keeping a temporary* mindful home

*That is, the home is temporary. Mindfulness, well. . . the work is in keeping it from being temporary, isn't it?

The professor and I left our comfortable, built-by-us home on March 1, 2017 and have been on the road ever since. We each have a clothes bag and a business bag. All told, together we're carrying about 65 litres or 40kg worth of our belongings. Four months into our journey, that feels like an excess of clothes, some days. We've dropped a few things and taken a few things on. We are required to be tidy, so that everything fits in our packs and everything travels along with us and doesn't get mistakenly left behind.

For me, I found a Persian rug while thrift shopping with Reinekke in her tiny Netherlands town. I saw it and loved it! I thought I'd carry it for a while and then ship it home. What happened, though, is that it has accompanied me everywhere: the weight being worth its comfort when I stepped out of bed every morning and onto its warmth. In practicing a certain kind of impermanence, this week, I left it at my parents' for safekeeping. 

our packs, including clothes, shoes, and overnight kits, but not laptops, e-readers, and notebooks, in our St. Germain, Paris apartment.

our packs, including clothes, shoes, and overnight kits, but not laptops, e-readers, and notebooks, in our St. Germain, Paris apartment.

The rug, my sandals, and me in my travelling shoes across from the water in Sitges, Spain.

The rug, my sandals, and me in my travelling shoes across from the water in Sitges, Spain.

In front of a Mary, Madrid, Spain

In front of a Mary, Madrid, Spain

These things, however, are merely things. I was reminded of this the other day while tidying my laptop's "desktop." I purposefully keep it light, because I like to have only a few things that delight me on it. It had been a while since I had looked at the half-dozen or so clips there, and I happened to open this list of ten tips by Karen Maezen Miller. I don't know where it is from, or when it felt significant enough to clip and keep. Today, it speaks to me as I travel: as "home" is a moving space. 

mindful home

Meanwhile. . . I've just come back from three weeks apart from the professor while we each visited our parents, and what I realized most is that he is home for me. Others caught me saying that I would be flying home soon and wondered what I meant. I caught myself saying it, too. And what I meant was that we'd be together again. 

With that in mind, I look at this list differently again. I haven't studied Zen Buddhism, but surely the words of Maezen are designed to reflect in as many directions as we take moments to look at them. 

And so here I am, reflecting on the keeping of my mindful "homes," the temporary one that keeps me warm and dry, and the imaginary one of relationship.

Paris in March: this sabbatical's beginnings

Cafe Marly at the Louvre by  Herry Lawford on flickr  by  Creative Commons license .

Cafe Marly at the Louvre by Herry Lawford on flickr by Creative Commons license.

Ten days ago, we booked our flights.

Today, I'm checking into the Card Paris Museum pass and considering where I'd best like to spend my time. Where the professor and I might want to share our time. And really, I simply want to breathe the air. To eat fresh pastry and feel the sense of the movement on the streets. Or stillness, if that happens too.

It's a sabbatical year. Mike is preparing to research, write, and present papers, and I'm preparing to work alongside him. I'm thinking of it in terms of "our sabbatical." And that leads me to the word's—and the concept's—origins. 

sabbatical: leaving a seventh year uncultivated + unpruned

"Sabbatical," in my trusty Canadian Oxford Dictionary, refers to a leave "granted at intervals to a professor or teacher for study or travel, originally every seventh year." Makes sense: that's what this is. And also, "of or appropriate to the Sabbath." Again, it's break-taking. Wikipedia sends us deeper into cultural shaping, and directly to Leviticus 25, where all workers were implored to leave a seventh year fallow, or their crops uncultivated and orchards unpruned. Then it goes on to trumpets, bound labourers, and release by uncles. Of any book in the bible, Leviticus is one I'd least want to follow to the letter: but the sabbatical part interests me. 

It makes sense that we need to take breaks. We need rest, so that we can offer our best work—or fruit, in the sense of the fallow crop—to our communities. Maybe a change of scenery also allows for the re-shaping of time?

Paris is just the beginning: it offered the lowest cost on flights into Europe. We'll stop over in Reykjavik on our way for a few nights, and carry on to Barcelona and beyond. I'm buzzing with curious anticipation, and grateful for all of the possibilities that "uncultivated and unpruned" can bring.