Part I: The Frothy Cry of Courage
Driving alone on the highway for the first time, my worldly possessions in the backseat, I felt a rich wave of courage release within me. Some cap inside me popped, unleashing a sturdy surge of defiance I didn’t know I possessed. And my courage steamed over the ridge between the mental and the physical like the froth of freshly poured beer, burbling out across the landscape.
I shouted at the world to bring me its worst. “Come at me bro,” for I am strong. I was not afraid, no; I wanted the test. Because I trusted that I could trust myself to handle anything the world could thrust upon me. It was almost a dare.
In that moment more than ever before, I understood why people seek tests of bravery (like why a caveboy might’ve wanted to fight a mammoth). I’ve never felt aggression before, really. But this Thursday afternoon I wanted to show all those who find themselves the hapless victims of their own lives (myself included) that it is possible to roar.
I said to the world.
Maybe that’s how the singer of that “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” song felt while she sang…and maybe not.
Part II. I Love All of You Guys
I’ve been finding it hard to write, lately, mostly because I started a new blog which I planned to make more “open” and public, with my real name, photos of myself, and the whole shebang. I thought that would make sharing my experiences of living in the Canadian Rockies for the summer more authentic, or easier to share with my family.
Then I opened up my Reader on the new blog and missed seeing all the familiar bloggers I’ve come to know and love. There’s a balance, you see. I may not share my real name here, or have many followers, or display my latest Instagram pictures. But I have a small and ever-expanding circle of lovely followers who make a positive impact on me every time I open my device. That’s what I’m looking for.
Part III. The Rocky Mountain Library at 6:23p.m.
The timer on the library computer I’m typing on here is running low, and it’s stressing me out. 5:34 remaining. At 10 minutes, it warns that you will soon be logged out, and all your work will be lost. Five minutes later an orange CAUTION triangle begins to blare in the lower right hand corner.
They just turned away a young Asian girl who came in to borrow two books. You have to be a library member, which costs $12, and have proof of town residency. She was slightly timid and did not have any cash on her, so the librarian put the books aside under her name and said “see you tomorrow.” The girl nodded doubtfully.
I’m about to be logged out now, and will hopefully be allowed back into the system without a membership.
Part IV. Buddhism and My Search for a Practice
I’ve been thinking a little about my Frothy Cry of Courage moment on the highway, and what might’ve caused it. I’ve been reading a lot about Buddhism lately, which challenges us to take control of our own consciousness. What interests me most about Buddhism is its role as a practice.
To me, a practice is an activity or method to which I dedicate time, effort, and discipline. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know I used to be an avid rock climber. I think the reason it hit me so hard to quit climbing was because climbing was my practice– I set aside at least 10hrs every week to train, built deep relationships with my fellow climbers, and experienced spiritual release through my vertical dance, as it were.
Moving solo to the mountains this summer, I am seeking a new practice. Something deeply fulfilling to which I can dedicate myself and through which I can grow. When you make a large commitment to a practice, you end up scheduling your whole life around it; your practice becomes a sacred time that you never sacrifice. If I knew I had a climbing competition coming up next Sunday, I would ensure I finished all my schoolwork during the week so I could dedicate myself entirely to the experience on the weekend.
Climbing was not my whole life, yet it was how I lived my life.
Through my devotion to a practice, I feel freed. Through my discipline, my strength shines. My passion brings me excitement, my excitement brings me effort, and my effort brings me knowledge. Then I get to share all of this with others!
Not all practices have to result in a massive shift in lifestyle. Just dedicating an hour each Sunday to your Ladies’ Group can be an important practice. I just find myself craving a fully immersive practice that can act as a lens through which I live life.
Buddhisms tend to advocate the daily practice of meditation, as well as the dedicated excavation and mastery of all our states of consciousness. Many teachers suggest you carry your breathing practices into your daily life, and live according to the Eightfold Path towards nirvana and the elimination of all suffering (look forward to my upcoming post on Buddhism & meeting new people)
Part V. Gas Masks and Enlightenment
My friend Timothy from the super intense academic high school I went to once broke my spiral of stress with this analogy:
The Oxygen Mask Theory: On airplanes, the parent must put their own oxygen mask on first before putting one on their child in the event of an emergency (since you cannot help your child if you cannot breathe yourself). The same goes in life; take care of yourself, then go on to help others.
In a way, Buddhism is comparable to what we might think of as “ninja training:” mastering one’s mind and ridding it of the delusions which cause us to suffer. One we’ve freed ourselves, we can then spread our wisdom and help others who suffer.
Part VI. A Hopeful Message
I have a friend who does not feel he has control over his life. I wrote a poem about him here, but still haven’t gotten up the guts to share it with him (should I??)
At times, I too feel like the hapless victim of my own life. Having a practice is what makes me feel in control, as the best possible version of myself. And I just want to say this one thing to you, to him, and to myself:
Stuff doesn’t happen to you, okay.
Stuff happens, then you control how it affects you.
I say this without knowing any of what happened in your life and <thankfully> without having to deal with any of life’s huge tests like family deaths or poverty.
I just want you to feel like you have some control over your life. It’s a hard commitment to make, the commitment to seize & direct your life. If you’re an artist, well, then, your life’s the most beautiful performance you’ll ever have the chance to produce.
Thank you for reading, thank you for hearing me, and all the best releasing your inner strength. You’re a fucking lion and I’d love to meet you someday. 💪🦁😊
P.S. If you’re wondering if the world responded to my dare, it may have…my engine light came on, my car got hit, and then I locked my keys inside of it– all within a day. But for the most part, the universe remains unremittingly chaotic.