Natural Wilderness and the Urban Jungle (Week One Abroad)
Wilderness is where I find out the core of who I am in relation to the Universe.
“The closer you get to real matter, rock air fire and wood, boy, the more spiritual the world is.”
― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
In a strange way, in the isolation of all that is… I feel so at home. (versus where I sit right now as I pound away at the keys)
Hiking with a light snow and sub zero temps in this land is something everyone needs to do at some point in their life. If you can..
Observations of everything right now are heightened. Little things we take for granted become very big things when stripped away, this I now know for sure.
Language is the first. It’s not a new experience, just that it’s been awhile. The next is just knowing a physical place well, or not. In my place I’m in areas completely new to me, which brings a great set of new insights and fear radiates like the sun. (giving amplified chances to grow)
As Pema points out in the book I read recently, when you undergo any type of situation where fear is real you connect to all those related to both sides. In other words, people in my own country looking lost on a subway I’ll forever be empathic towards. All things we have experienced we tie a piece of fabric to all of humanity.
Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
― Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
It’s ironically in our suffering we find the deepest connections to the web. You touch a piece of the cosmic cloth that leaves a piece of your DNA there so that for the rest of your walk, at least on this planet…you understand things from that perspective.
I think some of the biggest issues in the world stem from a basic lack of understanding, or fear, or people / places/ situations we don’t understand or accept.
This why the tribe of recovery is so tight. This is why any tribe or culture is so tight. We do naturally cling to what we know or what’s familiar when scared. This is another section of the book I highlighted last night. So on the train, or even getting my coffee and having no clue what she said I just did my best, let the words sink in, let the feeling of being uncomfortable move through me. Touch it, feel it, and let it go. Hmm..
This is a mind thing, a Jedi sort of training that in the book is referenced as “training of the mind” or Lojoing Mind.
Today I missed a train, my US cards didn’t want to work in the ticket machines and I was in a fairly small town outside of Oslo where speaking language is not implied. Anxiety, UP, so how to manage that? Just let it be experienced as something in the mind, something that can pass through. The mind can construct these beautiful mosaics. Bridges.
Or they can paralyze us, anxiety is fascinating to me and something…well, one of many things that being “on the other side’ of this journey will help me to help others with.
I need to be patient with myself (word of the week in my passion planner) and realize it’s not yet been a week and my language, while tiny progress, is improving with an hour per day.
Those tiny things mean I can ask someone “Du snakker Engelsk?” “Jeg Amerikansk og snakker lit Norsk” I now know enough words to make it without a phone. I laugh and smile while sitting at Starbucks and thinking how terrified I just was over… what?
Not knowing a language, my phone not working?
Big deal. Go home or grow. (my mantra I say every time I face something like this) I’m here not on a holiday, the role is father and this unique relationship that formed requires me, let me rephrase again, allows me to be expanded as a human. We never grow as much around the familiar. I’ve always felt an old soul, but emotionally young. Now day by day that part of me ages and moving here when I did, sort of forces that to have a multiplier added to it. Veldig bra!
Go home or grow Jared. Yes, a mantra is what Pema suggested in the other chapter I highlighted.
I just left New York City so I have a very near memory of new public transport. Missing stops on trains and having to move to another. My phone also died most of that trip. What I did have though, was cultural and language connection. Some of the older folks here that have not used English in many years will struggle to speak it to you. Especially outside of the larger areas.
What happens? Deep compassion to anyone lost anywhere. If empathic, as Pema and Tolle point out you will never lose this connection to people lost. Back in your home country you’ll leap to find the lost look in the eyes calmed. If find all of this a fascinating part of the human condition.
“Are they laughing at me?” “Is this my stop?” You wonder or start to think that everyone is a mind reader, or sense your panic. I missed this same T train Saturday with no phone and had my host waiting 1.5 hours.
He shopped and managed just fine. He didn’t outwardly express any frustration at least. By the time I was at the very end of the wrong West T train (I only knew to go West) I was able to get an older Norwegian man to write out on a receipt in my pocket which station to go back to in order to cross over to the #5 train going to Roa. Success! In some ways it’s like the snake never losing it’s design, but it keeps shedding layers.
I’m shedding a lot of new layers again, very fast.
What I love about recovery, is these new fears, these spots of being outside your comfort zone keep stretching you as a human. God, I love being stretched. It hurts man. Sometimes it stings bad. Just being a foreigner in a foreign land and feeling “lost” for even two hours is what I crave when my mind let’s that feeling go through. Not for the rush, for the growth.
The next time it’s less fearful. My compassion also grows. I see it as repairing what I keep calling the web. A web I have torn many times and day by day, have to keep making tiny repairs. Patchwork if you will.
Final thoughts as I now need to work on finding the right trains home as it’s dark…. the show we are watching at night “The Vikings” is amazing. I have researched how historically accurate this is, and the truth is nobody knows. BUT the characters and timeline and incidents are quite accurate for a non documentary.
I love aspects of the warrior, the real warrior. Not being afraid to die, as I processed last night means that really all fear is eroded. In the end, isn’t that something we call run from. The Tibetans have spent thousands of years thinking on this concept. It’s not morbid to process our mortality on Earth.
These men had to think of dying in battle as like laying in a warm bath next to a beautiful woman. (smiling) I did not make that line up.
So if one reaches this place where just being alone outside your country is achieved with no fear, what next? Well, being alone in the wild is one for sure. I’m not there, but I one survivalist friend who pays to be dropped in places like I’m hiking to make it alone and live off the land for a period.
I’ve faced the fears of being chemical free and not having that safety net to cushion me, and that continues to be part of this narrative but at some point takes a back seat in the literal sense. I am chemical free, now the part of spiritual growth is about seeing struggles, fears, and challenges as lessons towards a real awakening or enlightenment. Glancing back to make repairs, staying present and mindful to not miss spiritual experiences, and looking ahead to what will be.
Okay, past 5PM and I did have a good day, and it was frightening as hell. I feel more at peace knowing I got my CV updated, two jobs applied for, my SIM card may be waiting at my hosts house, and I have a better understanding of how to get back there successfully.
Just for today, that’s progress. Thank you to the authors that inspire me, the friends that encourage me., and the rest that are being patient and kind.
We have a saying “do the footwork” every day and leave the results up the Universe. This means ask if you can, don’t fear hearing no, and keep going. Answers you don’t like are just that..answers that if you believe you are connected to Source again, must have some teaching. Buddha lets us know this and this is why I’m so deeply drawn back into Buddhism.
Everyone on that train was a teacher, the land is a teacher, the children are my teachers.
I’m going to be late…my writing mentor said “keep writing” and since I have no therapist I am pushing this out fast and without edits.
“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.”
― Pema Chödrön,