FULL FRONTAL LOBE

An uncontrollable pressure relief valve for the questionably sane.

This Mortal Spaceship

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I used to dream of piloting  a spaceship.  I still do.  Wait, that’s not entirely correct–I’ve often dreamed of captaining a spaceship.  The pilot is just a driver, I want to be in charge.  I used to think it was only a childish dream,  but I realized I already own one.  I have a vessel, christened with a name, that carries me around this universe as well as its able.  And I don’t really own it either,  I didn’t even have to sign a lease, it was a gift.  It doesn’t move as quickly as a spaceship does, but it’s locomotive just the same.   The best part is I don’t have to learn many new controls, I have the operations manual pretty well memorized, although there is still room for improvisation and new tricks.  It’s preferred fuel is spicy chicken burritos with extra guacamole, which can sometimes be hard to find, but it can burn pretty much anything just like my trusty MSR Whisperlite International backpacking stove.  In a way I’ve always had what I always wanted.

Our thinking surrounding travel and exploration hasn’t changed much since we first settled The Crescent, (by “Our” I mean us dirty humans).  We’ve continually branched out in multiple directions, spiraling from our homelands, settling again and creating a new epicenters  for a new set of spirals and settlements.  It’s an instinctual drive that keeps me on the search for new vessels.  If I never get one I’ll be fine with the limitations of this model, but the drive to explore more, to see further and discover something yet unseen, keeps me in the market for bigger, faster, more impressive models.  And I don’t particularly understand the drive.  I don’t see why I shouldn’t have a drive to “nest” or be satisfied with a little inertia.  Alas nature has decreed otherwise.  I am a human, and until I become something different entirely, I will always have the drive to explore just as I have a drive to eat.   But it’s not exactly like feeding oneself with food, is it?  The drive to explore has come in pretty handy, but it is not necessary.  In terms of tangible existence, I could eat, stay put, and survive until death.  Exploration doesn’t sustain me physically.  Not to say living in a hole and feeding myself until death is a viable option, but theoretically it’s possible.  A life without exploration of one’s surroundings and beyond won’t lead to death.  Not eating will kill you.  So, in this modern life how do we discern the difference between “drive” and “indulgence?”

And why the hell am I worrying about indulging myself?  Who cares?  I am not a selfish man.  And I can’t help but compare myself to the quaking masses of over-indulgers surrounding me; they’re quaffing from the font of life with wild abandon and I’m just trying to find a comfortable space.

I am thirty-three and still wondering what to do with my life.  And I suppose I always will.  I believe everyone else feels the same way, some catch a wave, others eternally wait for the perfect set…which never comes.  I would rather catch a million less-than-perfect waves and have spent my life surfing, than to wait a lifetime in order to catch one perfect wave.  Or is it a zero-sum equation?  Does catching the perfect wave soften the pain of waiting all that time?  I personally find all the waiting painful, but I know it doesn’t have to be.   I don’t think there is such thing as a perfect wave.  That would be like waiting your whole life to meet a perfect person.  Much better to ride every wave you can while you’ve got time, rather than watch them peel by as you sit and spectate.  Maybe this is why I’ve never gotten much into televised sports.  Not that I’m constantly out playing sports myself, but when I’m watching a game on TV I feel a little bit like I do when I’m on a beach watching the waves break and peel back into the surf, wanting to rush into them and make something happen.

I can’t stop obsessing about the rat race, which is why I’m given to surfing analogies.  To me surfing represents personal freedom and unity with the power of the universe.  Bank accounts and advanced degrees become meaningless while riding a wave.  I’m losing my desire for material things.   I still have desires, but my desires center a bit more around experience these days than actual physical “wants.”  I don’t want a Ferrari like I used to.  I’d still love to drive a Ferrari, but I don’t covet luxury goods the way I did much earlier in my life.  I’m more interested in moments of peace, experience, quiet contentment, sunshine, time with loved ones, all that sap.  It’s mostly because I’m tired.  I don’t think I have the energy to truly enjoy a Ferrari  anymore.  Not that I can’t get the energy back, but I feel like I need a space very different from the one I currently occupy, inner space and perspective notwithstanding.   I would prefer a life lived outside, with a cozy little space, no mortgage or car payment, no utility bills or credit cards.  Just dirt, sun, fresh air, and time to enjoy all three.  A natural life is hard to come by in the suburbs, no matter how often you cut the grass.

Eckhart Tolle labels a person like me a contemplative (many Hyperchristians consider Tolle a heretic and usurper of Christian dogma, but he’s alright by me).  He said there are a good handful of these types in the world, often they seek out alternative living situations or start small businesses in order to afford themselves a degree of independence from the stresses of our modern world.  I am definitely one of these people, but I’ve found myself living a life that feels incongruous with my spirit.  And I still don’t know how to match them up.  I don’t want to be wistful, or worse, corny, but I can’t escape the feelings and the only way to figure it out is to get it written down.

My current spaceship has a few years and many miles on it now–with a little maintenance it should be good for countless voyages.  I just have to make sure the captain stays sane.

Written by billlobe

August 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm

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