|The path at Tassajara. That's my cabin on the right.|
Actually, one of those years doesn't count, since I spent it in the non-technological monastic wilderness of Tassajara.
During the summer, I spent a lot of time telling people how, when, and where to chop vegetables, each day bookmarked by a good long sit in the zendo doing some wall-staring.
I also went on a lot of hikes, which you would do too if you were surrounded by all that beauty.
During the winter, I sat and stared at that wall for hours and hours (and HOURS) on end.
When all was said and done, I very decidedly decided that there IS such a thing as too much introspection. Time to go...
Anyway, I've been back in Austin for the past year, settling back into a new/old life. It has been beautiful and challenging and, as always, I've come back with a renewed appreciation for home.
Over the Christmas break this year, I was inspired to resume this blog...I went to visit my mom in Guatemala, where I was at ground zero for the
Mayan Apocalypse. Good stuff, man. I want to tell you all about it - volcanos erupting! crystal spaceships emerging! other stuff too!
But more on that later.
Right now, I'd like to say goodbye to my friend Big Al.
Yesterday morning, Al committed suicide. I can't say that this came as a huge surprise (not that that makes it suck any less). He had been struggling with his demons for quite a while. He didn't hide from them or from us. He couldn't.
Soon after my return from California last year, he asked me to meet him at Flipnotics. He wanted to talk about my experience at the monastery, about his own search for peace. He knew I could relate.
We sat and talked for a long time. Although I shared my own history, I didn't push him to share his mental and emotional struggles. I figured that maybe he just needed a break.
I saw him often during the past year - at dance, Maria's, community gatherings. We were friendly, but never spoke again in such an intimate way, and that's ok.
I think we all feel the urge to do that shoulda-woulda-coulda trip when someone chooses to take their own life. Yes, suicide is a selfish act. It leaves the rest of us in the lurch, going "What the fuck just happened? What could I have done differently?"
But I believe it can also be an act of ultimate self-compassion to end the suffering when the pain becomes too great to bear.
I get it.
I truly hope you're in a better place now.
You are dearly loved, and your absence is deeply felt by all who had the privilege of knowing you.
Rest in Peace, Big Al!