There are a few ways to define ascetism (and most world religions address it in some form) but one way is "the trait of great self denial (especially refraining from worldly pleasures)." Do a search and you will also find words such as "austerity" or "non-indulgence" or at it's simplest "self discipline."
Whichever definition you choose, had you joined us in any of our recent "moving to India" shopping expeditions, you *might* have noticed that we have a long way to go before we come any where close to being ascetic.
I find it sort of ironic that we have spent so much of the past two years discussing the notion of simple living and how to embrace it for ourselves and our family; that we've both given away or sold so much of our stuff in the past few months only to find ourselves standing in line, carts brimming over, credit cards bursting into flame from overuse. It will be interesting to arrive and discover how much of it we really make use of. Much of it is a luxury of *things* which make our daily lives easier and more enjoyable but that are far from necessary and that may make it more difficult to experience things as they are rather than what we assume they should be.
A friend of mine recently made the comment "I thought it would be sort of fun to just go to India and see what you could find when you get there." In theory that sounds like exactly the sort of thing we aspire to. In practice, we're selling our home, MOVING to (as opposed to vacationing in) India with two small children, traveling for over 24 hours, living in a hotel for 2 weeks, then moving into a new house, and leaving many western "conveniences" behind (one of which is apparently cheap and comfortable toilet paper...but that may be fodder for a whole 'nuther post!) We say that the things we're bringing along will make it so much easier for the kids to adjust but I suspect that this may, in fact, benefit a parent or two...
We view this move as both adventure and opportunity. We want to experience India as fully as possible with open minds and willing hearts; to make an attempt at understanding it's people and places and culture through a clear lens. I have no doubt that we will make frequent mistakes along the way. There will be moments of joy and moments of dismay. Times of deep understanding and times in which we fail to understand anything at all. Whole days in which Mommy yearns for cappucino and a chocolate cherry scone from Java Jacks... hopefully followed by a thorough enjoyment of chai and dosas!
6 days until lift off...