Ancient Chinese Wisdom
In preparation for breaking free of everything I've been indoctrinated into I've been continually amazed by the little miraculous aspects of life that play such a small insignificant role, but matter in the great scheme of things. Like my most recent fortune cookie messages for instance. I never eat the cookie, being a vegan, but I consume the message in the writing, a higher form of "nourishment" to those who are mentally inclined.
So there I was sitting there in a Chinese restaurant gazing down at the little folded tan hardened piece of dough wrapped around a paper bearing the gift of promise and a message of guidance. I was overwhelmed with how much work it was going to actually take to shed my worldly possessions. I felt hopeless, like a trapped animal. Going and getting a normal job and trying to fit into society felt like heaven next to the sheer terror of facing the great unknown, the abyss within my heart that's been calling me to explore it. I know the tears will be intense when I truly let go. So I reached down and cracked the first fortune...
"You simplify you life in many ways and find great rewards."
Wow! What a message at that moment. I mean, the fortune cookie oracle even had a Chinese accent by leaving off the "r" in "your". Seriously? A Chinese-accented fortune cookie telling me to trust in simplicity? That was just way cool.
So I spent the last week letting go of attachments to old stuff, selling more and more on Ebay. Mainly I spent a week organizing my fantasy adventure gaming supplies, namely my Dungeons & Dragons miniature figures. The first set sold for $311 and my Dragon Collection went for $222. The next three sets are ending their auctions tonight and they're all hanging at about the $200 range. I love watching those last few minutes as the auction runs down. Someone out there in the world is perched at their computer ready to click the last winning bid through to gain ownership of my addictive plastic crack. That's what we call the miniatures in the gaming community because you just can't stop buying them once you start. Materialism grabs you and squeezes your heart so tight that you don't even know what's happening. You are spellbound by the objects of your possession. And now they are your possessions and they possess you too.
So simplicity has been the enlightenment of this week, realizing what one really needs to be whole. I must admit that I did stash a few of the less rare and less valuable figures away in some plastic cases to be stored at a relative’s place. My kid and I enjoy playing the game too much to totally let go. But if we keep a few hundred and let go of 5000, that's still embracing a little more simplicity.
During the week I kept at it, long hours cataloging every figure and their individual stat cards like a baseball card collector enraptured by the process of protecting and preserving his treasures, but knowing that I was giving it all up. I got overwhelmed again thinking about putting big ticket items like my HDV camera and my HD digital projector on Ebay. Could I let go of this equipment that was once the centerpiece of my visions and dreams to make an astrology documentary. And what of my amazing magazine collection and astrology book library? What would I do with those? My mother called and told me she'd help me transport it all to my brother's house where I could store it in his large closet-sized store locker connected to his apartment. That felt like a relief, but also a cop out. I wanted to truly embrace the life of adventure with minimal possessions behind me. I want to let go as completely as possible.
So I kept cataloging my figures with fierce determination and calling people who were interested in my stuff. Then I got hungry and went back to a Chinese restaurant. I love Oriental food, especially Thai, but Chinese was calling my tummy this week. So I went down to Double Happy, the restaurant that my first love and I used to go to in high school all the time. Right when the little Chinese chef saw me et out of the car he'd run into the back and fire up the egg rolls for the buffet, because the first thing I did was stack up a mountain of them on my plate. Funny, because my kid didn't want to go with me and the last thing he said as I headed out the door of my dad's place was, "Can you get me a mountain of egg rolls?"
I bought him four, and he made it through three. His eyes are massive compared to his Cancer rising sensitive belly. So there I was again staring at that little tan cookie, wondering how I could really help humanity on this spiritual quest by doing people's charts in faraway towns. But what was far away if wherever you're at is home? Then I cracked the cookie and its wisdom poured forth:
"Determination is the wake-up call to the human will."
What!? I've never heard a fortune cookie say something that profound before! Are you kidding me? When did the fortune cookie writer get a degree in philosophy? Usually it's like "The week ahead brings great troubles," or "You will receive something nice in the mail tomorrow," or some clichéd quote from Confucius. But "Determination is the wake-up call to the human will." Wow!
In this instant it's taking everything in me to harness my will for the journey ahead. I went down to the bike shop and tried to get my old clunker bike fixed, but the young mechanic laughed and said, "You could fix this old bike for say $300, or for $300 more than that you could get a brand new modern hybrid bike that would blow this thing off the road." I told him about being the Traveling Magi and my intention to ride my bike to Canada and then down to San Fran and probably around the world. He said, “Then you definitely need to invest in a new bike. These new Kevlar lined tires hardly ever get flats.”
I felt stabbed in the heart, watching my old trusty green bike "Astron" hanging on the bike fixing rack looking at me with sad handlebars. How could I give up my bike and all those memories? Did I sense materialism raising its deceptive head again? Did I really need a supped up modern bike? Astron has served me well since 1992.
I raised my kid on that mountain bike, riding him to the health food store, to movies, to health checkups, to school in Key West and Asheville, through rain, through sleet, through snow. Then the guy said, "We have a guy here in town that takes old bikes and fixes them up for needy children. You should give this new Trek 7.3 hybrid road bike a try. Take it around the block a few times."
So I did. What could one fling with another azure blue bike do to my relationship with my emerald green Astron? Well let me give you some advice: If you like the person you’re with don't try out a new fresher version because you just might come away star struck. I mean, from the moment I hopped on and cruised over the smooth pavement, I was shot into a state of exhilaration. I felt like Gumby sliding across an ice rink; it was effortless, marvelous, effervescent! One push from my powerful centaur thighs and the bike would lunge forward like a wild horse, almost tossing me off the back end. Holy Cow! I couldn't believe my thighs!
Needless to say Astron and I broke up when I got back to the shop. I gave him the "talk" saying maybe he was too old for this journey? Maybe it was time for retirement? Maybe we could help some poor kid in the neighborhood? The whole time my mind was streaming with the memory of gliding through the wind on that new Trek 7.3 bike.
Then the guy said, “We’re having a sale in all through May for $100 off any bike in stock, and that one you just rode is normally $600. So it could take you to Canada for $500.” I had just gotten a donation on my blog for $500! Holy Kalukers!
“I’ll be back to buy it after Mercury goes direct!”
Then last night I found myself at another Asian restaurant enjoying the Szechuan Tofu with mixed vegetables and the inevitable fortune cookie made an appearance at the end of the meal.
“Now what?” I thought.
I was thinking about my journey into the unknown, and pondering what it would be like with long days on strange roads and camping off the road at night, hidden in some secretive copse of woods. Who would I meet? Would I encounter any legal trouble for camping in the wrong place? What would it be like to meet Alisha, a female astrologer with the same cosmic connection that I enjoy? Would she expect me to stay there and give up my travels and my mission to assist humanity through astrology one person at a time? Then I cracked the cookie to receive my third fortune in a week:
"Sometimes the object of the journey is not the end, but the journey itself."
Amazing. Simply, mind-bogglingly amazing. We’ve all heard this before. The journey is the destination and such. But from a fortune cookie? At the moment I was thinking all those thoughts? Wow! Thank you Universe for your wisdom and guidance!
With renewed fervor I went down to my 10X10 storage locker and felt hope. I’ve already gotten it down to half the stuff. I could move it all into a 5X10 and pay half the cost and retain some vital shreds of my old existence (aka. attachments). Or I could just keep unloading box after box and selling stuff on Ebay. A few blog posts back I wondered what it would be like to just give stuff to the homeless guys on the street who hold those signs that say anything helps. So this morning I decided to role-play Santa . There I stood looking into my little cave full of precious junk and I realized that most of it was camping gear, books, bookshelves, and gaming gear: Board games, little ships, maps, boxes of miniature terrain, hex maps, plastic organizer stands, a board room table, 6 foot tables, a marble chess set, etc. What could I get rid of today? Then the thought struck me:
“What if I went by the game store and just started giving gaming gifts to people? And what if I went by the bum on the street and just started giving out backpacks and camping gear?”
That excited me! So I took lots of digital photos of old maps I’d drawn and loaded lots of gaming supplies and camping supplies in my Pathfinder. Two hours later I was on the road. I decided to drop some board games and a computer sound card by a friend’s house who I heard say he needed a new sound card and was interested in having some games. I dropped many other games at another friend’s house. I figured I could play them anytime I was in town at his house. We could all get together like we’ve been doing Friday nights seen I’ve returned to Colorado.
Then I hit the game shop and they were overjoyed when I asked if they accepted donations in the store. Five trips back and forth to my vehicle later and I experienced a lot of happy gamers! The owner is picking up my board room awesome gaming table next week for the new location!
Then I drove down to Pearl Street looking for homeless people. I realized I’d never in my life sought out homeless people to bestow them with gifts before. Interesting.
Then I saw them.
A couple in their thirties, a woman and a man were holding the standard Boulderized Anything Helps signs. I made a right turn and then whipped a U-turn two blocks down and slowly approached them hoping to hit the red light at the right moment. I slowly rolled down the window, thinking this must be how a drive by shooter feels. But I was a drive-by giver. Then the light turned red and I stopped abruptly and screamed out the window.
"Hey! You need a back pack?"
The athletic bearded homeless man leapt up from the ground and sprinted to the side of my vehicle with a look of amazement on his face.
“You can have this backpack, I traveled the world with it, but I don’t need it anymore. I have a new one.”
“No fucking way!” he said. “Thank you so much! I just had all my stuff stolen this morning. “
He was visibly moved and excited. Then I reached back and grabbed my other backpack. “Here take this one for your friend.”
He just looked up into the heavens and screamed in delight.
I figured if I was homeless that the one possession I would need more than anything would be a backpack to carry things I’ve found like tools or food, etc. The light turned green and I drove away. I glanced in the rear view mirror to see the woman searching through my old cool green backpack. I carried my lap top and creative supplies in that pack for many years in Asheville. Now its carrying capacity would bless her.
I think tomorrow I will head back to the storage locker to pack another load on my sleigh. It feels amazing to help people who are truly in need. I can’t wait to bestow them with the astrological gift of the Magi. How would a homeless person be empowered with the knowledge of cycles and destiny?
Its two hours before my Ebay auctions end. I like watching them come down to the wire. While I was writing the first half of this post at the coffee shop a fellow astrologer and podcaster Adam Sommer came by my table and surprised me to say hello. I’ve been meaning to meet him since I arrived, but our paths had not crossed until now. Turns out he and his companion are gearing up for travel as well, possibly India. We were both blown away by the similarity of our journeys and how they are unfolding. It was like him showing up was another sign from the Universe that this spiritual quest is the right thing to do. Also, during the writing of this blog, my wife Christina called and expressed how much she truly admires and loves me for my unique person. She said she misses me now and envies the journey I’m about to take. It felt good finally hearing her open up about the time we shared. Our love will grow into something else, but grow it will, even if we are admiring each other from afar. The first week we met, her fortune cookie said:
“The love of your life is sitting right in front of you.”
Our marriage only lasted three years, but now the true relating can begin as cosmic friends.
I think I’ll go to another Chinese restaurant this week after I get my storage locker emptied and see what the Taoist oracle has to say next. I feel like I’m slowly being led toward the gateway of ultimate liberation.
PS: Arian and I just watched three of our Ebay auctions go down to the wire and we made $1150! World here we come!