Experiments with Living

I’m not doing what I came here to do.  I still don’t have a real job, so I have no daily sense of community, no place where I am known and expected to be.  I still haven’t been writing (again—these blogs are from two months later).  My room is still only half set up.  I can’t even figure out how to make things stick on the walls.  Everything I put up falls down within hours.  The house isn’t set up; there’s no furniture in the living room and no artwork on the walls.  I haven’t started up the new things I wanted to bring into my life like climbing, exercise, meditation, etc.  The days are drifting by, and I’m having trouble getting out of bed in the mornings, which are getting later and later.  I’m just not excited to get up and be alive.  Especially as it gets colder.  The bed is a womb, so warm and soft and cozy, safe and comforting, how can I bring myself to leave that nest and emerge into the unfulfilled not-knowing of the day?  On the road it was so easy, a touch of sunrise and necessity had me wide awake, packed and moving, but now I just can’t find the motivation to get up.

I’m also having a really hard time listening to my heart.  Things are hard and unpleasant right now.  Is that a sign that what I’m doing is wrong?  I should not be living here, Boulder is not the right place, life inside is not the right thing?  The words aren’t coming, so should I give up writing?  Or are these things just barriers I need to push through?  And how can I know the difference—when does dissonance call for reevaluation and when does it call for perseverance?  I just have too many questions, as always, some of which feel essential, like they need to be addressed immediately, before anything else, or I can’t go on.  I tell you this, waking up and getting out of bed without being able to answer the question of “who am I and why am I here” takes an infinitely greater leap of faith than does hitchhiking across the country.

Why am I having such a hard time with this whole thing?  Why can’t I just love the process?  Why can’t I let go and embrace it all, accept whatever is happening to me?  Use this time and space for what I had intended?  Why can’t I write?  If I’m not traveling anymore, not living in this outwardly outrageous and fascinating way, then what am I even supposed to write about?  What role does writing now have in my life?  Too many questions.

*          *          *

One evening I rip out a few pages from my notebook and make a massive bubble chart of my needs (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, creative, political, social).  Then I write down all the things I want to be doing with my time but haven’t been doing, and I connect those bubbles to the various needs they would fulfill.  It’s time for a change in my approach.  After two years of waking up, living spontaneously, and allowing the day to unfold, I am going to try creating a rigid and disciplined structure for my days.  I am going to try this as an experiment, because the old way isn’t working anymore.  I immediately feel averse to the idea, maybe because it’s the exact opposite of what I have been doing for so long, but maybe this is a part of the reason I came here, to experiment with different ways of living.  I’m concerned about losing the spontaneity and flow that I’d been cultivating before.  Yet I’m not doing anything with the freedom I have right now, it’s destroying and immobilizing me.

And still, I’m not doing what I came here to do.  My days are filled with so many other things.  Looking for work.  Setting up the house.  Hanging with Boulder friends.  Drinking coffee.  Struggling to write.  But I chat with Aneliya one evening and she tells me that maybe my problem is that I have too many expectations.  The only reason I’m suffering right now is that I’m comparing the reality of my experiences here to my old expectations, and there is a conflict between the two.  And she’s right.  Things aren’t exactly wrong right now, there is nothing that’s not ok, I’m feeling fine most days, I’m just not fulfilling my own expectations.  I thought I’d let go of the idea of expectations a long time ago.  But as always, I came here loaded with them, only I disguised them from myself by calling them “intentions.”  There’s been no difference so far.  I’m trying to learn to let go.

Everything is being flipped upside down right now.  I’m being challenged and pushed in completely new ways, pushed to new things and new conclusions, many of which are completely opposite to what I thought was true a few months ago.  One example would be work.  I just spent two years avoiding work, refusing work, sympathizing with those trapped in hated jobs, writing essays on why work is bad and wrong and destructive, and right now all I want to do is work.  I want a job, I really do.  Not even because I will need money.  It’s because I want to be part of a community, I want to have other people relying on me for something on a regular basis; it would give me some structure, help me organize, since currently I am finding myself totally incapable of providing my own structure with my lists of neglected activities.

Though actually, come to think of it, I guess it’s amazing in a way that I was able to be so devoted to my arts, travel and writing, that I made my own structure for two years on the road.  Maybe freedom is not what we think it is.  Would people really WANT a break from their work?  Even people who say they hate their jobs?  What would people do if they had two years with no external help building routines?  Would they love the “freedom,” or would they go insane and have no idea what to do with themselves?  Maybe this 40-hour work week isn’t as horrible and devious as I’ve always thought.  Maybe it’s what people really want.  Maybe people want to spend most of their daytime hours engaged in any random activity that occupies their time.  I don’t know, but I’m ready to try it.  Trying to suspend my judgment, let go of my preconceptions a little bit, and let this all be.

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3 Responses to Experiments with Living

  1. Deaet says:

    Ah well you are trying to find your place. Yes you have one and yes being a part of a community is “life”. How do you serve? How do you fit in your place and be content with it. For you, you have drawn the boundries with “writing”. Allowing structure, a daily grind and lifes natural path is not giving up freedom. I work 40+ a week, sometimes I hate my “job” but most times I am content with my place in my community. I know I make a difference in small ways in every person I interact with. I have to admitt I always dream of doing more and increase my abilities, take on more roles in my place. I wish I could be more educated in areas that I am lacking but I realize as well I have skills that the most learned people may be dreaming they wish they had. Allow yourself to fall into a line of service a “job” so that you can impart your skills to whom ever you come in contact with. Are you going to save the world liike this? Are you going to make a contribution for your community? YES! Your freedom is your knowledge your choices your beliefs and so much more. Planning your day or allowing a “job” to fill hours is freedom. Yes you have obligated your service but “life” finds a way for spontaneous turns anyway. That is why we have family and friends and service. I may be caught up in the stream of community servitude but I want to do my share to contribute. Do I feel inadequete at times? Should I be doing more? Am I doing to much? Balance comes in time and trial. Do yourself a favour and find a “job” that will please you first. The wonderful thing is, you WILL have the freedom to write and share, it will just come and will be be good! I find that when I am tired, weak or off balance, I walk long distances to refresh. You have walked long distances to find your freedom and evaluate so much! The reason you are not getting out of bed, writing etc is because you are depressed, lost. Hiding in the covers is warm and fuzzy but also a trap. Now you feel guilty because you know you should be serving somewhere. Your place my friend does include your unique view and wisdom. I love to read what you have to share, but I loved talking to you and feeling your energy on a one to one. Randy and I still talk about you and how remarkable we found you to be. I would love to come across you in a random shop or service I was seeking. Providing for yourself or a loved one, professing your commitments and protecting your freedom, assets and loved ones IS life. If you are lacking in anyone of these areas your self worth is questioned. Only you know where that lacking may be. You really are looking for direction and structure because that IS life. You have all the freedom you need to choose what you need for balance. You will do it and find your place.

  2. Trayce says:

    What you wrote is exactly what I feel. I have worked for years (complained off and on) but now that I have no work, I am lost. I wish I could take a journey as you did to establish clarity but I have a child and his comfort is more important at present. Working did give me a sense of belonging and am hoping something happens soon where I can feel a part of the world again…

  3. Fawne says:

    You say it was easier on the road. Now you have too many questions. You seem despondent. Maybe you should not ask anything. Maybe you should just feel it. Put those feelings on the paper. That is writing. Bleeding on the papyrus. You have been doing that for how long? When you were free and happier?
    I just stumbled upon you and your writings today. I have read until my eyes blurred and I come to this last post and you have signs of giving up? No!
    I just began my journey five months ago. I am 54 years on this earth and have, with the grace of my soul, many more to go. I do not rely on solely on kindness or the planet to replenish me, I workamp with my husband/best friend and we travel between jobs. (Yes, it’s cheating, but we have become too used to sleeping in a real bed and having electricity and heat).
    Don’t give up on yourself just because of where you are today. I did for too long and now I have many, many days to fill before I feel whole again.

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