Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Ult's Very Brief Autobiography and Manifesto

Where I Came From
1973 I was born in a commune in southern Oregon under a pine tree. During my childhood I rarely stayed in one place for long, traipsing back and forth between two peripatetic parents. Although I did well in school, I never enjoyed it much and was happy to make a few attempts at home schooling.
1988 Shortly after moving to California, I went into a period of depression and dropped out of high school, taking a test to receive an equivilency diploma. I began working at a small software development company and supporting myself. For the next ten years I continued on this path -- proving to myself, by working long hours at a startup company, that I could maintain a professional career in spite of my limited education.
1998 Finally realizing that my life was out of balance, I quit my job to take a year off to travel. That year turned into two, and kept going. Being away from the strong influence of materialistic culture and having a wider range of experiences opened my mind to different ways of looking at life. I felt no need to return to my previous existence, and a small inheritance stipend allowed me to maintain my simple traveling lifestyle.
Where I Am
2002 Still enjoying traveling, but I'm beginning to feel the pendulum swinging back the other way, gently urging me to consider opportunities to be still and focus on developing aspects of myself that have been neglected while I'm on the move, and that require some structure to make real progress.
Where I'm Going
One thing I've learned while traveling is not to be too attached to future plans. Plans provide guidance and direction, but grasping them too tightly can keep us from being open to new opportunities. Having no plan at all, on the other hand, can result in a feeling of limbo, waiting for some opportunity to come throw itself at our feet. At times I've pushed myself to the extreme of refusing to plan, accepting the possibility that nothing happens -- this is a good excercise, as the mind has a lot of trouble not knowing (or thinking it knows) the future. Any plans that I did have, because I was going through a lot of changes, were subject to radical shifts week to week or even day to day. Without strong intentions about my future, I was blowing with the wind -- an important experience for me, for years having been a control freak. Now, however, I feel like this four year phase of exploration is winding down, and thoughts and intentions about the future are stabilizing.

Stabilizing to what? is the natural question. Here goes:

Meditation: having read numerous books on the subject, attended several meditation and yoga retreats in India, and generally being convinced that it's a critical practice for my life, only very recently have I developed the intention and discipline to do the practice every day. This is a big step for me, and I hope to use the momentum created by taking that step to make it not only a part of each day, but the primary focus of each day: to live with consciousness and awareness. I guess this will require some experimentation with living environments to discover what I need to maintain the discipline without too much internal struggle. I'm sure meditation retreats will also be helpful in establishing a foundation from which to work. Calming the mind, learning to embody wisdom and compassion -- sounds nice, doesn't it? In general I would like to my life to be dedicated to helping people live happier lives, and this seems to be the best way to do that -- first to understand and accept myself as I am, then to apply that understanding and acceptance to others.

Living: in a word: simply. I would like to reduce my needs and desires as much as possible, to allow my mind to be calm and introspective. I see this as a gradual process which began four years ago, not something which requires sudden changes. Living with people who are supportive of my choices seems important.

Working: I would like to explore possibilities of working in a way that I see as making the world a better place. It's difficult for me (although not impossible) to see how computer software development can achieve that. I think I will be experimenting with ideas for a while, to find a balance between idealism and practicality.

Music and art: while apparently not a critical part of my life, again and again I'm drawn to music and creative pursuits. I don't have any strong intentions about progress in this arena right now, but I'm curious where it will take me.

Writing: this has been a long-time interest of mine, and I would like to find a way to integrate it more fully into my life. This website is the manifestation of that intent. I see this as a long-term goal, something to steer towards without necessarily intending to reach it immediately.