Florida Conclusions

This is a series of posts following my two years on the road…although most of that time was not spent on the road at all.

December 2011

I lived in Florida for about four months. I went for physical fitness training that never happened and just stayed for the adventure. Although I drove down with the RV, I ended up renting two different homes instead.

Orlando, like most of my trips, was a mixed bag. On one hand, I made some new friends, joined a meditation family, and grew as a person. On the other hand, I got robbed and had a number of lonely, frustrated nights.

I meet a lot of people in Orlando in the strangest of places. Once, I got invited to a pool BBQ party while I was trying to buy a Craigslist blender. My closest friends were the most unexpected mix including a tattoo artist, unemployed guitar player, and self-proclaimed nightlife mayor. For an intellectual, Asian nerd with a Masters in Philosophy, this was a new experience. Despite our differing views, I really did like them all and received some of the greatest kindness and generosity of my entire life.

Also, I was regularly attending sittings with the local Vipassana and Kwam Um Zen schools. I chanted, I meditated, I bowed, and ate with them. I told them I would be going soon and was very thankful to feel like I was part of a family in the short four months I was there. My meditation is a defining and important part of my life, and it feels so nice to meet another that shares that quality.

Of course, it wasn’t always great. I had some horrible living situations. My original plans for fitness training were immediately cancelled. I got robbed which shattered my sense of safety. There were some really lonely days wandering the town by myself. Nothing makes you feel lonely like eating at a restaurant by yourself. There were a lot of nights talking to people and just going nowhere. It took a month before I ever talked to anyone at the meditation places.

Nevertheless, I grew and learned a lot. I went there without knowing a soul. I forced myself out of my comfort zone such as teaching myself how to ride a bike, doing couchsurfing for the first time, and just saying yes to life. After Florida, I believed I could survive anywhere. Although I was sad to leave, the robbery had shaken me up too much, and I didn’t feel like finding another random home to stay. I wanted to go home and focus on work again.

On the way back home, I made a few stops. I spent a day in the Gainesville Zen Center. I would meditate with the Tallahassee Zen group and sleep in my RV by the train tracks. The manager the next morning kindly inquired about my status before I promptly left. I spent a week in Birmingham spending Thanksgiving with an old friend in a sports bar. Finally, I stayed with another family in Atlanta before doing the long journey back home for Christmas.

Despite all the ups and downs, I felt a great deal of peace and equanimity after Orlando. I kept in mind a Zen teacher’s words, “I don’t know, and that’s okay.” Likewise, I had a new perspective that it is ignorant and arrogant to speak negatively about Life as if I were the Master and Life, the Servant. I am just the wave, Life is the Ocean. No matter what happened, there I was. Still alive. Still capable of laughing and connecting.

However, I would decide afterwards that I was done with random Craigslist roommates. I would only stay with friends or by myself from then on. In the next year 2012, I spent a few months in Delaware puzzling over my future fate. Eventually in the Spring, I visited Korea for my brother’s wedding, moved to Boston for a while, and then got back in the RV in earnest to travel west for the Pacific.

Winter 2013 Update : Lack of Writing

I can’t believe I’ve been living in Boston for three months now. It certainly doesn’t feel that long.

One reason is because I have a lot of old friends in Boston which has lead to less novel experiences. When I was living in Florida or on the road, I felt compelled to always be doing something since I didn’t know anyone.

Don’t get me wrong, it is very nice to have close friends nearby. But, there is always this dynamic of growth vs comfort.

So, I haven’t been writing much lately. The RV Odyssey already feels so long ago. The TV show, The Office, has a joke that Andy comes back from a sailboat adventure, and he wants to tell everyone all the insights he had on his trip but already forgot them. I feel the same way except I just don’t feel as inspired anymore.

Nevertheless, I plan on continuing my writings soon and at least finish the RV saga. Only got eight months of story to get through, and half of it is uneventful living at home. I’ve got a lot of material already written, just need to polish and finish it.

Like any blogger, I’m always wondering how much to reveal about myself? My public writing versus my private journal. I think my heartfelt writings where I wrote without any filter resonate more, but there’s always that nagging future worry of the wrong person reading it.

Actually, the real issue is wanting to project a positive life image. When in fact, most of life is rather mundane, challenging, or painful. And it’s hard to write about that kind of life in an engaging way without being boring or coming off as a victim. Most people want to read about successful stories, want to idealize someone as a role model they can identify with and follow. I know I’ve done it before. Hell, everyone does. To a certain extent, I think it’s necessary and healthy. But why can’t we have heroes who also have flaws, who are also human?

I’ve spent years trying to master my diet, exercise, productivity, doing side businesses, living in a RV, and so on. I’ve covered a lot of ground which I’m happy about, but I often judge myself harshly for not meeting my original goals.

So, going forward, I want to finish my writing of the RV sage of 2012 as well as cover a lot of my past successful and less successful mastery attempts like internet businesses or exercising.