Today, while holding my bags and stepping aboard Amtrak train 449, I began my trip towards California.
A little over two years ago, I came to Boston from California. Most of the motivation at the time was wrapped up in a subtle desire to "move on" with life. I had a few ideas what I was moving-on towards, but I wanted to allow things to take their course. And I felt I needed to be far away, and to live alone, in order for this process to work.
After 3-4 weeks of apartment-searching, I would end up deciding to move close to a meditation center in the heart of Cambridge. Initially this idea was only a passing thought. But, as I walked from apartment to apartment in the sweltering July heat, it came to the front of attention as I asked myself, "so John, what exactly are you looking for?"
The center seemed like an opportunity to be with others who were really interested in Buddhism and meditation. Before, I had been practicing on my own, mostly out of not knowing it would be possible or helpful to find others with similar interests. In retrospect, it seems absurd considering how many people practice and form communities around Buddhism in the Bay Area (where I had just moved from), but that's just how I saw things at the time.
And so, as I head to California to join another community, it's now abundantly clear how much I value companionship on this journey. A friend of mine recently emailed me concerned that going to a monastery would possibly over-stimulate my introverted tendencies. I assured him that this probably wasn't the case, and that monasteries are, to my understanding, fairly communal places. Perhaps I'll take some time in the future to be on my own, but for now, I plan to be living with others.