Life at SMC

Floral Notes and Bardo: Doubt and No Sense of Wavering

Sense of ease is so low, sense of hassle so high, effort to treat it all as path… is daunting.  Seems contrived, but really I’m just too lazy.  I feel like reality is a gang of woodpeckers and I’m a unwilling tree.  I blame samsara.  I blame SMC.  I blame myself most of all, and I realize that all that blame is useless (but I carry on without doing anything useful with that realization).

I had a beautiful weekend with friends. We rented a space in Denver and relaxed, went to Phish concerts, ate yummy food.  A lot of ease and joy, space.  I was able to meditate a lot, and also hang out, goof off.  Perfect.  I swung ecstatically in the sunshine, on a swing-set.  I had the thought that life is a swing-set.  Then a gaggle of geese chased my friend.

Yesterday I made it back to the mountain and declared a full, wonderful, delicious day of rest before heading back to work.  It was Labor Day.  I had everything set up: home alone, pot of tea, book to read — all afternoon.  Pijamas on.

I realized that I had promised to call Heather, who is in Seattle for a few days.  I walked down the path to the bathhouse, which has a phone.  Phone broken.  I walked a bit further down the path to the other bathhouse.  Phone broken.  I walked back to my cabin cursing under my breath.  Why can’t basic shit work up here?  It’s like you can never count on anything — especially comfort and ease.  From the point of view of the path, this is great, I guess.  Expectations are traps.  Comfort seeking is futile.  Letting go of these in order to expand ones comfort zone is fruitful.  That’s buddhism.  I’m sick of buddhism.  I want to pick up the phone and hear a dial tone.  I want running water.  I want to live in civilization.


That’s not entirely true.  But, dang, I’m feeling pretty cooked.

I met with the chaplain who is on the land and shared my feelings of struggle with her.  I told her about my embarrassing states of cranky mind and my little tantrums — which usually only I witness, sometimes Heather.  She said it sounds like I’m maturing.

I spoke with a friend-of-SMC and therapist who has been on the land.  She used to live here.  I told her about all of this, and she said that it sounds like I’m right on track.

Steve Seely said that this isn’t a place that you come to live in order to “get your shit together.”  It’s a place that you come to if you have your shit somewhat together, in order to have it all blown apart.

For some reason, this is considered to be good.  I used to understand why, at least on an intellectual level.

I wonder if the clouds will part and I will realize the great perfection of all of this.  I still believe, on some level, that I am being worked over by a teacher.  The classic archetype: Milarepa, Moses, Karate Kid, etc.

I don’t really expect a tidy resolution, but I do think that I’ll realize how I’ve benefitted from all of this throughout the rest of my life.

When I first came here to volunteer, over three years ago, our slogan for the summer was: Abandon all hope of fruition.

Why the f would anybody want to be a buddhist? I say that and yet feel no sense of wavering.

— September 8, 2015

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a regular feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of living as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.


PortraitTravis Newbill is a writer, musician, and aspirant on the path of meditation.  He currently resides at Shambhala Mountain Center, where he serves in the roles of Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill