Good day, my name is Thor Mitchell. I am 39 years old, grew up in Florida and now call the Pacific Northwest my home.
When I was 17 I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and The Tao of Pooh for a class. That got me thinking, who is ‘I’ and why was ‘I’ on earth. That questioning led me to books, mentors and classes for Zen, Taoism, Buddhism, Tai Chi and Qigong. I remember talking with a friend about being torn between a path of living in a shack on a remote beach or becoming an engineer and entering the workforce. I chose the business world. I kept up with Tai Chi every few years, loosely identified myself as a Deist/Taoist and deeper questions about ‘me’ were lost in the noise.
As an engineer and programmer I have sought exact definitions and processes to define my world. Over the years, I have extracted a lot of self-identity and worth from my work. But, I've struggled to find the right creative outlets to balance this intense structure. I’ve dabbled writing whimsical software, playing the bass guitar, mountain biking, brewing mead, driving a fun car, running, taking photos, volunteering, and an equally big list of half-finished projects.
Twenty years after my first search for meaning I came back to these questions. Where earlier I was drawn to the ideals of Taoism, in my late 30s I feel a deep bond to the practice of Zen. I can now see a broad theme of helping others in my life. Through practice I feel an even deeper need to help people, a few feet removed from negative self-talk and pride in what I do rather than what I have accomplished.
One year ago, after sitting with a few Zen centers in Seattle, I found Koro Kaisan Miles and the Open Gate Zendo. When we shared tea, I felt at home and knew this was the place for me, Miles was to be my guide. Since I started practice at Open Gate , I've moved into a job managing people and have found that being able to help them is a magical gift. Daily I have the opportunity to be selfless, giving objective feedback on the good they bring to the team and observing behaviors they may want to change. I’m looking forward to joining our Order and helping others down this path of awakening and to make real their potential.
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