What do you Need in 2014?


“That fierce imprisonment in the self is but the obverse of the self-giving which is absolute reality.”

C.S. Lewis

After returning to the U.S in May of 2013 I struggled almost every day as I attempted to replace Want with Need. No matter how often I tried to embrace a life of only need I found myself infected by “affluenza desires” that continued to keep me captive.

It seems like an eternity since that morning in Kenya in August of 2011. At the time I was reflecting on the new life choices I was suddenly facing as I started to give away many of the things I had come to appreciate in my life. I was downsizing my world and trying to look beyond the mirror. It wasn’t easy. I had for a long time based much of my worth as a person on the accumulation of property and material success. In many ways I still do as 2014 arrives on my doorstep and it continues to be an ongoing battle. I still haven’t learned to be satisfied with only the things money can’t buy. Now at an age where the remaining sands in my hour glass are much more easily counted I often feel I have all but run out of time to change my destiny.

I couldn’t have imagined at that time that I would  be contacted three years later by a tiny family that would visit the same African country and one of the missions Orchid would eventually embrace there. On this New Years day I have learned from them what it really means to surrender to a true calling to follow a life focused on others and live a life of Need.

I asked my new friends for permission to share a part of an email exchange we had on this New Years day. I was so moved by it that I felt compelled to share it with all of you. They asked that it be told in a way that would not seem heavy handed and that I remind the reader that theirs was a personal decision and right for them. They have no illusions it is a choice many would and should not make. I promised to do my best.

I came to know the family after they became Orchid Roots this fall and I finally expanded my thank you communications with them so I could share more about myself and learn more about who they were and their personal philanthropic mission.

I knew they were from Australia but that was all. I imagined they might have a home in Sydney or Melbourne and that they had likely traveled the world as many Aussies do. What I discovered was quite a different picture.

This family it turns out had taken all the steps I have yet been unable to make and are indeed living a life based on need alone.

The email response I received when I asked about their lives was as follows:

“Dear Rich, We have sold our unit and sold all our possessions except for what fits into a ford station wagon. Pretty much only have a bag of clothes each, laptops and stuff to run our company, camping gear and a small box of toys for Nyah. We are loving the freedom it brings to not have things. Of course we do rely so much on technology as that is our business activities. We are currently house-sitting our way around Australia so we do have access to whatever “stuff” the home-owners have but we find we keep that to basics of cooking meals and washing clothes only.”

Who hasn’t had a Tom Sawyer dream like this at some point in their lives? Just packing up everything and taking our show on the road to see what lies in wait around the next bend. It’s something many of us dreamed about as kids. Then as we got older and the responsibilities and possessions piled up we stopped having that dream. We replaced it with how we can survive into old age and get our kids through college.

To the Jack Kerouac in me this little adventure still resonates. Can you feel the attraction? The pull to just simplify your life and try something outrageous? Even if just for a little while? Maybe there is still time? Maybe you could try an iteration of it. Let me know if you want to. Orchid has some amazing places to take your ford and two backpacks of necessities for a month or two……or more.
Tamara, the Australian version of a soccer mom driving the Ford Wagon knows about my son Paul. I had shared that he turned 1 year old on New Years day. Tamara wrote back:
“Oh lovely regarding your son Paul. What a wonderful gift. Our little gift is Nyah – turns 3 on 21st Feb 2014. She is the bridge between us and the rest of the world, especially the non-western non-white. We are currently house-sitting in the “ghetto” of Adelaide – we enjoy it. People question us how we can live there – we live here like Kings and queens compared to 95%? of the world. We are so happy that God has opened our eyes, and so thankful that he has so richly blessed us so we can give back to Him by giving to the poor, needy and oppressed.”
I knew that as an Orchid Root and philanthropist you would like to know the good company you are keeping with. That each of you holds hands with this little family crisscrossing across Australia one house sit at a time. That you all have made decisions like them to step beyond the day to day and look out across the world to where families who rely on you are standing with hopeful eyes.
Tamara and her little clan remind me that I have been blessed abundantly and it feels right to share that blessing. No gift is ever to small and no effort goes unnoticed or unaffecting. I’m certain you feel the same.
So as this New Year of 2014 arrives I intend to try and aim a little lower. That may sound counter-intuitive but Henry Ford once said “There is no person living who can not do more than they think they can”. A part of his legacy is traveling across Australia proving he was right after all.
Now it’s your turn. Tell us your version of your own “Into the Wild” experience.
Happy New Year







2 Responses to “What do you Need in 2014?”
  1. Thanks, Rich,
    For the reminder, the opportunity to pause and consider.
    Particularly poignant for me today as I recall an earlier conversation (with an ex-lover, if that is actually possible. Tangental, but philosophically interesting!)
    –we spoke about this difference between “business” and “matters of the heart”.
    Full disclosure:
    I am an artist, and the founder of the Gallery [context] these beautiful spring days here, in the Pacific NorthWest.
    Evidently, I find the distinctions between qualitative and quantitate value very curious.
    Or, call it “love” and “money”. We each make choices based around these ideas regularly.
    I have several friends that use the word “hate” to describe their feeling about going in to work. When I ask why they engage regularly with an activity they strongly dislike, I often hear a similar response: “it affords me the lifestyle I enjoy”. Or “that’s why they call it Work” and etc.

    I remember having to do a lot of self-medication and self-soothing when I was doing work I disliked. Now my worries are different, I love what I do (I just need to understand how to do it better!).

    Art is a curious activity. Often requires lots of attention to oneself, self-serving self-sacrificing, self-aggrandizing, self-loathing, etc.
    And then, when it’s really good: Bang! Someone else can relate to the artWork, be it an object, an experience, whatever. Success in Art achieves the transpersonal. We are able to express ourselves, and possibly, be heard or seen.
    Humans “Want” to express themselves.
    Humans “Need” to be heard / seen / felt / recognized.
    Interesting, right?
    One part super selfish, one part selfless.
    Maybe it is that the Self requires some exploration that only happens inside. Maybe it is that we only understand ourselves through relating to and serving Others. Perhaps it is a combination of both.
    Maybe even this “great Western Wound” of materially focused culture and attention is still relevant, just kinda outta balance? Nice things are nice, right? (I’m thinking Burgundian Monopole here…)
    (I am still pretty novice at this, with lots to learn) Seems to me Business like Love is about relationship. I would not be able to operate if my Vendors and Artists didn’t trust me and choose to work with me. I have to take care of them, or close shop. Likewise, if I don’t trust the authenticity of expression in art, it would be unfair to ask someone else to buy it.
    Guess that’s my thought on the subject. Thanks Rich!
    btw, I did make a painting once titled “Having / Wanting (the power of Love / the love of Power)”
    here is a link to that story:
    Trust You Are Well.
    Peace On Earth.

    • Geisel says:


      beautifully expressed and such a wonderful reminder of the Yin and Yang of balance. The Tao speaks of a world in perfect balance at the dawn of creation and how that balance has since eroded. It urges us to find that fulcrum point and try to stand perfectly on it. I imagine it must be steep indeed and easy to fall off. I know it has been and continues to be for me. Being an artist I suspect is very much about Creation and Balance. I love your analogy of the honesty in art and how it must be intertwined not only with your artistic need of expression but that of the need to stay alive simultaneously. As a gallery owner you provide a service to your clients in helping them express themselves through the creativity of others. I applaud you!

      I completely agree on your “bond” of relationship and the part it plays in our lives. I have been accused of being pretty fortunate when it comes to relationship and in my darkest hours it was those relationships that saved me. Your comment helped remind me of that and reinforced my resolve to do a better job in relationship with Orchid. Thanks.

      I love the discussion on art as an act of self. I wonder is it that when we create we discover and when we discover we manifest but not in a selfish way; rather in a needful way to use those gifts we were given to the benefit of others. The artist, the writer, the businessman, the healer, etc. all result in a giving when applied with truth. Some of those manifestations bring with them greater material reward and the balance is only lost when we see that return as the purpose for our self discovery. It’s very human of course and possibly why so many people do what they dislike instead of risking the outcome of manifesting self and therein discovering joy.

      Peace back at ya….and thanks…..Rich

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