Rampage of Love

Early yesterday morning, as I was deciding whether to get out of bed, the word \”love\” popped into my mind. Maybe that word alone was why I got out of bed. In my writing practice, I decided to write on this word and see what came out.

At this time in my life, I am in a dopamine desert. I am not playing the dopamine reward game with anyone; most particularly a work environment. If you have not read so much on neuroscience, maybe you don\’t know that every human brain loves dopamine. We feel good when we have dopamine. Most of us unconsciously go from situation to situation attempting to trigger a dopamine hit. We try to get other people to approve of us, thus triggering the dopamine; or we find an addiction which triggers the dopamine.

The game is to get another person or situation to somehow make you feel good for a little while, like through praise or recognition, approval, reward, honor, etc.

I should mention that the first Christian monks went to the desert to practice contemplation. My dopamine desert is an analogy with those early desert monks. Stop for a moment and imagine yourself in a very silent desert cave, gazing at a star filled sky, and feeling the divine presence. That is how I want to experience my desert.

I came to my dopamine desert. I brought with me a dream. A dream of creating and giving. That is, I would take my monastic education and spiritual studies, write and publish for others. It is a dream of connection without distraction with all that is; and receiving vibrations which I would turn into words and give to others. I would turn vibrations into thoughts and then words, thus making the creative dream a reality.

To have my dream and to live in the dopamine desert, I must believe in myself and in cosmic reality, the forever partnership of us. I have a monastic education, that is, I lived in monastic formation for 3 years. Life as a monk gave me tools for consciously enabling the divine partnership. I also have sources for ongoing spiritual education.

Most of all, I have my own soul. Every soul speaks towards their human in quiet whispers. Every human can tune themselves to their soul.

Everything I do before I die will be to enhance and enjoy the relationship with my soul and the miracle of my human life. There is an unconditional love which doesn\’t depend on the world\’s dopamine rewards and which embraces the human spirit.

Everyone has a path and access to the soul. How conscious are we? I approach the monk\’s life of direct focus on the divine presence more than once in my nearly 6 decades of life.

This little journal post was started with the word love and you can see where it lead me. Implicitly, to know the divine presence is to love unconditionally.

Retirement – week 2

The first week of my retirement I spent around the Houston area; packing up my house, running in the rain, trying to avoid mosquitoes. And the moving tuck came.

The second week I spent driving to Kansas City, setting up my new house, running in various parks, beginning tax school, working on my writing project.

Yesterday, the moving truck came. Now all my belongings are here; still mostly in boxes. But the washer and dryer are hooked up and work. I got the printer onto the new network and it works.

Even though I got rid of alot of stuff before I moved, I see that I moved alot of stuff I don\’t really know what to do with and haven\’t bothered with for several years. Aggghhh!

What is really important is better thoughts, better feelings. When I woke up this morning, my first thought was, \”I believe in myself.\” Wow! What a great thought! When I had a job, I woke up depressed and hateful and hopeless for having to go to work. Last night, I realized that my writing project will take years to complete. I\’ve been pushing it forward everyday, like I worked on it for 3 hours today; but it takes awhile to produce a great work.

I still need to learn to enjoy my existence for its own sake. I feel better than ever about myself; but I suspect that some rocks still need to be dropped.

Today I ran 6 miles in English Landing park. Here is a picture from flicker.

Running here is very easy on my legs and I have good success. I\’ve been feeling very good despite a lot of miles; so I signed up for a 24 hour race at the end of October.

Hills

I love hills. I so missed them when I was living in Houston. Houston is pancake flat. Today I went to feed my addiction in Weston Bend State park.

Yesterday I was able to do my first 20 mile run since the middle of July. I did it in English Landing park, which is flat gravel along the Missouri River. It seemed really easy and I was happy to do it. Today, there were no repercussions from the 20 miles, so I had no problems doing 12 miles in Weston Bend.

I signed up for a 24 hour race at the end of October. I\’m happy about being in such shape as I can do such things.

A Moment in Between

Yesterday I spent my time with movers, packing up my house in Texas. Then I drove to Oklahoma and spent the night. Today, I will continue driving to my new home in Missouri.

Some of my thoughts yesterday reflected around how momentous this thing I am doing is. Sure, everybody retires some time. I took my time earlier than most based on a desire to grow. Seriously, I had to move on. Where I worked was \”not that bad,\” in fact pretty good. The condition of the work place alone does not justify quitting.

Finances provided an escape route, something like a catalyst.

But the real crux of the matter is the interior of my heart and soul. There were positive desperate needs and negative desperate needs. Ultimately it came down to a dream, a plan, an idea.

I just started reading a book written by a doctor about addiction, its neuro-science and its childhood development. I have to admit that a few screws were maladjusted in my childhood. This makes for a life outside the norm. And now I can see that I am embracing my truth.

By \”outside the norm,\” I don\’t mean badly weird. I mean that suburban life, going along, just earning money in a good corporate job and carrying out that life to the end, was not enough. Look, I have moved around alot in my life from job to job. Look, I ran off to a monastery in mid-life because I was interested in contemplative prayer. Look, getting married and having kids could never have been for me.

Without the surroundings of a corporate culture, I don\’t have to pretend to be like \”them\” anymore. Like, you work with people daily for years, never talking about sobriety; because they wouldn\’t understand and might hold it against you. The spirituality of a 12 step program, or ultra-marathoning, is impossible to express to the un-initiated. I even had trouble admitting that I got up at 3:30 am every day in order to have time for both spiritual study and running.

I don\’t know how my creative ideas will turn out. But I can clearly see the next 2 or 3 trail markings.

I am a bit apprehensive for arrival at my new digs. How will I feel once I finally get there? The whole decision to buy this place and get out of Texas is an emotional affair. Yes, I can scream about logic, but the emotion is really what life is.

So, enjoy the ride. I am where I am. My life is now totally about the \”receiving mode.\” The Receiving Mode is something I heard about from Abraham Hicks. I have to strengthen my spiritual practice above all else.

Wow! Now that I am free, I can allow my mind to just go crazy with ideas and creativity; and I have the means to capitalize.

Holding Pattern

I quit my job a week ago and on Monday a moving truck comes. These few days have been a waiting period. Done with my life here but not yet started with my life there. The rain has hindered running a little bit, but mostly it is the mosquitoes which are keeping me away from the parks. Even if I spray myself, a cloud of the little buggers hovers around me trying to find places which are not sprayed, like my face.

This little holding pattern got me thinking about how my most of my life has been a holding pattern. A holding pattern of waiting for work to be over so I could do what I want.

First look at the pattern: get up at 3:30 am, time for spiritual study, time for exercise, go to work at 6:30 am (to beat the traffic), be at work, come home from work, eat, rest, exercise, read fiction, go to sleep at 10. Five days a week, an incredible 3+ decades of work.

Astonishingly enough, my work as an engineer was mostly boring; only occasionally would an interesting project come along. Rarely was creativity needed. Most of engineering work is \”putting the lines on the page.\” That is, after the initial excitement, carrying out the project is a routine technical activity. Often, completing a project does not bring a reward. They don\’t tell you this in engineering school, but most of engineering life is putting lines on the page.

There wasn\’t much dopamine reward in my work pattern. Mostly I went to work to earn the paycheck. My work environment was like many others. It was cynical and underfunctioning. I obeyed the rules. I played nice with others. I kept my mouth shut. Mostly I was surviving. My work was a holding pattern because for most of this life\’s daylight hours, I was restricted to the work environment. Creative ideas had to be shelved for later or discarded entirely. Even work related creativity mostly got discarded.

My dopamine rewards were not coming from work. The good feeling brain chemicals came from morning and evening exercise, spiritual investigations; and running marathons or ultra-marathons on the weekend. The little medals given at the end of a race represented more rewards than I obtained at work in years. And this comment comes from a highly competent, reliable engineer; not some slacker that nobody liked.

Americas best minds are warehoused in the work related holding patterns. Every corporation is wasting these resources. I am not unique.

So is it any wonder that I left the system as soon as possible? I am filled with creative ideas. I want to carry them out. Even the act of writing this blog would not be possible if I had needed to go to work an hour ago.

A New Canvas

Two days ago, I walked out of my job and my career. Those first few steps out the gate felt amazing. I felt the spaciousness of having no obligations, maybe for the first time ever. I had done everything purposefully for nearly 2 years with the goal of getting to the start of a new life. I looked at the sky and thought, \”I have a completely blank canvas. I can paint whatever I want on this.\” So amazing.

And then, haha, day 1: I spent 2.5 hours of day one doing homework for a class I am enrolled in.

And then, day 2, I got time to go to the park and make my usual round of Seabrook trails. My knee was feeling awesome. I don\’t know how I hurt it a month ago, but today it felt like a good knee. It was so humid this morning, so even though I mixed alot of walking in with running, I still felt heat related dizziness. I had to take an electrolyte pill along with my water. Another reason I want to get out of Texas is I cannot afford this chronic heat related illness every weekend.

Here is a video from today. Sorry about the abrupt ending but when I tried to get the mosquitoes I accidentally shut off the camera.

Excellence

This morning I read something interesting in Ernie Zelinski\’s book \”Career Success Without a Real Job.\”

\”Most people don\’t do their best because they don\’t enjoy what they do. They are working primarily for the reward of the paycheck, at the same time resisting the jobs they don\’t like. As a result they don\’t know the definition of excellence and never do their best. If you ask them how they are doing, they will reply, \”Average.\” They even think that being slightly above average is quite a remarkable accomplishment.

\”Take a little time and list the things that promote your being average, including the people with whom you hang around. To rise above mediocrity you must remove everything in your life that represents mediocrity. Surround yourself with people and things that represent excellence and you will be inspired to do your best so that you too represent excellence.\”

You know, my work group, and much of most corporations, is filled with the mediocre. I don\’t think that bright young minds start out that way, but end up that way as a result of continuous employment within one system. In some ways, staying in the same system for decades has to be killing your excellence. We know it kills creativity because corporate systems have too much inertia for one creative idea to make it.

I cannot tolerate working for a mediocre boss. It just kills me.

Personal Mount Blanc

It is Labor Day in the US. I still had to run outside to put out the garbage since I heard the truck. The waste company has put several people out of work since they went to automated trucks.

I have time to sit and reflect. I read the blogs about the Catholic Church sex scandal, The Benedict Option. I watch YouTube videos of Ultra Trail Mount Blanc (below) and tears come to my eyes. I think of my own situation.

I am on the cusp of quitting my career. I wanted to retire before my body got too old so that I could go in lots of races. As I sit here now, one of my knees is somehow in trouble; so I won\’t hit the ground running.

The thought crosses my mind as I look at the faces of the three women winners of UTMB (video below), \”I want to be who I really am.\” This thought also brings an important point to the surface. I am quitting my career, not just because I have the money, but because I was caught in fake me.

Real me is an athlete and scholar; and has been allotted an hour or two of living each day for my career. Real me is incredibly smart, creative and peruses the metaphysical universe seeing the energy connections of life itself. Real me runs miles and lifts weights. The fake me shoves itself into a corporate box and uses the intelligence to out perform inferior colleagues, please under-functioning bosses and make money. The real me is bored with an engineering job which became rote a couple of years ago, and frustrated with the niche of expertise. The fake me continues to wish for some sort of corporate recognition; which will never come because thats not what corporations do. Fake versus Real is an emotional conflict which I am allowing Real to win. I want to be authentic.

Now, facing retirement, the real me is eager for more time to write, to work on web pages, to learn the business end of being a professional writer, having a personal brand. No one can stop me.

I, and we all, have an inner spirit, a real me, that refuses to be boxed. For the first time in my life, I have the finances to give the real me both space and time. I realize a transformation will occur. Even I, who knows that inner energy, don\’t really know what will happen.

I have my own version of Mount Blanc. I\’ve been climbing for years. Sometime soon, the next few years, I\’ll reach the finish line. And then go on.

I will keep the agreement with my inner spirit. I\’m leaving the ordinary world and stepping into the extraordinary. Yes I can.