The Van In The Wilderness
BEND, OR—One of the reasons van dwelling isn’t more popular is because of the Creepy-Guy-In-The-Van syndrome.
Sitting in my van, typing away on the computer, I glanced up to catch a young mother looking over at me. She instinctively reached for her child’s hand and my mind said, “She thinks I’m the creepy guy in the van,” and I felt The Contraction as the me-thing hardened up. Yuck.
Self centered thoughts, what a pain in my ass.
The chipmunks and the cardinal-like bird taught me that all animals have a primitive sense of self—that evolution rewards self-preservation. Likewise, evolution rewards animals that don’t stand out from the herd—that aren’t too different from the other members of their species. What self-respecting seagull wants to mate with that nut case Jonathan who is always out perfecting his useless acrobatics skills while the rest of us are flocking around doing the-very-important-but-not-really-examined-seagull-stuff? Who’d mate with a weirdo like that?
Evolution rewards the herd. It rewards conformists. (Today’s contrary view: This morning’s post by Seth Godin. Today’s sad supporting evidence: This morning’s news of a crowd watching a murder in a McDonalds.)
Just like self preservation is hard-wired into our brains, I’m pretty sure that social conformity is too.
I’m pretty sure the question, “What do they think of me?” (in some instinctual primitive form), is physically wired into our brains and there’s not a damn thing we can do about our minds asking us this question (no matter how subtly) over and over and over whenever it sees we are around others.
Damn hard-wired mind, what a pain in my ass.
Maybe that’s why solitude is so attractive to the spiritual seeker. It makes their life easier. It makes the Emptiness—the Vastness that lies below all the noise of the ego—much more easily accessed.
Anti-social people seek to repress the instinctual query What do people think of me?, creating (I’m guessing here) an inner conflict which manifests as anger and cynicism toward their fellow man.
But the authentic spiritual seeker—in her quest to understand her true nature—can’t afford inner conflict or self deception. In the pursuit of spiritual truth, she can’t afford to repress or deny the question, What do people think of me?. So what is she to do?
The Frog Master knows:
You are not your thoughts. You are not in control of your thoughts. There is no need to take thoughts seriously. There is no need to feel responsible for them. Your thoughts are not you.
Put another way—and as ironic as it sounds—you could say that your thoughts are not your thoughts. Thoughts are just a bunch of instinctual noise in your head.
I still take thoughts too seriously sometimes. I still contract when my mind says that someone else’s mind is telling them that I am the creepy guy in the van. Damn hard-wired mind… pain in my ass. But I’m trying, Ringo, I’m trying real hard to be the Frog Master.