J. Robert King


V*A*C*A*T*I*O*N

Sorry I’ve been offline for a week or so, but I’ve been on VACATION!

Now, let’s look at that word. It has vacate in it, not to mention vacant, and evacuate. They all come from the same Latin word, which means “to be empty, to be free.”

To be empty . . . to be free . . .

It reminds me of a conversation–argument, really–I had with a longtime friend of mine named Don, who espoused the philosophy of Zen: give up desire and give up suffering.

I was dubious. Desire is life. I told him I needed my desire. I needed my suffering. To give them up was to abdicate life, to embrace death.

Exactly, Don said.

Damn it. Don has this way of being right and then grinning about it with perfect teeth.

Yes, he was right. Of course, we all want to give up suffering. We all want to step out of the daily grind, the grindstone, the meat grinder that is everyday existence and become someone who is not subject to these things. We want to evacuate our lives, give up desire and survival for simple existence.

All right, so, you think I went to the Bahamas to lie on a beach and have mai tais brought to me every half hour. Vacant. Oblivious.

Have you even been reading this blog?

No, I took my family to the historic triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, VA. We drove twice to D.C., and we went to Gettysburg and Monticello and Virginia Beach, too, I led 10 people for 6 days through these important sites.

This is the opposite of a vacation. It wasn’t empty. It was full. Every moment was full of living. Was it relaxing? No. Was it vacant? No. Was it worth it?

Absolutely.

So, here’s where I get to grin at Don with my imperfect teeth. Life is about living. It’s about desire and pain and struggle. While I am alive, that is what I’ll be about.

When I am dead, I can enjoy not caring.

July 28th, 2009
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