"When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge" ~Tuli Kupferberg
I try very hard to live a direct and meaningful life. I don't waste time watching television, I prefer to experience life directly. Thoreau's words “I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach” had a great impact upon me at a young age.
I meditate, I write, and I spend a great deal of time outdoors; all in order to live deliberately and see life as it truly is.
One hurdle to being fully alive is our constant desire for something safe and permanent in this world. This delusional craving causes us stress and unhappiness. We want to be forever young, for relationships to always be positive, and our bodies to always be healthy and strong.
This stress then gets in the way of our ability to see things as they are. Alas our attachment to desired outcomes brings us suffering and a distorted reality.
I have spent years as a minimalist, paring down unnecessary belongings to reduce my attachment to material possessions. I have placed emphasis on relationships and experiences as sources of happiness. I have to say that I have been much happier as a minimalist.
My wife and I spend a large portion of our resources on experiencing life rather than purchasing and caring for material “things”. We own only one automobile, we have only second-hand furniture, and a simple home with a small yard. We live very simply and enjoy life.
Despite my accomplishments as a minimalist, I still found one major obstacle between myself and peace of mind – I was still seeking safety and security instead of facing life boldly. I spent a large portion of this winter trying to carefully plan the rest of my life, to come up with a master plan that would guarantee happiness and security.
I think many seek to build careers or businesses, not to be bold and achieve, but in seeking security. There are two problems with this way of thinking:
1. There is no guaranteed safety. Even the best laid plans fail, nothing lasts forever.
2. As you build your empire ( or wealth, or business ) you will find that you spend a large amount of time trying to figure out how to protect it. Now we're back to stressful living.
Because most of us are looking for security and safety we see change as awkward and unsure. We crave for things to stay predictable. It is this craving which causes much of our stress and unhappiness.
This winter I had a set of plans fall through. I was crushed. I was put into a tailspin for a few days. What would I do now? My plan for continual bliss was falling apart. I was uncertain and fear paralyzed me for days. Perhaps the most disappointing thing was my reaction. I was disgusted with myself for being so weak.
Where was all of the strength that I'd built through years of being mindful and practicing non-attachment?
I have since recovered. First I forgave myself for being human. Next I did a lot of introspection to understand where my fears and doubts were coming from. I had doubted my own ability to handle whatever life threw at me so I sought something solid – a definite path.
I put so much stock into one path that I could not imagine taking another.
I now realize that life happens. Life happens to everyone, no one is exempt. I am working on not worrying – no matter what. Life is what it is. Whatever happens, we choose how we react.
The growth and learning that come from making bold choices and decisions are more important to us as human beings than particular outcomes.
In an all out attempt to awaken, to abandon a futile grasp for security, I have chosen to embrace change as a way of life. I am completely abandoning a fixed path. My wife and I have purchased a motor home and will live in it full time with no permanent address. I have no fixed plans for a career path.
I currently work for the National Park Service, but beginning next year we will travel from place to place and seek adventure. My wife has a job which allows her to work on the road and I will rely on my creative abilities and pursue opportunities that arise along the way.
I have to admit that I still feel fear when I think of our new life, but it is not the kind of fear that immobilizes. Instead it invigorates me. I feel bold. I am filled with a sense of excitement and adventure that I haven't felt since I was a teen. I look forward to embracing change as a way of life.
Dan Garner is passionate about travel, the outdoors, photography,and mindful living. Dan believes that everything we do matters and that through mindful living we all have the ability to change the world. Dan shares ideas for meaningful living at Zen Presence. He shares his photography at Dan Garner.