Good morning. The semester is winding down and there are only a few things left for me to finish up before next Wednesday. I am spending the weekend finishing a paper and crossing off my To Do list...then I start my 10-days of "noble silence". From May 13-24 I will be at Vipassana Meditation Center in Shelburne Falls, MA. I won't be able to read, write, use any technology, or have any contact with the outside world. It will be just me and my thoughts, for 10 straight days, meditating for more than 10 hours each day. Food is provided for me (all vegetarian, but I have recently become a vegetarian, at least for the time being) and the cost of the program is free. Until you complete at least one 10-day "sit in", you cannot donate. And what you donate is not what you feel the program costs, but rather, how much you are financially able and willing to give. It should be a very cool experience and great for my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I'm curious if I will be any different after I complete the course, specifically my outlook on life.
Recently, there has been a city that repeatedly comes up in conversation for me; Portland, Oregon. I'm feeling very drawn to this place (I couchsurfed with people in Australia originally from Portland, a girl in my class is from Portland, a research liason from UMass lived there for 9 years, many teachers / acquaintances have visited there, and a few friends through friends are currently living there. Depending on how things turn out, I may have to fly over to Portland at some point this summer and check it out for myself.
I feel like this city may be where I end up for a few years after leaving Amherst. Although I love it here, it will be 6 years next May and my plan is to go traveling immediately after graduating. I'm sure I could get a full-time job, but what's the rush? Once you have one, it's much harder to just pick up and leave. I'm embracing my time at this academic institution as it is a place that facilitates learning, and that's what I'm all about these days.
Each day I try to learn at least one new thing. That never seems to be a problem - there is so much information available in books, online, and by talking to people. I've found that you actually have to be selective in what you take in (there's about 10-20 classes I'd love to take next semester, but I can only fit about 6 in my schedule plus being a Teaching Assistant and working. Everything I'm learning now in my classes will be used later in life. Planting my own food, having an energy efficient house, using little to no fossil fuels... basically living a very conservative lifestyle. I can see myself teaching these things to people as I move forward.
In summary, I am loving it here in Amherst and the information I'm learning is extremely valuable. I will always be a student of life, and I hope to teach others the things that I'm learning. After my education at UMass Amherst is complete, I will continue learning by traveling (destination(s) still to be determined). I will settle someplace else for at least a few years and perhaps return to Amherst some day. I have a feeling that these 10 days at Vipassana Meditation Center will do wonders for me...