about this writing today’s post and the way you synthesized it is so perfect. I, too, have set up the layout of my home for conversation. Not necessarily because I love talking so much but that I do love connecting with my loved ones and I think that is extremely difficult with the television on.

8 Diana March 28, 2011

Dear Hayden,

Yes, connection is the essence of conversation. Connection may occur at many levels, and the greatest of these is love. You might enjoy this article on the special kind of conversation for which Innermost House exists: http://www.innermosthouse.com/#/journal-entries-i. Thank you for writing.

Diana

9 Jason @ Stop & Breathe March 28, 2011

I love you post. Thank you! And your committment to your lifestyle is inspiring.

What you said about the approach of filling your life with the things you love really resonates with me. When approaching a life from a minimalist perspective it’s important to remember that “more” is still good, IF it’s more of the stuff that truly fuels our hearts and souls.

10 Diana March 28, 2011

Dear Jason,

We have twice had to evacuate Innermost House against forest wildfires, and the experience was illuminating. Even among our very few things there were fewer still that mattered at all. The house itself mattered, but that we could not take.

On our way out into the wind and the smoke we came upon two spotted fawns lying perfectly still in the grass–a reminder of how fragile life is, and how much a few things really do matter.

Diana

11 Laura M. March 28, 2011

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

12 Diana March 28, 2011

You are very welcome Laura. Thank you for writing.–Diana

13 Weston March 28, 2011

Diana

You may be focused on verbal conversation but your written conversation is no doubt just a beautiful. You write like a dream.

I dearly covet that house in the woods. Do you live there full time or is a retreat or a place just to find a few hours for conversation?

14 Diana March 28, 2011

Dear Weston,

My husband and I have lived here full time for years, but we have not always lived so. For many years we kept moving in search of this life, all across the country and then to Europe. During those years we created room after room within our houses, each one approaching a little more nearly to the innermost condition. Those rooms kept us going, and developed into the seed of the home we now occupy. You can read the story here: http://www.innermosthouse.com/#/journal-entries-i/sacred-game.

Thank you for your kind words.

Diana

15 Mandy March 28, 2011

Greetings Tammy and Diana,

I discovered the Innermost House website this weekend and spent hours pouring through it. I was inspired, touched, humbled, provoked, and deeply moved. It has stayed with me, frequenting my thoughts and my dreams over the last few days.

I appreciate this that you said, Diana:
“The art of love is the art of letting one truth answer a world of questions. … I have made my way to a simple life by loving the one thing that matters most to me as if nothing else mattered at all.”

What a wise way to live. It is what I aspire to myself, though I fear I often fall short. Still, I endeavor to love the perils of the path as much as its sweet successes, hoping to meet the challenge with as much grace as I can.

Blessings to both of you on your respective paths.
mandy

16 Diana March 28, 2011

Dear Mandy,

Those are beautiful words. The Innermost House site was made for sweet souls like yours, and I am so happy you found your way home.

Thank you Tammy for pointing the way.

Diana

17 judie March 28, 2011

Your writings are beautiful!
I started minimal living out of necessity. A poor choice led me to a choice of homeless or “shed girl”. It was a year of many ups and downs. The 160 sf studio I built became home.I only had what was most important in my space. What ensued was 10 years of living off grid. I have moved several times since then – once to a larger, on grid home. I was miserable & couldn’t wait to get back to what was real. I now live in 396sf, & will never live in a larger space again!
I am surrounded by my favorite things & love is everywhere!

18 Albert l Next Small Step March 28, 2011

Great writing says what you yourself have thought better than you could – like this post. Thanks.

Over time time I have filled my free time with all sorts of exercise: karate, yoga, stretching, cycling, running. But that turned out to be too much.

After a long cycle with a few friends on Table Mountain, I realized that the only sane decision is to focus on my first love of riding bicycles. I love the rituals of cleaning the bike, preparing for rides, watching your weight etc. As they say: Master one thing to master all.

19 Diana March 29, 2011

Dear Albert,

You have said it very well. I have learned from my husband that there are two ways to a whole life–the way of the center and the way of the circumference–and that each is a reflection of the other. The center of the whole may be mastered in fact, and I have taken this way. The whole circumference may be mastered in spirit, and that has been the way of my husband. The two are one at last. Who can say where your bicycle will one day lead you?

Diana

20 Diana March 28, 2011

Dear Judie,

You have discovered the secret that absolute necessity is absolute freedom. What you must do you can do, and now you know you can do it! I am so glad you are happy now. A shed can enclose the world.

Diana

21 Lisa March 29, 2011

Thanks! I really enjoyed this post!

22 Diana March 30, 2011

You’re welcome Lisa. Thank you!–Diana

23 Caroline March 29, 2011

The writing is beautiful ~ I look forward to re-reading this post and enjoying it over again! Thank you for sharing, Diana and Tammy.

24 Diana March 30, 2011

Thank you Caroline. I’m grateful to Tammy for her invitation to write to her readers. I enjoyed it too.

Diana

25 Barbara March 29, 2011

Thank you for your thought provoking post. I am learning about the bearty of simplicity. It seems at times, difficult to shed the dominate culture. But I am seeing less and less of it brings joy or satisfaction. Your home and thoughts bring Walden to mind.

26 Diana March 30, 2011

Dear Barbara,

You are very welcome. I’m glad you’re finding your way to beauty and what it teaches about true simplicity. I think if you can find a way to let yourself go and fall in love with the heartbreaking beauty of real things, you will find it possible to disentangle yourself from the culture around you. You’re right, Walden is a name for the innermost heart and mind.

Diana

27 Nicole Rushin March 30, 2011

What a wonderful heartfelt post. Loved it. So many people want to simplify but they don’t really know how. I have recently gone through a purging in my life and have been amazed by the things that have come back to me. I struggle with the fact that it is okay to be happy in the midst of so much turmoil around me. Is it okay to find happiness when so many others are struggling. Thanks for the post.

28 Diana March 30, 2011

Dear Nicole,

If you find happiness in simplicity and the love of beauty and truth, then it may be that the most generous thing you can do for others is to express your happiness. Let yourself be an example of being happy with the little that matters, and you shall be a light and an inspiration to all who know you. I am so glad you wrote.

Diana

29 liz from west viginia May 6, 2011

Diana, that is exactly what you are doing. and with it you have begun a revolution. How revolutionary we all could be, buy this approach we could change the world.

30 Jen March 30, 2011

Thank you Diana for a truly moving post – I am bookmarking this to come back to again.

31 Diana March 30, 2011

Then we shall meet again! Thank you Jen.–Diana

32 Mande April 28, 2011

You’ve hit the ball out the park! Indrceible!

33 Lynn Fang March 30, 2011

This is so beautiful. I’m sharing it with my friends. It’s such a precious secret. I wish we were taught this in school :P

34 Diana March 30, 2011

Dear Lynn,

Thank you so much. It is a rare secret, but we are never out of that school that teaches of love and the simple life. We are all students together.

Diana

35 Karen T. March 31, 2011

Diana, your post made me cry, it is so beautiful. I need to read it again and think about it some more. Your words are a beautiful signpost. Tammy, thanks for asking Diana to join the conversation on your fantastic blog.

36 Diana April 4, 2011

Dear Karen,

I have been moved so many times to tears by the beauty of this world, I am glad to pass it on! It is a beautiful gift we give each other when we are able to weep for joy. Thank you so much for your kind and feelingful words.

Diana

37 Martina April 2, 2011

Dear Diana,
I am deeply moved and inspired by your wonderful words, here and on your own website which is an incredible discovery for me. I sure will come back to ponder your words and your amazing way of life. Thank you!
Tammy, thank you so much for introducing us to Diana! Your place is a constant encouragement for me!
Best to all of you, Martina

38 Diana April 4, 2011

Dear Martina,

You are very welcome, thank you. I am so glad you found your way to my site, where I hope to hear from you again. Thank you Tammy for introducing us.

Diana

Previous post:

Next post: