Plug-In, Opt-Out, or Free-Flow
So I am standing on the edge of the precipice of time. I just graduated and I find myself distracted and preoccupied with “my life” and its future.
I say “my life” in quotations, because, obviously, direct experience of the self as pure awareness shows us there is no person, and life lives itself within the self as a celebration of the self.
And yet… here, this dancing thing captures my attention: the personality still preoccupied with “my life” as an individual. A needy body circumferenced by skin, tormented by fears and desires, lost in a jungle of incessant thoughts.
Whatever the physical situation I may choose, my priority is to find the root of my being: to pole-shift the magnetic North of my consciousness from temporary appearances to the permanent awareness. I don’t want to spend eternity frantically lost in the flow of appearances: lost in mind. And yet, life goes on as awakening unfolds, so do I plan? Or do I free-flow?
Plug-In is plan A.
For me its picking a geographic location, finding a job as a designer. Finding a place of my own, growing a circle of friends, maybe finding a partner. It means stability, habit, personal space. From this foundation, a family could grow, maybe eventually my own business. It means a city life; and urban life, filled with people, and the opportunities and frustrations they bring.
Politically it means financial slavery: it means debts, mortgages, interest, student loans. It means an income that after rent, bills, food, etc, won’t give me real logistical independence. It means pluging-in to a destructive system of commerce and a system of civilization (capitalism) that marches towards planetary destruction and perpetual war (internal and global).
Opt-Out is plan B.
For me it means finding a source of income that is flexible in time and/or location. So far, after discussing with various professional travelers, I settled on two options. #1 Teaching English as a foreign language, which offers flexible locations ( anywhere English is not the native language). #2 Live-in (Care) Work. Live-in work means your rent, bills, and expenses are all covered, so the income (which is the same as any other job) is, after tax, completely disposable.
A life teaching English, means a life traveling all over the world, spending one-term up to a year teaching in one location before moving on. Most contracts cover flights and rent. However some poorer countries pay lower wages (still high relative local wages) while other countries pay more but are in turn more expensive, or less attractive.
A life as Live-in Carer means a life serving other people intimately and selflessly. Care workers often rotate clients either weekly, monthly or up to 6 month periods. So it means meeting and really being there for handicapped and older people. Though the location is not flexible, the rotational nature of care work makes time very flexible.
I met professional travelers in India, that work 6 months in the UK earning a great income as Live-In carers, and then live 6 months in India where living costs are lower. I can imagine my self, using Live-in care work as a trampoline, to jump from one country to another, or from one Ayahuasca retreat to perhaps a Tantra Retreat, and so on. Growing, Healing, Enjoying.
It could also be a great way to give my self the free time, to write, or stay on an Ashram to dive deeper into the Self. Perhaps eventually to save-up for a plot of land somewhere where land is cheap say Bulgaria or Spain. And then spend 3 months tending to the land, 3 months volunteering on a WWOOF site or other Permaculture places to learn the skills and then 6 months working as a Live-in carer. Eventually I would have a great permaculture place set up, with maybe a hostel etc. It would be a nice life close to the earth.
It could also be a great way to dedicate my self to my creative practice, setting up a studio, and splitting my time between Live-in Care and investing into projects, and growing my business until it can support me enough that it can be my full-time employment.
By its nature it offers a lot of freedom to choose and pursue different paths, and even gives me enough time to grow, dabble, and see what I really want to do. However it means an unstable life, living in someone else’s space as a carer, and then a volunteer or client in a retreat. It means being perhaps more uncomfortable. It means not growing a circle of friends, and perhaps not going deeper into a relationship with a partner.
Plan A and Plan B represent material circumstances that I as a limited person can conceive, desire, and endeavor to bring about. They both assume I have full knowledge of potential options and that I know which is best for me. The fact I have two options already means that I don’t know. There is a third option, that is to have no plan.
Free-Flow is life lived step by step, day by day, trusting that the next thing follows naturally in a self-evident way: known deeply to be the right choice in that moment by the heart. Unlike Plan A and B, it is not a plan conceived in the mind, based on the assumption of person hood, and directed by the limited knowledge, desires, and fears of a person. Free-Flow already assumes there is no person, and that life lives itself on its own, guides itself, and fulfils itself. It means an awakened life.
This requires a rock hard foundation in ones own nature. That the deprivations and joys that may come are attended to with full awareness. That personal fear and insecurities are overcome, as are any self-judgements about vanity or self-service. Only then are opportunities that life presents taken fully advantage of by a very natural being. It also means personal desires are sacrificed when they are not aligned with the truth of the moment and what the heart itself directs.
There is a real danger, that if you are not ready and mature enough for free flow, you will mess up, and mess up hard. I had some experience with it following a Tantra partner from college to Iceland. Because we were both ungrounded, immature, and unstable, we bounced off of each other until we bounced apart and fell hard.
It can be so beautiful too. In Finland, literally on the tram from the airport to the city-center, I met some girls, we started talking, and ended up getting pizza together. What followed was an amazing night where they broke into their Music college with me and another guy, and spent the whole night performing soul touching classical music for me in fantastic halls until we fell asleep on bean bags.
Or in Iceland, I hitch-hiked following the flow: a pull on the belly, to turn down cars, and ended up walking 18km up hill with a 30kg backpack, but seeing the immense beauty of Iceland, and having an intensely personally significant lesson. Or in India, where I met beautiful women, and by following the flow and being selfless in their presence, they unlocked something in me as I unlocked something in them.
From one perspective Free-Flow could be said to be the real substratum of all that happens in life, and happens despite and in the face of Plan A, B, C, etc. whether we see it or not. I don’t think Free-Flow is incompatible with a Plan. It could be like a dance, for a while, in some moments you let the heart decide, and others you cling to the plan like an ivy being trained to grow on a wall. And perhaps after while, when all the trust is in place, and there is a good foundation, you can let go of the plan, and just let life live through you.
I don’t know what is best. I have been contemplating this for a while, asking friends, listening within. I will explore all options and give it sometime. Right now, is not the time to decide. Life is keeping me busy, and maybe it will never give me the time, or maybe the situation changes and life decides for me. In any case I am grateful for the existential freedom and the right to be responsible for this life. It is a thrill to have the future so wide open, and to have a heart wide enough for all possibilities.