08 August, 2011

Sleeping in New Places

The pure exponential force would probably implode a lot of things, but that’s beside the point.

It would be there.

The map may fold out, and you’ll never get it back the same way it was, but you’re probably pretty jaded to that kind of thing by now. It takes longer for the gloss to wear away, so you will still have that. Enjoy it while you can. Eventually you’ll become jaded to that as well.

But the important thing is not which way the seams go, or how shiny the gloss is. The points on the map, especially the well-worn ones, are the most interesting. Some may be circled in pen, others may have large XXs through them, and arrows may point from one to another via a different route than you would expect. The routes are something else entirely. Highlights are valuable neon yellow and blue stripes across a beige topographical spectrum, showing where you have been or plan to go. Whether you’ve been or will be there, the important part is that you know that’s what you want.

And now I must dispense with the poetic vagueries, because although I do have a physical map that I just acquired, it is entirely unmarked and therefore not yet valuable. Beyond that, it only covers the immediate geographical around my current residence. It has worth in that it has potential, but I have not imbued it with my own, personal value. Anyway, I choose to caulk the wagon and ford the river, so we move on to specifics.

I often think about being aware, conscious, in-touch, perceptive, and many other synonyms of that ilk, and thus I sometimes write about it. I am learning what this awareness is, and it is not so much about finding the definition of “aware,” but about learning what learning is. I can foresee myself looking back on my current perspective with distaste for my naiveté, but that is the beauty of growing. Learning is not reading or hearing somebody else’s thoughts, but experiencing everything for yourself. And that experiencing is not a one-time, instantaneous checkbox to mark, but more of a process that takes time. Sometimes it takes a lot of time.

I have been working full-time this summer, which is a good thing, because I now may be able to do some things I’ve wanted to for a long time. However, I would be hard-pressed to say that my job is the most fulfilling thing on the planet. The work isn’t bad by any means, and the people are great, but it is not something I want to be doing my entire life, for example. I now know for a fact that I must be doing something I find meaningful and important. It doesn’t matter how much money I am making, or how great the perks are. If I am making 7 cents per hour on a farm in Peru, and I’m happy, then that is the right place. Alright, so Peru might be quite a nice destination, and I want to go there anyway, so maybe it’s not the greatest example for a terrible-yet-wonderful job, but you get my gist.

It all boils down to the fact that I’m slowly learning (see definition above): NOTHING MATTERS. Now, I don’t mean that in a nihilistic or pessimistic way at all, but I also don’t mean it in an overly optimistic way. I don’t harbor disdain for all emotion or disregard the fact that “life is lumpy,” and sometimes the punches you have to roll with really hurt. It’s not that nothing has value and so doesn’t matter, but rather that everything will always be OK. Many things have incredible value, but even if they're lost, you’re fine. Sure, some errors could be more detrimental than others (I’m just conjecturing now, I hope you know), but you will recover.

Aristotle says there is only “now,” and “time” is just a system we members of mankind have created to keep track of this perpetual now-ness streaming out behind us. Or at least he said something like that. If you understood Physics better than I, enlightenment would be greatly appreciated. And as Thich Nhat Hahn knows so well, the only place you can exist is the present. Because the past is gone and the future is nothing to fear, it would be best to live where you exist.

The point is, live in the present. It’s the best way to be.

I seem to have reverted to the non-specific “you,” but I am still talking about things I am learning. Living in the present doesn’t mean I shouldn’t think about my future, just that I shouldn’t worry about it. David Allen knows not to worry about things he can’t do anything about right now, and he seems to have his life under control. The future not something to dwell on, nor is the past. In some sense the past brought you to where you are now, but it certainly doesn’t define where you are now. I am finding that I can’t let old conceptions I have of people (or conceptions I think people may have of me) instruct how we interact now, because that was then and this is distinctly now. I am not who I was then, and neither are they. You, it, we, and they all exist purely in the present moment.

That moment that is the present is just dying to be savored. Literally, each second is dying, being relegated to the netherworld of the past, never to be seen again. All we can do is pay it the attention it deserves, which is really just paying ourselves the attention we deserve. It is only through being mindful that we can grow. Growing does not mean moving on or leaving behind, it simply means finding what we are and what we seek to be with each breath.

That breath is quite a rush.


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