Chad 45039 has been a close friend and associate of mine for over ten (10) years. Holding two (2) PhD degrees Chad truly is a well educated man and a very deep thinker! In 2003 he took the time and he went to the effort to travel to remote Alaska (Manley Hot Springs 99756) to visit me in person.
In recent post cards sent from India on this my 10th trip .. I asked several of you a rhetorical question. A question asked rhetorically does NOT require an answer!
The rhetorical question I posed was:
How does a ‘Wanderer’ explain to a ‘NON Wanderer’ the concept of Wanderlust?
For reasons I can NOT explain .. being in India my thoughts wander up some interesting paths. In his below writing, Chad mentions the high country of the mind!
In his remarkable book circa 1974 .. ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ .. written by Mr. Robert M. Pirsig .. Mr. Pirsig speaks of the ‘High Country of the Mind’. What an awesome and demanding book this is to study! I have had the honor and pleasure to have corresponded with Mr. Pirsig and .. in a personal pilgrimage .. I have walked the campus and have seen the office that he occupied when he was on the faculty at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana!
Chad also speaks to the power of being-in-the-now! This takes me immediately to another remarkable book titled ..’ The Power Of Now’ .. written by Mr. Eckhart Tolle! Yet another awesome and demanding book to study!
I received several very thoughtful replies to my rhetorical question! Thank You to those who chose to reply to my question.
Chad 45039 wrote a mini-Thesis once he got started on my rhetorical question. I was so impressed by his thoughts and I felt so humble at the time and thought and effort that Chad put into his reply that I asked him IF he would mind IF I published his thoughts?
The two of us then went back-and-forth in a series of e-mails. We debated first whether or not he was even interested in having his thoughts published! When he favorably entertained the concept we debated his identity .. did he want to be anonymous? Did he wish to remain a private contributor or did he want to use his name?
Chad was open to all options. So I suggested using his name and zip code. To me Chad’s thoughts deserve to be credited to a real person!
OK I will begin with the ending comments in one of our back-and-forth e-mails! Then I will show his reply to my rhetorical question.
Chad45039 you are on!
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As an aside my definition of God these days is everything put together is God. So when I say that one of our greatest needs is to feel connected to and a valuable part of a greater whole, I am also saying that one of our greatest needs is to feel connected to and a valuable part of the Entirety that is God. It also means that if God is the Entirety that my connections to my surroundings (whether they be to people or otherwise) are in some small way a connection to God, that the best we can experience God is in the connections, and the part of ourselves that connects to others is at the same time connecting to God. This (with a little more elaboration) is one of the revelations I think I shared with you in Akron last year. I do not mention this part in sharing it with most people because the mention of God brings up all sorts of prejudices (pre-judgments) that generally negate the other person’s ability to really consider what I am trying to say or often for us to even make the connection that I think is so valuable.
I will add that most of what I have tried to share and explain have come to me as revelations (or something like it) during times of meditation (or something like it). I state them as opinions and thoughts as opposed to revelations again to try to reduce prejudice. Not your prejudices, but I started writing it as how to explain your thirst for travel to others, and I think one of the most important things to consider when trying to explain something to someone else is to use terms they can relate to and understand in a way similar to you, and to avoid terms fraught with prejudices or strong emotional responses.
Thanks again for being a mentor eager to entertain my opinions, revelations, etc and above all for helping to foster a relationship where we connect. Smiles, Chad.
I received your post card asking how to explain your thirst for travel to others. This may have been a rhetorical question from you, but I am going to try to answer it anyway.
It is my opinion that beyond our very basic needs for food, water, shelter, etc our greatest want and need as humans is to feel connected to and a valuable part of a greater whole. Some people get this from a marriage or children or other family relationships. Some people get it from church or AA or other organizations. Some people get it from work or even a hobby. From what I know of you it seems that you may get it most in your travels, meeting new people and connecting with them as well as sharing with them. Of course it is not an all or nothing thing and many of us get some of it from lots of places. At the same time we are generally drawn to the place we get it the most.
So then why India? I have never been to India although I have met and known at least a few from India who have come to the US to live and I have had somewhat of a ringside seat through your emails and then blogs as you travel and meet and connect with others on your travels. Anyway, it seems to me that maybe the people of India that you meet and connect well with have a certain humility and gratitude not as easily found other places. This humility and easy gratitude are obviously very spiritual traits and generally allow for deeper or more full connections with others such as yourself.
To go more deeply I think that most relationships in families, marriage, work, AA, church, etc involve at some level some degree of hostage taking or blackmail. At the very least they require compromises and trade-offs. Many people seem to get comfortable with this and it does not hamper their ability to feel connected and valuable to the greater unit. And maybe in a certain perverse way it transiently enhances this feeling of connection and valuableness, if the person has a position of power in the unit and gets to set the terms of the hostage taking or blackmail. Here I would note that I think that often what we call or equate to mental health is the ability to go along with this system and “fit in” or feel good or OK about it.
However, for some people (maybe such as yourself and certainly myself) with our own inherent tendencies and past experiences (especially in childhood) we cannot become comfortable with the trade-offs (to put it nicely) or subtle blackmail and hostage taking (to probably put it more accurately). This is called in some way a lack of mental health because it rocks the boat and is uncomfortable for everyone, even if what we refuse to become comfortable with or accept is itself subtlely manipulative and not necessarily an ideal or great system. And of course it often does cross a line into an overt lack of mental health where we can be very harmful to ourselves and others.
Part of what I am saying though is that what is referred to as a lack of mental health is often seeing or feeling things more clearly than others and then not being willing to continue to go along with the status quo. You had a blog post not too long ago that I am reminded of regarding I think something similar when you said sometimes you feel bad for all those people with out mental health issues. Personally I think you were onto something. I think most people satisfy themselves with the decent and do not generally get to see the spectacular that we sometimes get to see and feel. Of course they also often miss the lows and probably more importantly do not require the constant vigilance to avoid great danger.
Anyway it seems to me the best answer involves 2 things
(1) Doing the slow, tedious, and hard work of addressing and improving our existing relationships. In my case this might be slowly and consistently addressing the areas of my relationships with my wife, kids, parents, brothers, etc, that prevent me from feeling connected to and a valuable part of the greater family unit. This always starts with internal work, such as inventory, prayer, mediation (a lot of meditation for me) and then at some point generally requires directly addressing areas with the other person. It seems to me a lot of people try to skip that last part. That is unfortunate because it is in directly addressing it (in hopefully a humble and calm manner after a lot of internal work) that the new or different connection can begin to form and be built upon, which is really the ultimate goal whether we realize it or not.
Essentially, here I guess I am trying to reduce or remove the parts of the relationship that feel like the hostage taking and blackmail I mentioned earlier. Many might think I am paranoid or seeing things that are not really there, but if I am honest with myself I realize that I have often done this hostage taking and blackmail myself. In fact that used to be most of what I did in relationships. In many ways I was fairly good to those around me, but when I am honest with myself I realize a big reason I was good to others was to at least potentially hold it against them to get what I thought I wanted or needed.
Of course the fact that I do this some now and unfortunately used to base my few relationships on it does not mean others also do so. However, my experience with others makes me believe it is very common, especially in familial relationships. My biggest reason for thinking it is so common or pretty much the default situation is that people get so defensive and emotional when even something fairly minor is directly addressed, as I am saying is part of the key to moving to healthy fulfilling relationships. I also think it goes a long way towards explaining the very few truly happy and fulfilling relationships there seem to be, especially between couples. Instead it has a tendency to set up a covert (it certainly cannot be spoken or admitted or even seen for that matter) contentiousness in a relationship where each party is keeping track of what they bring to it to potentially hold against the other.
One caveat to all this though it that who am I to say that is not how it is supposed to be. It may not be how I would like things to be, and I definitely try to choose to live differently, but if I look at human history for a few thousand years or maybe even a million years this basic dynamic has probably served humans fairly well. And it has probably only been in the last 100-200 years where there has been any real choice. Before this there was no way to choose your own relationships. You were stuck with your own family, normally even when considering what you did vocationally. It is my opinion that we evolved from this type of system (no choice) and some of our current problems are related to being stuck with these tendencies even though they may no longer be consistent with our current needs and circumstances.
(2) I think the second part of the solution is to seek out new relationships that do not require the slow, tedious, and hard work to remove things that block a connection, but rather can often start from a healthier place and hopefully with some continual care (generally the same internal work and directly addressing problem areas) can remain fulfilling. You and Patti and my local sponsor and AA friends, etc might fit into this latter category for me, and maybe many of the people you meet on your travels would fit into this category for you.
Part of your thirst for traveling may also be that traveling encourages you (or maybe even forces you) to be in the now or present, where life actually happens and connections are made. For “thinkers” like us (as you called us) with at least some tendencies towards mental instability, being pushed towards living-in-the-now can be very beneficial. Since spending too much time in the high country of the mind can be a dangerous thing, and if we are not involved in things that push us towards living in the now, it takes constant discipline to try to get to the now and stay there.
I think along these lines my best gauge for my current spiritual fitness is how well I can be present and enjoy my kids. If they are mostly an irritation my spiritual fitness and ability to live in the now is poor. Whereas if I can really enjoy them and even their quirks and borderline bad behavior and hopefully join in with them for some goofiness then I know my spiritual condition and ability to live in the now or present is in good shape. This takes discipline for me to try to get to this and stay there, but fortunately when I become irritated with my kids I often realize it is time to simplify and prioritize in order to allow myself to become present. Nothing is more harmful or snowballs more quickly on me in a bad way than being irritated with my kids and not being willing or able to pull myself out of it.
I would imagine I have given you more than you were asking for with your simple and likely somewhat rhetorical question. Hopefully, I have not gone too far offering my opinions.
Happy travels and smiles,
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THANK YOU CHAD!
Signing Off From Pondicherry, India .. With Joy .. Cap ..
- FEB 25, 13 .. PONDICHERRY .. INDIA ..
- FEB 28, 13 .. ONE MONTH INTO THIS INDIA TRIP!