Today, I’m 30 years old.
Age, of course, is just a sociocultural invention. Yet, it conditionally has meaning, value, and purpose.
In this case, it’s offering me an opportunity to reflect over my thirty years and my next thirty.
These days, it feels like thirty is a milestone. Thirty is when adult life is suppose to really kick in. I feel like I’m suppose to write about how I feel inadequate. I’m suppose to be making great strides in my life career, in starting a family, and have everything figured out. Instead I’m a monastic learning to deepen and integrate awakening, leadership, and service within this world and myself. I am losing money every month. I have no romantic relationships. Rather than figuring things out, I’m learning to let go of needing to always know, control, and be comfortable.
Those stories of what I’m suppose to be no longer seem to bother me anymore. I’ve stopped daydreaming about a perfect future when things are right. I used to go to sleep most nights imagining a better future. These days, I just go to sleep.
I will cover monastic life in depth in future posts. I do want to say I don’t regret quitting my job and moving here 15 months ago. When I was in Boston, I had incredible freedom and flexibility to work remotely from anywhere. I was making pretty good money. I had great friends nearby. But, I was also deeply unfulfilled. I was surviving well but not flourishing. I wanted to deepen my meditation practice. I wanted to work in service to others. I saw numerous obstacles in my relationship with others and myself. Feelings of doubt, inadequacy, abandonment, and distrust.
Coming to the Monastic Academy was one of the best life decisions I ever made. Unequivocal.
The truth is I have no idea how long I’ll stay here. In my mind, I tell myself I’ll wait until at least my two year anniversary. But, who knows. And who knows how long this place will exist? Who knows whether I’ll be forced to leave. I don’t know. Last month, I thought a family emergency would bring me back home, but it ended up not being so urgent. I am surrendering more and more to allowing life lead me wherever I belong. Whether that means becoming an abbot of my own monastic academy one day, returning home to my parents to take care of them, or leaving to start my own project and community.
I’m tired and done with comparing myself to others. To some idea of what I’m suppose to be.
If one thing is clear being here and turning thirty, it’s that life is precious. The opportunity I have to train here is exquisite and rare.
Within the surrender, I do have aims and goals.
I’m focusing in deepening my meditation concentration with the aim of at least 1st jhana. My past four retreats have been very significant. I can finally stop focusing so much on the psychological and relational thoughts and actually just pay attention to phenomenon arising and passing more and more. My daydreams and self-talk are becoming more aligned with the idea of actually being an awakened teacher & leader to whatever extent that happens.
I’m also doubling down on the practice of circling. I did the six month Circling Europe SAS this year, been leading circling nights at the monastery, and looking forward to cultivating a community in Burlington. A few days ago, I invested in joining Circle Anywhere, the online platform for circling. I’m also participating in a weekend intensive down in Austin this month.
I aim to become a much better writer.
For the organization, I’m leading efforts to improve our marketing, sales, and outreach. How can we tell our story well? How can we share our insights and experiences in a way that connects with people and inspires them that this type of integrated, honest, and good life is possible?
I aim to gain more mastery in my leadership from a place of compassion and power.
I aim to start building the foundation now for whatever I end up doing these next thirty years. I’m sure my future will involve community, teaching, coaching, meditation, circling, and technology.
I spent my first thirty years living in so much fear, doubt, worry, and financial insecurity. My teens were isolated as a computer nerd. My twenties were spent bouncing across the country and careers. I have been returning to trusting myself, to moving into complete surrender. To surrender into trust, openness, and love while also maintaining the piercing insight of grounded realism and powerful, effectual leadership.
It’s clear the deeper I go, the more this world is indeed full of suffering beings calling for help in numerous ways. Needlessly suffering. I aspire to more fully answer the call.