AMS – Day 7 – Meaning and Resolutions

I found a post I wrote almost 10 years ago about a set of workshops I attended at Stanford continuing education and, perhaps not surprisingly, has aspects that still resonate all this time later.

I've been debating internally what's next. I just can't see NTT as a long term career. I like some of the people but the information is so compartmentalized that is almost impossible to have a good preparation strategy and people tend to freak out a lot easier than they should. Not my kind of place.

But even if it was, this trip has taught me that there's never enough time to do everything you want so why should you stick with those things you don't? The experience of being a beginner (and being a stupid beginner at that) was so liberating that I can't wait to do it again... and soon.

Would I take the risk of climbing Kilimanjaro like Scott did? Where am I placing my comfort level this time around? How about next time?

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

You're doing this for yourself. Not your parents. Not your lover. Not your friends or the people around your world. I've always said I'm doing things for myself but it wasn't until a month ago when I decided I was going to Amsterdam that it actually became true.

It's been a liberating experience. When I told my mom I was coming to Amsterdam I fully expected a shitstorm and a half. I didn't get it and that worried me and it freed me to do things that I would not have considered earlier. Barcelona and Ibiza are real now, not just shit you put in the bucket list to maybe, possibly, get done in an unspecified future.

From this perspective this is, again, scary as shit and exhilarating as hell 🙂

"The process of learning through life is by no means continuous and by no means universal. If it were, age and wisdom would be perfectly correlated, and there would be no such thing as an old fool -- a proposition at odds with common experience."

John Gardner -- Speech at Oberlin College, Ohio,1958

There are times when what we want is literally under our noses and we don't realize it. The poem below puts it in striking detai and it makes me want to hit my head against a wall for being so stupid!

Missing the Boat
By Naomi Shihab Nye

(Different Ways to Pray - Breitenbush Publications, 1980)

It is not so much that the boat passed
and you failed to notice it.
It is more like the boat stopping
directly outside your bedroom window,
the captain blowing the signal-horn,
the band playing a rousing march.

The boat shouted, waving bright flags,
its silver hull blinding in the sunlight.

But you had this idea you were going by train.
You kept checking the time-table,
digging for tracks.

And the boat got tired of you,
so tired it pulled up the anchor
and raised the ramp.

The boat bobbed into the distance,
shrinking like a toy--
at which point you probably realized
you had always loved the sea.

Looking outside my hotel's window early in the morning or late at night give me a sense of stillness, a desire just to look out and see how much the world exists and is without me. That stillness has always bothered me, has always been something to fight... be busy, be in the world.

I've learned that you can be in the world without the busyness of the world. I used to laugh at meditation and found myself very quiet (although surrounded by people) in a bench near a bridge in Amsterdam, in complete silence and in complete peace.

Sunset in Amsterdam my last night there

Sunset in Amsterdam my last night there

Keeping Quiet
Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about...

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with
death.

Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
Running Shoes as a metaphor for starting over. From https://www.flickr.com/photos/kekka/2156502674/

Running Shoes as a metaphor for starting over. From https://www.flickr.com/photos/kekka/2156502674/

The running shoes are my metaphor for today and for what I want to do with the rest of my life going forward. Obstacles are learning opportunities in disguise. Think about the marathon runners; they overcome obstacles that very few people in their sane minds would willingly face…. How many times we see marathon runners in pain that, just from looking at them, would keel us over? Yet they press on, there is nothing more important than the race itself.

This time I've had the advantage of reading comments as they happened rather than having to wait to read everything when I got back home. SOme of them are positive and some of them make me go back years, places and people. At first when I read them I got angry and said to hell with the person in question but then stopped to think that if I had started traveling earlier I might have done it with her.... it didn't happen but it would have been an interesting experience.