Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Weekend Of Doing Nothing In Particular

This has been the kind of weekend I was needing. I passed on a retreat at the monastery. Most would think a weekend at the monastery would be a great way to get away from it all. However, it would have been a group retreat. In other words I would have been getting away from the "all" of my normal life to the "all" of a group retreat. The kind of retreat that I really need is a private retreat where no one recognizes me, I am truly alone, and, for all intent and purposes, invisible. Instead, I have spent most of the weekend in my home with my wife and son. All three of us are introverts so we are happy to be alone together. I have only ventured out for evening meals in nearby restaurants. Much of the weekend I have been "on the bus" with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. A young friend at work loaned me a copy of Tom Wolfe's "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test". According to my friend it is his "all time favorite book" after Jack Kerouac's "On The Road". It is certainly an entertaining book and brings back memories of my own psychedelic adventures in the late 60's. I was no Merry Prankster but I was no saint either. Tomorrow morning I will return to my other extreme which is quiet reflections from Thomas Merton's "A Vow of Conversation". Those familiar with Merton and monastic life will see the irony in this title since most people think the monks take a vow of silence. They don't. They just choose silence.

I am not widely traveled. There is much of the United States I have not seen and I've only been abroad once when I went to France. However, most of my life I have been a traveler and a seeker. It's just that most of my journey has been internal. Some dream of outer space. I have explored my inner space. In my youth it involved the hippie life and experimenting with drugs. Most of my life, however, it has been more of a spiritual journey. In some ways I cannot define what this means. The word spiritual has come to mean many things to many people. My own awareness has become less dependent on religion but does not reject it. My attempts to be awake and aware are primarily my efforts to live in the moment through mindfulness and to live in wonder through contemplation. I know for some this may all sound like a lot of BS. However, through my life experiences, the personality these experiences have created, and the influences that have touched and formed me, I have attained a certain ability to live in the moment and to be present to the "hidden wholeness" that is part of all life. In the Tom Wolfe book I am reading this weekend Ken Kesey says, "Be in your own movie". Each of us is on a personal journey whether we recognize this fact or not. Each of us is in our own movie whether we are aware of it or not. We cannot be in one another's movies. I cannot see through your eyes. My movie is my journey and I must live it as it unfolds to me. Movies come in many types. Some are dramas, others are comedies. A few are grand adventures, while some are total fantasies. I do not think we get to choose our movies completely although we may interject a plot twist here and there. Whatever your personal movie is, the important thing is to be in it and not watch it from a distance.

A friend of mine went to San Francisco this past week. I told her to visit Haight-Asbury and think of me. She did exactly that and even took a picture for me! The famous intersection is shown above.

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