Risky Business

Taking risks has been a source of excitement for my life. When life gets to boring or stagnant I would create change in a spontaneous fashion. I once quit my job in Tennessee and while couch surfing up the east coast I convinced my friend to quit his job. We met in Cincinnati, drove cross-country to the Grand Canyon, rafted the full length in 14 days, drove to Denver, Colorado, backpacked 500 miles through the Rocky Mountains in 33 days, drove to Seattle and took up residence for a while. It was a wonderful trip with bountiful memories and it started because I was willing to take a risk. Change can be scary because you don’t know what’s on the other side but sometimes if you face that fear you’ll discover an adventure awaiting you. This pattern has repeated itself in my life so for a while I found myself a bit edgy looking for the next adventure.

Then Vipassana entered my life. I no longer needed to create change. I could observe change continuously within my body. Jumping towards fear to find an adventure started feeling like jumping without wisdom. Instead of searching for challenges I’ve been searching for solitude. Instead of searching for excitement I’ve been searching for peace. Learning to be present with every moment is interesting enough and it becomes easier as life becomes more simple so I’ve been developing simplicity in my life.

I started wondering how I would guide my life now that my old system was out of date. If I wasn’t searching for excitement or overcoming fears what was I doing? Then I discovered that dhamma had its own plan for me. When I arrived at the meditation center for long-term service I expected to be cutting vegetables and meditating. It turns out that the center needed to apply for a commercial kitchen license and I happened to have restaurant management experience. I had walked into a giant project without even looking for it. I’ve also crossed paths with certain people who were at the right place at the right time and gotten jobs that have just kind of appeared.

I think I’m finding that I don’t need to create the next growing opportunity and that planning might be overrated. My job is to maintain my precepts, meditate daily, and stay in the present moment as much as possible. If I do that, dhamma will lead the way by presenting opportunities at the right time. Definitely not on my schedule, but on the dhamma schedule. I guess this is what having faith in this path is all about.

I’m a long way from practicing life in this way. I over think and over analyze things just like everyone else. The change is that I feel less need to find the next risky adventure and a stronger desire to grow deeper in my practice. In time I think dhamma will show me the greatest adventure yet.

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This entry was posted in Personal Experiences by Ryan Shelton. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ryan Shelton

While I'm currently married to a beautiful woman while teaching physics at Padua Academy, these descriptors fail to capture the totality of my adventurous life. I have hiked over 1700 miles, traveled to 5 continents, managed a bakery, started a meditation center, counseled troubled teens, attended Duke, UNC, and Harvard, protected forests as a wildland firefighter, volunteered thousands of hours with Americorps, rafted the Grand Canyon, SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef, and continues to find new adventures. I hope my writing encourages you to pursue your dreams and be the best version of yourself while supporting your communities to work together to solve the current challenges in our world.

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