August 15, 2007

Intentional Living Update - Going Out

So far the experiment in intentional living goes well, but in one week I will be on the road back to Nebraska. Then things will be tough, especially since I am not traveling alone.

Chlirissa, a friend I have become very close with over the summer, is coming with me. We have a lot of fun together, both being academics who like to talk and have absurd ideas of ironic humor. We have some very different academic interests and different ideas on “saving the world,” but we are both open and honest and don’t take much of anything too seriously. We have also both been living in the middle of nowhere, the middle of nothing for over three months, where intentional living is almost forced under the circumstances. Nothing is taken for granted. We are also both suddenly going back to the city, with all that entails.

I think the most difficulty will occur regarding food. To Resolution 1) I have added farmers’ markets to grocery stores and should clarify that already included in that category is my local co-operative market. However, the “prepackaged” clause still applies and much as I love the wonderful baked lemon bars, cookies, and apple crisps they have at my local farmers’ market, I shall just have to learn how to make them myself. I think the hardest to pass up at the market this year will be the beautiful cut flowers, the bright red zinnias and giant white peonies.

The other difficulty will be eating out and eating on the go. I would enjoy showing Chlirissa some of the lovely restaurants we have in Lincoln. (Luckily, my own birthday is coming up.) I packed a lunch when I traveled to Denver to pick Chlirissa up at the airport on her way back from an anti-war conference in Wisconsin. That worked out wonderfully well. We stopped at the flower test beds at Colorado State University in Fort Collins on the way home and picnicked beneath the largest juniper tree I have ever seen. Which, of course, I had to climb.

Last week on the way to the soccer game, I forgot to pack a dinner. Being with friends, I let them cover me when we stopped at a deli, but I have some trouble with that. Not spending money in restaurants also includes not buying for others. I’ve no problem letting someone else pay for my sandwich, but only if I know I can reciprocate. This will be tricky.

After the game (we won, by the way, but ended up playing ourselves when the other team didn’t show, so in a way, we also lost) we went out for drinks. That was no trouble, as I was driving and stuck to water anyway. Then Juliet invited me to play pool. I do so love pool, even though, or perhaps because, I am terrible at it. In the end we crashed Byron and Aaron’s table and played doubles, so that worked out. But again, what of the future? This will need some thought.

Bear in mind that I am not placing all these restrictions on myself as a punishment. Though I’m sure it will feel like it from time to time.

“Live your life like an expiriment,” Pema told us. “You know what will happen if you give in to that. It may make you feel better just then, but in the long run, we all know better. So do it, and see what happens, but be aware while you act.”

She was referring to anger, aggression, and hatred, but I think the same advice applies to impulse buying and indulgent shopping.


greenfrog said...


When you first posted on this, I thought of it as a mindful response to the situation you described. As I read more and think more about it, it becomes a kind of austerity practice. I'm reminded of the (Theravadan, is it?) monastic tradition of not handling money of any kind. In reading about others' experience with that practice, especially as they've tried to import it to a US culture not traditionally oriented toward monastic alms-giving, it involves thought processes akin to those you articulate here.

I'll be interested to hear more.


Monica said...

Hmmm, I never thought of it as an austerity practice, though I can see the connection. I does sound like I'm trying to finagle my way around the resulotions I've made, doesn't it? Kinda like having an alms bowl so you don't ever touch the money. But I figure it's just like trying on new clothes; you have to wiggle a bit to get them to fit.

Interestingly, the discipline of Theravadan is often praised in Vajrayana Buddhism as a good starting place for our practices. Even more sever forms of discipline are practiced in many of the Japanese Mahayana schools as well. So if this is a form of austerity, maybe that is not such a bad thing?

What I am on guard for, which is what bears thinking on, is the give an inch take a mile syndrome. "Oh, it's just a game of pool!" "It's just drinks out with friends!" "I don't want to let this get in the way of my interactions with other people, do I?" I could so see myself giving in to that kind of reasoning, but I have a sneaking suspicion I know what the ultimate result will be.

Expiriment in progress, stand at least ten feet back...

ten directions said...

I think it is a very good practice, and not a bit austere, as that would be to not interact at all with people and the obstacles that appears.

As master Dogen said: 'practice IS realization'.
It is not 'practice leading to realization', as that would mean that our ego wants to achieve something, and then we are just waisting time 'feeling' being Buddhists.