Adventure, New Orleans, Travel

What More Can the Soul Surrender?

Photo by Dirk Dallas

Rogue Château stands empty.

In one room, a simple bed; nothing more.

In another, a place to sit, a guest bed, a shrine.

The kitchen has its plates, the bathroom its towels. An uneven compromise between simplicity and discomfort.

I’d enjoy a few more things. A table in the kitchen, an armchair, end tables and side tables, a little décor. But the project of appointing and furnishing a home looms like a September storm cloud. I do not want this.

If you gave up everything to cross the world maybe you’d feel differently. I don’t hate well-appointed homes. I bless them, glad that people nest and create cozy, adorable, settled and stable homes. They’re often my refuge.

I just don’t want to run one.

My Things

I gave away my things—became “minimalist”—to make travel easier. It had no spiritual meaning. The more I gave away or sold off (furniture, clothes, electronics, books, old notes) the happier I felt. When I moved into a monastery it was just to save on rent for a summer. But that decision nourished me.

Since July, I’ve lived with radically less. It’s hard to edge back. Buying more “stuff” hits me like a cannonblast.

In India, renunciation is spiritual. Ascetics take vows and give up comforts. There’s a term for reversing that and starting to indulge again. It translates: “eating your own vomit.”


I always thought that was needlessly harsh, a way of shaming vow-breakers. But to someone who has done without, who feels light and free and clear-minded, the stomach twitches.

I don’t want to go back.

I do like comfort. Perhaps I should have rented a furnished corporate condo. This lesson I’ve learned: in all my further travels I need a furnished place to stay. For a six-month sabbatical, home goods shopping is just a distraction.

The gods laugh, I guess, not like hyenas but like an older brother. Here I am, a priest of sensual faith, a priest of this world with its dust and dew and lipstick-red apples. Here is my gospel: running in the sun, sex on a soft couch, the smell of incense on a rainy day.

I don’t promote asceticism, yet I have found some of its beauty.

What else will I give up on this journey?



How to Sleep Sitting Up

This spring I wrote about how my sister, Zangmo, sleeps sitting up every night—and how I was learning to do the same.

Many of you wanted to know how to do this, and how to make it comfortable. I’ve written a guide which is now available over on The Minimalists.

Where upright sleeping really shines is on a bus or in a friend’s living room. Once you become proficient you can sleep truly anywhere, never worrying about what the mattress will be like. Bad hotel beds, air mattresses, futons—these will be things of the past.

For the step-by-step photo essay, see How to Sleep Sitting Up.

L Days cover_front only_half size

My book Lúnasa Days is available on Kindle and in paperback. Get your copy here.