Catching the existential angst fever. My awareness of not feeling fully connected was growing stronger and stronger. Looking down the road and seeing hundreds of different paths, and within those paths hundreds more. Endless options and feeling that only one of these can be the best one. Frivolously changing hobbies, locations, future plans in search of that deeper connection; that feeling of wholeness. I have learned that changing my external circumstances would never truly bring me to good terms with this “angst”. Only in finding interest and humor in learning how my mind interacts with the outside world will I feel comfort and enjoyment in the way life unravels before me. But to know conceptually and to feel and act on that knowledge are very different. To live the words “existence precedes essence” is what I am looking for.
From the conversations I have had with friends, coworkers, family, and in passing interactions, I have found that I am not alone in this feeling. This feeling first received a label when I read Soren Kierkegaard and Jean Paul Sartre in my Existentialism class my Junior year of College. The feeling described so simply by Kierkegaard was very striking for me: “the dizziness of freedom”.
I decided to ambitiously head towards this internal understanding. and so this Friday, the 8th of April 2016, I will be traveling to South East Asia for a new journey beginning in Bangkok, Thailand.
I chose South East Asia for its deep roots in Buddhism, a culture of being aware of ones mental patterns. Every Thai male goes into the monastic life at the age of 20. They stay for at least a few months but most stay for a year or more. Here they learn the fundamentals of Buddhist thought and lay the ground work for learning how their mind works through the meditation practices.
Could I have found what I was looking for where I currently am? Perhaps. But staying in the same location, without the proper mental footing, enables the SAME patters to strike repetitively. Deepening the foot paths of the mind in those directions. Making it easier and easier to choose the path that you perhaps know is not the healthier or happier one.
So, for me, it was time to change environments and start fresh in order to get more deeply rooted. Traveling in an unknown land where you are far from anyone that you know or anything that you know brings out a sort of curious fear. Also in traveling there is the ability to feel timeless because you are not really tethered to anything. So in feeling timeless and being alone I can really discover how my mind works or who I am.
Fun Fact: I have been moving around (starting fresh) since I was young, sometimes unwillingly. I moved from Miami to Maryland at 10-within Maryland at 14-went away to college at 17-flew to Berkeley, CA at 21-then shipped off to Boston, MA at 22. Now to South East Asia.
It was very surprising and humbling the support I received from all angles. Both emotionally and tangibly.
-My coworkers at WGBH were so on board for me heading in this direction. Their excitement, understanding and genuine happiness made the transition from my work life, to ‘planning the trip’ phase, very smooth.
-My friends, encouraging and light hearted, helped me continue moving forward through my minds shameless doubts.
-My brothers, mother, stepdad, father, sister, my beautiful family. Each one helped me in their own way, such powerful moments of support. Thank you all.
-My love, my boo. Yes, I have a lady in my life who is not going on the trip although she might meet me here… who knows 😉 Her emotional stability, reassurance of our relationship, and selflessness has surgically removed the most challenging part, for me, of picking up and leaving on a new voyage. Cyn is also an expert trip packer!
It was so touching to see all the people I cared about be so supportive and interested.
Rough Sketch of the trip:
Land in Bangkok stay for a short time and explore, make my way up towards Ayuthaya small town north of Bangkok surrounded by rivers, Head north to a National Park and be there for some time, a bit more north to Chiang Mai to explore then go into a silent meditation retreat at Wat Ram Poeng, I also have some feelers out with WorkAway hosts near Chiang Mai. Then I fly to Malaysia on May 7th. Luckily Americans receive a 30 day visa to many of the countries in South East Asia. I will be leaving on May 7th to stay within the 30 days allowed.
I don’t know how much of this will happen. Its just my first draft 🙂 Enough structure for me to feel safe, enough space for me to feel that I can move freely.
I will be working in exchange for accommodation and food where possible through a program called WorkAway (my profile-www.workaway.info)
What I will take on my trip: