I was just reading about this moment in 1497, when de gama's men landed on the malabar coast, the spice coast of india and motherload of the global spice trade (5 years after columbus found the wrong place), following 10 months at sea crossing the unknown indian ocean in monsoons. the locals famously asked the first pale-faced explorer:
"what the devil brought you here?"
-- from spice: the history of a temptation by jack turner
I feel a bit like that explorer - blinking and looking around, having landed after a daunting and sometimes treacherous year of figuring shit out and trying to find my way to some, nearly mythical, abundant land full of exotic things, my life's purpose, and riches.
my voyage started in venice, CA, where I graduated from grad school in May 2013. PhD in urban planning, sub-fields: sustainable cities and affordable housing. boom. finishing that thing took every last ounce of everything in me, and I emerged with no money and no plan. five of my years of school were funded, one I worked, two of those years I got paid to be a writer and live the charmed life of someone with a healthy book contract. I knew how to create something from nothing; I didn't yet know how the independence that time afforded would drive me in and out of all kinds of nutty endeavors.
it drove me in and out of a job that seemed amazing that lasted only three weeks, and into and out of a volunteer group that turned into setting up the beginnings of a non-profit for about four months paid and a couple more unpaid.
it fed me, and taught me, but also bled me dry.
actually, as I know now, I bled myself dry. in the middle of all of this, I had to move twice in the churning gentrification that is venice. after moving and unpacking my whole life, cat, and all my crap once, having spent the last of my money on the move, I found out on christmas eve that my new house was being bought and I would have to do it all over again.
so this time I made a different decision. I negotiated a lease buyout, sold and gave away most of my things, put the rest in storage. a kind soul took my cat in, and I went to bali.
while I was in bali a whole bunch of shit fell away. the curtains parted, at least for a time, and in that moment things came clear. my three projects, my foundation, emerged. clear as day.
it's a triangle.
1. the microbe book
2. healing arts (yoga and cranio)
3. the bali sustainability project
project 1. book. I'm writing a book and building a platform for it. it's about how the interconnectedness of things is the only thing that can save our silly asses from destruction and demise, and the only thing that ever could. it's about soil health, microbes, and the possibility of reversing climate change. the current working title is something like, the microbe mindfuck: how microbes explain damn near everything. of course it's kind of a book about everything. there's a lot more coming so I'm not going to give it all away just yet, but I've been working with this topic for a long time, and I've figured out that a book about it is the best use of my talents in telling the story to a larger audience. if it works, the impact and the ripples will be profound. trying to get it work is fucking hard and scary. it's quite possibly the most honest endeavor I've ever attempted.
it's stimulating, inspiring, humbling, and immensely exciting.
project 2. healing arts. I teach yoga and practice craniosacral therapy. as happens to many yoga teacher trainees that go out of intellectual curiosity and for general well-being, I didn't expect to love teaching and practicing the way I do. yoga is the common thread in almost every ounce of well-being I've ever known. teaching and practicing also keep me sane, honest, and centered. to do the work I need to continually deal to my own shit to help others deal to theirs. it's hard, humbling, deeply fulfilling work. helping people feel better, on the spot, within an hour, is really something.
and to make a living by helping people, which is really the only thing I've ever wanted, is something special.
project 3. bali sustainability project. this project is on a slower track. all three projects are quite big, and this one will take a minute. I'm working on constructing an organization and a program that can work with the balinese to set up a sustainability plan and programs. development in bali has been absolutely insane for the last 10 years. the island doesn't have the resources or infrastructure to handle all the madness at the rate it's coming. bali is a sacred, beautiful, and deeply special place in the world. for all the places that need sustainability work, I'm focusing there because I believe the impact, both large and small scale, could be immense.
so these are the three projects. in all, I'm doing many, many things to support these projects, and they all go together. the whole lot is about being well, as individuals, as communities, as the whole world. it's about the threads that tie us all together and run through seemingly disparate problems. physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual wellness manifest on different levels. I can't help but tend to all the levels I can get my hands on.
I've never in my life had the feeling of being called to a purpose the way I do now. it's honestly kind of insane. the other day, I hit a wall of self-doubt and weirdness, and today I remember that all I have to do is do my work. it makes things very simple and much less scary.
and as long as I do me and stick to my authentic self, everything that resonates will line up, and everything that doesn't will fall away.
tomorrow :: feet on the ground