Burning Man

Burning Man, for me, was a deeply personal experience. I spent nine nights on the playa accompanied by my brother and ten others; people I whom I had never met before; people whom I had the pleasure of growing with. I went in with honest intention, enthusiasm, and curiosity. I was on a mission. Even if I couldn’t fully articulate what it was, I knew that deep in my soul my purpose for being there would become clear.

As closely as I’ve followed Burning Man over the years, I thought I was somewhat prepared for my time on the playa. But just being there was something that simply cannot be described. It was an both an emotional roller coaster and a test of character. I learned to better follow my intuition and to decipher my feelings which lead to this experience being one of the most profound, magical, transformative, and trying times of my life.

Being there is like nothing you can imagine or fully prepare for. Visiting the playa for the first time on Saturday morning, seeing the sunrise and everything there, I was struck with absolute awe, a feeling I would continue to feel regularly during the remainder of my time there.

I’m so grateful for this experience and am now faced with the challenge of integrating what I’ve learned into my everyday life… to embody that wisdom, trust, freedom, expression, humor, playfulness, creativity, work ethic, engagement, connection, acceptance, authenticity, love, and beauty.

I’m still processing this experience and in two days I fly to Bali where I will spend my 28th birthday and return at the end of the month. I can only imagine what awaits me there.

I just made a decision that scares the s^*! out of me

I made a big decision yesterday. A decision that I know is the right one. One that will put me further on the path that my heart longs for. But, truth be told, I’m terrified.

I decided to go to Sensophy’s Bali Retreat which I had applied for several weeks ago. Yesterday I got the confirmation that I was one of the 15 accepted to attend.

I’m nervous because I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve never been to a foreign country — save for Canada and a little border town in Mexico. I’ve never crossed the ocean. I’ve never even flown commercially. The only time I’ve ever been in an airplane is when I went skydiving near Glacier National Park.

But the real reason that I am terrified is because of the financial aspect.

I’ve dreamed of doing something like this for years, and now that the opportunity is finally within my reach, what did I do? I tried to talk myself out of it. I was stepping back into safety instead of walking forward into growth.

I asked myself: can I afford to go? The answer was a resounding NO. But then I asked myself another question. This time I reframed it: can I afford NOT to go? The answer was an even more powerful NO. I had decided.

At the end of my life, I’m not going to reflect on how much money I saved and how secure my life was. Instead, I’m going to look back and cherish the experiences that I had, the people I related to, the life that I had created, the challenges I had overcome, the example I set. Creating a life worth living means doing things that aren’t easy.

And this isn’t easy.

The money required doesn’t even exist in my life. Yet, I have faith that it will materialize somehow. This will require a lot of resourceful thinking, hard work, and – most likely – saying goodbye to my beloved motorcycle.

And to then realize that this is only the beginning. The real work begins when I start confronting the beliefs that are governing my life. Reevaluating what is possible. Cultivating my potential. Facing my demons and taking massive action. This is what it’s all about.

Simply thinking of the event is enough to make my heart sing. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m still terrified.

 

 

 

Defining Parameters of Success and Authenticity

I’ve thought about writing a new blog post for awhile but I’m not sure what to write about. I’ve gotten a couple promising ideas down inside various notepads but nothing has yet become of them.

When I think back on my published blog posts, I come to realize that they all started with just sitting down to write. I want my blog to stand out, to represent my own original ideas. I don’t want to be a ‘me too’ type of blog. And that’s hard because I get most of my ideas from other people. I know I have original ideas but I’m going to have to mine for them — do the work and dig up the stuff worth sharing. I want to be a refreshing voice in the community. But, I also started the blog for purely personal reasons. Alas, my perfectionist tendencies inhibit me from writing as often as I should.

I also have thoughts that writing for me is simply a distraction from other creative pursuits, like music.  And then I must remind myself that writing is a creative pursuit.

(It’s also important to realize that I don’t use these ideas to slip out of responsibilities or to shy away from trying to accomplish things. There is a big difference.)

I run the risk of sounding like negative Ned here but one things that rubs me the wrong way is all this talk of success and achievement and productivity. Doing this and getting that thing done. Where is the emphasis on quite contemplation? Enjoying the arts? Quiet walks and a simple life? None of this is profitable or glamorous. The desire to be extraordinary — in the eyes of others — is a trait of our culture that I would like to do without. All this becoming, constantly striving because the world as it is is not good enough drives me bonkers sometimes. I understand that humans are hard wired to desire more but I think as a culture we’ve created dissatisfaction in places where it didn’t exist before. I think there is an unhealthy obsession with “success” in all of its forms. That word means many things to many people and I think it’s important to define its parameters. Another word that I think needs defining is authenticity. What does that even mean? Someone can easily be an authentic asshole and to then say that he’s not being authentic…. I mean, I just get lost. How do I know if someone is being authentic? It’s almost as if the the meaning of the word can morph and adapt in relation to who is doing the perceiving. I could also make a claim that some douche is acting a certain way because he’s not being authentic. See the discrepancy? Maybe he’s really an authentic chode, or maybe he’s a lost soul and because of that he’s not really authentic. Or is he authentically lost? My head just hurts thinking about it. Either way, it all comes down to the eye of the beholder here. The word in this context has very little concrete meaning.

Life works when I do these things

This is a little list I compiled as part of an exercise I did with Sensophy’s Inner Circle and thought I’d share.

Life works when…

  • I read (books)
  • I’m putting forth the effort to be creative
  • I eat healthy (less sugar, meat, gluten; smaller portions and more whole foods)
  • Meditate daily
  • Exercise 4 times a week
  • Stretch
  • Write in my gratitude journal
  • Set and review goals
  • Ask myself 5 empowering questions in the morning
  • Shower
  • Give myself plenty of time to get things done/be places
  • Connect with people I care about
  • Laugh/watch funny things/see the world with humor
  • Go for walks
  • Smile for no reason
  • Take deep breaths throughout the day
  • Cook/prepare food/eat at home
  • Journal
  • Consume growth material daily
  • Spend less time multitasking
  • Focus on one thing at a time
  • Finish what I start
  • Transmute my sexual energies
  • Have difficult conversations
  • Act with integrity
  • Spend less/budget more
  • Increase clarity with respect to any area of my life or situation I’m in; know the outcome
  • Do mental exercises
  • Make notes
  • Reflect on all the good things that happened each day
  • Plan
  • Praise myself
  • Visualize
  • Create something
  • Work on building a skill
  • Get and stay organized
  • Clean
  • Love myself
  • Learn from experience and other people
  • Make new distinctions
  • Focus on action
  • Prioritize
  • Do my best
  • Express myself/emote/reach out
  • Help Someone
  • I get out of the house
  • Listen to music
    • while I’m doing tasks around the house
    • as soon as I wake up in the morning
    • taking walks
  • Talk to a friend
  • Ask, what’s funny about this?
  • Express my gratitude to friends and family

What’s your list?

Love Your Lusting. (For guys only)

First of all, for the sake of mutual understanding and cohesiveness in future discussion, I think it’s important that we start by defining lust.

Lust:

noun

very strong sexual desire

[ in sing. ] a passionate desire for something

• (usu. lusts) chiefly Theology a sensual appetite regarded as sinful: lusts of the flesh.

verb [ no obj. ]

have a very strong sexual desire for someone

feel a strong desire for something

I think it’s interesting to note the widely adopted conflict of association with meaning of the word lust. That’s been the case with me personally and I strongly suspect I’m not alone.

Lets review the meaning of lust again…

Lust:

noun

very strong sexual desire

[ in sing. ] a passionate desire for something

• (usu. lusts) chiefly Theology a sensual appetite regarded as sinful: lusts of the flesh.

verb [ no obj. ]

have a very strong sexual desire for someone

• feel a strong desire for something

Hmm… *scratched chin* I’m starting to notice something here. Are you?

It is my belief that lust is —  or at least, has the potential to be —  a healthy state of being. I also believe we need to embrace every aspect of our desires instead of attempting to disassociate ourselves from them.

Think of it like this: I think it’s a fair assumption to assume that we all possess a desire to be loved. Some people express that need in a healthy way while others do not. An example of this could be when we observe someone using childish and immature tactics in order to guilt others into expressing their love towards them. An extreme could be seen in a suicide attempt as another extreme way to garner attention.

The problem arises when we allow lust to influence our behavior in an unhealthy or destructive manner — as noted above.

But when embrace that desire — that very real visceral energy in our body, that incredible urge in our head, gut, and balls — we begin to harness and direct it, it becomes sort of eerie newfound power. A power we’ve had all along. I say it can be eerie because I think in many cases we’ve so deeply conditioned ourselves to deal with this energy in a —  how should I say it?  …less than constructive manner —  that when we’ve finally had enough of the pain of our current results — our current reality — and we reach a point where we are completely ready and willing to take the great responsibility over our results, we’re not even sure what do with this energy once we’ve focused it. So many of us relapses in our old ways, all the while beating ourselves up during this process. So we think we’ve been defeated. But then the pain again becomes unbearable, just as it will continue to be. …And the cycle continues until we eventually try to deny our desires completely.  Desperately trying to grapple with some sort of backwards rationalization of self righteousness born out of a lost sense of what we truly are: powerful, creative, enthusiastic, loving, desirable, and damn horny guys. We are men. Face it. Accept it. Own up to it. Embrace it. To do otherwise is slow and miserable suicide.

Denying lust is bullshit guys. You can still lust after your women until your mind melts and your penis gives up and surrenders. And as a result, you won’t end up loving her any less. Don’t think you will. In fact, I believe if approached the right way, you’ll actually end up loving her more. You’ll feel more connected to her and those feeling will most likely be mutual. Sure, it’s going to be scary. After all, we’re guys. We don’t want to be vulnerable. That means loosing our power, right? I don’t know. I’m not convinced. I’d be impressed if you could persuade me otherwise.

I Think

I think a lot about cycles. And about how I spend my time.

I think a lot about opportunities and about what joys life can offer, both big and small.

I think a lot about the things I’ve learned and about the things I’ll never learn. About the people I’ve met and the people I’ll never know.

I think about how things could be different, for better or for worse.

I think about the choices I’ve made and how things have been affected as a consequence.

I think about if I’ll marry or if I’ll have kids. What they may be like, look like, and what I would name them.

I think about the money I’ve made and I wonder how much more I’ll earn.

I contemplate my impact in the world, and how I’ve changed lives. About how I could change more.

I think about why I do the things I do and why I don’t do some of the things that I’d really like to do.

I think about the things I’ve accomplished and the dreams that I’ve had.

I think about my family and how I could love them more.

I think about wasting my time, and I desire to spend my time more wisely. I think about the shoulds and and the musts.

I think about my health and the health of world.

I think about my own thoughts and they reflect back to me, colored and alive.Altered, simple for having been thought and observed.

I think about where I’ve been and where I’m going.

I think about how much I’ve grown and then I see how much room there is left for growth.

I criticize myself and I love myself. I confuse myself and I inspire myself.

I think about how I can enable myself to do work that I believe in that can change the world.

I think about the things that scare me, about my fears and disappointments.

I think about this life and how and beautiful things are if I simply choose to recognize it.

One of the things I love so much is driving me crazy.

One of the things I love so much is driving me crazy. Can you guess what it is? It’s probably not what you think.

Options.

Yes, options drive me nuts. There are options for this, options for that. I like options but they drive me insane!

Especially when it comes to the big options. Well, let me think about it. Wait… no. Don’t let think about that. Pick something and go for it!

The thing about options is that we have so many of them that it’s causing us to second guess the things that we do choose. “Yea, I think I’ll go with this stir fry. Wait, no. Now that taco is looking pretty good. Maybe I’ll play this instrument, after all it looks pretty fun. But I don’t know… That guy over there seems like he’s having a lot of fun with his instrument. Gosh, this girl seems perfect for me. Oh, but that one looks cute.” And on and on and on and on.

I don’t know about you but I just have to pick something and keep my head down. The more I look around and think about what other possibilities are available, the more distracted, anxious, and unsatisfied I become.

I have the option to keep writing, but I’m opting out.