Friday, July 03, 2009
Finishing up my thoughts on traveling and nomadic life (which I began in June's Part 1 post)...
I first heard the phrase after I'd returned from my time in India and was settling into the Bay Area. The local paper used the AA term "pulling a geographic" to describe people who wanted to relocate in an effort to fix/reboot their lives. For decades, the prime destination for Americans pulling a geographic was the San Francisco region. Since globe-trotting often fails to alter deep life issues, this resulted in the abundance of therapists, spiritual groups, etc, hereabouts.
At the time, there was speculation that Seattle was taking over as the place to P a G. Who knows. I do seem to encounter an unusual number of nomadic people where I live. Maybe it's that California has so many folks who grew up in the East, and traveled in an effort to get as far away from their home towns as possible (without having to swim or get a passport).
Maybe I just get attracted to such people because I find the adventurous spirit interesting. Maybe it's that people attracted to new places and experiences are more likely to show up at the Zen Center I frequent.
In Korea, some Zen monks are called "floating clouds," since they're always wandering. Others are called "blue mountains," since they stay in one place. Maybe some of us get attached to familiar surroundings, and can work on this by travelling. Others may be attached to avoiding the challenges and commitments of long-term connections, and face that by being stationary. The outside situation is a tool to work with, but the bottom line isn't coming or going. It's how I keep my mind this moment.
Years ago, a friend told me that his "ace in the hole" for dealing with difficult relationships was to move to a new town. He's not around here any more... but he did end up getting married and having kids. The "floating cloud" mind does seem to be more prevalent in youth. Maybe there's something genetic about our urge to spread ourselves around the planet when we're young, and that tendency wanes as we pass prime procreation age.
Me, I'm approaching two decades living in the same apartment, and it's not just because of biology or rent control. Lots of my youthful travels -- certainly to India -- were driven by the sense that there might be some special Experience, some higher Truth, to be found out there. The more I appreciate the Truth that's always right in front of me, the more I honor the job of relating to whatever being/situation has appeared just now... the less I feel a desire to be elsewhere.