“Underneath our ordinary lives, underneath all the talking we do, all the moving we do, all the thoughts in our minds, there’s a fundamental groundlessness.” ~ Pema Chödrön
It’s 3 p.m., and I’m sitting in bed in a guesthouse in Pokhara waiting for the rain to commence, therefore justifying yet another lazy afternoon concealed under the guise of “traveling in Nepal.”
I’ve been living here, at the Palm Garden Lodge, for the past 15 days, complaining in my head (and now, officially, in writing) about the relentless noise from my inconsiderate neighbors and their mobile devices; attempting to hear past the construction that unceasingly follows me around the globe, somehow unimpeded by journeys into remote villages or up into forests; and wondering why I’m on this planet.
Like most of us, I’m not entirely sure.
However, I am certain that my precious human life’s purpose is not to selfishly dabble in the realms of alternate ways of living and spirituality; nor is it to read, meditate, eat, and walk my days away in frivolously selected developing countries, occasionally contemplating the infinite possibilities of ways to potentially give back to society.
This is all fine to do for awhile. In fact, I’d argue that it’s important for each of us to devote some time in life to doing what we commonly consider to be “nothing.” We could all use a good “breakdown, rebel, quit, move, plunge into the unknown, wander, scream and cry and call our loved ones in temporary fits of regret and panic, only to realize that life goes on and that we’re always okay” from time to time.
But then we need to commit to something.
I say this as a total hypocrite, but really, as humans, we do.
The good news is that this something can be anything.
About five years ago, I wrote a piece on the plight of the long-term wanderer. I wrote about parasites and loneliness; about constantly not knowing where to find shelter, food, and work; about lack of security; and about how it’s all worth it to search for a way of living that makes more sense than the where-I’m-from dream.
What I initially loved about this lifestyle was finding the confidence to create a “home” anywhere in the world and, through this process, identifying and solidifying my internal sense of home as well. We all do this in one way or another—construct an idea of who we are in our bodies, in our minds, and in society. However, the more places I move through and the older I get, the more I crave the consistent support of a community and of a physical home that isn’t my body or my backpack.
Indeed, I’ve started to feel homeless—and for good reason. Wherever I go on this planet, I am actually homeless.
But here’s the thing: so are you.
This human desire for stability, home, comfort, and purpose is intrinsic, but these words are merely abstractions that don’t exist. This is because everything that surrounds us and everything within us is constantly changing. Every situation we encounter is temporary. Nothing is solid. There’s no such thing as permanent. We constantly create conceptualized safety throughout our lives with our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Then, when our façade of safety inevitably fails (when we become homeless), we start again, re-evaluating and re-creating.
And this is good! (Again, remember, we’re always okay!)
Feeling homeless, uncomfortable, or uncertain about our own path is not an excuse for worry, for inactivity, for being wishy-washy, or for not taking life into our own hands. It’s the opposite; it’s motivation for adaption, evolution, and growth. By embracing homelessness instead of home and groundlessness over conceived notions of who and what we are in the world, we’re able to free ourselves from self-imposed restrictions, flow into the unknown, and do what we’re here to do: to be ourselves and live our own truths.
Truth is plural because there are as many truths as there are beings on this planet. I have mine, you have yours, they have theirs, and perhaps, hopefully, ultimately, they are the same. We are here, on this spinning sphere of life in the sky, to be what our one-of-a-kind hearts and guts guide us toward and to resolve to doing whatever we do in the best way that we possibly can.
When we are true to our own values, we create beauty throughout our lives—original thought, art, and social and environmental changes—but we can’t do this unless we cease to be hypothetical problem factories and work through the uncomfortable moments. When we commit to what we’re doing over and over again, we create infinite purposes, regardless of the details.
This is how we give back to society.
It’s 5:45 p.m., and the rain (And some hail! What a perfect day to waste in bed!) has come and passed. It’s time to go for a walk, watch the sun set, send some smiles to Nepali children, and contemplate whether these thoughts could benefit someone, somewhere, in some way.
I sure hope so.
What do you have to share with the world? What are you waiting for?