Any dream I ever harbored of being a Buddhist monk went down in a ball of flames this past weekend. Waking at 4AM, chanting in a temple until 5AM, meditating for 30-45 mins, walking meditation for 30 minutes followed by a breakfast meditation at 7AM completely nipped that aspiration in the bud. During the first meditation at 5AM in the temple I couldn’t find a comfortable position and it was cold in there too. All I could think about was when I use to shadow my Uncle Garland while he would hunt deer in Southwest Virginia. I would fidgit out there in a deer blind while it seemed that my Uncle waited calmly and patiently, clearly in his happy place. Coincidentally, it was in a similar position in a similar temperature around the same time of day that I knew I didn’t want to be a Buddhist monk or a deer hunter. Cold mornings and sitting still never were my forte. But I think that my Uncle Garland could be a monk, he certainly has the compassion and the patience.
The temple stay, however, definitely was an experience I am glad I had. It was worth seeing and thinking about how other people live. I found myself thinking about those monks today while I dodged traffic and people on my afternoon run. They have kept their life so simple that I imagine they are able to concentrate fully on the things most important in life. I guess what I have learned in the past 48 hours is how you go through life depends on what is truly important to you, and our main goal should be not to lose focus of what is important. But all of us struggle with that, even the Buddhist monks.