A Different Way

A group of meditators in Georgia has started a living community. They want to live a simple life together in close proximity to a Vipassana Center. They want to live cheap, grow their own vegetables, and support each other and the Center with this practice. Many aspects of this lifestyle seem appealing.

The strongest appeal is the opportunity to support a different way of living life. I’ve always felt pressure to fit in to society. I’m supposed to find a role that helps support me and helps contribute to society. My frustration is that the very framework upon which our society structure rests is something I don’t believe in. We spend more time identifying with our jobs than with family, religion, and friends. In order to exist in this societal structure, I need to sell my time to afford food, clothing, and shelter, and these jobs tend to reinforce this investment in our economic system. It just seems like everything is about money.

In the past I would have considered moving to the middle of nowhere and living in a different way as running away. I thought that to make the systems better I needed to be a part of the system. Recently, I’m starting to think that the only way to change the system is by offering an attractive alternative outside the system. People choose the best option that is available to them. It seems like a wonderful contribution to create a viable alternative to living within this system. Instead of running away to this alternative world, I would need to move to this alternative space and remain open and engaged with the rest of the world. I no longer feel like this would be running away.

I also wouldn’t need to spend countless hours investing in work that I don’t believe in. I would have free time to invest in family, friends, and community. I could be more connected to my food. Of course, there would be the downside of possibly being isolated, lonely, or bored. I think it would be hard to reconnect to the system if I left it. I would have concerns about long term financial and medical security. But maybe it’s worth the risk. Maybe I’m justifying running away. Time to meditate.

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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.

2 thoughts on “A Different Way

  1. Smiles…I want to yell “do it!” but ,you know- your path and all that 🙂 Besides, I suspect I just want to live vicariously through you -I have the same debate with myself, and the same security concerns.

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