Greetings from Tokyo-Narita airport. I’m waiting for a flight to Bangkok on my way to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Today is the portal – or a precipice– to the reality of my new definitions of home, community and service. This could be a somewhat scary prospect. And there’s nothing like 10 hours on an airplane to take you out of your comfort zone, despite choosing from 50 movies and having constant service.
There is some tendency to find a reason to be a little or averse. But as these impulses arise, they are not flourishing or controlling me. I am determined to get off the horse, as it were, instead of being taken for a ride as if I have no control. Maybe I am the naïf who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. But I prefer to regard myself as the resourceful scout who will figure it out.
I have no more substantial location other than a UPS mail drop. Beyond that, the numbers that link and identify me to the transactional matrix of modern life are the only way of pinning me down. I am lifted by the energies of a perpetually challenged equipoise; the energy of sensation, feeling, intention and vision. But this contemplation itself is an indulgence in the past and future: the memory of fear associated with similar past experiences and the anticipation of a similarly fearful experience in the future. When I am able to be more immediately present with my attention, I experience more clarity and excitement.
I have yet to feel any authentic imbalance simply because I am currently rootless. In part that must be because of the significant privilege of adequate resources. In the short-term I have been supported by friends providing temporary housing as well as sympathetic ears and genuine curiosity. I can’t account for this generosity other than to imagine a vicarious interest in making a radical shift in the style of living; giving up home, possessions and the safety of routine.
There is much to be revealed about how I will fare in less familiar and predictable circumstances. The experience of deliberately undermining and exploring life beyond habitual activities and patterns of living, the external conditions and the familiar social relations has been deep and rich. Distancing myself from some of the usual resources and radically changing my physical circumstances is expanding my definition of self and home. “I” am nowhere. I am everywhere. Now, everywhere is home.
Now, I begin to wonder whether simultaneous homelessness and being At Home is accessible and sustainable for anyone. Of course it is. There is nothing false about such a view. It is the true view of our common and reality. What’s more, I know my body as a different entity. The body is the only real home and my home is everywhere; everything and everyone becomes my body. To say this may seem trite, but it feels much more real to me now than merely mouthing a concept.
To explore, to challenge, to take risks, to embrace the evolving process, to bear the glorious discomfort of not-knowing, to knowingly step into the unknown—these
are the things a body likes, a soul strives for, and an artist or creative individual joyfully requires.
–David Ulrich, The Widening Stream
The conflict, the striving and the suffering of the collective body is also more accessible, along with an emergence of an equally strong impulse and determination to live a new story; as is the immediacy of seeing my own story in the eyes of every person looking back at me.
If I was traveling with a companion, we would likely be constantly reinforcing the “self” we know. As it is, I am gaining an embodiment into the whole and a loosening of the unique ego that sustains the distinction between self and the whole.
Meanwhile, all around us are the signs of our true connection emerging. We are more connected than we can imagine. We know that the impulse to express and acknowledge this connection is gaining power. The signs are everywhere. When a billion people watch three million marching in Paris in response to terror attacks, where thousands spontaneously sing John Lennon’s Imagine, we feel each other’s presence in ways that could not have been imagined only a few years ago.
These are collective displays of self-awareness, aspiration and self-compassion of the body for the body. While practicing that same compassion for myself, I stand with tolerance and forgiveness toward the voices of grief and collapse, turning instead toward opportunity. This feels good and right. We, the collective “we” are turning toward connection and inquiry, to listening and honesty, to responsiveness, to sharing, to possibility.
Having no permanent address, we are all seeking a new home, creating the new body, shedding the identifying marks of the Old Story. I’m not interested in testing or dropping personal values, but the personality, the parts of my self-perception that feel like the identifying marks of “me,”…well, I’m not feeling so attached. What I am is bowing deeply in abject surrender and devotion to my teachers and to the teachings that are about to rain upon me.
And, the airport pharmacy sells canned beer—and takes US coin. Arigato gozaimasu!