December 11, 2013

Make The Grid Work For Me

I've been thinking again. Damn. Will it ever stop? Been thinking about creativity and nature and kids and toughness and grit. Been thinking about how to teach and learn about life while knowing that life can never be taught or learned. Been thinking about climbing mountains and escape, about digging-in and living. Been thinking about the state of my soul and the embarrassment I feel when I use the word soul publicly-- as if somehow the romantic sentimentality of the notion of an inner-spirit will lose me whatever elusive street-cred I falsely feel I have accrued.

These errant thoughts have roots in other fleeting thoughts. Like a cluster of tangled floating kites, my mind tries to untangle from itself, I hope that maybe someday soon I might land. Maybe take some time to unravel the lines and set them free. Free to float and become ensnared again.

Some knots I have been trying to untie: Can I fully live in the present moment, in the situation I have created and not perpetually be waiting for some alternative future? Can I enjoy nature in a city? Can I be creative while working a full-time job? Can I feed my sense of adventure and wanderlust with a family? I have been thinking about many of these things since the beginning of this term, but things have been coming to a head after reading The Circle by Dave Eggers, a student trip to Chiang Mai and most recently after watching 180 South.

Take a look:

After sharing my now predicable (cyclical) boredom with the Internet and humanity in general, Adrienne, suggested I take a year off and do something about my need to.... I am not even sure I can name it. The idea of taking a six month trip to (insert anywhere) sounds about as plausible as taking a trip to the moon.

So what? I just sit and stew?

From pretty early on in my childhood I have had contact with the Green Gulch Zen Center. And for just as long, I have admired and respected the beautiful kind people who live and work there. I have often contemplated what my life would look like, if I lived at a Zen monastery working on a farm and meditated every morning. And now, after watching 180 South, I am left contemplating what my life would like if I was some bearded mountain climbing, surfing adventurer. If I was single and had made some very different choices, perhaps I too could enjoy life affirming freedom and adventure by surfing off the coast of Easter Island, but that is not my reality.

I am the proud and happy father of two amazing kids, I have a job that I absolutely love and a wife and partner who loves and supports most of what I do, think and feel. My point being that I cannot just drop everything and move to a monastery or take a six month trip to Patagonia. Part of me has always thought of those lifestyles as a sort of cheating. I mean, anyone can be Zen master when surrounded by a sangha. But what about those of us, that for whatever reason are living "normal" lives? Are we to be deprived of the marrow of life, if we simply go about our business and raise families and do our jobs?

More questions: How does one bring Zen to daily life? How can I be adventurous while living in a city? How can one satiate a soul while bound my the trappings of a life consumed by materialism? Important questions? No? I have friends who are quitting their jobs to become Dive masters or Outdoor Ed facilitators. And I have nothing but respect for them and their choices, but apart from radically changing my life what can I do? I do not want to live off the grid, so how can I make the grid work for me?

I thought I had some ideas and more answers, but this post might just be a series of questions. Looking forward to some of your suggestions and thoughts. The comments are yours. Let me know what you think or wise friends.

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