Back to Zero

Last year, I decided I wanted to be a monk. One year later, and I’m still a bit fuzzy on what that means.

The first part seems to be about reducing distractions and recognizing the patterns that send me in the wrong direction. Some monks take a vow of silence, poverty, or celibacy. This year, I’ve mostly been getting nudges about stepping away from the community. This is a hard thing to do. I think community is important. I admire people who go out there and wade through the trenches to keep it going. I feel guilty that I’m not one of those people. However, I say “trenches” because a lot of the time, such work feels like a never ending battle. There has to be a better way, just don’t ask me what that way might be.

I tried joining groups and following their rules. I kept waiting for it all to make sense. I waited for that sense of peace to settle in while knowing that I was doing it right. That never happened. I claimed that I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know where to go or what to do, when in fact, my spirit did have an idea of what it wanted. What it truly wanted wasn’t found there. No group or person that I’ve seen has what I’m looking for. All these advertisements for this path or that one, and none of them satisfy.

I feel like Jack Sparrow staring at his wildly spinning compass. All I can think is, “Get your damned magnets away from me.”

What of your “community” then? Fuck the community.

But, I do like people. Community is a big ugly brush that smears across a canvas and blurs all the interesting details into a glob. I like people. I like stories, personal stories. I like experiences. I don’t give a shit about your judgments or advice. Tell me about your day. Tell me about the little thing that happened that made you smile, or cry. Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear. Tell me about something real that happened. I like those.

I came to WordPress for the Pagan Blog Project. I spent a year doing that, and then a year not doing that. WordPress is more formal than other places. It makes you feel like you should dress up a little. Like being at a party, sipping at drinks and nibbling hors d’oevres, making the kind of conversation that you would expect to find at such a venue. It shows others that you can clean up nicely and speak in complete sentences. You can even make mention of that charity work you’ve been doing, and you probably will at some point. Then the “likes” show up in the email, or not, and you think about why, or why not.

I turned the email thing off. The “likes” still happen. I can see them when I log in, but they won’t intrude on my day outside of here. I’m sure we’ve all had that experience of getting lots of likes on some little fluff piece, and a definite lack of them when we write something of personal value. What will I write more of next time? What will I keep to myself next time? Magnets.

It’s not that the generalized pieces are better, they’re not. It’s not that people are stupid, they’re not. Generalized pieces are simply more relatable to a larger segment of the population. Everybody eats food. Not as many people have conversations with gods. Sometimes it also happens that a story touches deeply, but is difficult to “like.” The reader might have thoughts, but can’t quite make the next step of turning those thoughts into words, and turning those words into a comment. Feedback on the internet is misleading. It’s also irrelevant if I’m writing because I like to write, if I simply feel like these thoughts need expression in some way. Maybe one person who I’ll never meet or talk to will find some meaning in it.

Maybe these ones and zeroes are like writing in sand. Sand painting has a nice tradition among Tibetan monks. I watched them make one once. All that skill and artistry, then it blows away. But I was there, and I saw it.

I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, and I kinda like it.

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