You have a load to carry. Some visible. Lots existing in swirling gray matter between those shoulders and perched on your neck. There’s pain and acceptance, love and hatred. Moments of irony and bliss. In a small room in the expat district of Hanoi called Tay Ho I see it.
Maybe you want answers or questions. Maybe its degrees of things you desire. I don’t have them for you. I can’t offer fulfillment or challenge or glory. What I can whisper out is I found the path for me. A simple and uncluttered life of few possessions. Most of my more prized things are those not present. No debt. No property. No things. No cars or homes or expensive clothes. A life spent the last years in the edge. The edge of Southeast Asia. A place carefully curated for folks like me. And there are lots. You don’t see them in your fancy blogs and Instagram accounts but we number more than you I think.
I also did away with constructs like goals, timelines, tasks, todo, responsibilities. Years ago I killed them off. So what’s left? Astute question! Things of value remain that take no real space. More lately two things. I’ve written on them both but wanted to offer a set top piece for you to see all people need things. The things may be of our own construction and not real or they may occupy no space but do occupy moments.
Meditation and yoga have become two things for me but they are one thing really. There’s nothing I carry with me as I move so slowly but I’ve found some things out. I need both. They offer a big term called mindfulness which I find to be worthwhile. We are in perilous times. Some virus claims lives and sickens others indiscriminately. Others have poisoned souls and minds and I read their diatribes with something akin to disbelief. So I practice both. Neither takes me away or makes things invisible or easy to accept. It’s not their way. They give me a view and let me see and then let me know that it’s not some popular drug that carries it all away. Together it’s the moments I find myself in.
bringing it to the here and now
I meditated this morning on a 10 minute session called “Inner Work”. The idea here and I bring it to you is we go through our lives with tons of outer work. It’s observable and you can measure it. Perhaps you can see it. Success and new cars, wonderful job evaluations and performance increases. All there and many can be seen. Just as important though and perhaps in many ways more so is the inner work. I wandered for decades getting the projects done, receiving comments often good at my last job on finishing things that were thought challenging or sometimes almost impossible. Performance awards and bonuses. Hand shakes from the CIO and well done awards. Yet through all this time the inner work was almost non existent. I did nothing for the work inside me until I retired. Then I realized that all those years living with the external pressure was gone yet for months nothing replaced it. Even longer than months. Years! It took years to find a corner of mindfulness that let me work on me again. It’s still a slow slog. In both meditation and yoga we are told it’s okay and expected to be taken away by thoughts, emotions and reactions. The inner work is always to not blame but gently acknowledge.
I think the getting here now is to find that inner work and work gently at it over the long haul. Become aware that the path is not straight and clear. We become bogged down in the race to succeed, accomplish and track and expect and then demand that outer work. Once I retired it fell away. There were no measures of success but I had nothing to replace it. Don’t let this be the you that emerges. Find the inner things of being you that you work on not keyed to the outward phenomenon of your career. The things are there. Perhaps patiently awaiting a kickstart. Check it out.
I had to wait to find the tug of mindfulness. Maybe you find some other path to walk. It took years for me to see that the inner work for me is not keyed to material success, possessions, and often people.
You can do it too. But perhaps you start like me or retire like me and think it’s all over. I aver that it’s a perfect time to find the inner chorus of your life. Find a new thing that takes you farther or closer or does not move you at all. For me I knew for a decade it was living in Southeast Asia. It’s the edge of the known and the wondrous to me and it released primal things and finally let me find some ingredients to make this inner old retired guy find a measure of his life.
Give it a shot. What you got to lose? Age is not some magical divider. My Vietnamese friends tell me they love and appreciate me. Wisdom and experience may not be what I truly have. But I know meditation and some simple yoga have helped me find the inner work I needed when I left IT years ago.
And it’s often good. Sometimes challenging and once in awhile daunting. But what I have learned is it’s all ok.