We hear it so much these days, it almost seems cliche, how we move too fast, how money doesn’t buy happiness, etc. And yet, how often do we actually allow these truths to metabolize, to resonate so deeply in us that we deliberately make our life choices based not in fear, but in a profound love of what we already have?
Over the past week we have been slowing down. We have been learning how to listen. We have been meditating, gardening, walking in silence among the lush forests of Northern Thailand and contemplating what education is ultimately for.
Will getting into a great school bring us lasting joy? Does the acquisition of a fancy job ensure we will live a life of genuine purpose? Is anything truly worth going into massive debt for? And do any of my well intended actions ultimately perpetuate the very systems I am seeking to step away from?
Can I cook a meal made from plants I myself collected from patches of forest I intimately know? Can I play an instrument that I crafted myself, sing a song that was written by my grandmother about the story that teaches of my ancestors origin? Can I name the names of ten or more native plants that grow near my home? Can I navigate by observing the stars? Can I sit still, alone for an hour and be at peace? Am I happy? Can I elegantly grieve?
The colonization of our world has done more to the human experience than simply alter how maps are written. Colonization has changed entirely what it means to be human, how we speak, how we think, how we dress, how we pray, how we define beauty, how we listen, what we value, everything.
The great Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “Often we tell ourselves, Don’t just sit there, do something!” But when we practice awareness, we discover something unusual. We discover that the opposite may be more helpful: “Don’t just do something, sit there!””
We are asking these questions. Touching the earth. Talking less and listening more. We are visiting with members of indigenous communities and sharing stories with Theravada monks. We are living in the homes of local Karen (Pga K’nyau) people alongside some of the most breathtaking scenery in all of Thailand. We are planting more than just rice, we are seeding Hope for a time beyond our own.