From Monastery to Canada

Yesterday marked six months since I left the monastery. It’s was also my son’s 24th birthday. And my dad arrived for a short Father’s Day visit. This seemed like a good time to reflect on what’s been happening these past months. I’ve settled into a very nice 2-bedroom apartment in Abbotsford that’s within walking distance of all that I may need. This was important to me. Abbotsford is a nice town. Not too busy and crowded like a city, but at the same time is metropolitan enough to explore opportunities.

One aspect of Abbotsford that I appreciate is the many pocket parks with wild nature of big redwoods, flowing streams, and wildlife. And a 15-minute bike ride takes me to the wide Fraser River that has a lovely trail all along the shore. And for my daily exercise, I usually take a walk around Mill Lake (a 10-minute walk from my place). Having nature nearby has been great. And it’s so green here. My criteria for location was wet, cold, and green. Abbotsford has certainly delivered. Even here in June it’s 45-degrees and 80-degrees. Rain and sunshine. 

It’s also really nice to be about 45-minutes from Vancouver. I’ve managed to get up there for some meals, see some music, visit with my cousin, and spend an afternoon on the beach and in the water in North Vancouver. It’s definitely way more busy up there, so I’m glad I didn’t move there initially because it would have been quite a shock to the system coming from the monastery. 

My typical daily schedule is coffee, exercise, breakfast, job search, lunch, and then mostly lazy for the rest of the day/evening. It’s a nice schedule, but I sure wish that a job would manifest. I’ve applied for 98 positions so far and had four interviews. Pretty raw and challenging. I know that I’m doing the footwork but there have been some days where my depression has set in. I’m also experiencing some anxiety because my savings runs out this month and I’m going to have to borrow money moving forward. This is something that I’ve avoided for most of the last 25-years so I don’t like that I need to do this. Fortunately, there are many positions to apply for in the region and remotely. And I’m fortunate to be able to work on either side of the border. I’ve been focusing on higher education in a management type of role. But I’ve also applied for IT positions in the corporate and nonprofit space. Luckily I have a multitude of experience and knowledge. Now I just need to convince these folks to interview me so I can wow them with my charm. 

Recently I realized that I need to talk with someone in confidence. I’m very lucky to have found a therapist nearby who is also a mindfulness practitioner. She is a Vipassana student and has a teacher. So I can say the words ‘dharma’ or ‘sangha’ and she knows what that means. In our first session last week we started with a short guided meditation. I like her personality and I think it will be perfect. Especially since I left my therapist behind in California. 

So the feelings come and go. It’s been fun to explore and that brings me happiness. And I also have the lows I mentioned above. I’ve recommitted myself to a more regular sitting practice (which had fallen to the wayside) and to watch a dharma talk from Thay every day (at least for a while). I’m starting with the 2000 Eyes of the Buddha retreat. I’ve been doing this for about a week and it already feels better. And I had two job interviews yesterday. Yay! 

I was also fortunate to participate in a series of conversations sponsored by ProSocial. Several dharma teachers gathered on zoom from multiple linages to explore several questions. What are American Buddhism’s unique contributions to conscious cultural evolution? What prevents our Sangha from coordinating and cooperating with other Sanghas around shared goals and values? In American Sanghas, how might lay organizers  better organize with other lay organizers? It was a valuable experience but I’m not sure where it will go from here. I believe a report will be written for us to consider. 

I’ve been dating a bit. Meeting women. Having fun. This is all new for me since I never really dated. Before my marriage, I had only one girlfriend and a couple brief escapades. So dating in my 50s is what’s happening.

My son came a spent about 6-weeks with me a few months ago and that was a real treat. I haven’t spent that much time with him in a very long time. And my daughter will come in early July for a few days. She starts her third year of university in the fall and will transfer from UC Santa Cruz to UC Santa Barbara. She’s be closer to home and that will be good for her. 

It’s weird, but the closest in-person sangha is in Bellingham, Washington. It’s about 45-minutes away. I’ve gone a couple times. But on my last visit I made a commitment to come more often and also made myself available for mentoring. It looks like one person will take me up on the offer so far. And I’ve also been mentoring aspirants in Idaho and Alberta. So that is nourishing. 

And of course, for those who know me well, I have been reading and listening to music a great deal. Some book highlights are Chain-Gang All-Stars, The Mirror Empire, and System Collapse. You can also see all the rest of my reading history on my StoryGraph page. And on the music side, I’ve been digging Arooj Aftab, Big|Brave, King Hannah, English Teacher, Kerry King, Shabaka, Nadine Shah, Peter Gabriel, and Billie Eilish. If you’re an Apple Music listener, then here’s my frequently played tracks this year.

I definitely miss the monastery. The daily practice. The schedule. The community. And yet, I am also happy with my decision to leave and embark on this adventure. I appreciate the support and kindness I’ve received from dear friends. I’m trying to take good care of myself. My feelings. My health. 



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One response to “From Monastery to Canada”

  1. Juan almanza Avatar
    Juan almanza

    Great to follow your path Kenley. You got adventure in you. Wishing you all the best on all your quests.
    Peace & love

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