Adventure, Spotlight

Fin?

Used with permission from East.

This is an excerpt from a statement by East.

I’m done with therapy. For now, anyway. Possibly forever.

I’m done waiting, and I’m done letting myself get pushed around.

I’m done immediately judging people negatively.

I’m done feeling sorry for myself.

A new era is beginning, as established in yesterday’s post. I’m going to be good to everyone, including myself. I have goals. Not just dreams that drift about my mind in an offhand way. I actually intend to achieve them. Let me tell you about some of them.

East is a 17 year old crossing the ocean from high schooler to independent adult. Read the rest of her statement here. Maybe offer her some advice or help. Or maybe just listen.

She is one bright adventurer, and she knows how to fight with swords.

In the last year you have helped me launch an adventure, complete a novella (currently in editing) and fund a community atelier of magic. You are the best readers in the world. Thank you. 

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Adventure, Favorites, Heroism, Personal Development, The Great Adventure, The Heroic Life, Travel

Purpose: Find the Heroic Life

As June 21 draws near I confront my motivations for the journey ahead. This is the final installment of a three part series on why I’m going on the Adventure. Find Part I here and Part II here.

A Heroic Faith

What is there to say?

In my heart, I believe we can do great things.

I’ve created a practicum which, if followed, is supposed to race you toward that end:

Taking action, living for high ideals, charging fearlessly into new and grand plans, building a name around your art or skill, and using your life to change the way the world works.

The whole thing must be tested. I mean “tested” to see if it works; I also mean it the way a baby tests his legs. I will never understand the vehicle I’ve made unless I enter into it and live it for myself.

Neither will anyone else, unless they do too.

Why This Journey

The Heroic Life is a philosophy of action. It is not believed but done, not theory but experience. Its central practice is action: leave and go on a journey.

Many readers will look at my story, take a little piece of the philosophy, and fit it into their lives. I approve of that. I hope it helps your life, even if your life is not one of travel.

But for the heroic to be more than fiction, there must be people who believe in it so deeply, so humanly, that they live it. It is those people I wish to walk beside.

And if I don’t walk it myself, suggesting it is unconscionable.

The Value

If small knots of people join together to live this way, the world will be greater. A fellowship of heroes-to-be: let us leave home, walk where we will, learn what we can, and offer cheerful aid to troubled people.

If this one idea can catch on, the sky will look a little different.

When just a few people give everything to uplift others and carry no agenda, hope travels with them. Then more people take heroic action.

The next two, three, five years will teach me how to make this machine work. If there is a philosophy that can create and unite this kind of fellowship, I will discover it. And when I know how it works, then the real project of the Great Adventure will be complete: then I’ll have used travel to find my purpose, and be ready to help others do the same.

Wish me luck, Rogues, and if you want to lend your support, help a traveler sometime.

What’s the best way to learn about the heroic life as I travel? Do you have suggestions?

If you enjoy reading Rogue Priest, believe in my journey, or just love seeing a spirited adventurer on the road, please consider making a donation to the cause. Your gift will help fund professional-quality equipment for the Great Adventure. It’ll keep me safe and help every step of the way.

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Favorites, Religion, The Great Adventure

Purpose: Meet the Gods

Arise, awake, and learn by approaching the exalted ones,
for that path is sharp as a razor’s edge, impassable,
and hard to go by, say the wise.

Katha Upanishad 1.3.14

As June 21 draws near I confront my motivations for the journey ahead. This is Part II of a three part series on why I’m going on the Adventure. See Part I here.

Why the Gods?

Here’s the world I live in. We are on our own; we make our own Fate; the world is good or bad as we create it.

But it’s a haunted world.

Around us are the sources of wonder. Things so grand and vast that we remember how small we are. We remember that the quest for dominion is a doomed sortie, a fight against a superior force, Eternity. In quiet moments we reflect on this, and voices whisper to us the greatness of the living universe where we struggle.

Myth tells us these voices are the sound of the gods.

The gods did not make this world, and not one of them rules it. They are its executors, its functionaries, more to the point its soul and its face.

I am not convinced that’s wrong.

Can awareness be transferred, recycled, disembodied, left in the rain? If so, it can dwell in world around us.

The Value

The language of religion is one of humanity’s best technologies.

Classical philosophers saw fit to retain and use the language of myth + religion. They encouraged people to treat it as metaphor. This is because the language of myth, even when explicitly stated to be nonliteral, speaks to the core of the human spirit. It’s exactly why I just used “spirit” and not “the core of the human mentality.”

Meeting the gods isn’t about proving whether they’re real, though the quest may give me some insight into that.

The reason I want to meet the gods is because they represent what’s highest and best in us. To pursue them necessarily spurs the pursuit of our own divine nature.

I want to meet them because they inspire.

And most of all, I want to meet the gods because that’s the stuff of myth, and wherever the journey takes me that’s how I want to live.

The Form

Is prayer the right way to do this? Possibly. But prayer seems a lot like talking to yourself in the dark.

The object of the Great Adventure is to meet them in person. Knock-on-Mount-Olympus-style meet them. Oh Zeus isn’t here? No worry, I’ll grab a seat meet them.

Impossible?

Whatever sounds impossible is fertile ground for adventure. I’m putting the ideal over the acceptable. When Gilgamesh set out to find a cure for death, he failed—but what he achieved is epic.

If there are gods to meet then the mere act of living mythically, of following the quest to its final end, is the way to attract their attention.

If there are gods to hear us, I wish to be heard.

More: I wish to listen.

If you enjoy reading Rogue Priest, believe in my journey, or just love seeing a spirited adventurer on the road, please consider making a donation to the cause. Your gift will help fund professional-quality equipment for the Great Adventure. It’ll keep me safe and help every step of the way.

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Fame, Personal Development, Philosophy, The Great Adventure, The Heroic Life

Purpose: To Inspire

As June 21 draws near I confront my motivations for the journey ahead. This is Part I of a three part series on why I’m going on the Adventure.

Fame & Inspiration

For a long time I denied that I wanted to pursue fame. Fame is not a goal usually associated with spirituality.  I was very open about it when I was a teenager. I was sure I’d go down in history. In retrospect this is a healthy motivation we should encourage in young people. To crumple that kind of drive is a crime.

But crumple we do.

We want people to be humble. To be spiritual or mature or social or likable, you are supposed to downplay your ambition and self-esteem. Put yourself down with a smile, we like you better that way.

Working to be respected as a priest, to found a temple and to excel at interfaith work, I learned to wear the mask of humility that’s expected of leaders.

Then I forgot it was a mask.

Meditating on an isolated sheep farm I confronted the barb in my heart. Why aren’t you doing what you’re meant to do?

I was afraid my lifelong dream was too selfish, would be too silly to ever voice. People don’t say, “I want to be famous.” Only kids say that. But I do want to be famous.

I can’t tell you, the gods, or anyone why I feel a drive for fame. It’s as natural to me as my love of the outdoors. To die famous is so essentially me it feels like Fate, except I don’t believe in fate. So let’s just say it’s who I am.

I choose to accept that. And more: I love it.

The Value

We are told to regard fame as: un-spiritual, egoistic, unrealistic, childish. It must be a selfish goal. Here’s an alternative perspective on fame. Fame can be an inspiration. As inspiration, fame has the power to improve the world. It becomes selfless.

There was a time when it was considered virtuous to seek immortality through fame, and fame through accomplishment. This is much better for society than meekness. When we challenge ourselves to attain the utmost, we create a culture of inspiring others to move forward.

The difference lies in the motivation. If you seek fame only for your own glory it’s selfish. I used to think this way when I was 14 or 15. Now I’m much more interested in seeing how I can use my life to help the people around me experience happiness.

Many people start a good path with selfish goals. If they’re sincere they will purify.

The Form

So how do I pursue fame and inspiration?

It would be fun to go down as the greatest magician of the 21st century. Or to become a famous writer—that’s a dream anyone can understand.

Those are parts of who I am, but there’s one thread that runs unwavering through it all.

Philosophy.

Philosophy is my love affair. It’s my formal training, a personal strength, and the one skill I’ve used in all my other pursuits as author, adventurer, priest, and artist. It is the project of how best to live a life.

My approach is tactile. I use my own daily life as a living drawing board for my ideas. It gives me advantages and hurdles compared to an academic, but it certainly delivers results.

And that’s the power of the Great Adventure. It’s the ultimate practice of experimental philosophy. A trip isn’t worthy of fame—walking really far is impressive but it’s just my personal project. But if that experience can be distilled into something to share with others, then the huge risk is worth it.

So the first purpose of the Great Adventure could be written as:

To inspire courage through the power of adventure.

To become a famous philosopher.

To raise spirits.

As I admit and embrace this purpose, what advice can you offer me? What should I learn and bear in mind as I pursue it?

If you enjoy reading Rogue Priest, believe in my journey, or just love seeing a spirited adventurer on the road, please consider making a donation to the cause. Your gift will help fund professional-quality equipment for the Great Adventure. It’ll keep me safe and help every step of the way.

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Personal Development

I Chose a Bad Strategy

Often I think about the years I spent doing work I didn’t love.

I learned a lot of great things and met amazing people. They weren’t bad years. In fact, they were pretty good. A big reason why they were good was because I felt I was doing everything for a purpose: someday I’ll have enough money to go on my adventure.

In theory, all of my work and effort was aimed at that goal.

But year after year passed and there was never more money, no fluent Spanish, or any freedom to travel. In fact, my years of work didn’t put me one step closer to my dream of walking to South America.

This is because of a glitch.

In the human mind there is an error of logic. Our belief is: the best way to achieve something is to plan for it. Because we believe this we are very valuable workers, voters, consumers and soldiers. After all, to plan for something you need time, income and stability. And lots of luxuries to keep you sane during the wait.

If our belief was true, most people would find that after 5-10 years of college and career they are able to back away from full time work and do the things they love.

Does that sound like the real world?

The belief is mistaken. The best way to achieve something is not to plan. It’s to jump in immediately.

(Immediate is relative. It could be today or a one year process. But there is no delay.)

This approach isn’t perfect. There are many problems you’ll face with this approach. But you’ll handle them better reactively. You’ll make better decisions about problems as they actually happen, than you would in a plan.

And you’ll actually make progress.

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Adventure, Travel

Traveling at 30

“Do it while you’re young” is the bad advice people always give me. I assumed they would stop saying this as I stopped being so young. While 30 is by no means old, it’s also not the epitome of youth. But people believe I must be a bright-eyed young wanderer to launch the Great Adventure.

So what is it like to adventure at 30?

Depurposelessness

I always had a strong sense of purpose. As a kid I had many ideas on what I wanted to do in life, and I was quick to form them into solid plans as I got older. This is unusual, and it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because everyone is impressed when a teenager has a really thorough plan. They flatter you and it feels good. You are rewarded for making plans.

But long-range plans always have an element of risk. More so if you made the plans when the two hemispheres of your brain weren’t done connecting yet. A 17 year old committing to a 10 year course of action (this school, this major, this career) is a crime against youth.

Plans have a way of blinding us. When you are sure you’re doing x you may never notice options y and θ. This is true at any age, but it’s particularly tragic when it limits someone in their formative years.

I became conscious of this during college. I decided to to drop my double major (business, philosophy) and just go with the one that moved my heart (philosophy). I took a risk and quit my part-time job as a project manager. I focused on my writing, launched my own field study, and sold spells and charms to make a living.

I tasted freedom, and I liked it.

It was then, at age 20, that I decided I was going to walk to South America. If I had, it may have been my first truly purposeless time in life. When people think of traveling they think of goalless wandering, and in many ways it would have been.

At 30, finally preparing to start my adventure, it is no longer purposeless. I spent my “drifting” time in the less exciting surrounds of Minneapolis, and I’m past that point. I know pretty well who I am; I know my ideals, and not to trust my beliefs. Would it have been more interesting to come of age on the road? Certainly. But there’s no doing it over. Drifting just to drift doesn’t hold the appeal it once held.

Mortality

I have become keenly aware of my fragility. I maintain a functional bravery, because bravery is the most effective mode of living. But it is also a measured bravery. I test rusty old ladders before I climb them. I don’t balance along railings and ledges just for fun. When I try something for the first time, I seek out training.

This is very new.

For some people, easing off the pointless risk might be gradual. For me, breaking my ankle was all it took. I endangered my entire adventuring career with 1.5 daredevil seconds. I could have lost everything I love; instead I lost two years.

It left a deep impression on me. If I traveled in my early 20s I would have taken a lot more risk. That may not have been a good thing.

Barbed Arrows

Recently I wrote about how maturity is pursuing your dreams. Passing up your dreams leads to regret and regret poisons everything else you do.

Well, for 8 years I passed up my dreams.

Regrets are like barbed arrows. They wound so easily but removing them is not so easy. I live with no regrets (as a matter of policy) in my current lifestyle, but I have regrets about the years I mis-spent. I try not to take these to heart; I don’t want them to spoil the fact that I’m now doing what I love. Perhaps my present lifestyle will be the antidote to my old regrets.

Is there something you wish you’d done earlier? Leave a comment and tell your story. Do you have regrets? Do they fade with time?

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Adventure Prep, Business, Travel

Goals for Mexico City

Just as I did when I went to Thailand, I have some goals here in Mexico. I’ll be here for about 10 weeks total, or 2.5 months. One week is already down, and time’s not slowing.

So what do I need to get done here? Well…

Goals for Mexico City, 2012

  • Learn Spanish. This is the most important. I want to be functionally fluent when I sail away March 10. Immersion is a key part of this strategy, which means I need to stop speaking in English with my generous host and his friends. This week I’ll ask for an hour a day of English embargos. Eventually it will be whole days. Aside from immersion, I’m working on online Spanish lessons and arranging a tutor.
  • Bolster & expand my SEO income. Through Location Rebel I learned to write SEO articles and make good money doing it. I’ve made enough since September to get by, but I would like a higher income so I can develop a nest egg & buy gear for my Adventure. I plan on writing a longer post about finances & income soon, but for now I’ll keep it simple: the plan is to build up a stronger portfolio of clients. Prospecting is in my future.
  • Start my own business. A blog is not a business. Separate from Rogue Priest I will be launching my own lifestyle business over January and February. The purpose of my business is to share one of the most influential and life-changing forces in my own life: magic. I have unique views on the practice of traditional magic and I want to share and explore those views with like-minded people, while hand-making scrolls to embody this ancient art.

There are many other things I want to accomplish while I’m here. I want to keep practicing my jujutsu so my Sensei can be proud. I want to lose 15 pounds. I want to see my graphic novel move forward. I want to write more fiction. I want to redecorate Rogue Priest.

I could go on all day.

I’m a dreamer with endless ideas. Like many dreamers, I sometimes need to shut my idea-hole and get to work. Accomplishing one or two big things has lasting value; imagining fifty is just cheap therapy.

So, I’ve chosen these three things to focus on for January, February and half of March. If I can accomplish this much I’ll feel good about the time I spent here. I’ll know that I’m working hard even with no boss to push me, and that I’m being responsible toward making a living and contributing something to the world. And that’s a big deal.

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