Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An Ode to Immediacy

I woke up rather suddenly as an art car trolled past our encampment, it's morning.  There's a woosh! and gargle, the iconic sounds of a flame thrower roaring through more and more of it's propane gas food.  It stops, and the inevitable cheering from the small crowd for another display from the beast.  "Wooo-Hooo!" a-top laughter and applause.  My eyes are open while I listen to the gentle giant and friends roam down "H" street towards some new adventure.  They leave our quiet suburb as the air settles back down onto the playa floor, a caked up parcel of high alkaline silt, leaving only the sound of the morning sun.

I'm awake now.  At 4:00 & H,  Black Rock City, Nevada.  Saturday: The Man burns tonight at Burning Man.  However this story isn't about the burn, nor about our Black Rock City or this iconic annual festival...  

This story is about a 15 second conversation that happened this one curious day.

"Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience." - Burning Man Principle #10 : Immediacy
 Are you "busy"?  Like really "busy"? Like running around all over town because, "PJ... you have [no idea] the amount of things I have to get done today!". . . "busy"? Lately, I've been noticing this: How "busy" my friends are.  And I get it, I used to be "busy" too.  I'd have my schedule packed ear to ear, and at 7AM... BAM!  "Busy" is starting... Off to point A, then to point B, run over to point C, meet D and E for F over at G&H, have to skip I for a meeting with J who brought in K (L's boss) to talk about MNOP's report on Q. CRAP! got a text from R&S who just got out of T and are headed to U with V.  Which is FINE but W won't start because XY AND Z! ..... {sigh} "Busy" is exhausting.

And "busy" is something much more dire:  "Busy" isn't living life.

We're not living in the space around us... We're too concerned about getting to the next check point.  "I'VE GOT TO GET TO POINT A! WHY IS THIS GUY DRIVING SO SLOW!!!!! AHHHH!!!!!" <HONK!> <HONK!> <HONK!!!!!!!>.  And what happens when we get to a checkpoint? BAM! There's another checkpoint we got to get to! Point B!!!! LET'S GO!!!!  And this illustrated a very important lesson I learned this year:

We're always striving to be somewhere we're not.

I used to be "busy", racing off to the next checkpoint ignoring "life" happening all around, too concerned about my never-gained destination.  For whenever I got somewhere, 100% of the time there was somewhere else I was headed next.  And that's the "busy" life: always going to, but never being anywhere.

I take the metro around for transit, gave up my car about a year and a half ago (just following the universes lead after some thieves stole the catalytic converter) ;)  "Yes universe... Thank you, lesson learned!" And I'll tell you the most fantastic thing this change has yielded: This is when my life stopped being "busy".  This is when I really started "living life".  And this point is really important: The map never changes, but my attitude towards walking it has dramatically.

I'm still going to points A, B, C, etc.  But my life isn't about "getting there" anymore.  It's about living each and every step, confident that I'm headed in the right direction towards the next checkpoint.  Where I used to be glued onto the next point warp 9-ing past all of this "life" that is actually happening.

Look: That point A, it ain't going anywhere.  So just head in that direction, and turn your attention to the abundance of life happening all around you.

Stop being "busy", and start "living".

It's that easy.....


Oh yeah!  My 15 second conversation:  

Her: "Hey PJ... uhhhhh.... so.  What do you think about really taking our time heading back to LA?  Like make a road trip out of it?  Maybe Lake Tahoe, see some family in San Francisco... stuff like that."

Me: "Sounds Amazing."

This is what happened:
  • Breakfast in Lake Tahoe at "Bear Beach Cafe" - Amazing
  • Emerald Bay - :')
  • Kayak'ed out on the Lake from Homewood - Wow
  • Sushi in Sacramento at "Sushi Hook" incredibly fun sushi place (happened to go in during 1/2 price happy hour) - Awesome
  • Baker Beach morning - Site of first Burning Man - :')
  • Golden Gate Bridge - Wow!
  • Amazing sandwiches @ "Lou's Cafe" in San Fran - Crap this place was amazing.
  • Incredible coffee shop & nerd-palace "Characterz Cafe" in Pleasanton (Seriously: Coffee ice cubes so your mocha gets stronger as it melts! W.T.F! Why has nobody thought of this!) :')
  • Wine and Cheese in Sonol that night - Tree house cabin = amazing
  • Met an amazing barista at "Juice & Java" in Pacific Grove
  • Met a REALLY awesome sandwich artist at nearby "Compagno's Market & Deli"
  • Lunch on the Point Pinos Beach (sandwich & coffee)
  • Checked out the amazing views around Big Sur
  • Walked into Hurst Castle (will be back for sure)
  • Dinner (other half of Compagno sandwich) on Santa Barbara pier

It's funny.  PJ of a year ago would have huffed about wanting to get back to LA quick.  PJ of this year had the greatest 3-day adventure ever.

And all I did was: Live. Every. Step.  Now I know.


I love you all,
-Paul Jacob Evans

Emerald Bay @ Lake Tahoe