Stories & Life
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A break in the action

Off I go, for another retreat – this time though, I’m serving not sitting. There’s a few hours of meditation each day in group sits, where everyone sits together in the meditation hall, so I’ll get in at least 3 hours a day, maybe more, but most of my time will be spent making meals and cleaning up. KP duty.

It’s part of the pay-it-forward system. The Goenka Vipassana retreats are based on “dana,” i.e., retreats are 100% free, paid for by past donations and by volunteers who have sat at least one course. At my first Goenka retreat, I was waiting for the shake down. I knew it was donation based, but I still expected to hear a pitch that ended with an appeal to dig deep in my pockets to help the organization. To my surprise it never came. Instead, they simply said that if you’ve appreciated the retreat then consider volunteering as a way to help others who are on retreat. So off I go, to the North Fork center.

This also marks something of a conclusion to my winter writing project. I haven’t been blogging much because I’ve been working to get my nonfiction project to the point where I could send it off for editing. It’s pretty raw but I’m far enough along to benefit from an editorial eye.

I set the Alaska novel aside for a time and shifted back to my original nonfiction project, a book-length effort that, itself, had stalled a few years ago. Perhaps it was time or perhaps it was Trump, but one way or the other I was inspired to get back to it. In a nutshell, I’ve placed memoir writing about my own process of waking up to various forms of prejudice and privilege alongside an analysis of the greater narratives that support systems of privilege and prejudice.

The coastal/surfer photo in this post is taken from a beach in Soquel, at Paradise Point, near Santa Cruz. I was out for a Sunday stroll and got in some sun just before the dark clouds moved in, which is cool because California needs the rain.

This entry was posted in: Stories & Life


Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy; I pass the winters in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. I'm working on a memoir-based nonfiction book on the American Dream. I blog, quite frequently, and I also have a novel in process, set in Alaska.

Consider this post an invitation, an invitation to comment and collaborate, in an open-ended sort of way, so please share your...whatever it is that's on your mind: thoughts, ideas, greetings, angst/irritation, inspiration, confusion, query, rant, salutation, data/research, meme, epigram, exposition or epiphany -- because I'm all about the synergy and solidarity. ~ JE

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