Do Nothing Do Everything

June 29, 2012 by  
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Tomorrow, my “VIP ” English students and I will discuss the topic of “letting go”.

As I mentally prepare for this topic, I realize that I have, perhaps, emphasized action and drive and motivation a bit too much with them…   and neglected the equally important practices of letting go and doing nothing.

I have been reading a fantastic book on Taoism titled “Do Nothing, Do Everything” by Qiguang Zhao… and it has gotten me to thinking about “letting go and doing nothing”

In fact, when I look at the path I have taken since finishing school and embarking on this “hobopoet” path to freedom… I realize that letting go was a very important part of that path.

I had to learn to let go of my fears of criticism and others’ opinions.  I had to let go of a lot of conventional beliefs about respectability, security, finances, career, etc.

I had to let go of a lot of guilt– about past mistakes, about pursuing my own path when others can’t/don’t, about creating a free and abundant life for myself (and family & friends).

I had to let go of a lot of worries– about failure, about possible problems, about actual problems,…

I had to learn to forgive… and let go of resentments about the past (forgiving both myself and others).

I had to let go of people who left my life,… by my choice or theirs or tragedy…

And the process never ends.

Currently we’re in the process of expanding our business again, and planning more adventures abroad, and helping family members build their own businesses to achieve freedom….  All of this has required me to let go of a lot of old identities and beliefs… and assume new roles that I’d never felt comfortable in before.

In fact, I think that letting go is a fundamental key to remaining passionate, alert, happy, and alive as you age.  I think a lot of people suffer not because they failed to achieve their goals,… but because they failed to let go of their disappointment.  They failed to learn, let go, and move forward to something even more engaging.

In the end, its the process of living fully that is important.

“The reason we act is for the bliss of the intention and the beauty of the process.  The intention is nobler than the result; the process is more beautiful than the goal.” -Qiguang Zhao

To which I can only say, “Amen!”

Ryokan and Onsens

June 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Independent Travel

This year Tomoe and I are planning to spend 3 weeks or so in the mountains of Japan.  Our focus is to enjoy the best hiking, ryokan and onsens of south/west Japan (Kansai & Kyushu mostly).

A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn– and they are fabulous:  traditional tatami mats (woven grass), sliding doors, zen-like simple beauty, futon, and fabulous set dinners.

An onsen is a hot-spring… and many of the best ryokan are built on or next to one.  It’s hard to do justice to the sublime pleasure of Japanese onsen.  I’ve been to a few hot-springs in America… and while nice, they lack the zen artistry of a Japanese onsen.

The water from the hot-spring is typically diverted into multiple baths.. sometimes made of stone, sometimes made of cedar.  The bath is usually surrounded by a garden (sometimes a zen stone garden, sometimes bonzai,… sometimes just a stunning view of the mountains).  There is a shower room adjacent to the bath… and everyone showers before entering the hot water.  A great onsen is a work of landscaping art… in addition to it’s hedonistic benefits.

Onsen are also great social gathering points… with people of all ages enjoying the baths.

My favorite thing to do in Japan is to hike all day in the mountains… then descend to spend the night in a ryokan nestled in a valley or on a hillside,… then soak in it’s attached onsen… finishing the night with a traditional ryokan set meal in our own tatami room.

Many people equate Japan with super-modern mega-cities (of which there are plenty),… but the ryokan/onsen experience is just as quintessentially Japanese… and on the opposite end of the spectrum from the hectic cities.

And so… this Fall Tomoe and I have decided to research and find “the best” ryokan & onsen in Kansai and Kyushu and visit them!  Of course it’s a subjective choice.. but it’ll be a marvelous research process!

Kudos to the Original YHP!!

My original car and van living experiments were inspired by an old Georgia friend named Kenny Peavy.  We used to sit at sidewalk tables in downtown Athens (GA) and discuss Thoreau… and how we could apply his philosophy of living simply, freely, and well in a modern context.

Kenny started his experiment by living in an old Ford Bronco while working at the Athens Nature Center.  At night he camped in the park.  By day he maintained a professional job as a naturalist… and few knew he was living out of a car.  He called his experiment “YHP:  Young Homeless Professional”.

That same summer I lived in my Nissan Sentra with my dog… and decided on the name “Hobopoet” to describe my similar experiment, inspired by Kenny.

Much has happened since that summer… but Kenny and I continue to experiment and adventure in our own ways.  Kenny now lives in Malaysia, and he is currently involved in another great adventure.

He just quit his job in order to start his own company and non-profit (and hopefully this time I was able to provide him with a little inspiration)…  and this summer he and a friend are riding their bikes from Thailand to Bali (minus the water parts)!

The focus of the trip is on environmental/ecological projects in SE Asia… so as they ride they visit various people who are doing cool things for the environment.  Kenny & his friend call this project “Green Riders”.

They just finished day 3… and are currently in Southern Thailand.   I’m happy for Kenny and I’m happy we have remained friends and vagabonds for all of these years!

Check out Kenny’s latest adventures on the Green Riders blog at:

Ride Kenny ride!



June 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

It’s the beginning of Summer.  For many that’s vacation time, but for us it’s our time of most intense work/play.

We’re currently on Maui and will be through the Summer.  I’ve learned to kite-board and am finally an independent rider.  It’s great fun!

During this summer we’ve started a number of very big projects for our businesses… and Tomoe is working with her sister to start a new business– providing Japanese lessons.  I suppose I’ll have to become a semi-serious students of Japanese… or at least make the attempt!!

A pleasant side-effect of being on Maui is that suddenly lots of people want to visit us!  We’ll have visitors throughout the summer.  Tomoe’s sister (and her baby) are here with us until July.  My best friends Kristin and Joe will be spending the month of July here (and possibly renting a place full-time on Maui).  My Mom is spending 2.5 weeks here starting in mid-July.  My Dad will come for a couple of weeks in August.  And Tomoe’s Mom and youngest sister may come in September!  A full house through the whole summer!

In Fall, we’re planning our usual trip to Asia.  This year we will spend a month in Japan, then another 1.5 months in SE Asia…  with probably visits to Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, and Bali.

We’ll be back in the States for Winter… and then are planning a trip to South America in the Spring.  In fact, we’re planning to take 2 big trips a year from now on… one in Fall and one in Spring!  What can I say, we love the nomadic life!

At some point we hope to visit Barcelona to have a convention with our European students (who are fabulous)… though no idea what the possible dates would be.

All of which is to say that life is very very good!  We are, to quote Will Ferrell, “living the dream”.

And each day I am more appreciative and grateful for that.