I’m currently reading “The Dharma Bums” by Jack Kerouac and heading into work after reading several chapters about the gloriousness of mountains, the peacefulness of no possessions and the lustful lack of direction makes my nine to five feel so contrived and menial. It’s hard to decipher between the pull of what I should do and the push of what I want to do.
I grew up in the woods surrounded by tall oak trees, smelling sweet pine and neighboring cows. I built things with my hands and drank from ponds. I felt mud, rocks, and grass under the soles of my feet every day. I listened to the songs that the lavish green leaves made as they fell onto patches of sun-drenched puddles. My body yearned to rest itself in the middle of a field. It ached to breathe in the stars and exhale the sunrise. And yet displaced now, I find myself flooded with neon and desperate midnight car alarms.
One thing I’ve learned from Buddhism is that everything is temporary. Nothing in this life is permanent and that thought refreshes me. It allows me to separate my consciousness-based needs and my human-based needs. Humans appear to require attachment. Or, that is how we’ve been evolved to behave in civilized society. We need a person, a tribe, hunting ground, layers of fabric and rubber soles to protect our fragile shells. These things have accumulated and have been capitalized upon over the centuries. “Work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume…” as Kerouac so poignantly described.
There are movements nowadays dedicated to a minimalistic lifestyle and while I applaud those disentangling themselves from former restraints, I cannot help but envy the larger meaning. While meditating, I often sift through thick layers of responsibility, cultural norms, self-idealized and preconceived notions until I hit a core of vibration. Sinking into that void of numb and yet eccentric totality. For mere minutes of my day, I’m no longer what I own or how I work or where I’m going with my life. I am Ray Smith leaping down Matterhorn, whooping and yodeling acknowledging that I can’t fall off the mountain.
To consistently live in this space is foreign, alluring and terrifying. How can I completely detach from all the things that make me human and still remain human enough to appreciate the opportunity I’ve been granted? Being born a human is a gift. We can taste food and feel sun seeping into our skin and raindrops kissing our eyelashes. We grow and feed babies and love with boundless beginningless strength. We desire and make choices and are awake.
Disappearing into nature’s all-encompassing womb is a step only someone who has surpassed humanity can take. We can hike, we can climb and we can visit but living in a state of pure disassembled reality where we want for nothing is unrealistic for the average man. For wherever we go, there we are – unable to free our consciousness’ from our human hulls.
Our generation is close to discovering a new way of life. With every new breath, there is hope for progress and the awakening of change. We do not live the way our parents lived or the way their parents lived and so on. Bettering ourselves, our planet and our chances of survival are a continued pursuit. This includes the exploration of self, of being human and of what it means to fully live.
I may always feel divided. Walking around sensing all of the possibilities of my lifetime at once. The inner essence navigating from a seat littered with versions of myself unlived. To only receive one lifetime is an unfair and poetically humbling adventure.