Six Weeks in New York

The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for

~ Fyodor Dostoevsky


As I announced the morning after my arrival into the state of New York, I’ve begun the process of settling into my new digs in Westchester County. The contrast with my move to western Belize is profound. This brief essay explains.

I was mentally devastated during the first two weeks of my 27-month adventure in western Belize. The telecommunications infrastructure was too poor and also too expensive to allow continued work on my magnus opus. I updated the essay one final time when I made a quick trip to the “first world.” Then I quit in frustration. After investing hundreds of hours in the often-updated essay, the essay had become part of my identity. I was forced to “kill the Buddha” or abandon my identity, yet again.

My frustration faded within six weeks of my arrival into Central America. Captivated by the biologically rich environment as I began busily establishing connections with members of my new human community, my ego gave way to acceptance of my new home. I was back to the hammer-swinging, food-growing, community-building life I had experienced in rural New Mexico in the early 2010s.

The tsunami of guests created a pleasant, ongoing distraction. The onrush came on the heels of Hurricane Earl, the eye of which passed over the Belizean homestead two weeks after my arrival there on 20 July 2016. During the following 27 months, the longest break between guests did not exceed 7 days. Between friends and Workaway guests seeking cultural exchange, my social calendar was full. Along with my continued voluntary service in the scholarship of abrupt climate change, the building of both structures and a decent human community kept me occupied and engaged, physically and intellectually. I had found a satisfying way to renew my purpose-driven life.

I’m pleased to have contributed to a Belizean homestead that is beautiful and functional. The memories and friends I made there will last a lifetime (which, at this point, isn’t saying much). Friends established as a result of my Belizean adventure are already finding their way to my new home in New York.

My early frustration with my home in western Belize rapidly gave way to profound and lasting love for the place and the culture. I’ll long miss radical conversations with guests as we cooled off in the saltwater pool at the end of nearly every hot, humid day.

Back in the belly of the imperial beast, I’m already enjoying my time in New York despite my initial hesitation about occupying such a heavily populated area. The excellent telecommunications infrastructure allows me to transmit my message with relative ease, and the excellent infrastructure in every other manner makes for an easy, privileged life. And don’t even get me started on the superb ice cream. I miss the saltwater pool, but not the rich invertebrate fauna intent upon unpleasantly extracting my blood.

All that’s missing so far is a cargo container filled with what George Carlin called, “stuff.” Bureaucracy has it trapped on a dock in New York City, so close and yet so far. Had I known about the delay, I would have brought a sweater. Potential guests take note: The furnishings in the apartment I’m renting remain spartan.

Consistent with Dostoevsky‘s sentiments, I have retained “something to live for” six weeks after my latest transition. I’ve little doubt my pursuit of a purpose-driven life will remain satisfactory as long as I remain focused on a life of service. Why would I choose otherwise?


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