I walked out of Woody Allen's “Midnight in Paris” in a state of euphoria. It reminded me that art is a method of opening to the harder places to get to. It also rang true throughout. There wasn't a false note in it and it brought me back to a place I haven't been for a while, but come back to every now and again; the place where I'm not a “Buddhist” or a “Report Analyst” or any of the labels with which we identify (in my case, I swear it's usually for utter convenience; I couldn't care less about being a Buddhist, any more than I do – or did – about being an analyst) or by which others will attempt to define us (and themselves in relation to us.)
I'm going to India. I'm going to India because I think it's finally time to go to India and engage this long harbored notion of going to India. I don't know what I'll find there, exactly. If I knew what I would find exactly, then I wouldn't go.
I get the question, “so, what are you going to do there, in India?” I do. I have some ideas. I think mostly what I'll do is take advantage of the exchange rate so I can afford to there what I can't reasonably afford to do here. This would entail, but not merely be limited to, going on retreat, haunting libraries, attending teachings, hiking in the Himalayas, traveling around the Indian sub-continent (something you really can't do in the U.S., I think). I may volunteer for a non-profit or two and probably will be studying Tibetan in greater depth and so on and so forth.
I may just decide to while away some time drawing or painting or writing. Who knows? Maybe I'll contract some nasty fungus and shit myself into the next life. The point is, though, I'm more intrigued to what I don't know will be coming up. The point of travel is to shake loose of preconceived notions and get out of one's comfort zone.
I also get “you always talk about living in Latin America...what's with India?” I love Latin America. I do. Lots. However, India has loomed large ever since I first read “The Bhagavad Gita” thirty-seven years ago. I had to write that just to see what it would look like. Looks good.
But who knows what India is going to be like on the ground for me. Most everyone I know from there or who has travelled there, has effusively proclaimed how much I'll LOVE it. And what if I don't? What if I don't like it, even? It's like so much in life. The choice is implicit, to me anyway, to like or dislike something. I'm not a fan of hair shirts or suffering for the sake of “character building” but nothing is learned without effort. Sometimes we like making the effort; sometimes not so much. However, to me it's interesting how often once a problematic situation has been endured/suffered through, we come out saying that it wasn't so bad.
In the meantime, I have a buttload of stuff to do before I leave. Settle taxes, pay for tickets, say farewell to various and sundry and contact folks on the other side of the Atlantic. But am I doing this as a Buddhist? I'm surely not doing it as a report writer or analyst since I'm going to be unemployed. I would prefer to just go as this unique, localized being; and this does not imply some limited view of same nor does it not imply the probable tunnel vision that might accompany such a phrase.
I'd be curious to know if people sometimes find even as expansive a label as Buddhist confining. I'd be curious to know how people feel like they are defined by what they do (as opposed to who or how or even what they are, in whatever way they take the verb to be, to be.)