The Cemetery Monologues

I was meditating in a cemetery.


Before you start getting on my case about finding other quiet places to ply my practice, hear me out. I was meditating in the Valley of the Temples, a cemetery and group of different houses of worship. The valley is known for the Byodo-In Temple; the largest Buddhist temple in the state of Hawaii and a popular attraction for pilgrims and tourists alike. And that’s where I found myself with my roommate: walking around the serene surroundings and taking in the sights.


Behind the temple is a small alcove with an awning and offering area, where worshippers come to offer prayer flags and flowers. Its a quiet spot, and I found myself drawn to the area. No one was around and the stillness so peaceful, I decided to silence my phone, put the DLSR away, and start a small meditation session. And it couldn’t have been at a better time. The chatter in my head was so deafening, I was unable to really focus on the beauty of the moment and the peacefulness of the surroundings. My mind was asking “why did I move here” and “why did I give up so much”, and I didn’t have the answer. What was my “why”?


I had just moved to the islands a mere two days before in a mood of what I like to call “daring stupidity” (daring,yes; stupid… time will tell). I had left my comfortable job and life in Wisconsin to start something different and build my life as a writer and freelancer (shameless self-promotion here: I’m open for clients!); selling or giving away most of my possessions, leaving a good-paying supervisory position to be demoted within the same company so I can at least keep a paycheck coming in, and giving up a nice apartment (no high-rise Taj Mahal, but it was peaceful) to live on an air mattress in Hawaii’s notoriously high-priced apartments. Why was I doing all this? Why was I there? And why were my legs falling asleep on the bench?


Note to self: sit more comfortably during a session. As for the answers to all the other questions, a little introspection was in order.


I crave freedom. Its not the “cool thing” to be a freelancer and digital nomad in the world I grew up in; in fact, far from it. My upbringing was centered around the classic 1950s vision of suburban Americana: graduate from high school (or, if you want to be all high-falutin’, college), marry the sweetheart, buy the suburban home, get the 9-5, and come home to the evening paper and your dinner jacket.


The 9-5 wasn’t just a way of life, it was the only life.


And I wasn’t having any of it. I wanted the freedom to choose my work: from when I worked, to how I worked, to who I worked for, and how much I got paid. I wanted the freedom to be me, whatever that may be. As humans, we are always evolving; constantly vying for the higher plane of ourselves.And while some people find their evolution inside a retail store, factory line, or office cubicle, I find my evolution in front of my laptop.


Maybe the meditation at the temple helped the post-move jitters, maybe it provided some important introspection into my “why” and my purpose, and maybe, just maybe, it gave me a path. I got up from the pavilion, and started walking back to our rental car. And the constant chatter of “why?” in my head was replaced with one word.





This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1 (and 2)


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