> jumping into life.

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There is approximately zero structure in my life right now, and I am finding myself near to incapable of creating any. I wake early out of habit, but then I lay in bed for an hour. Meditate for five minutes, maybe ten. Breakfast. Email. Second breakfast. Maybe a shower, maybe not. The morning runs have become more and more sporadic, though that doesn't especially bother me. What bothers me is the feeling that I am wandering aimless circles: email, kitchen, email, homework, kitchen, porch, email.

I am nervous about this whole Zen monastery thing. Five months. No phone, no driving. No internet; hell, no electricity, except in the kitchen. I am elated about this whole Zen monastery thing. No shopping, no consuming except the food that will sustain me in my work. The day starts with zazen at six and ends with zazen at nine. In between is temple cleaning, chanting, eating, working, eating, working, bathing, chanting, eating. There are three optional zazen periods and sometimes dharma class or discussion. And that will be my day. Every day. For five months. I am terrified of this Zen monastery thing. But. My mind has been running some impressive evasive maneuvers lately, refusing to settle on anything, or else fixating entirely: watch that leaf all the way to the ground, but don't get any homework done. There is a part of me that is pointedly uninterested in examining my life. I am in need of this Zen monastery thing. My soul wants retreat and discipline, wants it all the more because my little mind rebels. Oh, for a room with nothing in it. A quiet place to stand.

That email checking is a seductive thing, isn't it? A hundred parts annoyance to just one part joy, and yet that one part is reason enough, most days, to keep at it.

You describe, of course, much of the reason I retreat to the desert so often. The opportunity for solitude, or for quiet communion with a friend - that last different from solitude all the way through, but every bit as necessary. My soul wants retreat and discipline as well, and that discipline can come in sitting and watching, or in placing a foot out front and repeating with the other.

I used to feel, on my first night in the desert, as if I was waking up again from a long, troubling dream of cities and distractions. It would seem only a few hours since my last visit, back here in my real life again.

The feeling is less strong these days, but only because I carry a little desert back to that dream each time, tucked away safely in my heart.

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