How Do I Fit In?

Walking the path of Dhamma gives me a strange feeling of isolation. Often, I feel like I’m walking around an entire society of people with a secret. I don’t want to hide this secret, but I also know that it’s not a secret I can simply share with words. Instead, I need to live it, patiently and persistently, and wait for my action reveal that I have a secret. It’s like I’m a single burning candle among hundreds of unlit candles. Every hour that I meditate helps my candle to glow a little brighter. Occasionally I encounter another candle and we glow a little brighter together. Maybe the extra light catches someone’s eye. Probably not.

The Centers are like torches. People arrive and learn how to light their candle, and try to carry this precious flame into the world. Most people lose their flame within a few weeks, but their candle is forever changed by the darkened wick. Just like cavemen in their time, we will each learn to light and protect our flame, but this will take time.

I picture myself as one among many trying to learn how to protect and grow my flame. At times I get distracted and my flame reduces to embers, but each day I try to tend to my flame a little bit by meditating. With time, more and more candles will be lit, and we’ll be able to help reignite our neighbors’ candles. Maybe it really is this simple. Maybe I’m oversimplifying. Time to meditate.

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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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