We live in a world where people worship convenience. It runs the economy; it shapes relationships. Whole empires are built upon developing quicker, easier ways to deliver people their desires. History has shown that people are willing to pay a premium for convenience.
But convenience always comes with a trade off. The pizza that arrives to the door in 30 minutes or less is loaded with preservatives, flavor enhancers, and chemical 'god know's what.' Fruits and vegetables are genetically modified and packaged with preservatives, often in containers that leech unknown chemicals into the food, and then microwaved; the land is over-farmed and sprayed with synthetic fertilizers in an attempt to bring the people more of what they want. Crops are pushed to the brink of near extinction (bananas, for instance). While convenience is alluring, before we know it, we've traded our most cherished values for it. Real connection gives way to the digital matrix; we lose physical touch and intimacy as we zone out on screens; music loses quality so that we can carry more of it in the device in our pocket, which provides a near constant dose of radiation. Recently, I read about the correlation between the release of the iPhone and childhood depression. Of course, Many of us are in the crisis we are in because at some point we sacrificed real nourishment of the soul for the sake of a high-gloss, conveniently packaged substitute.
At the same time, something else is rumbling in the earth... movement that's always been alive through the ages, even when it's assaulted, attacked, driven underground... ready to burst through in new growth. The revolution of inconvenience will not be televised. It shows up in unlikely places; the slow food movement arises to challenge 'fast' food. Thinking slow and meditating on strategy instead of 'just doing it.' Ultra distance running. Walking up the mountain barefoot. Plunging into cold water. Giving up everything for a spiritual path. Fasting. Wildcrafting herbs. Handwork. The list goes on.
While one world worships convenience, the awakenings are happening at inconvenient moments. Accessing truth takes breaking through our own assumptions, which can be inconvenient ... the delivery of the ineffable, what is real, is often cumbersome and unpolished. The personal relationships that catalyze the most growth take the most time. Facing our deepest fears is as inconvenient as it is necessary. Trading the illusory convenience of the pharmaceutical for real healing; giving up the addiction to numbing and committing to feeling more.
For years clients drove for hours up into the forest to see me in intense 2, 3, or 4 hour healing sessions. This work was difficult to market, in a sense, because people had to decide to leave their busy lies and literally sojourn out to where all cell reception died off. Many entrepreneurs and executives simply declined this process where we slowed down, honed in on the subtle body speaking the messages beneath and beyond the words, and brought up emotions that had never been felt before. It often took an hour before the 'real selves' showed up at all, after hours of driving through winding roads in the redwoods; roads that required mindfulness, slowness. Our objective: To tip over into whatever was incomplete in life, to create healing that was deeper, much deeper than that provided by any 'convenient' practice. We'd deliberately slow time to a crawl, and often achieve in just hours what twenty years of therapy somehow missed. That's the potential of 'slow' and 'inconvenient.' We touched onto pain points and remained in them long enough to experience the life lesson; pain that we otherwise go to great lengths to avoid.
Once, I was driving a haul across the country, and on the uphills, if I got caught in the wrong gear, my poor little Jetta engine could only get up to 10 miles an hour until I crested the hill and could roll down again. At first, it was gut-wrenching to plod so slowly while I pondered the hours upon hours added to my drive. But it was while I was laboring up these rolling hills, like Sisyphus, that I saw them. By the roadside, little black birds, even there in the desert, pecking at the dust. The landscape was teeming with life I'd never seen while I was roaring through. I experienced a breakthrough to the layer of life that moves more slowly. Ever sense, I always keep an eye open to it. It's where shamans live. We overlook much of what matters most; the plum blossoms; the birdsongs; the tear gathering on the lower eyelid.
If we spend most of our lives roaring through life, seeking greater convenience, so that we man move through even faster, what do we sacrifice? Monks, in the quest for enlightenment, often rely on practices that run completely against the grain of convenience. Kneeling and touching their forehead to the earth on every step on a walk of a hundred miles, until their forehead is calloused; hand washing one robe until it falls apart; polishing the temple floor with a rag by hand. Is it the ego that demands convenience?
When I was a painter, I painted very slowly and deliberately in graduate school. No one knew what I was doing... I was in my own world. A famous painter once challenged me, saying 'where is your American pragmatism? Paint faster.' 'What would I rather be doing?' I rejoined. Perhaps I was asking myself. I've carved elaborate wooden totems with hand tools alone, because there was something sacred in getting to know the wood in the silence, without the buzz of electric tools rattling my skull. I've written a 500 page novel on a manual typewriter, which is still sitting in a box somewhere... and I swear my soul unfolded as it flowed clumsily from my fingers, page by page, word by word, with no way to go back and correct what I'd already written. There was just this stack 'of the past.' During these moments, I noticed heightened aliveness. I forgot the bustle of life and honed in so completely on a task that somehow I remembered myself.
These inconvenient acts are the portals to another world. As an experiment, I suggest you build these into your life system, and see what unfolds. A friend was walking up an endless flight of stairs up a mountain to a buddhist monastery, and as one stair after another added to his physical and mental exhaustion, he was 'enlightened.' I sometimes visualize that walk when I need to recenter.
I wonder if anyone was ever enlightened in an elevator?
Love and Bloom
Founder. Budden Enterprises - Dramatic Life Changes in Hours. Your Impossibles, Delivered (since 2011)
PS. I know it may be inconvenient... share this with someone anyway.