A New Room, Resting at the Starting Gate

We just brought home a new room, which is now sitting in our driveway. While the sunroom extension at the back of our brick home required some construction–a raised concrete pad to make its floor level with the oak floor of our living room and a connection to the house roof–our latest room is completely detached and more like an escape pod on an intergalactic mission than an extension of our existing home. Our escape pod is a 1995 Chinook, built on a Ford 350 truck chassis, and it’s designed to make excursions from the mother ship (and to hopefully return), on its own power.

I remember a director at the UNM Computing Center where I used to work selling his brick and mortar house in Albuquerque when he retired and he and his wife hitting the road, as a way life. Last I heard they were still travelling. However, my wife and I have no intention of changing our basically stay-at-home life-style, or at least I don’t, which was in place even before the Coronavirus imposed it on us. With two dogs and a cat, we’re not really in a position to take off for more than a few days at a time, since we will have to leave Kiva at home with her litter box, her bowl of water and a bowl of dry food.

The Chinook, now parked in our driveway with a dead battery and covered with a tarp–since monsoon rains revealed a leak in the roof–can’t be titled in our names until a month from now because the MVD, with a large backlog after being closed for a month, now only serves a few customers at a time, wiping down counters in between.

Some new maxims are coming to mind: “Getting ready is half the journey.” and “Problems are opportunities to learn new things.” A third could be: “Life saw that we were stuck in a rut and nudged us out of our comfort zone”.

This morning, reading “Relief for the Restless Mind”, a chapter in “Revelations of Mind”, a book by Tarthang Tulku, I read a trenchant analysis of my current state of consciousness, beset as I have felt by concern that we have driven a nest of new problems into our lives. This chapter, which is about the importance of understanding, is helping me glimpse how I am identifying “‘problems” (the Chinook won’t start; we need a tarp over it because it has a leak; and we can’t register it for a month); and then projecting my fears—that we’ll get stranded when it doesn’t start on the road—as if they are inherent in the situation.

The chapter, “Relief for the Restless Mind” explores how such “problems” can be a doorway into the power of understanding, ultimately offering us the potential to recognize the real issue: that we misunderstand the nature of our lives.

I need this kind of reminder this morning, after stumbling out of bed at 3:00 am, unrested and anxious. I’m slowly recognizing that these ‘problems’ are offering me a chance to develop understanding of my fundamental situation and how I place challenges in the driver’s seat where they try to rule my life and happiness.

Benefits are already appearing. My wife is in her element, undaunted by the unfamiliar, willing to push against the envelop of unknowing, actively acquiring knowledge about how things work—with the impressive participation of a Chinook discussion group–and building up a picture of where things are in the vehicle and how they coordinate with one another.

When we eventually pull into a camp site, weeks or months from now, we’ll understand the Chinook better, and perhaps feel more at home in our own bodies and minds: those more essential vehicles that are bobbing along in the stream of time and carrying us across open fields of space.

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