At the core of the past 2.5 years has been a willingness and expectation of walking into unfamiliar circumstances, not merely for the novelty (or counterphobic stimulation), but with a mindful intention to observe my process. Two and a half years ago I had a fantasy that I would be completely comfortable with the uncertainty of that way of being and I would adapt easily to foreign circumstances, cultures, schedules, people, and lifestyles. It does have a way of bringing one into the present, after all.
This has become true and also not true. If my intention was to monitor internal habits, leanings and the comfortable handholds of identity, that part has always been possible. Letting go of those handholds is not quite as easy as it may have seemed. I am still a creature of some habit(s). I have preferences and standards for personal comforts and lifestyle and maintenance activities that I do not easily relinquish. They are the anchors, the furnishings of my inner tranquility…or safety. I am aware that to a degree those preferences are driven by fear, a fear that despite a view of myself as resilient, rearranging the furniture will reduce the possibility of tranquility. I admit to having a mild counterphobic streak, deliberately pulling the rug out to freshen experience and discover what my responses will be.
Tiptoeing into the unknown and meeting myself there is no less enticing, appealing and creatively stimulating than it ever was. I do not long for “stability,” whatever that is anymore. The world is not stable and becoming even less so. If you’re feeling comfortable, you are not paying attention. We are not in an “Ozzie and Harriet” episode (a 50’s television show depicting an ideal American family—the Nelsons). In fact, we sense the slide toward instability. But as we in the West are learning from the ancients, what we regard as chaos may not be chaos at all, and in whatever it is, there is opportunity. Maybe I’m just getting a head start. Yeah, that’s it. I’m a pioneer.
The past couple of years have also become a journey into the meaning of place. Do I have a place? What is place? Is my place in relative motion really so different from anyone else’s more rooted place? Is there something different to see or learn from being in motion than there is in being rooted? My personal place has become one with fewer boundaries. I am more comfortable having no place, which makes every place a little more my place than it used to be. Then again, no place is my place. I am not tethered to real estate, property, to community or even nation. My concerns are not local. They are more global. That alone does not set me apart. The global view is creeping into mass consciousness more each day simply because that’s the nature of information flow, given the tools at our disposal. Information is like an oar in the river of consciousness, guiding the development of knowledge, cultural exchange, the ongoing development of mass awareness of far away places, the state of humanity, treating the far away as if it is the right here…because, to an increasing degree, every pace is here.
On the other hand, not being sedentary means I give up the opportunity to nurture the full depth of sustained personal relations, the chance to explore the dynamics of community, sustained intimacy, romance.
As much as this venture at the outset may have been about my personal story, it is now becoming a more universal story, reflected both through my own and through the eyes of the individuals I meet. Any place becomes every place. And even in their striking and infinite uniqueness, any story becomes every story, shining a sharp light on the depth and import of the common story.
In witnessing, experiencing the universality of experience, yearning, accomplishment, struggle and suffering, my story becomes less important. We can never hear that enough. We all need to know and reaffirm, as never before, how we are connected, how we are alike, how our destiny lies in every pair of hands.
Beyond this, there is also, in the never-ending journey, the freshening awareness of loss, of grief and magic and their omnipresent linkage, the unceasing and unlimited joy of spontaneous creativity, the integral nature of appearance and reality unfolding as a continuous surprise. Sure, I am just as automatic as anyone else in the instantaneous categorization of every moment into its proper place in the library of personal memory, values, predispositions and perceptual bias. But there is still and always the chance, the narrow window through which a luminous clarity intrudes through the prosaic, transforming all of it into transcendence.