A Delightful Life

Delightful day; what more can I say; I ran, I hiked, I swam, I read, I cooked, I napped – I did everything but make love, which, in itself, is another kind of delightful day, just not the one written for today. But I conspire with fate for days like that too. I’m working on it, which is to say I am working on myself. And I’ll be damned if I’m not becoming a a really decent man. As Socrates wrote, “Make yourself the sort of man you want people to think you are.” I’d like people to think, to know, that I am the man I have always known myself to be but never before was. G-d willing if I shall fall in love a third time, I will be a man worthy of making love to. It sounds silly but nonetheless, I aspire to be so.

There was a time I thought two halves could make a whole. Today and evermore I know better, for I am whole – not alone but on my own – a Man: world unto himself; complete. I’m not looking for someone to make me feel home; the world is my home, my soul no longer restless. Wanderlust has faded into a dream I no longer dream, and I no longer desire to go back in time.

I go forward, I look ahead, my lust for life deepens with my understanding of myself; I know who I am, and it’s greater than the sum of things come and gone. I am everything I am and nothing I am not (or was).

But before anyone accuse me of an excess of esteem of self-idolatry, let me be the first to tell you, I am beyond not proud of the multitude of things I have wrongly done in my life. But I am not ashamed. Shame tends to self-perpetuate; and I’ve learned, as Alice Hubbert believed, that sin is it’s own punishment. As David Foster Wallace wrote: “The parts of me that used to think I was different or better than anyone almost killed me.” No, I am neither egoic or ashamed. I am a man.

He had his foibles, his faults, and even his crimes. That is to say, he was a man. – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Yes, I am a man.

But I am trying to be more human than my mistakes, as Ric Elias so beautifully put it. And I am doing a good job at this. Besides, confidence is an aspect of the soul; however, the confidence of the soul arises from wholeness, knowing yourself, virtue and vice alike – unlike the confidence of the ego, which believes it is different or better than anyone else. No, I am not good, I am whole. My heroes are no longer the Edmund Dantes’, the martyrs; my heroes are the Jean Valjeans, the true heroes, those who acheive victory over the enemy within. There is no other adversary that has defeated as many men as man himself. This is the battle each man is conscripted to fight, for victory over the self brings a peace as sweet as the defeat is sour. As the French proverb says, there is no pillow softer than a clean conscience.

And this is my pillow. I rest in the bosom of my soul, as only a man at peace with himself can.

Victory over the self is not the ego death as the guru promises, but a kind of armistice, an agreement which is upheld in the daily care of the soul and communion of the spirit.

There is no resting on ones laurels when the lions come at night. Changing ones thinking is not sufficient in itself; a new way of being, of relating to life, requires surrender, which is half of the battle. This is where right action begins, in surrendering the self to the soul rather than sacrificing the soul to the self. For me this required that I form a new relationship with myself, a relationship with my soul. One in which my soul is not only a conscious part of myself but the dominate aspect of my conciousness.  The mind, when left in charge, places the soul in exile. Security, true security, comes from being able to trust in your inner voice.

That begins slowly, for first it requires being able to hear it. Modern life has silenced man’s communion with the soul by tearing down the channels man used for centuries to understand and acess his higher self. Myth, great literature, religion, ritual, these are all dead and dying arts. The Matrix is simply a life deprived of all these bridges. The job of the shaman is to teach these. I wish to be a doctor of the soul as Jung was. This is my art, my dreams, dreams birthed through the nightmare I made of my life. But the nightmare is over. I’ve graduated. And today, I have true security, unshakable inner peace.

Fuck wit me you know I got it. – Jay Z

While I may not be [“good”], life is. My second cup of tea now cold, I will collect myself from the sandy spot I am on and walk home to read and retire for the night.

I have dreams to live and life awaits me tomorrow. A life in which I am an aspiring doctor of the soul, an artist in the highest sense. A life in which I am whole, a man worthy of making love to. A life I am building to share with the family of my dreams. A delightful life.

Walks home listening to Taylor Swift FTW

March 9-10, 2015: Deepened and Family

There are days when you know you have changed, days when you notice a marked difference in the feeling of your disposition, days when you know there has been a significant shift in your outlook. Tonight I stand on the dock I grew up on, knowing there is no going back to yesterday.

There is a sadness to it, but it’s no more sad than leaving summer camp, knowing you won’t see the girl again. For I know I no longer have the chance to be loved for the boy I was. Those loves have come and gone.

Now, I feel as I’ve never felt: I feel like an adult man. The truth is, up until tonight I’ve never been much more than a boy – and now, the guilt of all I have done as a boy is upon me. The breakups, the fights, the selfishness, the abandonment – of myself and others – is clear, as it never has been. I can relate to the lyric in ‘Waitin’ on The Day’, where John Mayer sings, Waitin’ on the day where that voice comes to say, that it’s not wrong what you did for just a kid.

Maybe it’s time to be honest with myself about my crimes and to find out why I’ve committed them so I can forgive myself, so I can begin to forgive others, so I can live as purely as I did before I ever had my heart broken.

Note: above paragraph inspired by the following James Baldwin passage in his novel Another Country:

image

In the words of David Foster Wallace, “The truth will set you free, but not until it is finished with you.”

It’s time for me to take the lessons away from the pain. It’s time for me to become the man I was always meant to be. Remaining a boy simply isn’t an option for me anymore. Boyhood is over, and I think I’m okay with that. I think I’m okay with the challenge of being a man, because I know the challenges of boys are greater.

I’m not sure whether this shift is a normal maturation of a man’s priorities or just some gift handed down to me from the heavens. Either way, I’m ready to say goodbye to my twenties and the fears they contained.

Much has come to pass in these last ten years, but the things I love remain the same and my dreams haven’t changed.

As a boy I dreamed of being a good man, of having a family, of being happy, of sailing places, and of being loved and respected for who I was. As a man, I’m tired of dreaming. I’m ready to fulfill the promises I made to myself as a boy, on this dock, all those years ago.

Perhaps the fact I am standing on this dock, a place steeped so rich in memory for me – perhaps this is helping to highlight the significance of the change I feel tonight. As Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom: “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

Tonight, I have a deepened sense of myself. Some change has arisen within me, and I’m so ready.

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10 March: Family

I’m slightly stoned, and I don’t particularly feel like writing – but I know I should because if I don’t, I’ll just lie here thinking of all the same things anyway.

Yesterday’s internal shift continued to show itself today. Ironically, I wanted to write about family last night, but as I was wearing shorts and it was cold on the dock, I ceased my writing when I could no longer stand the chill. But to add clarification about last night’s psychic Bar Mitzvah of sorts, the feeling isn’t only that I am passing from boyhood to manhood, but that specific changes in my priorities are driving this change of seasons in my life.

Specifically, family. Maybe it’s because I’m spending the first significant span of time in the last ten years single and as result am spending more time with my own family. Maybe it’s because I have a baby nephew around. Surely both are important factors in the changes I am feeling but it’s more than that. It’s the fact that I feel like they can count on me now. It’s the fact that I am seeing that they need me. As I too am seeing I need them.

I feel terrible to write this, but I love them more than I ever have. It makes me feel better knowing that I also know them better than I ever have, but my increased feelings of love for them are more a product of the fact that I am no longer so obsessed with myself.

In my early twenties I knew I wanted a family, but my focus was on all the things that augmented my manhood – essentially, the same things most early twenties guys care about: their girlfriend, their car, and their image. I had a material life and I was successful based on my definition of success at the time, but my consciousness existed in a bubble trapped on the material plane.

I was also as selfish and arrogant as most early twenties guys are; although, based on the older men I knew and looked up to at the time, I thought all the cooler men shared my priorities.

It’s not just your priorities that change as you get older, but what you look up to and value changes as well. Now that I am nearing thirty next month, I still want success, sure, but it’s a different kind of success I seek. Yes, I desire copious amounts of money – but for completely different reasons than I did, even a year ago. I think time and life and loss have humbled me. I think the chip on my shoulder has been worn down. Thank G-d.

I always assumed I would meet my girl before I made my money. Well, I’ve done that twice and it hasn’t worked out – for good reasons. Frankly, I’m not going to wait for a women to come along and build the dream with me – and in all honesty, that’s a much tougher proposition to sell at thirty than it is at twenty-four. Young women find ambition sexy, women find success sexy – but that’s not what drives me. I live a heart-centered life. I’m not vying for anything less than wifey of the century. Material girls need not apply.

However, as a man there is no biological expiry date on my baby batter. Maybe I’ll be forty when I meet my wife. Who knows.

Regardless of how old I am when I start a family, I’m planting the seeds now. People are counting on me. I’m counting on me. It’s a long time till forever, but i’m learning I can be a family man and be single. It’s a beautiful thing.

Life is about relationships. Connection. And maybe I’ll make a forever home for the right girl someday but relationships sometimes end. Even after years. Family however, is always there. And should the Gods see it fit for me to walk to the alter then I intend it to last a lifetime, heaven willing. But right now I am so blessed to be near my family.

Which is difficult given that I want to get a place in LA again soon (I’m one of those freaks who LOVES El Lay). But honestly, I don’t even want to think about leaving them right now. They need me. And I need them.

6 Feb, 2015: Piñatas

Long afternoon shadows. Watching kids strike a small, child-shaped piñata in the park. The scene eerily not unlike someone lynched, beaten. The act senseless were it not for the candy splayed out onto the grass, soon to be in the clutches of tiny, selfish hands.

We do things like purchase piñatas for children to beat on at birthday parties without ever knowing why.

I look to the families, specifically the parents, standing cooly on the park’s grass in clean, hip clothing, as if I can somehow figure out how they manage to seem so good at life, so effortless in their ability to sip lemon flavored water and stand around discussing their kids, or their jobs, or perhaps the idea of putting down fake grass in their small heavily-shaded yards.

I look to them in amused, respectful jealousy. Jealous for the families they have; longing for the family I want – the family I’ve always wanted.

So maybe I’ll take up running again and I’l get it all together. All on a silver platter. All tied up with a bow on it. A bow for a wife as beautiful as the one standing with her back to me in the yellow flowery dress and the black, soft looking cardigan – long auburn-brown hair flowing down her back, topped with one of those hip tropical hats with the small brim. I’ll get it all wrapped up for a woman as good as her, a girl as good as my exes. Better. Or maybe better ’cause I’ll be. And though I sound as melancholy and embattled as Kerouac, I mean it as Kerouac never did.

Yellow dress girl has put on her shoes – corky, chunky heels, which ruin the bohemian, kombucha-making-mom image I had projected onto her. And on by walks another, prettier girl, and so the dream begins again. She tosses her hair back over her shoulder, as I look on, and I am enchanted. For she does not wear corky, chunky heels – but flat-soled canvas shoes, like the ones I wear.

Yellow dresses, black dresses, purple dresses. It’s a day and a feeling as timeless as the lyrics to Coldplay’s “Shiver”:

And I’ll always be waiting for you. And it’s you I see, but you don’t see me… So I look in your direction, but you pay me no attention. And you know how much I need you, but you never even see me, do you.

And This is What Love is

One of the things that continually bolsters my spirituality is the way synchronicity and serendipity have a way of bringing the right signs, messages, people, and lessons into my life.

And what’s really shown me this is the fact that I went through a kind of dark night of the soul over the past couple years where these things simply did not happen, because I didn’t believe in anything except science; however, once the spiritual poles in my life reversed from zemblanity to serendipity – voila’ – the magic came back.

As I said to Bunny S via text tonight, I believe in God more than I believe in love – to which she replied, you used to be the opposite. And she is probably right.

Whichever the case my be, I maintain enough fluidity in my beliefs to account for other, often more mature perspectives. After all – perspective is just a filter, and it would be hubris to think that my outlook at 29 is the be all end all, and after all, I’m a long way from being the sage grandfather I am destined to be.

So tonight when I was at my local Whole Foods and I found myself in a chance conversation with a woman who was open and willing to share her perspective with me, I made sure to listen to what she had to say.

And she told me about how as you get older and the people you love start dying it changes you forever – how losing those you love – mom and dad included – changes you; how loss is a part of living and getting older, and how you don’t experience this when you are young, and in a sense your outlook on life is unspoiled by the loss you have yet to face in the passing of relationships and the passage of loved ones.

And in turn I told her about the Grant Study, and how after 75 years and twenty million dollars they concluded that happiness was love, full stop and that the other pillar of happiness [besides finding love] was finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.

And that’s really difficult to do in the face of loss.

But she [the woman at whole foods] was right: loss is an inherent aspect of life – in every facet of nature, it’s simply the way things work.

As one of my favorite quotes from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button states: “You can be as mad as a mad dog at the way things went. You can swear and curse the fates, but when it comes to the end, you have to let go.”

And that’s just innately difficult [letting go]. We all live in denial of the inevitable. So – to look back on a relationship and think that the ending itself or the absence of someone you once loved from your life today is somehow unfair is simply childish. And this is what naivete is. It’s not naive to believe in love; it’s naive to believe that you will bask in it’s richness forever.

Love is a holiday. It’s Thanksgiving spent with your favorite people. It’s the safety of Christmas eve. But it’s also understanding that you can’t stop this train.

It’s not naive to believe in love; it’s naive to believe that you will bask in it’s richness forever. Love is a holiday. It’s Thanksgiving spent with your favorite people. It’s the safety of Christmas eve. But it’s also understanding that you can’t stop this train.

And as much as you want to get off and go home again, you can’t,

And this is really what love is. It’s holding on tightly to what you have to let go of. But it’s also knowing you will have to let go.

And it’s knowing that home is where the heart is, but it’s also knowing that your heart is the only home you can ever truly count on being able to return to – every other home is just a resting place for your heart, someone special to share to with.

And whomever you have to share it with now – friends, family, whoever is there in your life today – these are the people that matter. Hold them dear, for they will be gone tomorrow.

But of course, we all feel like ‘You don’t know how it feels to be me’. And this is what love is; because we don’t [know how it feels to be you] – but we all have to let go.

 P.S. I’m reminded of a philosophical exercise where a professor holds up a glass of water before his class and asks the students (a very bright bunch) what the glass of water weighs. Of course, the answers are rapid and forthcoming – “8 ounces!”, “10 ounces!” – but the professor elucidates: the weight of the glass of water is relative to how long you hold onto it; hold it for a minute and you will feel the weight of it (say 10 ounces), but try to hold it for hours or days and it will become unbearable. And this is why we have to let go of things – because their weight becomes unbearable in time.

 And this is why we have to let go of things – because their weight becomes unbearable in time.

Edit: I want to clarify that this outlook on love here is in no way meant to say that you can’t spend the rest of your life with someone you love. I’m 29, and as such, I understand that your twenties are often a very rich burial ground for relationships and first loves, but there is no one rule. And your exes are most likely exes for a reason. Just don’t give up on what you deserve, and hold tighter to what you find next knowing that you have to let go of it all regardless. But if you are lucky enough to find real love – someone who truly loves you and stays by your side through thick and thin – and there will be thick and thin – then hold onto that person, because that’s as good as it gets.

This is Who I Am – Reflections on Quantum Change

One thing I’ve learned about life is that we never know what the future holds.

Over the past four years I’ve been in a place of self-discovery – and as anyone knows who has been there, it’s a hell of a ride and it won’t let you off until it’s done with you – until you have gained what you needed to gain in order to move on.

And like the man shipwrecked, eventually you wash up on the shore and find yourself looking up at a clear blue sky.

It’s difficult to come out of something like this – where you are suddenly in a place where the fear is gone – and to start going all Eckert Tolle with your sudden clarity, but I wanted to share a resource I put together so that others may benefit from it.

And there is very much a part of me that doesn’t want to share things like this out of my own selfish inclinations to keep myself guarded, but that’s not how I want to live.

And as a note to anyone who feels lost right now: there is a rainbow of transformation at the end of it if you can keep your soul intact through everything; if you can remember who you are while being open to completely changing. Know that it’s possible to hold onto the parts of you that are sacred while releasing everything else. Take advantage of the opportunity to go through a quantum change and seize it. Eventually, all the questions you have been asking will answer themselves and the asking will cease to matter and you will learn to care far less about the things you think. And just maybe, you will learn that you are not a body and a mind, but a soul. And if that happens then you can step out of your head and change everything.

What follows are a series of reminders and affirmations about who I am and what’s important to me at 29. What helped me create these was taking a hard and honest look at who I am versus who I have pretended to be, as well as the mistakes I have made in my twenties, and the impact they have had on my life.

 

P.S. I never thought I would be so thankful for this time in my life, but at this point I am overcome with an almost undeserved gratitude at the fact that I went through this quarter life crisis of mine – despite all the pain I went through to get here. There’s just a lightness to my soul that I didn’t think would ever be possible.

P.P.S. The music of John Mayer has been a truly valuable and therapeutic tool in this journey of mine, from listening to ‘In Repair’ at my lowest, to ‘Gravity’ at my most melancholy, to ‘Stop This Train’ at my most nostalgic, to being able to finally get ‘Shadow Days’. (I could seriously write a novel on his music) As an artist he has really managed to define and illustrate the lessons of a quarter life crisis – something he admitted to going through himself. In fact I would almost say that he could be the Patron Saint of my quarter life crisis. I am so thankful for his music. And I don’t know if this particular song will speak to others, but for whatever reason it’s found me now.

An Essay on Love

For over three decades, George Vaillant directed a study out of Harvard, one of the longest running longitudinal studies about human development and happiness ever.

Recently, in summarizing the trends and findings from the study, he had this to say in conclusion:

“The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points to a straightforward five-word conclusion: ‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’ ”

 ‘The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points to a straightforward five-word conclusion: ‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’

Take that as you may – but if you are living without true love in your life, or if you’ve given up on the notion that you will ever find it again, you may find it interesting to note that Dr. Valiant also stated that the study showed that it was “never too late.”

See, you can chase things, be addicted to food, and remain stuck on that never ending cycle of doing things because you want need to change the way you feel (eat, sleep, sex, drink, TV, etc, repeat); or you can heed the findings of the Grant Study, and commit to finding TRUE happiness.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t be happy without love in your life, but in my 29 years, I’ve never seen a happiness that matches the happiness of love.

I look around, and I see so few people who are truly happy. I’m not saying I don’t see people smiling, or people who are friendly, and people who appear happy; I’m saying I see few people who are truly fucking happy. And if you’ve ever been in love then you know what I’m talking about when I say truly fucking happy.

The happiness that love brings is like ‘the invincible summer within’ that Albert Camus wrote of. It’s not the generic, fair weather, watered down version of happiness that society resigns you to aspire to. Love happy requires no faux positive mental attitude, it can survive bad days with relative ease, and there’s no big house or fancy car required.

Love happy is happiness simply for love’s sake.

Love happy is happiness simply for love’s sake.

Right about now you probably think I am a Pollyanna. Another naive person with the kind of unfounded optimism that causes people to overlook the unfortunate nature of reality.

And I don’t blame you. We don’t live in a utopia of love. Real life looks very little like the movie Valentine’s Day.

The reality of love is tough. The divorce rate is above 50%. Hell, it’s 75% in California and it’s even higher for second marriages. And as any adult knows, marriage does not imply harmony or bliss, or even true love at all – if I may be so inclined to assert.

I’m going to indulge in a bit of amateur sociology.

As a society, our hope at love is bleak because our outlook on love is cynically glum. Even the people who’ve felt the kind of love strong enough to stop the earth get older and become practical, taking a more sensible and pragmatic approach to love.

Part of the reason we are cynical on love is the fact that it’s not uncommon for people to believe in the idea of a soul-mate. This concept that there is only one true love for you in life.

This is one of the biggest limiting beliefs in the world.

There are seven billion people on the planet. Your odds of hitting the powerball are 1 in 175 million. This means that if there were only one soul-mate for you, your chances of finding them would be one in 7,000,000,000 and you would be 4 times more likely to win the lottery than to find your soul-mate.

To believe TRUE love can only happen once is a dangerous cop out. You’re much better off realizing that the idea of one true love is a product of human nature, and not nature itself.

To believe TRUE love can only happen once is a dangerous cop out. You’re much better off realizing that the idea of one true love is a product of human nature, and not nature itself.

It’s human nature to believe in the love of your life concept, it’s human to alter our beliefs and behaviors to protect ourselves from being hurt again, and it’s human to let negative events assail our hopes; and in this fashion, we have a society of people who settle, but we do not have a society of people who are happy.

To believe that there is just one true love is to do our chances at happiness a grave disservice.

The one true love idea is romantic, and it often fuels many a hormone filled love – but as soon as the relationship comes to a crashing end and life has wiped the floor with your heart, then bam. You’re fucked. The one true love will then haunt you forever – and it often does.

A recent study of 2,000 participants found that one in seven had ‘settled’ with their current partner, and of those one in seven, 73% felt they ‘were not with the love of their life’.

People tend to believe in this idea of ‘the love of their life’ and people tend to settle in part because of it; they accept that love is one thing when you are young and your hormones are in full bloom and that it’s another when you are nearing 30. People simply put away the hope of true love, pack up their baggage and wisen up before settling down. There’s a reason it’s called settling down.

There’s a reason it’s called settling down.

The unfortunate truth of love for many is that simply finding someone who treats them well and has their figurative shit together is reason enough to settle down.  Frankly, I am baffled as to why anyone would ever marry someone they weren’t madly head over heels crazy in love with. “He’ll be a good father.” Good luck with that.

As a society this tendency to settle down rather than pursue love as if it were the key to happiness is almost medievally feudalistic. Marriage should not be for the procurement and protection of property and the social milestone of settling down and raising a family.

To add to the complexity of the situation, it’s human to want to find someone who will be a good provider because no one wants to be insolvent. Money is often cited as one of the number one reasons couples fight. So, in this sense, the individual who is committed to true love and desires a financially secure partner truly is looking to eat their cake and have it too. But, you know what, I say go for it. If you don’t believe you deserve something someone else will end up with it that does (believes).

Look, this blog is eventually for my kinds and grankids. I may not convince the world of this, but love is not a matter in which you should settle on. As the Grant Study concluded, love is happiness, so unless you want to take your chances on settling when it comes to your happiness, then don’t fucking do it.

As I’ve written, people settle, people give up on love and I’m not meaning to project an air of superiority over them because of it – by all means, this is an opinion piece, but I cannot strongly enough state that we should not base our lives on the patterns of our society. Just because a way of thinking or a behavior is the de facto choice for many, does not mean it is the self-actualized choice, or the right choice for your life.

I cannot strongly enough state that we should not base our lives on the patterns of our society. Just because a way of thinking or a behavior is the de facto choice for many, does not mean it is the self-actualized choice, or the right choice for your life.

The fact of the matter is, our society is almost atheistic to the pursuit and the belief in love. We think there is one true love, we don’t find it, we settle, then we give up.

What the Grant Study revealed is that happiness is love.

Is there no more genuine a pursuit in life? I think not.

To this end, I want you to love. Be love. Find Love. Fall in Love. Make the pursuit of love your paramount goal in life. Love yourself. Love your family. Experience happiness, experience the love the world has to offer.

I’ve never found anything closer to a spiritual experience than love, and as such, the Grant Study’s premier conclusion is of absolutely no surprise to me.

There is a season for everything in life. My grandmother found love again in her eighties, decades after her husband of over twenty years had passed away.

This may seem purely anecdotal, but I like to believe that this drive for love is what helped her stay active and to take care of herself all those years. It has always been the driving force in my life, because I have always believed in it. A belief that has been extremely rewarding.

Believe in love. Be one of those rare believers in the spiritual and sacred truth that love exists and it will find you and you will find it. Like all gifts in the universe, you first have to be open to receive it.

And though the world may be full of atheists when it comes to love, you must believe in the invincible summer of love within you. You will meet people who don’t truly believe in high fidelity, true and lasting love, and that’s okay. But in believing, you will keep your heart open to the precious few you meet who do.

But if you close your heart to everything that love truly is then you will not be on the pursuit of happiness.  To live your life according to the gospel of love is simply to be love.

I will close with a note about luck. Some say luck happens when preparation meets opportunity, and I think that’s a fine poster for a low-rent office. But luck really happens when probability moves from unlikely to likely. It’s not luck that the people who were happy had found love.

As Vaillant puts it, there are two pillars of happiness. “One is love,” he writes. “The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”

Money Does Not Equal Happiness

Three years and exactly 99 posts ago I went to wordpress.com and started this blog.

I’ve been waiting for something worthy enough for my 100th post.

Today the impetus for my centennial post arrived.

I was reading about how Crispin Glover of Back to The Future Stardom recently came out and stated that he didn’t participate in the second installment of the Back To The Future franchise because:

…he was upset with the materialistic happy ending of the first film. He didn’t like that the McFlys were happier people because they were more prosperous financially. And he felt the idea that money = happiness is BS.

He noted that he wasn’t the only person asking questions about the original ending “It had to do with money, and what the characters were doing with money … I said to Robert Zemeckis (the film’s producer) I thought it was not a good idea for our characters to have a monetary reward, because it basically makes the moral of the movie that money equals happiness”. Glover argued “the love should be the reward”, and “Zemeckis got really mad” over Glover’s questioning.

To which I completely remembered the ending and the truck that Marty Mcfly had lusted after and how happy he was finally possessing it as well as how content the family was with their outwardly prosperous life.

And I realized how much I liked that ending as a child. I wanted that truck.

I wanted my family to be happy like that, because, I believed that if we had money, we truly would be.

But now, I’m 28 and I realize that the outwardly prosperous life = happiness equation equals bullshit as much as Crispin Glover’s reasoning for not participating in the second Back To The Future is bullshit.

Anyone remember a movie Crispin Glover was in called Hot Tub Time Machine?

Well, if you have seen that movie, the irony is that it has the exact same ending as Back To The Future: they end up in an alternate timeline where everyone has money and is happy as a result.

Both of those movies have happy endings, and both endings send the same message and once again, the disempowering belief of money = happiness is sold.

The truth is that Crispin Glover wasn’t in the second Back To The Future film because as the film’s screenwriter stated, “His salary demands were unreasonable”.

Hipster armchair observations about Crispin Glover aside, you need to know that as long as you believe that prosperity equals happiness, you will be unhappy without it.

The truth is that people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be. (Thank you Abraham Lincoln for that quote).

And your beliefs are the only real barrier to your happiness.

Because the truth about money is that all too many people spend their lives chasing it, and then they end up dying and realizing that it wasn’t money that mattered.

The truth about money is that it is as important to your happiness as you let it be.

And trust me and everyone who has ever lay dying when I tell you that there are much more important stops on your pursuit of real and true happiness than the pursuit of things.

Money doesn’t buy your time back. It won’t bring your family back. And it sure as hell won’t bring you true happiness.

I’m not making a case for a spartan life. I enjoy money. I’ve had the luxury of being rich and poor. And trust me, as it is said, rich is better.

But I stopped trading things that truly matter to me in exchange for the pursuit of money. And to me, that was the lesson that has made my life what it is today.

Unfortunately, it’s a lesson I can’t teach. You have to figure it out for yourself.

But the beautiful thing is that you know what matters to you; as with all matters of the heart, you already have the right answers.

But alas, so many of us are caught in the trap of judging ourselves and others based on the standards that society has programmed us to keep score with – money being the chief metric among these.

My advice on money is to figure out the real worth that money actually brings to your life.

How much comfort do you need? How much freedom do you need? How much choice and control do you need?

I’m not saying you have to stop there, but the truth is, the real return of money stops at a certain point – and the danger begins when you start sacrificing the things that really matter in order to acquire an arbitrary and intangible sense of worth that you have bestowed onto money.

And maybe you have no liquidity and your bank ledger is constantly dipping into the red – then the real question in this case is, have you sacrificed your sense of self-worth and inner peace as a result?

Because the truth about money is that it comes and goes, and like love, it comes a lot easier when you don’t attach your self-worth to it.

That’s a big gamble to make. Don’t attach who you are to what you have.

Einstein said that all he needed to be happy was ‘chair, a desk, and an apple’.

I think we all need to determine what our chair, desk, and apple are.

My personal and semi satirical-twist on this is that all I need to be happy is a pizza and a box of wine.

Now, I am not a wino, but if I had a pizza and a box of wine, I’m pretty sure I could manage to have a great afternoon.

If I truly was to equate how much money I needed to experience inner peace and lasting happiness, I would probably take a good look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in relation to how much money effects meeting my basic physiological and safety needs.

Beyond that, I would use Maslow’s model to examine my personal beliefs about money in relation to my sense of Love/Belonging, Esteem, and Self-Actualization and use this as a guide to determine how much money I need in order to reach my peak potential in life.

My goals in life involve having a large family and providing them with the things that money affords that I did not have access to.

However, in my personal journey, I have been extremely fortunate to have come from my unique background and in the course of my 28 years to have discovered on my own what money and happiness really means to me.

The intangibles, the things I write about that have so much more worth than money ever could.

Because the intangible truth is that happiness is independent from circumstance.

If you do not understand this, I implore you to read the Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, and Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning.

Seriously, invest in yourself and your future generations. These works are the real deal.

If you are unhappy because of a lack of prosperity I’d advise you to stop comparing yourself to other people and to reexamine your heroes.

If you are still hellbent on pursuing prosperity as a means to happiness, by all means, go ahead. I’ve been down that road. It’s like being a mouse in a cage, running on that wheel. It leads to the same place you are now.

Money is just a means – to what end is your choice.

You can use it to help yourself and others, or you can use it to separate yourself from others by judging those with it or without it – yourself included.

It’s just money.

Figure out what it means to you and you’ll figure out your relationship with it.

Figure out what you will use it for and don’t be used for it.

Figure out how money relates to your personal happiness, and whether it’s real needs that are the limiting factor to your well-being, or whether it’s just your beliefs about money that are holding you down mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Figure out what matters to you. You only have so much time.

Figure out how you are keeping score in life.

Money is just security, and if you are fortunate – a bit of freedom and autonomy as well – but real freedom and autonomy arises from your beliefs, and real security comes from who you are.

Don’t believe the lie that money equals happiness.

Meaning equals happiness.

Find meaning in your experiences, in your beliefs, in your relationships, and in the present moment.

The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsion, and wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful and for the sake of something else. – Aristotle

Waking Up to The Matrix

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Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.

Morpheus, The Matrix

I’m a thinker, it’s just my nature.

Call it intensity, call it passion – but as enriching as the experience of deep introspection can be, it’s often the burden of many an artist’s soul.

But it must be faced, for to attempt to escape from that splinter in your mind is a dangerous pursuit that will often manifest itself in some of the most unhealthy and destructive forms of prolonged self-abuse.

If you’re thinking, if your gears are going, it’s because your brain is trying to resolve something – and you can’t ignore it.

In my journey through the world, I am always looking for signs and I’m willing to blindly venture down the rabbit hole in order to find them.

This willingness, combined with my unbridled ADHD, makes for a life that’s full of signs.

Tonight I was listening to Phil Collins and one of the youtube commenters said something to the effect of ‘GARBAGE , PETER GABRIEL KICKS PHILS ASS, SCREW THIS POP SHIT.’

So, I decided to listen to some Peter Gabriel, and what a beautiful thing that I did.


I have an egocentric tendency to relate things to my personal life or current situation. This is probably a result of my desire to discover the signs and messages in life, but it provides me with a great power, which is the ability to use everyday things (like a Peter Gabriel song) as lenses through which I can view the world from a perspective other than my own.

That allows me to better understand myself, and life as a whole.

What struck me about this song was it’s message of transcending pain through awakening.

Love I get so lost, sometimes
Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
When I want to run away
I drive off in my car
But whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are

All my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes Oh,
I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
The heat I see in your eyes

Love, I don’t like to see so much pain
So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive

And all my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

The lyrics perfectly mirrored the song in my heart and it spoke for me, which is what I think good music should accomplish.

The reason it spoke for me is because right now I am floating in a place where I am not living from my gut, from my instincts – and that’s a painful place to be.

This is a song about instincts returning and the grand facade burning.

It’s about reaching out from the inside and establishing a new and loving relationship with yourself, where you are complete and you’ve found the resolution of all the fruitless searches.

To me, it’s about awakening to the experience of being reconnected to your authentic-self.

Your authentic-self is the true you. The person connected to your passions, your purpose, your beliefs and your identity.

This is difficult, because the authentic-self is not the same you that has been so deeply conditioned and programmed.

Societal pressures that we’ve come to call ‘life’ trap us, and force us to compromise our heart and ignore our intuition. And once you awaken to that you will question everything you beleive in.

The questions I’ve started asking myself are:

What makes me tick? What are the driving forces in my life?

Why do I do what I do, and make the choices that I make?

What beliefs are dictating my being? and are they empowering or disempowering beliefs?

Those are questions that won’t leave me, it’s as if I have to live with them now.

I’ve started to try and answer them, and I’m beginning to discover so much more about my nature. But most importantly I’m realizing how conflicted it is with my reality.

I’m not trying to get too existential here, but when you realize that you’ve been making the wrong commitments and your priorities are completely paradoxical to your true-nature and your life is suffering as a result of your beliefs – then I think it’s a wise time to question what you believe in.

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During his commencement speech at Stanford in 2005, Steve Jobs gave this sage anecdote:

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Unfortunately that answer has been no for me for far too long. Probably as is the case for many of us who aren’t living our truth.

Instead of living our truth, we are caught in the trap of trying to please everybody.

Why? We’ve been programmed to. Just like our parents were programed to try and please the gatekeepers. Employers, teachers, the opposite sex, the government – the entire system relies on us being compelled to try and appease it.

And that’s just one example of thinking that has been so deeply ingrained into us that we don’t even realize it.

From birth, we are plugged into a world that programs our thinking and our beliefs.

Welcome to the matrix.

But if we had the courage to deprogram our thinking, and truly examine our beliefs then we would have the power to define our world, rather than be defined by it.

lessons

That, my friend, is called unplugging from the matrix.

Here’s a great explanation of ‘unplugging from the matrix’ from Awake in The Now.

Once the red pill is taken or the awakening process begins, there is no turning back, it cannot be undone.

When we reach the point where higher self comes to tap us on the shoulder we must respond. If we resist this wake up call we will suffer more and more intensely until we get the message and make the turn inward.

In the movie, Neo chooses the red pill and is unplugged so to speak from the matrix. The is an incredibly painful and disorienting process as he realizes that everything he took to be reality is not in fact real but just a projection of his mind and part of a simulated dream world within which he had been imprisoned…

The process of beginning to unplug from the matrix is very painful for most of us because essentially everything, every aspect of our lives begins to change and transform in profound and initially uncomfortable ways. We no longer get much comfort and pleasure from the things we used to and as we begin to see through the illusion we’re confronted with the vastness and limitlessness of the unknown which is terrifying to us because we’re used to living in a comfortably limited world.

The higher-self has definitely tapped me on the shoulder. I’ve takien the red pill and I’m starting to experience the discomfort of seeing through the illusion of my beliefs and the choices they are producing.

There is no turning back from this awakening.

Now I really have to answer those same questions of:

What makes me tick? What are the driving forces in my life?

Why do I do what I do, and make the choices that I make?

What beliefs are dictating my being? and are they empowering or disempowering beliefs?

and just as important,

What are the beliefs that are holding me back from doing what I’d truly like to be doing and what I’m truly capable of doing?

and what beliefs are limiting my concept of what I’m capable of and what my limits are?

Clearly, for most all of us, fear is a central theme in the answers.

Many of us have likely heard of the concept of people being driven by fear.

We’re scared of letting people down, we are scared of being uncomfortable, we are scared of taking that most painful first step.

Whatever we are afraid of, we need to uncover our fears and face them as what they are: beliefs. And as I asserted, we need to ask if they are empowering or disempowering fears.

In my previous post, I embedded a youtube video where Will Smith can be seen explaining to PBS’ Charlie Rose that he is driven by fear:

‘I’m motivated by fear. Fear of fear! I hate being scared to do something, and I think what developed in my early days was the habit of attacking things that I was scared of.’

Will Smith

What’s really interesting about what Will Smith said, is that although he admits to being motivated by fear, in his case, his fear is fear; being scared to do something.

So, in the case of Will Smith, his fear is an empowering belief, because it causes him to attack things to avoid being scared of them.

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4th 1933

That’s probably the only fear that’s going to empower us. The fear of being afraid to do anything.

If we are afraid of fear then we are afraid to be paralyzed by the ‘needed efforts to convert retreat into advance’.

And once we realize that’s the only fear worth fearing, then we stop being driven by limiting fears that are disempowering because they cause us to be afraid of taking action. Action shouldn’t be feared. Not taking action because we are afraid should be feared.

If we can re-frame our fears in this light, we will see that they are not protecting us, or keeping us safe. They are keeping us plugged into the matrix. And when we examine the root of the fears that have been guiding and defining us for so long, we will come to see that they are based in societal notions that have been imparted to us without any real critical thought.

We just accept that being successful is hard, and we are safer at a job, and all of the other ‘unjustified terrors’ that are keeping us in the uncomfortable place of having taken the red pill, but not walking through the door and becoming truly unplugged.

To truly unplug from the matrix, you need to establish a belief system that is completely rooted in the inner-voice of your heart, and the quiet yet unwavering intuition of your gut.

This sounds complex, to make the jump from the beliefs of the matrix to our own, but there’s actually a secret to it.

From the same video, in my previous post.

“Greatness is not this wonderful, esoteric, elusive, god-like feature that only the special among us will ever taste – you know it’s something that truly exists in all of us. It’s very simple: this is what I believe and I’m willing to die for it. Period. It’s that simple. I know who I am and I know what I believe, and that’s all I need to know, so from there you do what you need to do. I think what happens is we make this situation more complex – the normal among us, than it has to be (because we’re looking for complexity).”

If we want to find out what are beliefs are, we need only ask if we would be willing to die for them – and not necessarily in a literal sense, but absolutely in a figurative sense. Our true beliefs that are rooted in our authentic-self outside of the matrix have to be essential for our existence.

You either believe it or you don’t.

In this video, Will Smith talks about a lesson learned from Muhammad Ali on the critical nature of innate confidence as a belief that’s required for success.

If you don’t believe it – no one else will.

So if you can frame your beliefs on the idea that they will make or break you, then you can begin to establish beliefs that will unplug you from the matrix and connect you to the limitless nature of your true being.

You can unplug from the maxtrix wherever you are trapped by it.

You can go as deep as you want down the rabbit hole. It’s all dependent upon how much you wish to awaken to the programmed beliefs that keep us trapped in the matrix.

Maybe the matrix is your career, maybe it’s your dreams that lay stagnant because of your fear. Maybe it’s an entire life path, as defined by society. The matrix is nothing more than the software that our mind is running. Our physical being is the technology, and we don’t have to run the same software that everyone else is running. We can program our own beliefs to mirror those of the most self-actualized and successful members of our society. Those that are free from the rat-race, and are living a life that’s tailor made for them. Design your life and program yourself as required.

Start deprogramming yourself today. Find out exactly what your guiding systems are.

Your only fear should be fear of letting fear continue controlling you. Reach out from the inside and let your instincts return and the grand facade of the matrix will burn. Now that you are awakening to the matrix, it’s time to unplug. It’s your choice: you take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

I’m trying to free your mind, but I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” – John Lennon

My Raison D’être

As you get older, you realize the importance of family over all else.

Older people tell you that – and then one day – you’re 28, and it’s true.

And it’s the realest thing ever. There really is nothing more real than that.

We live in a crazy world. A world that moves so fast.

A world full of love and hate; life and death; joy and fear; sadness and happiness; hope and despair. And everything imaginable in-between.

I do not know the nature of life. I don’t know what happens after life.

I do not know why we are here.

But I do know that I was created.

Like you, I came from my mother’s womb, naked and crying. That’s all that life guaranteed me. The rest was purely good-fortune.

I realize that I was lucky to have people waiting for me who loved me and did their best to raise me.

The older I get, the more I appreciate that. Just the fact that I have a family.

Not all of us are that fortunate.

Beyond the fact that I was lucky enough just to have parents around at all, I hit the lottery in that I know what unconditional love feels like.

No – I didn’t grow up in a Brady Bunch household.

There were struggles that I am only now coming to understand. But I get that I was lucky through it all.

Who among us can claim to have a perfect family.

We can ALL claim to have a fucked-up family in the way that all families are fucked-up in their own way. That’s just called life.

And that’s family. It’s messy. It’s not the superficial social experience of friendship. There’s no hanging out on a good day and being invisible when it’s convenient. There is no filter, and there is no choosing what you get to keep private.

It is people at their best and at their complete worst. It’s phone calls at 2 am, and crying all night, and the worst birthday ever.

And all too often, it’s the worst that we remember; for what is more emotionally charged than family. What cuts deeper.

But it’s also the times your dad took you fishing. When he made lunch for just the two of you and you watched a movie that you can’t even remember, but you remember the taste of pringles chips and a can of coke. Or when you walked out on the pier during a huge storm together.

It’s when your mom snuck you a few extra bucks for lunch even though times were tight. It’s when she made you a burger on the stove at 1 am and watched sleepless in Seattle with you. It’s when she got you dressed and you went for a walk with her in the middle of the biggest El Niño in 15 years.

It’s every day my sister has ever been alive.

What is sweeter.

I know of no greater love.

I want to call all of my family right now and just cry. Just tell them that I am sorry that my head is always somewhere else and I’m sorry that life has for a long time overshadowed that.

I love my family. They are the most wonderful people I have ever known. They are everything I stand for and believe about the world. And that’s the greatest gift that life has given me.

I know that none of us will be around forever. But I promise to pass on every fucked-up and beautiful thing about this family of mine. I promise to carry on my dad’s passion, and his love of the sea. I promise to carry on my mom’s poetic heart. I promise to carry on my sister’s everlasting love and dedication.

Thy eternal summer shall not fade.

I’m rededicating my life right now to family. Past, present, for now, and forever.

This is my raison d’être.

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