Sunday, December 16, 2007

Life: "Trying to catch up with the speed of Justin"

That is how a friend of mine, Larry, titled a recent email to me. "Trust me, I'm trying to catch up too!" I replied.

Life has just been a whirlwind lately, returning from D.C. to London, wrapping up the term, getting sick, Christmas events, saying goodbye to people for the holidays, preparing for Kelly's arrival here, thinking about our wedding...


Now, for the average person this might not seem like much, but for the Buddhist Philosopher things like moving around, people-stuff, and events are all mighty draining.
I had the pleasure of meeting with my philosophy advisor from UM, Christopher Preston, yesterday here in London and we discussed this a bit, the difficulty of combining new adjustments in life and studies. He noted the six weeks it took him to get his bearings straight when he first went to college in Durham, NE England.

I was reminded, too, of my first term in Bristol as I studied for my MA in Buddhist Studies. My first ten weeks were extremely difficult: the newness of life in the big city, five thousand miles from home, new people, new customs... any time I sat down to do homework my head was spinning from trying to process all the new sights and sounds.

And here I am again three years later, a bigger city, a bit further from Montana, more new people and customs.

So I am not surprised that my head is spinning a bit, that I can barely read two pages of my books before needing to take a walk or find some other distraction.
I was also asked about my meditative practice here, whether I had found a group to practice with or practiced on my own. Unfortunately, neither has been the case. As I described it, I've been basically 'coasting' from my early summer meditation practices. I'm not sure how much it is discussed in Buddhism, but I have a sense that once you reach certain plateaus in meditative cultivation it is very difficult to slide backward.

So, while my mind is itself somewhat overwhelmed by life these days, there is no attachment to it being otherwise. Whenever I do get to step back and see all this that has me so busy these days I can only look upon it with overflowing gratitude, and at times even tears of joy. From simple days on dirt roads under the big sky of Montana I have found myself working on my Ph.D. in one of the largest cities on earth and engaged to the most amazing woman I've ever met.

I'm not used to all this change, these new people, new customs, new pace of life. I'm far better suited to simpler places, simpler times. I think most philosophers are; those who stargaze, searching for 'first principles,' unity amidst the chaotic multiplicity, universals in a life of particulars. But the Buddhist knows that such are not easily found if at all, and that in the mean time it is the acceptance of change (the release of thirst) that brings freedom.


Patia said...

I don't know how you manage. All that stuff is so stressful, even if it's good stress.

Acceptance is key, isn't it? The river of life.

Buddhist_philosopher said...

Heya Patia - thanks! Yea, it is a lot! I think just writing it all out has helped a good bit to set the chaos into some order. phew. :)