Embrace Nature

Embrace Nature

Monday, October 25, 2010


At the end of August this year, I ditched my 10-year high school reunion to go make new memories in the high desert of Nevada. One evening I was dancing the dusty night away, and was reminded of an incident during my school years. I recalled rocking out during a friend's DJ'ed birthday party, and being told by an acquaintance that I had no rhythm and no dance skills. Flash-forward to present tense, and I'm partying like there's no tomorrow at the Burn, making up my own moves and getting props left and right on my independent style. I knew right then, in my small spot on the Playa, that I had made the perfect decision. I had come to the right place. I had come home.

Now I'm beginning to consider, more seriously than ever before, becoming a teacher. I increasingly feel drawn to this profession, feeling as though I can truly make a difference, really impact a student's life, honestly affect change in the world. I want every child to grow up with all the tools necessary to make the right decisions for himself or herself. Maybe they need confidence. Maybe they need math skills. Maybe they just need an ear to listen. Or maybe they need - really need - to build a robot. Whatever it is, I think I just might be the person to fulfill all those needs.

I had a math teacher - a few, actually, all women - who tried her hardest to make me hate math. She told me I didn't belong in her class, she didn't answer questions when I asked them, and she gave me poor grades. But I decided that I wanted to be an engineer, I wanted to work at NASA so badly that I would overcome my extreme aversion to math. I would suffer through Calculus I, II and III; I would decipher differential equations; I would push myself through linear algebra. And I did. But it could have been so much easier, I would have been a much better student, and I ultimately would have had a better understanding of mathematics if these teachers would have spent just a few more minutes explaining - and understanding my own struggles with the subject.

What if I could do this for someone else?

And what if all those kids who were told they couldn't dance, end up dancing to their hearts' content?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Meditation Musings

The ten days of Vipassana meditation might have been some of the hardest 10 days of my life. We were strongly encouraged to culture the feeling of going through the experience completely alone. In this vein, we observed "Noble Silence," in which we abstained from any kind of communication with others, including speech, gestures or even simply eye contact. The only times we could communicate were when asking questions about the technique of the assistant teacher, or when addressing physical problems with the course facilitator. Men and women were kept separate in all areas, and we had separate halves of the meditation hall. Even so, I don't think I would have made it through the course if I hadn't known that Sam was right there, going through it with me.

The main reason for Noble Silence, or so we were told, was to quiet the mind, and to prevent new thoughts and worries from crowding our meditation. If we were allowed to communicate with the other students, our concentration would be compromised, and we would not be able to focus fully on the task at hand. Meditating for almost 11 (yes, ELEVEN) hours per day allows quite a bit of time for random thoughts to sneak out of hiding, and introducing more fodder doesn't help one's efforts.

On the final day, we were allowed to speak with the other students (mainly just women with women, men with men), and we girls talked our faces off. And oh, how comforting it was to realize that everyone had gone through many of the same struggles, same emotions, same frustrations. Day 3 and Day 6 were two days when I just wanted to leave -- give up, go home, eat 3 full meals a day [we were only allowed breakfast and lunch, and then we had tea and fruit at dinnertime]. After Day 6, I simply counted down the days, wanting time to pass as quickly as possible. And to hear the others talk about similar feelings made me realize that was part of the purpose of the course. And that made it all the more meaningful for me.

The actual meditation technique consists of being able to observe all kinds of subtle sensations on and in one's body, without developing any kind of attachment to them - either of craving or of aversion. This type of observation without attachment then transfers to all areas of your life, allowing you to eventually find the path to enlightenment. I'm not sure enlightenment will happen within this lifetime for me, but I know I'll find ways to utilize this meditation skill in many facets of how I live now, not the least of which are my interactions with others and my work on the bike. Watch out, racers.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New York Travelers

We just left New York City yesterday. It was a bittersweet goodbye - I loved every minute of being there, so much that I wanted to stay longer, see more museums, eat more amazing food -- and meet some more of the most interesting people I've ever met. Many thanks to Gus for introducing us to your penguins, hosting us and putting up with the mess that inevitably follows me around. And big props to Ryan for his fantastic show, and the tickets along with it. And congrats to Summer for the last of her show's run that we miraculously made our way to. We saw the PS1's jaw-dropping exhibits, and I'm so glad that Sam (and Vanessa, too) convinced me that was the place to go. And Ryan and I crashed a private party in the back room of a bar for about 5 minutes - what a kick!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Trailing of the Sheep

On Sunday, we went to the Trailing of the Sheep parade in downtown Ketchum. This tradition stems from the longtime presence of the Basque sheep herders in this part of the country. At the end of the parade, hundreds of sheep are herded through town, on their way to winter grazing lands.

Bagpipers - or Sheep-pipers?

These horses were huge in real life.

The streets became packed with sheep.

"Mom! Look!!"

What a great day for a stroll through town in this beautiful slice of the world.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Look Inside







First Thoughts

Some initial thoughts immediately following my Vipassana meditation course:
  • The Beach Boys might have been on to something.
  • Craving. Aversion. Ignorance.
  • Awareness - and equanimity.
I really have so much left to ponder and process about this. But that's all for now.

Oh, and peace, love and happiness to everyone.