What’s the Real World ?
Socrates illustrated the concept of a greater truth outside known reality with the story of a cave. In his allegory, people are living in a cave watching shadows on the wall. The shadows are all they have known and to them, it is reality. One day a person escapes from the cave and is blinded by the sunlight as he emerges. When at last his eyes adjust, he discovers that there is a whole world beyond the cave and returns to free the others. Upon entering the cave his eyes must readjust to the dim light making it difficult for him to recognize the once familiar shadows on the wall. The people of the cave believe his outside experience has caused him to lose his ability to discern and doubt his claims of a better life. I can't decide if I am living in the cave or have escaped from it.
When my husband died, my daughters and I left Los Angeles for life in Colonial Town, Virginia. We live with my sister in her home with her family. Gone is the cave with housekeepers, private schools and a fast lane lifestyle. This is the world of chore charts, public schools and only one Japanese restaurant. At least there is sushi.
I have embraced our new Spartan circumstance with a clear mission to get our lives on track. As my Army officer brother-in-law is fond of saying, we spent our summer "marching about the grounds breathing deeply." First, we worked hard in the yard and then we played together late into the evening until the setting sun sent us to bed. Now we're back to school where the focus is on learning and making friends, not getting ahead and being "in." Our days are filled with simple meaningful tasks, but recently I've started to poke my head outside of my foot soldier's cell. My inner cosmopolitan is athirst.
Fortunately, there are samplings to whet the appetite; many major retailers are nearby from Williams Sonoma to Trader Joe's. Each offers some flavor of the outside world. There is even a quaint cooking school, a...