Standing Still

After 2 and a half years of traveling coast to coast eight times. My life consumed approximately 110,000 miles of roads and experiences.  The road ended in a park and ride in Connecticut in March. My 6 months of plans, workshops and  work evaporated in about 72 hours. I had to quarantine. All the places I would have stayed at during my travels were locked down.  I found my large view and experience of the world reduce to sleeping in my car,  trying to get a shower once a week, figuring out how to make enough money to eat….and pay my bills… working hard to find the motivation  not to give up. The world was in chaos and shut down… no places to go… I was ground to a halt.

I’m  not going to say it was easy or that it was fun. That I had some great epiphanies that open my soul. I was vulnerable, scared, angry, frustrated and often struggling just to keep a basic routine for a sense of sanity the first couple of months.

I come from strong stock. Giving up is not an option. My will to survive  is probably  stronger than most. If I set my mind on it don’t  get in my way. No matter what the obstacles,  the emotional  or physical pain…. push through it. Don’t give up. Focus on the task at hand… the next right thing…. ask for help yet don’t have expectations.

This period of time was a kind of feral existence. It resides in the thin edges and shadows of what we call civil society. I lived in a way that I could function and if you didn’t know I was homeless you probably wouldn’t have guessed. I changed my clothes every day. I washed up as best I could between showers. Did laundry at the local laundromat. I walked every day. Engaged in my practice of photography. The social isolation helped to keep up appearances.

I was aware that we all were struggling with the disruption of Covid-19. Despite my situation I felt I was doing ok…. counted my gratitudes. I wasn’t sick. I had a car to sleep in. I have enough to eat. I was getting some money coming. The active structure of my life keep the darker thoughts at bay most days. Writing and drawing helped prevent a complete mental break down.

Being reduced to a survival experience and having a overly active mind is challenging. My brain works like this: I over think everything. I want the big picture. I explore all the connections and nuances… my brain explodes… there are insights and ideas…. things to try… and the paralysis of too much. I have 30 years of skills in alternative and complimentary therapies, meditation…. etc… I got to test them all. Drag them through their paces and tossed out the ones that failed.

As grim as this all might sound, there was a lot of good over the last few months. There was progress. There was a tremendous amount of love and support. I finally found places to temporarily stay… work started to come in. Redirected my business model. Became very clear about what I wanted to do as the world changed.

I titled this blog post Standing Still. It comes from a Buddhist practice I learned many years ago. You visualize that you are a post in the ocean and the tides come in and out, sometimes the waves are still, somedays the waves rage in storms… all this happens and the post stays still witnessing and being a post. So, these past few months have pushed me to find that post in me. To practice that stillness as the world rages nowadays. This is not a detachment as much as it is the ability to not be knocked around by the experience and the emotions that are stimulated. It is the practice of learning to respond and decern. To know when to act. The experience has freed some of my mind and has given me clarity about how to approach and apply my services. I am grateful for that.