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When I was 25 years old I retired, I walked out my front door having given away or sold every item I owned that would not fit into my 73 litre backpack, I tried to take everything with me.  It was incredibly liberating but how do you pack your entire life into a small backpack.

That was 17 years ago, it was so liberating having no phone, keys, car, or any responsibility.  My new address was to become General delivery.  When I first started packing it was difficult to determine exactly what I would need for my world expedition.  A funny thing happened starting with my first grueling trek through the tropical sun.  My worldly possessions started to mean less to me, and one by one I began to let go, a shirt here, a lens there.  I wondered do I really need to cart this stove around when I can just make a fire.  What about this tent, its brand new but must weight 6 lbs.

Carrying the weight of my world on my back was beginning to get to me.  my scant few possessions were my burden,  I was constantly worried that my possessions would be stolen.  I carried a bag full of expensive camera gear, my new pack, a leather bound journal, expensive rain gear and beautiful sleeping bag.  I wanted to be free but I know the ways of the world and had to protect my expensive possessions.

A month into my journey a miracle happened I was camped in a dry river bed on Mt Waiʻaleʻale  “one of the wettest spots on earth”  A midnight flash flood claimed everything I owned except for the contents of my small day pack that zipped onto my huge expedition pack.  I had a small camera with two rolls of good film, a small Swiss Army Knife, a sweat shirt, a clean tee shirt, and a pair of socks, a water bottle, lighter, one pack of cigarettes and a power bar and a single Bit-o-honey, “I can assure you they don’t last as long as you chew”, That’s all I can remember.  It was a tragedy to loose everything but I finally felt free.  I spent the night shivering in a tree but morning brought warm sun and the realization that I might be in for a big adventure. 21 days later I walked out from the jungle a changed man.

An empty cup
There’s a wonderful Buddhist story that tells of a Zen master named Nan-in. One day Nan-in had a visit from a foreign scholar who was himself a specialist in Eastern religions. The scholar came to Nan-in to learn more about Zen Buddhism. Instead of listening to the master, however, the visiting scholar pontificated on and on about his own ideas and everything that he knew.

After a while of this endless talk, Nan-in decided to serve tea. He poured tea into his visitor’s cup until it was full. And then he kept on pouring. The tea began to flow over the sides of the cup, it filled the saucer, it spilled onto the man’s pants, and then it puddled all over the floor.

Finally the visitor spoke up and said, “Don’t you see that my cup’s full? You can’t get any more in!”
“Just so,” replied the Zen master, and at last he stopped pouring. “And like this cup, you are filled with your own ideas.  How can you expect me to give you Zen unless you offer me an empty cup?”

Like the Zen Master, the mountains emptied my cup and filled me with knowledge.  When I started this journey into the Art Of Hookie I knew It would change my life.  I knew there would be hardship and suffering.  My cup was full and until I emptied it I knew deep in my heart that I could never be free of the burden of society.  It’s been seven years now and I finally feel like I have emptied everything from within and am ready to start filling the void.  To live without money, security or even food has changed my view on the world and what is truly important.  It has taught me that the world is truly a beautiful place and that there is a kindness in all of us.  It has taught me that if you want to give freely you must also learn to receive.  It has taught me that there is no such thing as time, and that no matter what the situation may be, it can always wait till tomorrow.  In having nothing, I found everything,  it was nothing. ~AEO

If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your own path.

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