So I’m not working this week since I’m in Kona, Hawaii with my wife and some friends, yet here I sit pecking away on my laptop. I fully blame the girl at the coffee shop in Hilo that served me the single best cold-brewed coffee I’ve ever had. I was understandably excited when she described the cold-brew process in detail, assuring me that the grounds had steeped a full 18 hours, that they actually use their finest beans for their cold-brew, and that it was their “buzziest” coffee. That last part got me (hear me fellow addicts!?) and, while I finished it almost two hours ago, I still feel like I need to change my sobriety date, clean the hotel room two or three times, and pick these damn bugs off my skin.
Cliché as it is, I’m finding it very difficult to unplug from life for long enough to fully commune with these awesome surroundings. Fourteen years ago I went to Costa Rica. I was only there a week, but I remember not watching television for over a month when I returned home. There was no Facebook, Candy Crush, Trivia Crack, Twitter, or Buzzfeed. Even if there were I wouldn’t have had access to them. I don’t think I even brought my cell phone along (or my pager, but that’s a different story altogether). It was like I’d actually, you know, travelled out of the country. The internet has made communication so much easier, but it’s also provided enough psychic white noise to drown my brain until I’m habitually and mind-numbingly slapping my finger against my phone’s tiny glass screen like a rat trying to get a bit of kibble by pulling a lever. I’m surrounded by paradise and I have to remind myself to stop checking Facebook.
I was able to take a half hour and quietly meditate at sunset on the beach when we got back from our trip to the volcano (that’s also another story altogether–did you know there are cracks in the earth that just sit there and steam!?). I sat and watched all the different sized waves roll in and crash near the foot of my chair and something happened. All of that background noise melted away. Mind you, my brain didn’t stop spinning (it hardly ever does), but I contemplated the ocean and thought about an example I’ve always used to explain my views on spirituality and the human condition.
Buddhists have this concept called “dependent arising,”, which basically means that what you will arise to be (in ten minutes or ten thousand lifetimes) is dependent upon who and what you are right now. So I think that we’re all basically like tumbleweeds or waves, starting with one little thing and rolling along picking things up in our paths that then become a part of who we are. From this perspective, God is like an infinite ocean and our ridiculously temporary little lives are like waves that come to the shore. Each wave is completely made from the same source, but very briefly takes its own form and rushes to the beach, breaking and then slowly receding back to the source. So if I’m a wave, I’ve gathered up all of these crazy personality traits and characteristics that make me a person, but I’m really made up completely and wholly of the same source that makes up each of you and all other living things. I know it sounds new-agey, but it makes sense to me.
End of old insight–beginning of new insight.
As I observed the waves today, I noticed that none of them even remotely follow the same path. They don’t even come from the same directions. There were big waves coming in diagonally, little ones crashing into one another and joining forces, and all other manners of activity that seemed very unwavelike to me (you can tell I don’t live by the ocean). It occurred to me that my earlier thinking had been, as it can often be, way too simplistic. People do not exist in a vacuum. We bounce off each other, forming all kinds of interactions that might be super-dynamic for a second or may lead to some kind of relationship. We influence one another. We change the course of each other’s lives and paths and it’s all supposed to be that way. We are all the same, because we’re all from the same place (or same “stuff”, if you will). Life is messy and chaotic and beautiful and imperfect, but it’s never an accident.
Anyways, I’m going back at sunset tomorrow.