ToDo-List Amnesty

Declaring ToDo-list amnesty. Any and all lists, woulds shoulds wants and all the cobwebby projects that you might get to some day, from last year get scrapped. We start out fresh and only what’s still on our minds gets put into the new list.
Woosh!

What is it to be human?

And what would it be like to embrace it all, the violence, the love, the joy and the grief? Not out of a misguided sense of covering up and placating, but fully stepping into the complexity and the realization that even the worst of us are still human?

Great Art

“For great art you have to be brave. …
You don’t want to be pretty, pretty is a lie. You want to be beautiful, tell the truth. Pretty is a manipulation. Truth is beauty.”
‪#‎notjusttruefordancersorartists‬

The Long Road

Six years ago I first read about the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage to the shrine of the Apostle James, and instantly I knew I had to do this and that I had to walk from door to door. Just moments later my rational mind intervened and decided that this was a crazy stupid thing to do for someone without religious affiliation, or physical training. I ignored the idea for weeks and when it wouldn’t be ignored anymore I placed restrictions and conditions on it that made it ever more complex and improbably that I would go until one day, in a rare moment of clarity, I realized; I was either going to do it or not; but I was not going to keep postponing and if-ing this wish. Three weeks later, still disbelieving my audacity, I was on a train to Burgos, 500km away from Santiago de Compostela. A day later I had become a pilgrim and was on the way.

Four years and four months ago, in the municipal albergue in Villafranca del Bierzo, I woke up from a dream that saw my mother and I walking the Camino. It was one of those dreams that felt so real that I could taste it. Like the original wish it wouldn’t let go. Upon my return I told my mother, who said that of course she would share the way with me. I suspect that a large part of her motivation was her relief and gratitude for the joy and freedom with which I returned.
For the following years we kept discussing the idea, through all the stages of her physical illness, through all the stages of my return to mental health. The idea morphed and changed, until, at the very end, she confessed, almost apologized, that the thing that was most important to her was to spend time with the people she loved and to share in their lives. She knew we wouldn’t be going on pilgrimage together anymore, though it pained her to admit it.

I’ve talked before about how her passing confronted me with the finality and abruptness of life. It’s really driven home the point that we can’t put off our lives and heart wishes without risking the regret of having lost our chance. Over the last year, crystalized in the crucible of loss, I realized that I am and always have been on the way.

It’s time to put my boots back on. It’s time to walk again, with the grace of a sound mind and a strong body.

My mom was a marathon runner. She ran with determination and tenacity.
I’m no runner, but I am determined. And while she will not be with me physically, she will be with me in spirit.

My plan is to leave in mid-March, from Stuttgart. It will take me round about three to four months to reach Santiago, a distance of around 2800km. While there is nothing that will make the actual walking any easier, there are other parts where I can receive support. Last time on the Camino I learned that the way gives you what you need, if you can find the trust to recognized it. Well, following the adage of helping the way help me, I’m going to put out here a request for the things I need support with:

1) I would actually like to walk this way commemorating my mother and creating something that helps others struggling with tough times. I would appreciate help brainstorming ideas for what this could look like.

2) There is a small list of things that I still need and would be grateful to receive, as a birthday gift, or for other occasions. If you would like to give something I’d be happy to share that list with you.

3) I also have a big question mark on the financial side of making the way happen especially as I do not see myself working (much) while traveling. It’s not going to be overly much, but I would like ideas about how to raise the money. Of course if you feel inclined to just write a check, or add to the Camino fund I will gratefully receive that too

Ultreia et Suseia // onwards and upwards.

Promise

I’m not promising a life of happiness and passion. I’m promising a life rooted in purpose and choice. Sometimes the choice will be hard and sad, that’s when purpose carries us through.

Asking

… that is all I am asking.
Show up, do the work. Every day.
I’m not asking for success, or outcomes, just that you show up every day to do what is asking to be done.

Now is the right time

I am currently exploring western reception of Indian philosophy through the centuries, specifically yoga, it’s reverberations with neo-vedanta and Indian nationalism, and historicistic beliefs in an uninterrupted yoga tradition.

Our culture has always been global. Resonances and cultural exchange has been a component of global cultures for a long time, as have interruptions, disappearances and resurfacing of old wisdom and folly. Modern Yoga with its psychophysical, denominational and purely physical practices is very much a product of amalgamation of western and eastern knowledge and tradition. And this is ok. It doesn’t invalidate an individual practice, or make it less significant for the spiritual development of the individual that the tradition dates back less than a century. Further I believe that our transnational amalgamation called Yoga is a valid path to inciting far reaching socio-economic change.

Insisting that Yoga as a practice dates back 5.000+ years of uninterrupted tradition, and is thus more valid than Abrahamic traditions, modernist scientific knowledge and other systems of understanding the world, as well as trying to force any insight, or fallacy, one has, or adopts into this corset of uninterrupted tradition, does a disservice to one’s own spiritual growth and understanding. Amalgamation, differentiation, interruption and discovery are all necessary to form a functioning understanding of the world, both as a culture and as an individual. Insisting that there is one ring to rule them all, figuratively speaking, and one that has been around for 5.000+ years at that, blinds one to the possibility of salvation in what is now.

Now is the right time, states the Lotus Sutra. I believe that our culture contains the possibility of giving us all the wisdom we need to live a life that is meaningful and human today. Some of it is already written, some of it we have to painstakingly discover, yet all of it is already there. Whatever wisdom we gain will be uniquely suited to our times. Those who come after will find their own wisdom, a new amalgam, partially using and partially rejecting what we have gathered and painstakingly making their own discoveries, to live their own meaningful and human lives.

Enlightenment

Platitudes about self-realization and unconditional love are well and good, but for most of us the journey is about shoveling out the bullshit, hoping we can shovel faster than we are excreting it.

Community

I can share my experience and people who share that experience are less alone.
I can share my experience and people who share that experience help me feel less alone.
I can share what I learn, so that that learning sparks a shift in someone else’s journey.
I can share what I know and learn more myself and shift my own journey.
My [life] is about connection and reciprocity. We build a community that sustains us through the hard and the light.