The Metaphor of the Monk

tl;dr — see end of post, plus YouTube vid at the end!

A monk — one who has taken a vow of poverty to dedicate his life to the Good.

I know of a monk who wouldn’t like being labeled a monk. He has dedicated his life to what he views as the highest Good, as he experiences it. If you question him, he will probably say, yes, I believe that what I am doing is an attempt to reach God, in my own imperfect way, but no, I’m not a monk!

You won’t recognize this man as a monk, if you pass him on the street. Instead of a monk’s robes, he has chosen to wear street clothes, and blends right in with the rest of us. A monk’s robes are symbolic of poverty,  and this man’s clothes symbolize the same thing, if you have eyes to see. His clothes aren’t tailored. They are often torn or yellowed. His jeans come from a thrift store. While other people spend hundreds of dollars on clothes that are manufactured to look old and worn, his clothes are old and worn. Still, he blends in. He does not wear his poverty ostentatiously. He does not show off.

While his peers work in offices, working towards earning their first million, or their next million, this monk struggles to pay rent for his tiny room, each month. Sometimes there isn’t even enough money for rent. This monk doesn’t live in a monastery, because there are no monasteries for monks like him. He is far too devoted to truth as he sees it, and will not settle for someone else’s truth. God, and Good, must be experienced firsthand, or it is cheapened.

If he sounds too serious, he is not. This is a monk who laughs freely, and often. He laughs when he hears a great piece of music, for the joy that bubbles out of him needs expression. Rent must be paid, but his energy does not go into unproductive worrying. He makes space for joy, even though his budget for joy is much smaller than some of his friends. We need budget for joy — the food, the wine, the music, the books, the stuff of our civilization — but he makes do with what he has. Still, he has an excess of joy that spills over into laughter that is not mocking or cruel.

This monk works. He works at creating beauty in the world. He may not have taken a vow of poverty, but he lives as if he has. Sometimes, just sometimes, when his joy overflows, it overflows into music and art. Music and art that heal the world, music and art that brings peace, music and art that brings divine beauty.

Metaphors are never completely truthful. They miss the mark. But I really do know of a man who might as well be a monk.

He works as a freelance designer — that’s how he earns his money. He also is working towards a master’s degree in classical composition, after spending years as a rock’n’roll drummer. Yes, he is now working in the tradition of Mahler and Mozart, after working in the tradition of Metallica and Mudvayne for years and years.

You can find some of his graphic design work here. If you hire him, you’ll be contributing towards his school fees, his rent, his living expenses — and yes — his joy budget. Get him to do a fresh namecard for you, get him to design a website or redesign your current one, get him to write some music for your ad or your wedding, and remember, pay him well!

Our friends will probably laugh and roll their eyes at my metaphor of the monk, but it really seems that way, sometimes. This fella is generous to a fault. Even though I’ve offered to pay for his services, he refuses to take money from his friends — so he does the job anyway, for free. Nutcase. And he really does struggle to pay his rent, so if you’re reading this and you need a composer or a designer, hire him.

tl;dr — hire this graphic designer, because he’s very good, and he deserves it.

And he does things like this (the video) too. Nuts!

The Metaphor of the Monk

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