Saturday, December 17, 2011

Some Thoughts...

Having just finished The Hunger Games, I have returned to the thought provoking title I had started earlier this year, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance written in 1974 by Robert M. Pirsig. Pirsig's writing has resonated strongly with me, and oddly enough has even coalesced with some of the themes from The Hunger Games that I have been ruminating on the last few days.

For most of my life, I have felt a sense of guilt at not being motivated enough. Being that my mother is a dynamo, with a seemingly everlasting flow of creativity, industriousness, and integrity, I have always felt a few steps short of productive. It is something I have had to confront several times in the last couple years both from the standpoint of self motivation and the question of whether productivity is the goal in the first place. But something has been illuminated for me by Pirsig's writing, the reason for my perpetual feeling of no direction, one I no doubt share with many people of my generation, is the lack of immediate need. This may seem to contradict some of my previous writings, but this statement isn't coming from a place that demands struggle, rather begs for a purpose that demands focus and meditation, absent of the frills I have consider necessities for most of my life.

Throughout my time in Mexico, I have oscillated several times between focused, enthusiastic direction and complacent frustration. While I believe I have found a vocation that suits me, traveling saleswoman, at the end of the day, I still feel disappointed at the fact that the trade I have made, goods for currency, didn't begin with me. To clarify, I find myself wishing I had been the creator of the objects sold rather than the middle man. Since I was a child, my craving for authenticity has been large, almost to a fault. Though I am not a gifted artist like almost every other member of my family, an urge to create things from their very beginning stages has been lingering in my mind for a good many years.

Here I venture a possible solution, not only for economic and environmental toil, but personal fulfillment. Nowhere near a novel idea; self reliance. In the book, Pirsig applies this idea to motorcycle maintenance, imploring that owners of motorcycles learn to maintain their own vehicle thereby discovering the inner peace the work supplies. As far as this applies to my life, I yearn for work that means something; plain and simple. The protagonist of The Hunger Games wonders toward the end of the book what she would do with her time if everything she needed was supplied for her, having become accustomed to filling her days with hunting and gathering to support her mother and sister. Though sparsity in food and energy were no stranger to her, she stated, in so many words, that she preferred to provide than be provided for by some inconspicuous source. This tactile, beginning to end purpose is what I yearn for. Simplicity and self reliance. The solution to feelings of boredom and inaction.

Both books, though thoroughly unrelated, have also got me thinking on the topic of excess. How, just because something is available to us in abundance doesn't mean we should overuse it. Reading about someone starving or dehydrating to death, puts my diet into perspective. Having enough that I can afford the need to cut back is an extreme privilege, and not one to be taken lightly. Another point adding to my want for self reliance. Seeing each seed grow, maintaining compost, catching the rainwater, I feel these experiences will enrich my understanding and appreciation for the aspects of my life I sometimes take for granted simultaneously giving me tangible tasks to complete on a daily basis to provide for my family.

So this is something I have been wanting for some time now, talking and thinking but not doing, which brings me back around to Zen. While writing of how to locate a problem in a cycle, Pirsig discusses the scientific method, he writes:

For this you keep a lab notebook. Everything gets written down, formally, so that you know at all times where you are, where you've been, where you're going, and where you want to get.

Upon reading this passage a lightbulb went on in my head and I thought "Why can't we apply this to our lives as well?" As Pirsig has described in detail the destructive cycle inherent in the dichotomy between the romantic and the rational way of thought, I feel this, the scientific method applied to what some may see as a more romantic viewpoint (spirituality), is a perfect way to combine the two in harmony. Personally, I see my blog as the notepad, chronicling where I am, where I've been, and where I want to get, using writing as a manifesting facility.

And so I continue to narrate my dreams of a sustainable future, an avenue in which I can lead by example as my mom has so wonderfully done for me...

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