you were the girl who made my whole night, on my 8 mile walk
you reminded me that one person can be your whole world, can change your whole experience of life –
damn you for giving me hope –
but it is said we fall in love with shared values, real love
and I know: you has a man
and he seemed a pretty damn solid-dude too,
but I wonder how much he is like your father,
how much he treats you like a child
for you and I spoke like children:
conversing, sharing space –
and it was so nice I could cry a little and imagine a lot
and I hope you see this,
because you gave me some peace tonight – the kind gone awhile –
and I’m taking it to bed w me,
holding onto the optimism I walked away from you with,
until I see you again,
which may be never,
so forever it is
been doing it,
real sobriety; feelings,
and a vulnerability that leaves me more aware than afraid
bc I heard the truest words last night, when the checker at the grocery told me: “be careful out there”,
and I knew just what he meant;
the vulnerability is palpable,
as real as the judgements – the looks, the hate – which, sadly, seems severest from women who do not accept girls like us as valid:
what more can I say: i’m so fucking brave, so fucking femme –
and no social media, no faux friends,
no dating apps, no lays –
guess I quit the sex after one yoga teacher followed another,
and reminded me that I am so worthy / as desirable as I ever was to a Shannon, a Sarah (hell, even that girl Dnaiella)
but I know it’s an inside job: so I’m doing it now,
and I’ve finally found love within, made it rain, cashing in,
so i’ll never be without again –
my lover and best friend, without a doubt, until the end –
but the plot’s still thickening;
it is all really happening,
and I know I can’t stop time,
so I’m making something out of myself,
and I need no one else,
just my family and my privacy,
just a little more leveling up;
we’re already magnitudes more than fine;
I’ve never felt happier to be alive,
on this glow-up of mine
bitch I am tranta claus,
granter of my own wishes 💅🏼,
doer, alchemist, tantric animal,
on a quest,
belly full of vegan:
plant powered, I’m a star;
and we can go anywhere we want;
bc I sign my own permission slips bitch,
and I don’t take any shit,
not from a soul
to think, I’ve really changed,
i’m really at home in the world
the most animal of all the humans
and I get it, I’m learning to use the hardware in my head:
long days at the cowork suite,
long walks at night,
early bed, clairo album before sleep, norman fucking rockwell, beatrice eli, showgirls live at dramaten 😍
and a strength I’ve never known;
I think this is what courage looks like,
I think this is what making it feels like,
I think this is what it actually is:
being proud to be you;
totally forgiving your self,
letting go, holding on,
and never giving up on doing your best.
I wish I was somebody, but I’m not;
Not that I’m nobody, but I’m not enough to matter to her;
‘It wouldn’t change anything’, she would say,
But it would: I know it –
And why, why do I miss the bitch who disowned me so much…
I guess you would have to have been seen and loved by a girl like Sarah to know what I live without,
To know how invisible I have felt without her innate understanding of the things she got right about me, the things she showed me
Sometimes it’s all I see of myself:
Just the vapor of her imago of me,
Kept alive by the mental doppelgänger of her I am fated to carry within me for the rest of my years:
God fuck it hurts –
And now that I went from a quarter a day to zero cannabis,
Her ghost is back
And I can’t do anything about it –
Because I already drank till I lost my appetite and went to hell,
And I already smoked till my throat hurt, joint after joint:
And I already got sober… but it no cure my hurt
Guess this is the punishment for my pleasure,
The price for the thousand-and-one skin-to-skin nights, and the subsequent oxcytocin that used to flow between us,
Bonding me to her like no other;
Only, this is “the pattern”
The same I dumbly did with two others,
Who also felt it was a great misfortune to know me –
But no, it was no tragedy of their love to disown me, but the great tragedy of my life to be made unknown to them, to have my paradise made mythical, my deepest love made Atlantis, sunk costs; lost cause –
For we don’t die at the end of life but all along, bit by bit, loss by loss, pain by lasting pain –
And I’m fucking dying tonight, no appetite, just the hurt, the empty
The loneliness of life on her bad side,
Which I have to hate her for –
Lest I betray my self,
Like I already did days before sober,
When I beleived all the things she does about me –
Because that’s the thing: I’m just a fucking loser not worth knowing to her,
So one day I’ll make sure she can’t meet someone who doesn’t know who I am,
Who doesn’t know I’m somebody –
And in doing so, I shall make my tragedy her’s,
And again: I pray this is my last poem for her,
But I had to write it,
To keep myself alive,
To prove that there might be a way out of this other than death;
For while her animus once brought me to life – it is my animus [towards her] that keeps me alive:
So it is, Dantes nears closer the Count tonight,
And my dark heart, this pain, nears me closer my self,
Further from the boy she thought she knew,
The one she nulled.
Edit: Immediately after publishing this, I received a notification that this was my 500th post. A fitting milestone to take a break at after ten years.
Sapphic vibes. Listening to Joni Mitchell’s A Case of You (thx Clairo), in a warm bath. Tall, cold 🍋 Perrier (I’m a 95% Pellegrino girl but I’ll suffer this French water… 😏). Two joints: one going in this glass tip holder (dispensary gift), which has me feeling some type of way… a bit Gatsbian, a bit something I don’t know; there is the spirit of je ne sais quoi all around me. Words can not tell you who I am becoming – though I do tell myself, which is probably my trick. It has worked so far.
I could not have written my life to be more beneficial for my character development. Lord knows I would have made it easier, but that, thankfully, was not my fate.
LA inspo vibes. Milk, Brockhampton. I’m going to start skateboarding again. Teenage me was such a brave one. But, oh, how insecure/inexperienced/ignorant/illequipped I was then – though I can’t reject me. I have to take me home. All of me. I have to know I can take skateboard breaks without being psychologically transported back to the feral wildness of my youth – though it reminds me of it.
It’s nice that I can look without looking away, that I can see my own shadow: that I know it’s mine.
I can’t believe I am soon to be graduating from these mountains. They really raised me. I could say that I pissed away some of my time up here drinking, but I needed that fucking pain. We don’t emerge from the flames, but the ashes – after they have burnt us all the way down. Mother of dragons shit. Holy fuck. Mother of dragons. You have to be me to know what certain combinations of words mean to me. The brain is the ultimate sudoku machine. We are all just riddles for ourselves to solve – provided we have the consciousness to do so. I think that’s when actualization happens. Though it’s of course been happening all along.
Joint two. I am such a proud self-taught Jungian. Imagining myself without having encountered Jung and his concepts (Namely: shadow, anima…self) is a scary thought; the me I wanted to become at 21 would have been a shadow of who I have become (Because for happiness and all else beyond appearance: it is the who and not the what that matters). My visions of my future back then were well intending no doubt, but goddamn am I grateful for all the planes and all the mountains they crashed into. And that Jungian inner map by which to traverse all that pain.
A landslide made me. A long, lonely, messy landslide. And I really loved my exes – though it was necessary to tear down the pedestals I had built to them – and others – so I could love myself. There was no other way. Worshipping the wrong people will put you in hell. Worshipping just about anything can annihilate you. Maybe this is the lesson the myth of Satan has to teach us. His folly. His love for god is what did him in. I did the same godddamned thing to myself with women I made goddesses of: if only I hadn’t behaved so damned resentfully towards them when they were only human. But I’m not writing this to look back.
I’ll sit in this bath till I’m Wim Hof. We out here doin bad shit… no, not really – but that’s the dragon energy 🐉 I feel. Though less toxic. Because the dragon is often toxic. Protector. Vaporizer of cities. We have split the atom. Slavery exists around the planet. Human actions are not a monolith. Individuals do this. Good and evil are not two archetypes but two qualities, two results. The dragon is the doer. In Jungian thought, we aim to put the dragon in service of the anima. I guess she is the queen who controls the dragon, without which the dragon becomes a ruthless slave to the ego, which is a dangerous dynamic when it goes wrong, because the dragon serving the ego will often destroy others when we fail, blaming them and attacking others as responsible for the current wounds of the inner child, which are the true barriers to god (or the self 🙏🏼) for someone whose dragon has awakened in service of their ego. The world is full of dragonized egos. A dragon in service of the anima is a world brightening force, and in stark contrast to the toxic dragon for whom nothing is ever enough. Been there. It ended in ashes. But to clarify what the dragon is, it is the force of will turned into action. It is the commanding General we can not disobey – even when we are misplaced.
My dragon in service of my ego wanted nothing but things. My dragon in service of the anima knows what counts and what the stakes of this game of life really are.
Life is not a drill. What we do not do we never do. This is the time to shoot your shot according to the realm of possibility within your imagination and what you believe your potential to be – and if you are fortunate, this includes what you believe you can contribute. Contribution is the name of the dragon in service if the anima. But I would be lying if I said my dragon weren’t also in service of my ego. What can I say, I know what makes me tick, I know how to motivate myself 💅🏼🚀. I know how to awaken the dragon.
The dragon for me is deeply conflated with the father archetype. The poem published previous to this gives further insight into the processes happening within and without me right now as regards the dragon father emerging in me. And it makes sense I had repressed the dragon: its toxic side is enough to turn you off it entirely. But I need the masculine dragon energy. The testosterone in me is meant to give rise to more than frustration, depression, and addiction. Lmao. Been there dawg.
I am just so glad I possess a meaningful participation with my life, with my story. That I am connected to my self and committed to my vision for my self. This conscious participation with life, this level of extroverted action is very dragon.
Interesting to pause and map my inner psyche and my self as consisting of these characters / energies of:
I have developed the anima and the inner child, but the dragon as a conscious force / energy / lane has been absent. I had an unconscious dragon, toxic, not even in service to the ego. In service to others – the false anima. I’m obvi rapping loose here, but this is what I do. The act of writing is psychologically alchemical in nature. It manifests like music or poetry and no less potent. This for me is part of the interior expressive function of my animus (my interior ‘him’). But for me, the animus and anima were never fully unconscious because of the nature of my psyche, wherein, as an artist, I have always lived “one foot in the unconscious”, as Jung wrote of the artist. But I suppose I have been effectively making the unconscious conscious, particularly as a trans person, but perhaps too much so – if I have made the conscious ‘him’ unconscious, which has been the case until recently, when my decision to move to LA Sept 1 began to awaken the dragon, which, given the consciousness of my anima (my her), naturaly this dragon is ready to really make some magic happen for me.
The dragon can reinvent you. The dragon can do anything within the limits of reality and potential. The dragon has been sleeping, the coiled seepent, waiting for the day when it has been awakened in service of a worthy cause (My anima / Her-self is the princess for my dragon, my animus, my him-self). I realize I am, for the first time, starting to develop off Jung’s model, into some sort of reproductively (evolutionarily) shaped multi-gendered model of depth psychology, which remains archetypal and dualistic in nature (light / dark, her / him, conscious / unconscious), but in which all archetypes exist under a trinity of the her-self, him-self, and child-self human unit. God, if this is my theory, I better be prepared to be throttled for the inherent gender binary of my model… and there are those who would also call it a bigender model, which it effectively is, but it is a bigender model wherein there is a dominant gender on the conscious side and contrasexual gender on the inside: but that is the same as Jung. I guess I’m just adding the prinacy of him-self, her-self variations for cisgender and LGBTQ.
So there would be multiple variations of inside and outside gender metaphors as well as sexuality. Aaaahh… this is rough. But it is interesting. I’ll get where I’m supposed to be with it.
Of note here: I have been told I am verbose, wordy… it goes downhill to long-winded and other less well intended accusations from there, but let me state: I have written 98% of the things I hahe written the last ten years for my self.
The social-psychological mirror of a public facing platform has no doubt helped me evolve; however, I have multi-foot-high stacks of full joirnals. Not everything I write goes here. It is a small percentage. But it is an important percentage. The artists transforms themselves via their art.
Oh, and I’m taking a social media break. I have been on IG @hellaheathcote and do not log into facebook😏, but I am taking a full break. Deleting IG from my phone (not my account). I am thinking of doing it for a year. Dragon says Yes. Ok. It’s done.
Note: I will likely still write here, on my website, but I also may not. I reserve that right.
All I know is that my persona has peaked within the IG confirmation bubble and I need time to myself for myself. For dragon to do what dragon does.
I will miss the stories and posts of those I follow, as well as the messages, but I hope people will email me via my IG if they want to contact me. But also, I won’t cry if they don’t. I have come to value my independence. My freedom. And now I intend to exploit that confidence for my own benefit. What this next year brings exactly, I won’t know until it is over, but I know exactly what I am hoping.
And that vision – me – deserves, and is going to receive, 100% of my attention.
And, lastly, for anyone who thinks this reeks of self-importance, let me just say, thank you. I’ve worked hard for it.
Also, the bathwater is fucking freezing. The year of me awaits. I begin it with a warm shower. Salud 🛁💅🏼💜🚀
All is clear,
Beneathe the planes and the people on them, whose lives seem so much bigger than my lizard-brained existence,
Which I can now see through;
It is all clear now:
That I must not walk the easy path,
But the rightful one –
As if I were my own father,
The missing archetype,
Absent my life;
Necessecary for my wholeness,
Owing to one hell of a father wound (in my bloodline) –
For the provisional existence of the puer aeternus – who lives in the shadow – only ends when the father archetype arises, Creating a life where the inner child has the space, respurces, and total security to just play…
That’s my big bet,
… To bring this bright inner child to light, that I will finally live.
I don’t mind saved drafts, they are vital to the writer’s journey to psychic wholeness; for the alchemy of maturity must be performed alone, in private; however, lately, I have been saving too many drafts in what I can only perceive as an attempt to avoid writing about what I have been meaning to write about: my Sarah – not Sarah, whose loan on my heart is long overdue and accruing fines (As evinced by my last two poems) but my Sarah: her doppelgänger ghost, whom I will always love. Because my Sarah never left. Yes, the Sarah who left a year ago is unknown to me – and I dead to her. It’s a ghost story all around.
But I have to tell it or my memories will be my Shutter Island, a personal abyss. But even the darkness of her ghost wasn’t always that dark. Just sad. Me walking up the hill alone, bringing back a bottle of tequila and a few IPAs, so I could hang out with her ghost and commiserate. Got shitty drunk and listened to the Lana Del Rey catalogue till I was gone enough to feel that both Lana and Sarah were here with me. It was just a girl’s night: a painfully sad, massively lonely, self-deluded girl’s night.
This was one of the stories I recounted in a long letter I wrote her, after I got sober alone here in the mountains. The handwritten letter ended up taking up most of a spiral notebook. I never sent it. Nor the letters I typed to her parents. I just couldn’t carry the truth to her: that I would always love her fiercely.
I couldn’t give her that gift in the face of being perceived as absolutely valueless by her: worthless. She never directly told me to get fucked, but that certainly would have been the kind thing to do. Go back and read some of my poems, it’s a fucking sad story. And she had the right to disown me in the end. She was justified – but not in her means. Still, I wanted her friendship, I wanted to be able to safely love her forever. But it was not safe for me. Is not. I still have the mind-mushing pills they gave me. A kind of break-in-case-of-emergency parachute, which I think I’ll never need, because I’ll never be writing her songs and sending them to her again like I did:
Baby baby come over
You know that I’m sober,
I know that we’re over
It’s a three hour drive, up the I-5, don’t say you’re tired,
I know you’re lyin… I know your line
No, I will never look to her again for an iota of love. But I wanted to. She knew. I told her repeatedly, when we last talked, in an emotionally strained tone of voice:
“It didn’t have to be like this!”
And it fucking didn’t.
Of course, forgiveness is accepting that the past could not have been any different. And I have accepted that Sarah did not wish to remain my friend; I have accepted that we are not friends – will not be friends. In fact, my animus toward her is that of the person who checked themselves into the psych hospital following her refusal to see me last Christmas after we had been apart five months…. But with Sarah, it is all my fault. And some people will never apologize because they will never feel they have anything to be sorry for in light of all you did to them.
And even if I were wrong and Sarah contacted me to tell me I am wrong and that she does care for me and wanted to mend the fence today or in seven years, I would politely tell her to get fucked. Because I am a gentleman. And I don’t fuck with people’s emotions.
So, in regards to Sarah, whatever matters to her in the world, whoever she is, I have no clue. In my subjective perception, she wore the mask I projected onto her from day one, and I never feel I got really far behind it, other than to see near the end that I was really out-gamed and that my mask was not a fit at all.
As a wise person once said, “Pick someone who will make a good ex.” Had I been cogent of this and other things, there would have been no Daniella, no Shannon, no Sarah. But it also ought be said that I was a better ex than I was a longterm partner for any of them. But, from 34 year old me, and from all the poems I have written to my formative loves: fuck you all. Srs fr fr.
My inner-child just high-fived me for that one… but hey. I really had no backbone hitherto. I can tell story after story of my putting up with things that I would have noped the fuck out on from three miles away today. I see you Shannon, not staying with me at my new apartment in the shores on my 27th birthday. Yes that was seven years ago. But fuck did that suck. And a ton of my actions in my relationships fucking sucked too. Where alcohol was always the common factor in my failings, perhaps the common factor in their’s was the vitriol I caused them to feel for me. I have no problem taking responsibility. I’ll take all the blame. I have.
Obviously this isn’t about Sarah. It’s about me.
But I would be lying if I told you my Sarah was not a big part of who I am. And I would be lying if I said my love for Sarah Sarah didn’t make me hate her fucking guts. But you would have had to miss her like me to know how that feels, you would have to love her like I do. And I don’t think anyone knows how deep that love runs.
I always carried the torch. For all of them. Two years after my first love of five years cheated on me and ghosted, I took her back, when, in Gatsbian fashion, I became financially successful in order to do so. The romance is not lost on me. But it was on her.
I carried the torch for all of them. The night Sarah and I met, I said to her, “I thought my story was over.” Sarah was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.
As had been Shannon and Daniella before her. In a way, it was all the same “eternal woman” I was seeking.
But with Sarah there was more magic because I was older. Fuck I loved her. The morning I woke up next to her, I said to myself, “Is this the girl you are gonna marry,” and it wasn’t a question. Sarah. Her hair. Her skin. Her spirit. The energy of her consciousness was my favorite I had ever encountered. Her skin.
I recall listening to countless plays of an incredibly poetic Yung Lean song titled ‘Agony’, which told his own story of recovering after a stay in the psyche ward. It felt like I wrote it.
“Isolation caved in,
I adore you, the sound of your skin”
I have it on now, and it still resounds – minus the “take a pill and go to sleep” part, though the pill would help me sleep – were I less inclined to smoke a QP a month of cannabis instead.
But Sarah. I told her in my letter that she would be the queen of my heart forever. I even have a kind of Jungian model of the space she occupies in the canon of my love, based on the four stages of anima development.
She is Mary. After her came Sophie, the goddess of wisdom, whom – instead of projecting – I have personified as Lore, my Self. Not that binary Jungian models for male and female contrasexual inner development are entirely valid in an emerging post-gender world, but my own anima (inner feminine) development seems to have followed a series of stages culminating in the individuation of the feminine in myself via a trans non-binary femme identify.
Further, I could not project love any further outward beyond Sarah. Where she ended I began.
Another anecdote from the unsent book letter I wrote Sarah was about how much I felt like her after she left, like I was her. Drinking ginger tea. She gave me the first admirable model I had ever known of how to be an independent human. This is so painful to even write. But fuck. I would just drink ginger tea and listen to Norwegian Wood because it reminded me of her.
There is so much more from this last year alone, but suffice to say, I feel sexy in my bike shorts because Sarah was sexy in her’s. And I evoke her spirit constantly in my conscious mind in myriad little ways. And even then, I find it so easy to pine for her. I feel sick to my stomach now. The silence kills. Alexa play “To Zion” by Trevor Hall.
So, do I think Sarah is “cool”, no. I think she is amazing, but she is not cool at all. She’s too cool for me.
Gah, what do I even do with all this. I guess now I decide whether to save it as a draft or to press the little publish button.
I fear I have been too callous, and my expression of love and gratitude too tame, but Jung said perfection lie in the tension of opposites.
And I’ll have to love Sarah for the rest of my life. I don’t think I will ever not miss her or hate her for it.
It’s so fucked but what can I do. I spent this year alone. I went through it all on my own, and only I’ll ever know the dark days of not having a single friend in the world to talk to. There were eight months in the mountains when I didn’t even have a car. I went fucking through it.
So excuse me if I have lost the will to project love outside again, but I have gained the ability to feel it within, from myself, and that’s worth as many fuck yous as my inner child feels entitled to.
And I hope I never feel the need to write about Sarah again for many years. As the sheer amount of emotional energy I have expended on my love for her has been enough for a lifetime. The letter was never meant to be sent. But this Postscript was.
And I really hope it helps me move on. Because the truth is, Sarah doesn’t know me either.
I was waiting for her to return home from a night out – and so was in the bedroom, where I fell asleep to awake the next morning, alone, where I called her to ask why she never returned… but she told me she never went out… that she never left our home.
Dreams about exes are jarring. And the above dream has a particular ‘haunted by her ghost’ quality to it, which really gets my goat….
It’s like, okay, I’ve already dealt with the reality of being totally fucking disowned and ignored / rejected by my former love and “best friend” (Let me wipe my ass with these cheap words) – oh, and I have been living alone in the mountains the past year.
Like, wtf, has my sub-conscious not gotten the fucking measage!!?? You’re fucking less than dead to her bro. Have been. She doesn’t give a shit about you bud. Take it to heart. Deeply.
I was left twisting in the wind by my own romantic idealization of her – got it – but do I have to have a fucking dream to remind me that the dream isn’t even nearly as fucking sad as the reality.
She slow ghosted me over months – while repeatedly giving me faith we could and would be friends. She even hung out with my sister right before my visit for the holidays, which ended with her not wanting to see me and myself checking into the hospital. The pain caused a lot of self-abuse, even after that.
But has my subconscious not gotten the message after all of this. Four months sober on top of it. Like, am I a fucking joke to myself, just living my life like a dream where I am waiting for her to return, to be gaslit by her when she tells me she never left.
No, she left a long time ago – long before I knew it. I was just willing to believe. But no longer. The goddamn plane has crashed into the mountain!
So dear subconscious, please get the memo. Hopefully that was the point of the dream.
The word ‘habit’ typically isn’t something I go gaga for, but when you integrate the right habits – from Latin habere, to have – into your life, you get the benefits of them. And sometimes in life we discover habits whose rewards are so enriching that it changes the game, leveling us up. Just as the wrong habits level us down.
I’ve recently begun a new habit that is so potent, so enriching, so rewarding and fulfilling, that I have to share it. Every single person I’ve mentioned it to seems to get it, and you’d think more people did this. And I think in the future more people will.
Frankly, we didn’t have the technology for it until rather recently. You carry the technology in your pocket or perhaps on your wrist, if you wear an iWatch. But if you’re like me, you never used your phone for this purpose before. Now that I have, it’s my favorite habit. Close to yoga. Invaluable.
If you’d like to try it, you only need the Voice Memos app, which comes bundled with your iPhone. If you’re an Android user, the Play store carries many free Voice Memo apps.
To try it yourself, open Voice Memos, press the red record button, and begin speaking – to yourself.
It might seem anticlimactic or appear mundane on the surface, to suggest you begin talking to yourself and recording it, but it’s far from purposeless. It is for me, the most purposeful thing I do. I’m over the moon for it.
If you’re a regular or longtime reader of mine, you’ll recognize this term [self-talk] from my writings on the Navy Seals and self-talk, here, and here. Self-talk is no small thing. It’s the conversation we have with ourselves, in our heads, and the quality of our consciousness, our life, our happiness and wellbeing, depend on it – entirely. And the crazy thing is, most people live in their heads in a very passive, reactive relationship to themselves and their thoughts. You want to change your life? You want to get on track? You want growth? Start talking to yourself.
Now, before I did this, I would journal. But the problem with journaling is similar to the problem of typing: it’s very slow. We think faster than we can write. But we can typically speak at pace with our thoughts. Eventually, via something like Elon Musk’s Neuralink, we’ll be bionic cyborgs who don’t even need the phone. We’ll be able to google at the speed of thought and we’ll truly be connected to the internet. We will even be able to selectively communicate telepathically. But until then, we’re using two thumbs or a pen and it’s very slow. Voice Memos don’t have this problem. They allow us to think data and to dump it – and it becomes a conversation with our Self. And the more I do it, the more natural it becomes. It’s enjoyable. I get in the car and record hands-free voice memos while I’m driving alone. Basically it’s like having your best friend with you all the time. And they can always listen and they even speak back.
Now I understand some people might feel like it’s not normal to talk to yourself. And they’re right. It’s not normal. It’s extraordinary. Normal people are stuck in their heads. I know. I used to be one. My thoughts rising like a tide, me listening to them without ever really responding. Then getting so tired of my amygdala barking all day that I’d dump alcohol into myself to shut ‘er down. Yeah, that didn’t work for me.
In retrospect, I also notice that before I began this habit of self-talk via voice memos, I felt like I was missing that someone to listen to me (Dearest apologies to my ex-girlfriends and therapists and the blurred line between them). But now, I don’t feel that void. I don’t feel alone anymore. And both the quality of my consciousness and the capabilities of it have grown from using it actively in this fashion.
What do I talk about? Well, everything. Whatever I feel like. I just open voice memos and press record. It’s usually brief but sometimes it’s 20 mins or an hour. And I usually don’t listen to them, but sometimes I do – particularly if they were “inspired”. On that note, for anyone who uses plant medicines or entheogens, I can say that non-normal states of consciousness lend themselves to speech in this manner much more than journaling. The first time I ever did this was in-fact in a non-normal state of waking. And I knew after the first time that I had discovered something.
It’s a Yoga to me, a way, a path. And I’ll do it as long as I LIVE. I’m sorry, but it beats conventional thinking in the echo chamber of your head. Particularly for emotions, feelings, relationships, stresses, goals, anything of personal concern to you. It’s every single outer space movie ever where the person is alone and dialoging into a recording device…. “Day 735..”.
The night before I began this habit, I watched an old Twilight Zone episode about an astronaut stranded on a planet alone. He spoke aloud to himself almost the entire episode, usually into a recorder.
So perhaps that was the seed for the idea, but despite my living alone in the mountains, I had never done it before. As I said, I journaled. Now my main notebook is my daily to-do list, but my journaling has become entirely self-narrated into Voice Memos. But this wasn’t just a change in medium – it was a change in consciousness. From passive to active thinking. From being alone to having myself to face everything with – consciously.
Because that’s the big shift. From the unconscious – the sub-conscious – to the conscious. From thinking to doing: speaking. And by doing this, by speaking, by bringing our thoughts into being, we’re making the unconscious conscious.
As Jung says, “Until you make the unconscious conscious it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
In the words of Dr. Bruce Lipton, PhD:
“The subconscious mind is learned habits. The conscious mind is creative programming. When you are conscious you can rewrite the instincts, and when you become conscious, you can rewrite the experience of your life. So that it is important to recognize that what we are not using enough of is consciousness.”
As an added benefit, I’ve also experienced an improvement in two huge areas of my life. 1. My self-image and self-esteem – and 2. My relationship to myself.
When I speak aloud to myself, I become an active participant in my thinking. When I hear myself say something limiting or beneath my authentic self, I catch myself and I correct it. The quality of my thinking has gone way up. I’m no longer a prisoner of my thoughts. I’m the steward of them. The keeper of myself. And it’s helped me get to know myself better, and I’ve learned that I can count on myself, that I’m there for myself and will always be. As Nathaniel Branden writes, “Self-esteem is our reputation with ourselves.” By engaging in high-quality, conscious conversations with myself, my reputation with myself has improved drastically. It’s created accountability within myself. As I said (to myself) on one of my audios tonight, “I can’t get rid of my self-image: it’s who I am, and I have to live up to it.”
With that improved reputation with myself, my self-image has risen to the level of the Self, of authentic. It matches who I am. The inner and the outer of me have been joined into a unified whole. I’m no longer caught in the struggle of inner-self versus outer-self. Of unconscious versus conscious. It’s very liberating.
Whenever we bring the unconscious into consciousness, it frees us from the grip of the shadow, the repressed self. This weakens the psychic energy by removing repression from my being. The outer me is very interested in how the inner me feels, and I’m no longer bottling up my feelings inside myself.
How many of us long for a therapist? How many of us don’t have the access to that we would like? Having some experience with therapy and being on this side of 34, I can say that the therapist has no magic. It’s the talking – the talking cure.
I’m writing to tell you it works. And you may feel eccentric doing it, but you are worth your conscious attention. This is like being able to re-parent your inner child. And you can certainly talk to the other parts of yourself. You could, theoretically engage in dialogue specifically with say, the ego, the inner-child, the shadow, the anima – any archetype within you.
Consciousness has long been described as being like a computer. The word computer comes from the Latin “putare”, which means both to think and to prune. This is what I do in my audio logs. I think and I prune – cutting away what is not beneficial for me by way of choosing better thoughts and improving the conversation in my head – down to the subconscious. This is the brain folks. It’s your computer. Your duty to yourself is to program your computer to optimize your health, wellbeing, and success. By listening to your own voice. By making the inner voice the outer voice.
As the Gnostic text The Gospel of Thomas tells us:
“When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner as the outer, and the upper as the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male shall not be male, and the female shall not be female: . . . then you will enter [the kingdom].”
It might sound cryptic but it’s the ancient philosopher’s stone of “As above so below, as within so without.”
These are metaphors for integration, to achieve wholeness. To reclaim who we are. Children talk to themselves. Adults stop. And I find it sad. Especially knowing the value of it now. I wish I had started this ten years ago.
Not only has it given me a better relationship to myself and a healthier psyche, I also have much more access to myself; I can query myself like a database, asking myself important questions. I’m no longer living in the vacuum of mind.
It is interpersonal communication. Animals do it. Watch a gorilla documentary. They are vocal animals. Silence in nature means danger. The wikipedia for interpersonal communication gives an interesting theory for this:
Joseph Jordania suggested that talking to oneself can be used to avoid silence. According to him, the ancestors of humans, like many other social animals, used contact calls to maintain constant contact with the members of the group,and a signal of danger was communicated through becoming silent and freezing. Because of the human evolutionary history, prolonged silence is perceived as a sign of danger and triggers a feeling of uneasiness and fear. According to Jordania, talking to oneself is only one of the ways to fill in prolonged gaps of silence in humans. Other ways of filling in prolonged silence are humming, whistling, finger drumming, or having TV, radio or music on all the time.
And how many people do you know who always have the TV on? Or music? I have found silence to be much more profound now that I’ve broken the taboo on talking to myself. I no longer need the energy from external sources. I have riches and love within me. Here for me. From me.
Negative self-talk, negative thinking will ruin your life. The science backs it up:
Negative self-talk has been implicated in contributing to psychological disorders including depression, anxiety, and bulimia nervosa.
The truth is, you need yourself. That’s what this has given me. Full access to myself.
Read about the benefits of private speech. I find it telling that our communication with ourselves in the form of private speech “goes underground” when we begin school.
It’s sad that society holds a stereotype that people who talk to themselves are “crazy”. I think this adult notion prevents many people from doing what all children do.
It’s not crazy. It’s very sane, from Latin sanus, meaning healthy.
Don’t live your life like a closed book, an enigma, a mystery to yourself. You deserve your own company and your own conversation. It’s been life changing for me. Liberating. Empowering. Beautiful.
I hope this compels others who read this to start recording their own private voice memos, to start engaging in their own private discussions. I think it’s something we can all benefit from. And I didn’t know until I began to do it myself just how lacking my life was without it.
So make voice memos your new best friend and make you your new best friend.
As I get older my philosophies become less hypothetical and more palpable. So instead of asking myself, “What if this were true?”, I’m asking: “Since I believe this to be true, what are the implications?” Inquiries of this nature can hit pretty hard because mentally it’s no longer a drill, it’s the real thing – life – and you have to decide how you’re going to live it given what you believe. This is why philosophy is so weighty: because it’s the recognition that beliefs have massive implications for our existence. And the philosophy I’m writing on has greater implications for me than anything I’ve ever encountered or written about before. I know I have to write this, to lay this all out before me, to even move forward. It’s that heavy. I’ve never faced anything like this. For me, it supersedes the question of whether there is a god because it answers the question of what happens after death.
The philosophy is known as “Eternal Return” or “Eternal Recurrence”. In short, it’s the idea time is a flat circle and life is a wheel, going round and round, repeating itself, forever and ever. This may not sound compelling yet, but as I explain it further, I think you may find it is one of the most compelling arguments you’ve ever encountered. It’s certainly nothing new, as many ancient cultures, from the Egyptians, to the Hindus, to the Buddhists, to the Aztecs, all believed in some version of this. It wasn’t until Christianity that we moved away from this idea, but before I get into the ancient origins of Eternal Recurrence and why Christianity moved us away from it, allow me to explain it from my modern viewpoint.
13.7 billion years ago, the big bang happened – the sudden appearance of everything from nothing, from a single point, an initial singularity, wherein everything was compressed into a single mass without any laws of physics, which scientists estimate to have been somewhere between the size of a soccer ball and a skyscraper-filled city block. Since we know the speed of light, we can measure how far away everything in the observable universe is, and we can see that it has been expanding since the big bang. Based on that expansion, many scientists believe the universe will eventually reach a point where the gravitational pull of things will cause the universe to collapse onto itself. This is known as the big crunch. Together, the big bang and the big crunch form the big bounce, which is a cyclic model of the universe that states we could be living “at any point in an infinite sequence of universes, or conversely the current universe could be the very first iteration.”
The big crunch is just one cyclic or oscillating model of the universe. Einstein theorized “a universe following an eternal series of oscillations, each beginning with a big bang and ending with a big crunch; in the interim, the universe would expand for a period of time before the gravitational attraction of matter causes it to collapse back in and undergo a bounce.” The first photo of a black hole, produced by Katie Bouman’s team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the MIT Haystack Observatory, is an image of light from 55 million light years away, meaning, we are looking at that specific black hole 55 million years ago, since that’s how long the light took to reach us. This photo proves Einstein’s century old theory about black holes and how light would behave around them. As Space.com says, “Don’t bet against Einstein.” I bring this up to make this point. What I’m telling you is not pie in the sky stuff. It’s very likely the big bang is neither the first nor the last.
From my own first-principles thinking, the mere appearance of anything means it is possible, and in the words of Elon Musk: “The first step is to establish that something is possible then probability will occur.” So, if it’s possible to have a big bang, then it’s probable to have another. What that probability looks like is relatively unknown, but physicists Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University and Neil Turok of Cambridge University estimate that each cycle of the universe lasts a trillion years.
“Once the universe is emptied out, a weak attractive force brings our universe’s two branes together in a cosmic collision. Each collision is essentially a new Big Bang that infuses the aging universe with new matter and energy.”
Billions of years or a trillion years, you say, well, how irrelevant to me… only, if that multi-billion year or trillion year cycle passes while you are dead, you have no awareness of it. So if you die and trillions of years later, there is another big bang, then the next thing you know, you are born again. Of course, who is to say that the next big bang will produce the same conditions and the same DNA that led to you being born; however, if we zoom out further, on infinite big bangs, then just as the possibility of a big bang establishes probability of it happening again, so too does the possibility of you being born. So maybe it’s trillions of big bangs later. It doesn’t matter: you still come into existence again – and since the time between existences is passed in death or non-existence, then to you, subjectively, there is no gap between them.
This likelihood obviously poses some questions.
As Neitzche writes of the eternal recurrence in his book ‘The Gay Science’, under the heading “The heaviest weight”:
“What if some day or night a demon were to steal into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it you will have to live once again and innumerable times again; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unspeakably small or great in your life must return to you, all in the same succession and sequence – even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!’ Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god, and never have I heard anything more divine.’ If this thought gained power over you, as you are it would transform and possibly crush you; the question in each and every thing, ‘Do you want this again and innumerable times again?’ would lie on your actions as the heaviest weight! Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to long for nothing more fervently than for this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?”
There’s a passage in psychologist Irvin D. Yalom’s novel, ‘When Nietzsche Wept’, where a patient, Dr. Breuer, is in therapy with “Nietzsche”, who encourages him to reflect upon the possibility of eternal recurrence:
Breuer: You suggest, that every action I make, every pain I experience, will be experienced through all infinity?
Nietzsche: Yes, eternal recurrence means that every time you choose an action you must be willing to choose it for all eternity. And it is the same for every action not made, every stillborn thought, every choice avoided. And all unlived life will remain bulging inside you, unlived through all eternity. And the unheeded voice of your conscience will cry out to you forever.”
What the author is conveying is that by making choices, we are establishing probability for their recurrence. So if one believes in the eternal return or eternal recurrence, then we must be aware that everything we do – that our life, as we live it now – we must be willing to choose for all of eternity.
As the Wikipedia for Eternal Return tells us, “If the probability of a world coming into existence exactly like our own is nonzero. If space and time are infinite, then it follows logically that our existence must recur an infinite number of times.”
I’ve provided a scientific model above for it based on the big bang. It most certainly “follows logically”. And I’m not writing this as a sci-fi thought experiment, but as a model for what I believe; however, long before we had a scientific model for an expanding and contracting universe, humans believed in Eternal Return. In ancient Egypt, the symbols of the snake eating its tail (The Ouroboros) and the scarab (dung beetle), both represented the concept of eternal return. The Aztec and Mayan calendar wheels represent this. The ancient greeks called it Palingenesis (From palin, again, and genesis, birth). The ancient hindus called it Reincarnation. The Buddhists called it Samsara. So what happened to this timeless idea?
Enter Christianity. A new myth is formed that says Jesus came down from heaven and saved humanity. Well, if you save humanity it doesn’t need to happen again. So, eternal return was done away with. While pre New Testament texts like Ecclesiastes tell us, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”, giving us something that seems like it could hint at eternal return; only a few verses earlier, we read that “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” (Something science tells us will not be true, for the sun will run out of hydrogen and die a heat death in 5 billion years, and the universe will collapse long after). I feel like I’m pandering to religious people by even mentioning these things, but my point is not to establish what the bible says as evidence for anything other than what it represents, and the Judeo-Christian myths do not give any validity to the idea of eternal return. If god created the world, he doesn’t need to do it again and he certainly didn’t create it to be mortal like us, which science tells us it is; however, the importance is not the difference between religion and science but the impact of religion on the collective consciousness of belief. For it wasn’t until Nietzsche that the idea of eternal return came into widespread discussion in the West again. Following Nietzsche, Albert Camus resurrected the ancient Greek myth of sisyphus in his philosophical essay of the same title, telling us the story of a man who is fated to push a rock up a mountain only to have it roll down again, for all of eternity.
“If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? The workman of today works everyday in his life at the same tasks, and his fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious.”
So, is it a tragic fate, to know, to be conscious, that you might repeat everything forever?
As Camus concludes his essay:
“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
“The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.” What a sentiment. It’s certainly heroic.
Nietzsche similarly adopts a heroic attitude in ‘The Gay Science’:
“I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that by my love henceforth!”
And in his last book ‘ Ecce Homo’, Nietzsche writes:
“My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.”
“Amor fati (lit. “love of fate”) is a Latin phrase that may be translated as “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate”. It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary, in that they are among the facts of one’s life and existence, so they are always necessarily there whether one likes them or not. Moreover, amor fati is characterized by an acceptance of the events or situations that occur in one’s life.
This acceptance does not necessarily preclude an attempt at change or improvement, but rather, it can be seen to be along the lines of what Friedrich Nietzsche apparently means by the concept of “eternal recurrence”: a sense of contentment with one’s life and an acceptance of it, such that one could live exactly the same life, in all its minute details, over and over for all eternity.”
I find it telling that Camus also adopted a love of fate as a solution to life, writing in his journals:
“There is thus a will to live without rejecting anything of life, which is the virtue I honor most in this world.”
For to reject anything is to establish the probability to reject it forever and ever.
I don’t necessarily subscribe to predeterminism but I think if we believe in eternal recurrence, we have to accept that it is we who are establishing anything that will occur again. So we must choose our actions and choices as if we are to live with their occurrence and their consequences forever.
So I suppose the jaw-dropping shock of this leads me to conclude that I will write this again, maybe in billions or trillions of years. And I sit here thinking what I did last night, which is that if I am fated to live this life again and again, I want to do everything I can to decrease my suffering and to help others decrease theirs. For if I don’t manifest my gifts, which is to say, if I don’t utilize the unique talents that I have, then I will neither decrease my suffering nor that of others. But if I do, then I will forever and ever. And thus nothing is of more paramount importance than that – than contributing what I am able to contribute to improve life for myself and others on as large of a scale as is possible.
Postscript: It should be noted that within my philosophy, I currently have a few potential models of reality, which I wrote on here. The idea of eternal recurrence; however, has so far only existed in my ‘base-reality’ option; for if we are living in a simulation run by AI or a training program, then the arguments of the big bang etc, don’t have the same validity; although, it could be argued that even in a simulation, eternal recurrence will lead to the existence of the simulation again, so I guess it does hold for each of my theories. I think the neatest thing about this idea is that we are essentially immortal, but it’s entirely up to us how we are to spend our cycles of eternity. And even then, having written this, I’m still processing and digesting this big heckin’ philosophy in a meaningful way that I believe will bring me increased peace, acceptance, and drive for the life I am here to live.
Footnote: Eternal Return and Eternal Recurrence are the same, but I prefer the word ‘recurrence’ as it has a more specific, programmatic meaning for me.
Beauty and the beast
I made a pauper of a princess
I was beneath the animals,
Under a mountain of fear;
I wasn’t nearly good enough,
To escape the shame I deserved –
The shame I needed,
So I’m sorry and grateful:
Reconciling these two only humbles me more
But I was never humble before,
So the beauty only ever got the beast,
And not the prince she made me
I told you it was a sad love story
But it’s my favorite, so I’ll keep telling it.
“Humans experience stress, or perceive things as threatening, when they do not believe that their resources for coping with obstacles (stimuli, people, situations, etc.) are enough for what the circumstances demand. When people think the demands being placed on them exceed their ability to cope, they then perceive stress.”
So let me tell you again:
There is no such thing as stress, only the belief that we don’t possess the resources to handle a given situation.
Let’s chew on this, digging deeper.
As humans there are myriad things that can cause us to feel stress – that is to say, to feel we do not possess the resources to handle a given situation. Not one person reading this can’t relate; however, by learning that stress is only the belief we don’t possess the resources to face what we perceive as the source of our stress, we suddenly have a much greater understanding about what stress is and how it is caused.
To provide a concrete example that demonstrates the nature of stress as a belief in inadequate resources, we need only imagine that what is stressful for us may be nothing to someone else – just as what is stressful to others may be a cakewalk for us. Think of public speaking, starting a new job, or meeting someone new. These are, like all potential sources of stress, stressful only insofar as they correspond to an individual’s belief in their inability to handle a given situation. Meaning: the degree to which we feel we can’t “handle” something, is the degree to which we perceive that thing as stressful.
This all may seem rather dry but the implications are staggering… I promise you. For once we realize that stress is dependent upon perceived deficiencies in our internal judgements – rather than something that stems solely from our assessments of external factors – something major happens: suddenly we become responsible for our stress. And when we become responsible for anything, it instantly becomes within our power to control.
That’s right. I pump good medicine – I’m a self-professed ‘mind hacker’, a programmer. Sure, I write code too, but the alphabet, words, are also code – and consciousness – the brain – is very much like a computer. Give someone a program – a belief – that says they don’t have the resources to handle a given situation, and they will experience stress. This is a program. And I’m writing to reprogram me, to connect the dots and achieve liberation through understanding. But we still need a few more dots to see the whole picture.
Interestingly, the word gnosis – from which we get ‘gnostic’, relating to knowledge – comes from the ancient greek gnōsis, meaning, to know. And many gnostics believe Jesus was not divine but, rather, was just a human who attained divinity through gnosis (Intellectual or spiritual knowledge), which he taught to his followers (Obligatory Gospel of Thomas shoutout). This gnostic interpretation of the Jesus archetype is a great parable for how we can “attain divinity” – i.e., achieve liberation – through knowledge.
I truly believe this having been to a hell and back of my own making. It’s only through knowledge, through understanding, that I have been freed from my past fears, insecurities, paranoias, doubts and stressors. And it is only via pain that I have ever been led to any real knowledge; for bringing light to the dark doesn’t work: it is only by bringing the darkness to light that we become visible, that we are enlightened. And you’re free to scoff at my indirect assertion that I am enlightened but I believe it is enlightened (From Old English inlīhtan, meaning, to shine.) to overcome oneself. For there is no other gatekeeper between you and the divine (From Latin divis, godlike.) I use old words because I’m talking about old concepts. The nature of human aspiration. We just have better metaphors than god and heaven now. I’ll take Self-Actualization for five-hundred, please.
Fulfillment. Wellbeing. Emotional and psychical health. This is my shit. I’m here to shine. And I’ve already transformed myself and made my world what it is. But the work never ends. It just gets higher and higher, and the freedom you find in following the seeking of the will gets deeper and deeper. And it’s all from knowledge. Learning. This is how we evolved, we’re just doing it consciously now.
So if there’s no such thing as stress – only the believe we don’t have the resources to handle a given situation – then let’s bust stress.
Like any phantom menace we need only demystify it. For when we demystify things, we remove all the mystery and confusion surrounding them. And I’d say the mysterious nature of stress has caused some serious confusion in all of our lives. We think it’s out of our control based on an assessment that is very much within our control.
And I’m here to tell you: are that person with the resources to handle any given situation. Straight up.
I believe it was Sidney Poitier who wrote in his memoir that there was a well-worn groove in our DNA for every type of suffering. That any type of pain has worn a path into our being over the course of our evolution, so that we can handle it. I believe that no matter the situation, there exists an archetype, a version of you, within you, that can handle it. Heroes share in common that they are brave. They face things boldly, as one ought to. For it never helps to stress. It never helps to be insecure. It never helps to worry. It helps to be confident. It helps to be calm. It helps to be in control. This is why the Navy seals are taught diaphragmatic breathing, self-talk, mental rehearsal, and goal-setting. We teach our military operators to respond to adverse conditions as successfully as a human can. And while we don’t face deadly enemy-fire or the task of following orders into what may be violent annihilation, our amygdala all the same must respond to life via the same human hardware. None of us lives without the capability to experience fear and stress, and none of us lives free from the behavioral consequences of fear and stress. And it’s not just the fight-flight-or-freeze reactions of the sympathetic nervous system in response to the infralimbic cortex and the amygdala – the stress, the fear itself, which we suffer. The true costs of these undesired states are in-fact far more destructive to our wellbeing than the mere stealing of our joy, peace, and control in the moment. As Harvard Health tells us:
“Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. It can dampen the immune system, increasing susceptibility to colds and other common infections. It can contribute to asthma, digestive disorders, cancer, and other health problems. New research even supports the notion that high levels of stress somehow speed up the aging process.“
And if you’re psychical wellbeing, your health, isn’t a compelling enough argument to make you want to eliminate the experience if stress from your life, then how about thinking of the emotional responses to stress: anxiety and aggression. Or the adrenal responses to stress: cortisol and adrenaline.
We know that stress causes depression and more. And stressful people stress others out, pushing a toxic cycle forward. It sucks.
I spent so long being this guy. Stress – my own lack of belief in my resources to handle a given situation – cost me all my relationships, and it cost them a lot too. I was depressed. I didn’t think I had what it took. And so I didn’t. I was the victim of myself. Then came the depression. Tons of self-medicating to feel alive again, and the self-abuse and self-abandonment that follows. Stress made me betray myself and those I love in turn. It made me a shell of myself. I was so afraid that I became a monster.
As Yoda says, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. And hate leads to the dark side.”
I’ve been to the darkside. It’s what led me here. All that pain. It was too much to live with. There was a time before I emerged from the darkness in possession of my shadow (And thus myself), back when my shadow possessed me, back when I had to go somewhere safe and check myself in. And it wasn’t a hotel. And it wasn’t that long ago. But I survived. Pain as heavy as any I’d felt. And the heaviest pain when I saw what I had done to myself and others for years. You could say that it was very sobering.
Looking back on how I was, I was just afraid of how you saw me. And in an attempt to cover up my fears, I became what I feared and worse. Insecurity and worry and uncertainty and stress and doubt and fear are the most unfortunate of all self-fulfilling prophecies. They are the worst of all beliefs. They are awful programs to run and their consequences are absolutely heartbreaking. So why do we run them?
While we evolved from fish and monkeys (Whom we can thank for our incredible biology.), most people no longer need to run for their lives or fight to survive regularly. Only this is what we are wired for. Our central nervous system doesn’t know the difference when we experience stress, which is essentially a survival mechanism designed to preserve immediate life at the expense of longterm health and wellbeing.
Given everything I know and my family experiences in life, I can honestly say that nothing is worth stressing out over in our modern world. Nothing is worth fearing.
For they are the same. Like stress, fear is not real. Danger is real. We just fear because we don’t think we have the resources to face the thing we fear.
And so now, knowing what I know now, how much stress do you think I allow myself to experience?
Because to allow myself to experience stress or fear or doubt or worry is to believe that I don’t have the resources to handle a given situation – and that’s simply not true. I do.
I am the person with the resources to handle any given situation. And so are you.
By reminding myself that I can handle any given situation, I’m maintaining a powerful internal locus of control. And by doing this, by knowing that things are in my control, I’m no longer a victim of my biology. I’m actively strengthening my core self evaluation. And given the brain’s synaptic plasticity, I’m engaging in long-term potentiation – the strengthening of synapses that fire together. As chiropractor turned neuroscience guru Joe Dispenza says, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” So every time I respond to a potentially anxiety inducing stimulus by reinforcing my competency, I’m building a better me – one that absolutely has the resources to handle any given situation.
Lastly, I want to share a little anecdote about how I face external situations in a way that reinforces my ability to handle them, without reacting adversely (stress, fear, worry, uncertainty, doubt, insecurity).
I think of myself as a Star Wars character. I imagine that character archetype, someone like Rey – but me. Lord knows I’ve already been Kylo Ren. Hot-headed and reactive. But that doesn’t serve me. It has only harmed me and those I love. But by imagining what kind of hero I could be, I am connected to The Force, the Will, the knowledge that I have the ability to bravely face anything. And it’s getting easier and easier the more I actively engage that part of myself. I guess you could say it’s who I’m becoming. For we are all programming ourselves with our behaviors and our thoughts, whether we know it or not.
May The Force be with you: may you know you have the resources to handle any given situation – calmly, cooly, peacefully, and in control of yourself. Make your inner-child proud and give yourself this power. It’s within you. I promise you.
I’ve gone through many iterations of myself: from a naive, ambitious, and shallow young man, to a selfish, fearful alcoholic, and finally, to a person who is coming to find peace with themselves – but I’ve always been a seeker; I’ve gone down every road in life: including the spiritual one.
From a long influence of the Stoics and Marcus Aurelius, I considered myself a pantheist: one who believes the divine spark is in everything. I’ve also had some quite mystical experiences using entheogens, including a meeting with “the fairy godmother of the soul” on DMT. I am by no means a closed-minded person.
That does not mean, however, that I accept everything – or that I am against rejecting things I once accepted. I had a professor once, in a community college class, who taught me to question things, to be objective. There is perhaps no more important skill in life than that of separating signal from noise. And there’s a lot of fucking noise in life. The most dangerous of which, looks a lot like signal. It’s engaging, it’s enlivening, it feels good, and it sweeps you up – but this does not make it true. You make it true by believing in it. And that’s the danger.
I came to realize a couple nights ago that all my esoteric and mystical seeking was not getting me any closer to the reality I desire. And that’s a bitter black pill, but one I needed; for it’s very easy to go down the New Age rabbit hole. The problem is, it has no end, there is no objective truth to it – just a lot of people peddling “magical thinking” – and a lot of mind-games to play with yourself. It’s not unlike being in a mirrored labyrinth, wherein every concept creates another illusion, trapping you deeper.
This is by nature, a challenging topic, because the New Age movement is based on a lot of things I have long been interested in (Ancient mysticism, New Thought, The Human Potential Movement, and vague concepts like “energy” and ‘thinking creates reality’.) It’s challenging to reject what appears as pure positivity and good vibes – but when it’s bullshit, you have to.
It’s important that I make some points about the New Age movement. It has been an important stepping stone in liberating human consciousness from the chains of religion. It’s also led many people to be more at peace, more empathetic, more conscious of their impact on the planet, and more open-hearted. It is by no means a wholly negative evolution in human consciousness, and it’s certainly one that is growing ever more popular and more inclusive to persons of color, LGBTQ, and different faiths and interests. It’s hard to go in a bookstore today and not find a section on Witchcraft, Magic, or Astrology, which are experiencing somewhat of a resurgence – if I’m gauging the collective accurately through the filter-bubble of Instagram.
I’m even drawn to New Age women, and have fancied myself perhaps dating a “healer” type. I could also easily be described as a New Age man – I enjoy full moons, I wear a quartz crystal around my neck, I go to yoga… Those things are part of my appreciation for nature and myself, and I don’t plan on changing them… Again, we’re trying to separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff.
To that end, there’s an abundance of noise.
For a couple years now I’ve had a growing anti New Age sentiment brewing within me. It began as I observed how many people in New Age communities seem to have an almost puritanical “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” mentality, wherein they ignore large parts of life – god forbid they “lower their vibration”. This willful ignorance is often propped up by a belief that “all is one” or in the concept of “divine perfection.”
Now, I’m not one for conspiracies – outside of my own – but it would seem just as religion was used to program the masses into submission, New Age beliefs have similarly castrated the human soul and tamed the human spirit. Why resist when “all is one” – why fight for change when there’s a “divine plan”, and why be an individual when you can “surrender your ego” and your “self” to take up your own bit of divinity – not just as a child of god, as Jesus saw man, but as god – as a “creator”.
I often wonder what a mind like Richard Alpert’s could have done had he not ended up in India and surrendered himself to his “guru” to become Ram Dass. Steve Jobs comes to mind. But even then, from his barefoot days at Reed College to taking LSD and traveling to India himself, Jobs is no savior. Just another baby boomer who turned into a company man (The Walter Isaacson biography of Jobs is a good read for a look at his human failings). Looking back on every New Age figure throughout history I don’t see a tangible impact beyond perhaps “raising the collective consciousness”. But where it has risen in some areas (Empathy, ecological awareness), it has fallen in others (Individuality, objective thinking, rationality). Ultimately, it’s just another form of tribalism. Another in-group. Additionally, being New Age or having read all the New Age books does not grant one any sort of special wisdom or awareness – only perhaps a belief in their own “specialness”. And the New Agers can be just as shallow and superficial as anyone else. And perhaps you might be too if you were going to a Vegan retreat in Bali or a multi-thousand dollar trip to Costa Rica to do “Aya”. Often they’re quite privileged, these spiritual types. And it’s a shame only the upper classes have access to the increasing quality of available experiences, whether they be reiki healing, float tanks, intravenous Ketamine infusions, or even yoga. Try eating healthy in a food desert. No one is calling the New Agers ascetics, and the old spiritual path of renouncing material possessions has been usurped by an “abundance consciousness”. The belief in “The Secret” or “Manifestation” or “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” is enough to make me barf today.
The fact is, from my own experience, I can tell you, no amount of belief is going to save you. While New Age thinking can certainly bring deeper levels of inner peace, a belief in your own divinity is not much different from the old Judeo-Christian beliefs in an afterlife – it’s the same shit: “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Again, we keep inventing gods, even ourselves, but we’re not elevating the human animal, we’re still elevating the human above the animals.
Yet we’re still looking for what Carl Sagan called “a reassuring fable.” We keep fucking inventing religions. New Age is just the newest one, another “anthropocentric conceit”. Only, we are the gods now. Are we so shamed of being human that we have to invent something above us? And by doing so, lower ourselves in our own subconscious estimate beneath the “divine” or the “higher self”.
As Jesus was written to have said in the deliciously-blasphemous Thomas Gospel, which the Church has long rejected:
“If the flesh came into existence because of the spirit, it is a marvel. But if the spirit (came into existence) because of the body, it is a marvel of marvels.”
This I say, is the truth. In the words of mythologist Joseph Campbell, “All the gods, all the heavens, all the hells, are within you.”
They are merely what Jung called “archetypes of the collective unconscious“. Inborn, man-made remnants from evolution – from thousands of generations of belief in myths and religions, which were born of pagan gods and goddesses before them.
And I imagine the first gods were no more than the outward personifications of the inborn instincts of early humans. But we have to go forward. Turning each of ourselves into gods is a step back – and no less grandiose, egoistic and conceited than the Egyptian rulers or the Emporer Constantine, who thought he was a “divine avatar”, a god on earth.
The concept of avatars dates back to the Hindus. Krishna was one such “avatar”. Nowadays, instead of worshipping external deities, we are returning to the self-deification that the ancient rulers practiced. And it’s very telling in this age of self-worship, but it’s not at all grounded in the reality that joins us as a species. I’ll be the first to preach self-love, but I do not preach self-worship. That kind of thinking is out of touch with the humility that comes with accepting the darkside in each of us. As Jung wrote, “I’d rather be whole than good.” Thinking of oneself as purely “good” is a surefire way to being shortsighted about yourself and thinking you are better than others.
Man created god as an archetype – a model – for man. But it’s a hollow one. One that denies the innate sacredness of life in favor of some “divine” presence above us. When Nietzsche wrote that “God is dead”, he meant the archetype of the god in the sky, but we refuse to let go of the “god” within and so are internalizing the godhead into the human, which might seem a beautiful thing, were it not completely infantile. We don’t need to be loving the perfect, divine god: we need to be loving the imperfect, animalistic human.
And you’re welcome to hold onto your beliefs, but I’m letting mine go. I removed over forty New Age, spiritual books from my library last night. Of course, I’m not throwing out the baby with the bathwater – I kept my books on yoga, meditation, mindfulness, business success, and even my Buddhist and Hindu texts. But these are practical, life enriching philosophies that have stood the test of time. I cannot say the same for the New Age spiritualism that is preached by so many charlatans, from Deepak Chopra to Oprah. It’s all a fucking con. And if you follow it, like I did, you’re going to find yourself in that mirrored labyrinth – wondering if you’re problem is that you don’t believe in yourself enough. What a trap. But we keep creating it.
If anything New Age spirituality is a barrier to self-love – a blockade to success. It’s just another separation of man from himself. Another door on his heart that says, “You have to knock for it to be opened.”
New Age is completely disempowering because it’s not rational – and when we lack logic and rationality, we are rudderless, lost. We don’t need belief, we need self-esteem, self-worth. We don’t need divine love, we need human love. And we don’t need The Secret, we need cause and effect.
As I read this morning, in Brian Tracy’s book ‘Flight Plan‘:
This turn in my personal evolution is one I am thrilled about. Maturity, it has been said, is the ability to see life more clearly.
I want to accept my mortality, without illusions, without any comforts. It’s this life I am interested in. And while I’m taking a more naturalistic worldview, it’s not to my detriment at all. It’s the opposite. It’s empowering me with real truth. By no means does this mean I no longer believe that “consciousness and energy are the same thing somehow”, as Joseph Campbell once said to Bill Moyers. I still believe this. And I believe my consciousness has an effect on others – the same way my energy can be intuitively perceived by animals and children. But there’s no longer any voodoo to it. The god in me has come down to earth. I want to be a human.
And I want to be the best goddamn human I can be. Full of compassion, love, dignity, honesty – all the things that make one valuable to themselves and those around them.
I believe in the sacredness of humanity – not of gods. I see this same sacredness in animals. I believe there are timeless energies that are worth holding up as examples for how to live. They are values – ethical rather than moral. I’m not interested in “right” or “wrong” – I’m interested in what is beneficial and what does not cause harm and suffering. And there are a lot of people suffering.
What we need as individuals is compassion. Not the kind that comes from seeing everything as divine or godlike, but from seeing everything as living, vulnerable, fragile, delicate.
This planet is a living thing. No doubt about it. From the oceans we evolved from to the land that nourished us. It’s incredible. It’s real magic. I don’t need to play anymore games about my identity. I am wholly human. Now, maybe we live in a simulation, but it’s still grounded in a biological reality.
I’d like to close by talking about our cousins, the great apes. I went down the ape rabbit hole last night, in a quest for answers. I wanted to know how to be human.
And I found some great answers, about what it means to be human, from the chimpanzees.
I highly recommend you watch the following:
If you found that as interesting as I did, you’ll want to read these too:
I think you’ll find more in the above video and articles about what it means to be human, to be a good leader, to play the game of life, than you will in all the spiritual New Age books you can find.
And, if you’ve read the above, I’d like to pose a hypothetical question to you:
If a chimpanzee could read, what benefit to his success and the wellbeing of its troop, would any New Age or spiritual text be?
I’d say the answer is none. Because life is not about getting caught up in head games about whether you are a “god” in your own mind. It’s about being confident in yourself as a human, it’s about being altruistic and beneficial to the other humans on this planet. And you can have your monkey motives, and want to mate too. That’s okay too.
We evolved from monkeys – whom we ought to properly revere as our ancestors – and having gone to the gods and back, I want to return to an apelike consciousness, one deeply grounded in reality – freed from the traps of wishful, magical thinking, and comforting fables. So, take your “all is one”, “divine plan” and shove it up your ass where it belongs. The final truth is: we don’t need to learn to be gods – we don’t need more spiritual leaders – we need to learn to be humans and we need more truly human leaders.