Monday, November 26, 2012

Adventure calls...

I've been undergoing some kind of personal crisis of the emotional sort over the past few months, if not longer. It's hard to tell just when these kinds of things begin, because we often don't really notice them until they gain some strength. I think it's fair to say that this one began last December at Bhavana, when all kinds of stuff was coming up and I eventually reached a point where I could no longer keep the crap to myself and let it rise to the surface at the wrong moment thereby harming others, which of course goes against every precept in Buddhism, thereby adding even more crap to what was already surging up. Instead of staying to deal with it in meditation, I chose to run, and life hasn't been the same since.

I expect that in the end, this may be a good thing, depending upon how I eventually find a way to deal with it. About a month ago my monthly newsletter arrived from one of my favorite sages, Dr. Mary Ann Iyer.  The topic was change, and she has this on her blog Living in Harmony on September 5,but I somehow didn't read it as meaningful to me at the time. Shows how much difference a month or two can make! It's too long to copy and paste here but I'll synopsize and use a few quotes. 

She talks about the butterfly story: "when a caterpillar hides itself in a chrysalis to metamorph into a butterfly, it decomposes completely.  From this soup of apparently random cells come progenitor cells, called imaginal cells, which find one another in such a way that a new cohesive pattern is formed.  A butterfly.  In the cosmos is contained the plan – the blue print – for this new form to take shape." She goes on to say that "the original caterpillar cells put up a fight.  There is some initial struggle when the newly christened imaginal cells reach out to find one another in that soup.  Some are killed in this battle.  Eventually,  they do coalesce, and that which is to be does emerge...."  and then later..... "I imagine personal and societal change must surely follow this same pattern.  If you are experiencing discord and turmoil in your life; if you know change needs to happen but you feel yourself clinging to some outmoded past, give your imaginal cells a boost."  

Often, so I'm told, a Buddhist meditator experiences much the same thing before attaining some kind of seriously wonderful breakthrough. So, I've been convinced for months that this is a temporary crisis that is leading up to good things, once the change occurs. I also know from experience that I generally have to fall really low during this struggle before the pendulum will begin to swing upwards once more. I'm not there yet -- although I'm headed there, certainly.  So, that's been the state of my mind for almost a year now, and you should be very thankful you're not living inside my mind! It's not fun, and yet I can see the soup and the struggle for those new imaginal cells to win through, and I know that everything changes.  Everything. Eventually.

So, all of that is to say that part of what I'm figuring out through all this is that I'm healthy enough to live another 20 years, and that I really don't look forward to that unless some kind of major change happens in my life. I cannot think of living -- surviving, really -- for 20 more years with the life I have, where the major highlight of any given day is a book to read and a few TV shows to watch.  There has to be more, and lately I've been thinking that maybe that something more has to do with another adventure of some kind. I can't be more specific because I don't know any more than that. Last night I watched a documentary on the Appalachian Trail which, of course, brought up the desire once more to hike it. All if it. It could be done -- I have time to get in shape and I think the body would  hold up. Not so sure about holding up emotionally. Let's face it, I had a hard time with the daily ups and downs and hills and cold and such at the Hermitage for two weeks. Can I get myself psyched enough to do this? Plus, I no longer have any backpacking gear, and probably couldn't afford to buy any. I'd sure love to see some of the places on the Georgia section again -- tears popped up more than once during the film, because I love that Trail with some kind of weird emotional attachment. I spent almost 10 years of my life being a caretaker for part of it, and hiking all of the Georgia section many times over, often alone. In fact, I took two 5-day hikes alone to do both the northern and southern portions.

But is this the real adventure that is calling me? Traveling by bike is almost equally of interest. But I can't do either of these full time for the next 20 years, let's face it. Either would change my life in more ways than one (judging from the experience of my 2-month solo bike ride through the Colorado Rockies in 1983), and yet both would be temporary adventures. What then? What is the long-term change that needs to happen? Moving to Mexico? Still on the table, but seemingly out of the question financially. Asheville? Beaufort? But, I'm reminded that just moving isn't the answer -- I'd still just be reading books and watching TV, unless there's a bigger change.

I don't have any answers. Just lots of questions. And once more, be thankful that you're not inside what passes for my mind during all this questioning. It never stops.

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