I thought I knew my purpose… I was wrong.

For many many years, I was telling myself a story about my life. I told myself that music was what I wanted to do, and boy did I have momentum going. It was how I dedicated my time and energy; countless hours over a period of 14 years. It’s how I spent and invested my money; thousands and thousands of hard earned dollars. I attended college to study music. I moved several times to pursue it. It was an enormous part of my self esteem and fuel for my confidence. It’s how I got dates and how I met friends. When people asked me what I did, that’s what I told them. So it came as a shock to me when I reached a point where I looked around with my life and didn’t like where it was going. And although I had accomplished a lot, I had to be brutally honest with myself: music is not my purpose. It is not what I want to do with what little time I have here on this planet. Music is a passionate hobby.

This wasn’t easy. If I admitted that music wasn’t “my thing”, then what did I have? Nothing. The thought of giving up all that I had worked for and starting over was too painful and scary. So for years I continued on, hiding the confusion and frustration, feeling increasingly lonely and disconnected, from both myself and my friends. “How could this be?” I asked myself. “This is what I thought I wanted do be doing.” I had never subscribed to the brutally persistent social narrative that so many people live their lives by. I thought this was the way. I was carving out my own path, doing what I wanted to do, following my own dream. And there was some truth in that. I do love music and I’ll never give it up. But it reached a point where the pain, dissonance, isolation and lifestyle became too much that I made the decision to radically change gears and direction.

The beautiful part was that when I fully accepted this personal truth, a space was created in which I was free to explore. This led me to Burning Man and to Bali, where I had one of the most profound experiences of my life while bonding with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. And from that experience came clarity, truth, and peace. Unbelievable things begin to happen when you stay true to your heart and are willing to be authentic, vulnerable, and have the courage to take the risks.

If you’re reading this and see a part of yourself reflected back, know that you are not alone and I would love nothing more than to begin a conversation with you. Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment here and we’ll see what we can create together.

Overwhelming Divinity

I take a deep breathe and look around. The breeze is soft and comfortable. I can feel my hands; powerful and fragile, mesmerizing in their infinite complexity. And as my awareness expands in this mundane moment, everything makes sense. Not in some intellectual, esoteric, or philosophical way. I mean in a deep visceral knowing kind of way. The moment is forever drenched in an overwhelming divinity. There is no need to convince anybody. This is my experience. This is the experience. A flicker of cosmic humor and a feeling of this is sit; this is the meaning of life. Nothing particularly interesting is happening. And there doesn’t need to be. This is real. This is truth.

What To Do When Facebook Comments Get The Best Of You

Earlier, I was flying high but now there is an emotional contortion running through my body. The worst part? It was triggered by a conversation on my Facebook wall. Yeah, I know. Gross.

It began shortly after I posted something I had seen written in the bathroom of a coffee shop that I had been to the day before. It said: “Make love to the mystery and the mystery will make love to you.” How cool is that? Right? Right?! POSTED!

Awwww yeeeeaaahhh! All is well and good in the neighborhood, ya’ll.

But wait! Here comes the first comment!

It says: “Nothing matters.” -bathroom stall, U.C. campus

…..thinking…..thinking….

My reply? “….way to harsh the mellow.” (Sad I know, but that’s the best I could come up with in the moment.)

This is were things get interesting.

Roommate replies: “Nothing matters is actually quite a liberating thought.”

Me: “I disagree. It’s a nihilistic thought.”

Roommate: “So there’s no liberation in nihilism? Is it strictly binding?”

Me: “I don’t know. You tell me. What I do know is that being nihilistic is a shitty way to live.”

Now I won’t go into detail about the flood of comments that followed because they aren’t important.

What’s important is this terrible physical response I’m having to this conversation. What the hell is this?!

The text that follows was my (minimally edited) stream of conciousness attempt to answer that question by deciphering my emotions and articulating my thoughts. Note: after reflecting on this, I realize that this is in no way a complete representation of my thoughts around the ideas. Some of it lacks a certain cohesion because I wasn’t writing this with the intention of sharing it. But I think you may find value in seeing my thought process unfold in real time. Finally, by the time I finished writing this I felt 90% better.

 I’m a little saddened by the comment they’ve made and how I see Roommate living life. He’s rather helpless in many ways. He doesn’t work and he perpetually goes to school and lives off of student loans and his parent’s support. He’s got a drinking problem and wastes too much time on the internet. And I guess part of me resents him for this. I’ve been guilty of it too. My hands have blood on them as well. I’m not trying to paint myself as innocent here. I see in him what I don’t like in myself. It’s just so far removed from how I want to be living…

It’s a negative influence on me. BUT, what can I learn from this situation? I can learn about myself, because on this path I’m going to have people challenge my beliefs. They are going to challenge what I’m saying and the way I’m living my life.

Part of it is sadness. Part resentment. Maybe even a little anger… I’m lower on the ladder than I want to be. I’m going to go for a run in a few minutes here.

I’m also frustrated at myself. Simply because I’m not elegantly backing up my own beliefs and I have a hard time doing that. Which is why I’m here writing this… Practicing articulating my own experience.

So it’s really me that upset me.. Not these comments or the other people. There is something that I’m not facing up to. Something that I’m ignoring. So what then is it?

My inability to make clear arguments. Or rather my lack of a skillset to do so? My wish to have everyone agree with me and the way I think? My desire to help people that don’t want to help themselves?

Being challenged like that makes me upset. It’s something that I’d like very much to overcome. I want to be rock solid in my convictions. And I am. Intuitively I know I’m right…for what feels right and true for my own life… And even if I’m not right… Even if it’s not the ultimate truth.. the more immediate truth is the reality of my own experience. So does that idea improve my own life? Yes or no?

Being nihilistic doesn’t work for me. I’ve been there. I’ve resigned from engaging with life, to sit back and say “fuck it all. Nothing has meaning. What is the point in chasing meaning?” That to me a shitty way to live. That’s all I really need to know.

Getting bogged down in the philosophy of the cosmos only serves to remove ourselves from the reality of our own experience. That’s the point I’m trying to make.

We are meaning making machines. That’s what we do. And I see people creating meaning about things in their lives in ways that don’t serve them. It makes their lives miserable. I do this too. I’m guilty of this as well. We are the creators of our own life. Whether life has any instrinsic meaning or not isn’t the best question to be asking because it doesn’t have an answer. And even if it does, we’re going to drive ourselves into a frenzy by continually defining and arguing and contemplating.

We manufacture meaning. We make meaning. I don’t know about you but I want to make meaning that is going to enhance my life and empower me to create the life I want. We have the choice to be victims of circumstance or to take ownership of the way we respond to the world. Who cares if “nothing matters”. Even if nothing matters, I’m still choosing to enjoy myself in the truth of the experience that I continually find myself in and make the best with what I’m given. We are free falling through the mystery of life. None of us know the truth. If everything is an illusion, then I’m going to make my best effort to enjoy that illusion. And not in a hedonistic way. There’s a big difference.

I’m also becoming aware of the fact that because I’m in the process of changing my paradigms, from the old ones that are no longer serving me to ones that are more empowering, these paradigms are, at the moment, fragile… and this argument is shaking things around and I’m concerned that it’s going to break and that I’m going to fall back into the old way of seeing things; of being in the world. After all, this discussion is why my roommate and I get along in many ways. Because we live together and there’s a desire on my part to minimize friction, we have to share much of the same paradigms about life. I’m an adaptible person and when I turn away from guarding my conscious thoughts my inductive reasoning factor is not engaged and I’m therefore becoming deductive to thoughts that are not producing the results that I want.

 

But, as a good friend pointed out: “‘Nothing” does matter. If I run out of gas in my car and there is nothing in the tank, that matters to me.”

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?