I’m deriving vicarious pleasure from Adrienne’s walk. I’ve walked alongside her these past months as she prepared herself. I’ve done a couple of training walks to show solidarity and in a few days time I’ll be actually walking on the coastal path for one day with her. And Rev. Alicia will walk too. Oddly though, now she is well under way the second hand pleasure, and excitement, has diminished. It is almost as if she has gone away. Disappeared from my mental view! How could this be? One might expect to be more engaged, at every level, during the actual event.
Now thinking about my own travels and the lengthy and often complex preparations I need to make. During that time there is a lot going on. Not only the administration tasks which are relatively straightforward, there are also the anxieties about the journey itself (flights, trains etc.) and that’s not the end of it. The last thing Adrienne was planning was where she could buy lunch, a cafe or pub, on the path and which days she needed to buy and carry food for lunch. Oh and which days she needed to carry both lunch and supper food. Imagine! Imagine that level of detail so essential to get right when carrying your home on your back and moving in relatively remote countryside?
My own experience is once packed and on the road, passport and ticket info. in hand, a whole weight is lifted. I’m no longer preparing, I’m living daily life on the road. It’s a constant state of not having arrived at a destination. The feeling is one of freedom on every level. Wonderful! Perhaps that’s why leaving the comfort of home to travel is so attractive. But only known once having left! Are there not parallels with our practice and especially when pointing towards, for example, going on retreat?
The first ceremony of Jukai, when people commit to being a Buddhist, is said to be the journey to the monastery/priory/temple. One could imagine the journey to one of the Field of Merit hermitages for a solitary retreat might be testing. We will take account of that and support you even before you arrive. I can also imagine the sense of freedom, not to mention relief, that might come upon one having reached the door of a hermitage. Then entering knowing there is no destination, just arriving. There to simply live, simply.
Adrienne is now living daily life on the road/path. She offers merit generally and to specific people and situations. Circulation of merit works because we are not fundamentally separate. Adrienne has disappeared from my view because we are not separate. We are getting on with life – together. As is the case universally.