Life at SMC

Floral Notes and Bardo: Nada Surf Sang

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 existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Slush this morning, knee deep, stepping, slipping, crunching down the trail from the cabin.  Singing dharma songs, admiring stark white snow on the rocky ridges, in morning sun.  Carrying way too much stuff.  Feeling good about being early.  Later, not much later, feeling rushed because some invisible vacuum devours minutes.

(Heather also made a sheep)


Nada Surf sang: “Always rushing, always late.”

I think that’s a terrible way to live, but I find myself in that way rather often.  Trying to slow down and also accomplish much — marketing, meditation, poetics, community, joy, relationship.  A good, really good, full, sometimes too full, life.

This morning, after devouring my bowl of oatmeal, racing the clock, making a little bagel sandwhich for Heather — because she loves that and it rare that salmon spread and bagels are offered here; and just a few minutes ago — I am in the library now — I had a feeling that if I looked out the window I’d see her, and I did.  So I cracked the window and sang our special call.  She heard and came up to eat breakfast here while I write.  I told her about the bagel, but not the salmon — that’s a surprise.  Now, she’s eating, very pleased, as I type.  Jeremy is downstairs practicing Qigong in the shrine room.

Big, beautiful sacred Sudies shrine room.  I was going to write about that before I got sidetracked with the bagel scene.  He and I practiced together this morning.  Just he and I in that vast, sacred space.  Very lovely, and something I almost take for granted living here.  Someday, I’ll have a little shrine in a bedroom.  Today, I have this amazing room with elaborate wood carvings, and a dear friend to sing the beautiful chants with.

I was fumingly grumpy this morning while rushing around.  Ridiculous.  But that state of discontent is so seductive.  I’m glad to drop it and be a child.  Newborn.

And… it can be really difficult here.  My shower in the cold cavernous bathhouse this morning.  Trecking down the hill in the slush with fifteen pounds of stuff.  Later, I’ll treck back up.  Trying to do all of this on schedule.

There will be particular hassles no matter where I live.

Someone else cooked my oatmeal for me this morning.  Right now, those same people — my friends Yossi and Jesse — are chopping vegetables, cooking food that will be served for lunch in three hours.  I’ll stroll in and make myself a plate.  Beginning Friday, I’ll be in retreat — again — for a week.  Practicing and studying with some community members and a senior Shambhala teacher.  No problem getting time off from work to do it.  No tuition cost.  Easy.

It’s all true — the challenge and the ease.  I’m done saying obvious things now.  Instead I’ll sit in the armchair and study Pema/Shantideva for an hour before heading into the office.

— April 21, 2015


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