A friend called the other day, wanted to talk about some things and asked when would be a good time to call later. I told him anytime, I’d be here all day. He remarked, “wow, that doesn’t sound like you!” My wife, passing by and only hearing my side of the phone conversation, said: “Boring life!” in jest. Another friend asked if I’ve become a town rat now and didn’t want to get out on adventures in nature, curious why I was wasting a golden opportunity living in such a beautiful locale and not regularly camping and hiking.
For now, I’m perfectly content. A little more than a year ago we returned from 3 1/2 years living the expat life in South America. At that time, we needed to shake things up a bit. But now, I find myself engaged in a number of rich pursuits that have nothing to do with trips to scenic places or social entertainments. I’m not sure how long this engagement will rivet my attention and have made no commitments for other than roughly a year at a time.
I can see those who work most of the time wanting to get away for a reset. Either in small excursions or long dalliances in romantic visions of exotic vacations or gypsy lifestyles. And I suppose, in a way, I’m actually engaged in something similar, which is more like a hybrid retreat/monastery/college. One conforming to my own immediate goals and intentions.
For example…my mornings and evenings start and end with meditation. Not a wispy calm the mind new age feel good practice, but rather with a specific intent and concrete feedback on progression to develop a sustained focus of concentration with a disciplined approach called samatha. I do this between 30-60 minutes a sitting. Other physical disciplines are part of my routine, including work on mastery of a form of Tai Chi I am studying from local teachers of an established lineage. I have refined a body-weight and flexibility routine for building strength and resilience that requires no gym, just a yoga mat, a pull-up bar, some straps and bands and hand grips. To this I am also adding a more rigorous set of yoga asanas and interval training on a stationary bike. I fast two days a week and go on long walks late at night around the sleeping neighborhoods. I do cold showers and have begun to add saunas weekly. And these are just the physical dimensions of my “retreat”.
My other classes at this magical monastery, between eating out 3-4 times a week, meeting friends for ales at the pub to talk philosophy, movies at home on the weekends and visiting with family include various tracks of mastery through daily practice in Spanish (also attend a weekly conversational class), writing, runes (a 3 year course), creating art with code and graphics and exploration of trance states, micro-dosing mind altering substances, nootropics and practices to deepen skills in cyber-security (because it has intrinsic interest) and machine learning. I maintain a handful of web sites and blogs on various interests and create products and applications for exploring the boundaries of consciousness.
At times I feel like I’m at some type of warped Hogwarts academy in which each of these disciplines are taught in different classes. I’m an advocate of going deeply into certain subjects with a practicing mind, one that is content with the process and journey, rather than any specific destination.
Even from this rich and stimulating fabric of daily existence, I will still take escapades. Particularly to Japan. But when others think that my life must be pretty boring, just staying at home most of the time, I suspect they may not realize just how many adventures can occur within.