Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations: Editions and Translations

About five years ago I purchased a vintage edition of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius from a neat little bookstore in Seattle called Arundel Books. This copy was a reprint of the 1862 George Long translation (in case you missed the Wiki link, Aurelius wrote his meditations in Greek during 170-180 AD (eighteen-hundred-and-forty years ago).

Now where I’m confused is as to whether I purchased the other edition of Meditations that I currently own before or after my trip to Arundel Books. I think it may have been the latter as I likely wanted a copy I could dog-ear and fall asleep on. Truth be told, I can hardly recall opening the vintage edition except perhaps to read a passage here and there when I’ve picked up the book to move it – from desk to shelf – or new city, as has happened since my romance with Seattle (I still love you my dear Emerald City).

As a testament to my lack of intellectual copulation with the 1862 translation (and my own lack of scholastic familiarity with Greek Philosophical works), it wasn’t until this very evening (it’s 4:57 a.m. – it’s evening if I want it to be.) that I discovered that not only do I own two separate editions but that each is a distinctly different translation of the Stoic Philosopher’s Greek writings to himself (his meditations).

Now, this is the rare occasion when I re-read one of those long David-Foster-Wallacey-sentences I just wrote and think to myself: ‘G-ddamn I sound like an airhead‘ – but in this case, I mustn’t edit myself lest I lose the tangibility of such an exciting discovery. I feel like this guy (Loved this movie).

The reason I discovered this tonight was because I began digitally transcribing two (sublimely wonderful) passages from the Fourth Book [chapter], and in wanting to save myself time I looked up a digital copy, which led me to a copy of the Long translation from MIT. Being that I have been reading the dog-eared Penguin Classics version (Translated by a gentleman named Martin Hammond), I quickly realized the two passages varied significantly in their wording.

Here are the passages in question from Hammond’s 2006 translation: (Book Four, Chapter 3, and Book Four, Chapter 3, Section 4)

Men seek retreats for themselves – in the country, by the sea, in the hills – and you yourself are particularly prone to this yearning. But all this is quite unphilosophic, when it is open to you, at any time you want, to retreat into yourself. No retreat offers someone more quiet and relaxation that that into his own mind, especially if he can dip into thoughts there that put him at immediate and complete ease: and by ease I simply mean a well-ordered life. So, constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself. The doctrines you will visit there should be few and fundamental, sufficient at one meeting to wash away all your pain and send you back free of resentment at what you must rejoin.

Finally, then, you must retreat into your own little territory within yourself. Above all, no agonies, no tensions. Be your own master, and look at things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen, as a mortal creature. And here are two of the most immediately useful thoughts you will dip into. First, that things cannot touch the mind: they are external and inert; anxieties can only come from your internal judgement. Second, that all these things you will see change almost as you look at them, and then will be no more. Constantly bring to mind all that yourself have already seen changed. The universe is change: life is judgement. 

And here are the SAME passages as translated by George Long in 1862

Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things very much. But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort of men, for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into thyself. For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquility; and I affirm that tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind. Constantly then give to thyself this retreat, and renew thyself; and let thy principles be brief and fundamental, which, as soon as thou shalt recur to them, will be sufficient to cleanse the soul completely, and to send thee back free from all discontent with the things to which thou returnest.

This then remains: Remember to retire into this little territory of thy own, and above all do not distract or strain thyself, but be free, and look at things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen, as a mortal. But among the things readiest to thy hand to which thou shalt turn, let there be these, which are two. One is that things do not touch the soul, for they are external and remain immovable; but our perturbations come only from the opinion which is within. The other is that all these things, which thou seest, change immediately and will no longer be; and constantly bear in mind how many of these changes thou hast already witnessed. The universe is transformation: life is opinion.

I honestly can’t say I’ve compared both enough to pass any sort of judgement beyond the fact that Long’s (the latter) translation reeks of antiquated language (which I’m not at all adverse to), but in doing some searches on the different editions of Meditations, I came across some interesting opinions on their merits, which led me to seek out the Gregory Hays edition from 2002.

Meditations Book Four, Chapter 3, and Book Four, Chapter 3, Section 4 from Gregory Hays, 2002

People try to get away from it all—to the country, to the beach, to the mountains. You always wish that you could too. Which is idiotic: you can get away from it anytime you like. By going within. Nowhere you can go is more peaceful—more free of interruptions—than your own soul. Especially if you have other things to rely on. An instant’s recollection and there it is: complete tranquility. And by tranquility I mean a kind of harmony. So keep getting away from it all—like that. Renew yourself. But keep it brief and basic. A quick visit should be enough to ward off all < . . . > and send you back ready to face what awaits you.

So keep this refuge in mind: the back roads of your self. Above all, no strain and no stress. Be straightforward. Look at things like a man, like a human being, like a citizen, like a mortal. And among the things you turn to, these two:
i. That things have no hold on the soul. They stand there unmoving, outside it. Disturbance comes only from within—from our own perceptions.
ii. That everything you see will soon alter and cease to exist. Think of how many changes you’ve already seen.
“The world is nothing but change. Our life is only perception.”

In doing some brief research into Hays’ translation, I found that he was ‘deliberately trying to move away from the rather “stodgy” feel of some earlier translations, which he thought made Marcus sound too much like a sage.’

In his own words:

“I think different translations reflect different aspects of the original, like looking at a sculpture from various angles (you can’t see all sides at the same time). I was deliberately trying to move away from the rather stodgy feel of some earlier translations, which I think make Marcus sound too much like a sage. I wanted to reflect the fact that this is a text compiled for his own use, not with any expectation of other readers. He’s writing memorandum for himself, not handing down wisdom-with-a-capital-W.”

Hays also states that:

“Actually the Vatican is quite generous about allowing scholarly access. But you’re right that with the Meditations I wasn’t working directly from original manuscripts. I used several modern editions of the Greek text, of which the most recent is by the German scholar Joachim Dalfen. There’s an old but still very helpful commentary on the Greek text by A.S.L. Farquharson. I also consulted other translations for specific passages. There are a number of cases where the text has become confused in the process of copying and different scholars and translators have reconstructed the original in different (sometimes very different) ways.”

Personally, my initial reaction is that while Hays accomplishes the feat of making the writings of Marcus Aurelius approachable and digestible – the reader also misses something in the brevity and simplicity of his translation; however, I’m buying a copy of Hays’ edition because I will admit that it is in a sense much more digestible, and I wish to study the various editions – as this is without a doubt a book that I have a sincere love affair with.

I’m particularly excited to get my hands on the A.S.L. Farquharson edition (Published 1944) as he is said to have spent a lifetime on it, as well as the Maxwell Staniforth edition, (Published 1964) as a review I read mentioned his eloquent yet modern writing style.

Eventually I hope to own and become familiar with each, and I imagine the stoic philosophers would approve of my journey to find personal meaning in the various translations. And while I don’t expect I will ever learn Greek, I like the idea that I might one day commit myself to the creation of my own edition using the previous translations as Gregory Hays has done.

Perhaps a project for my retirement. Perhaps in three years. Who knows. (Starting a collection of the editions) But for now, I am going to ruminate on the two passages I have published within this entry and I hope to find meaning that I wouldn’t have found without the ‘discovery’ of the various editions.

Coincidentally enough, while I always had a sense of connection to this book, it’s become much deeper as I’ve begun producing my own ‘meditations’ and learning more about my spiritual-self. I look forward to writing more as I become more well-versed on the material. Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is definitely a topic I expect I’ll be enjoying and writing on for a long time to come.

Note: If anyone has any thoughts on their favorite edition, or any recommendations for me in reading them, please leave a comment.

Meditations: Session Three

I took less than a page of notes in my notebook after the third session in my meditations practice.

I suspect this could be a result of the fact that I didn’t set a clear enough intention going into this session. I was also a bit clouded by frustration and expectation; however, I got exactly what I needed through this practice – as has thus far been true (and as I think is generally true with both meditation and yoga, when practiced with proper presence).

I should note that I am not overly concerned with the volume of writing I produce here as I do this practice for the inestimable benefit of the personal meaning I find.

I plan on revisiting these writings for a long time and I think there’s likely a large benefit to doing so.

Perhaps in borrowing the title of Meditations I subconsciously intended for the writings I produce in my own meditations to be revisited by myself much as I often revisit the meditations of Marcus Aurelius (I own two copies, one mid-century hardcover and one modern paperback.)

Note: Everything within bold text (section headlines included) or parenthesis (except for the squiggly kind) and brackets was added at the time of this publication to organize / clarify and or add afterthought to the notes at the time of publishing.

Inner Peace (in Truth)

  • That Space in the moment – the true / genuine inner peace you get after you have a big life realization [What a peaceful feeling. Definitely one I hope to recreate in revisiting these writings – and something I hope I can internalize through their study].

Patience (in Yourself)

  • Patience is more about patience with yourself than with life. (It’s okay to accept that something was a certain way up until now and that you’ve now arrived at the right time for the desired change to happen in your life – you’re now ready to outgrow it.) You mature on your own time.

Personal Power (in your Humanity)

  • What more proof of your existence (and personal power) do you “want” expect of life than the fact you are on the planet earth in a domicile. You’re (a member of) the most advanced species ever.
  • YOU’VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES. (Footnote 1)

Gratitude (For Your Life)

  • People would literally kill to have your life (i.e., Syrian refugees or North Korean prisoners). Don’t waste it [because someone else would kill for it].

Trust (In the Universe – in Yourself)

  • You’re in the safety of your 29th year / 30’s. [Trust in the universe – don’t obsess with death.]

Footnote 1: When I wrote this [“You’ve got what it takes”] I thought of the following quote from Steve Jobs (specifically the bolded text, which I added for emphasis): “When you grow up you, tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

Meditations: Session Two

Continuing my Meditations Series, tonight I’m transcribing my handwritten notes from Session Two. (Technically, the third session, as my first session was recorded in the entry Transcendental Realizations.)

I should state that, as in each of my meditation sessions, the notes taken after meditating were a direct result of the intentions that I consciously decided prior to meditating. To emulate the practice I use in my meditation sessions, read: A Cocktail for The Soul.

Note: Everything within bold text (section headlines included) or parenthesis (except for the squiggly kind) and brackets was added at the time of this publication to organize / clarify and or add afterthought to the notes at the time of publishing.

Hacking The Worth: Mastering feelings and motivation

  • Self-esteem rooted in the past can hold us back. Should be rooted in the future w goals we can “feel”.
  • We have to feel worthy of feeling good / how / we want to feel.
  • We have to believe in the things we want to feel.
  • Just as we need to have love for someone to feel love for them we need to have exciting goals to feel excited about them. We cannot will ourselves to authentically feel something about a thing that is not there. In this way how can we have a good day when we don’t first believe it is / or (and?) have designed it to be.
  • Do feelings come before or after (strike-through verbatim from notepad) Are subjective feelings rooted in belief or perception? They must be preconceived ideas for us to perceive them (The root feeling / trigger must have been preconceived at some earlier point in time. i.e., our base concept of fear and love.) Prime the pump (underline verbatim). Influence both the tangible {circumstances} and the intangible {beliefs} factors that determine the desired experience / feelings we want.
  • Feelings predetermine experience.
  • Can we then effectively motivate ourselves and design life based on desired emotional states? [Kismet / bashert / providence / spiritual serendipity: I am now reading the book: The Desire Map, which is precisely about this process, hmm..]
  • Why aren’t we naturally wired like this [to be motivated by our core desired feelings]. What is our default mode of motivation? {pain/pleasure <- avoid/gain?}
  • Hack the “worth” (.) it’s about feeling worthy of our (desired) emotions / feelings.
  • How can we use this (Hacking the worth) [Perhaps we do this when we consciously step into the peaceful awareness of experiencing our thoughts as an almost external facet of reality rather than the dominating force of our inner reality – and from here we can ‘hack the worth’) to acquire emotional mastery over powerful negative feelings?
  • How do you combat the fear of procrastination / inaction? {motivation?} [Need to “hack the worth” and edit our stories: see: thisthis, and this.]
  • If we want change we have to untie our identity to past / present circumstances (reconcile who we are and what we are capable of in a separate/independent context from our present circumstance and past experience) and not just want change but be truly ready for it and prepared to accept it into our life.

Stepping into Stillness: Peaceful Awareness (Freedom from Thought) and Conscious Examination (Objective / Internal Perception)

  • When the mind wanders observe and question why it has wandered to a thought / idea / daydream. What is the underlying understanding or belief our subconscious is ideating {most people don’t even know why they think what they (the things and thoughts they) think} [?].
  • Our mind is often creating thoughts to reconcile subconscious feelings / justify feelings we have. We end up being a robot to these thoughts and basing our external reality on them instead of questioning why [said] thoughts are popping into our head and why we are experiencing [said] feelings. {gym guy w weights} (Footnote 1).
  • Could these wanderings be potential concepts, stories, or messages the subconscious is using the conscious mind to communicate [?].
  • Does the conscious mind just react.? Is it an imperfect vehicle because we aren’t self-aware and introspective enough of our own conscious thoughts / cognition [?].
  • In a way most all of us are at the mercy of our thoughts until we step put of them and into stillness / inner reality where we begin to experience our thoughts as a more external happening of reality (Footnote 2).
  • Is this (experiencing our thoughts as a ‘happening’ much like we experience the external world as ‘a happening’) what self-awareness is? {The experience of the self from a more internal perception.} Habitual active introspection / examination / higher consciousness evaluation (evaluation of our thoughts and feelings from a ‘higher level of consciousness’).
  • It feels like a more powerful way of being {peaceful awareness}. No longer lost in your (my) thoughts (Or perhaps the concept is expressed better simply as: ‘No longer lost in thought.’)
  • All opinions are judgements in the [this] sense we need to examine what feelings are judgements too.
  • To listen without judging means to listen with conscious love and appreciation.
  • Every interaction is an opportunity to learn. Every emotion is too [as well].
  • Unbiased examination / objective examination of our thoughts / feelings / emotions will help us to understand what is driving them (Identification of the [authentic/soul based] inner feelings, desires, fears, and biases behind our thoughts) and who we really are {the soul}.

Footnote 1: An positive experience where I examined my thoughts happened at the gym recently. A guy had left about a half-dozen sets of dumbbells on the floor near to where I was working out. I automatically (felt as if I) wanted to punch him and felt an overpowering sense of loathing for this stranger. It was so strong that knew I had to take a deep breath and a mental step back and consciously examine my thoughts. From this perspective I realized that there have been plenty of times where I have likely done things that have caused other people to loathe me – and the truth was, I didn’t know this guy – but he likely wasn’t trying to infuriate me, and being emotionally crippled by his actions was silly.

Footnote 2: This concept of experiencing our thoughts as a more external happening of reality is surely influenced by the following quote (From this Alan Watts audio I have been listening to): “And soon you will find that the so-called ‘outside world’ and the so-called ‘inside world’ come together – they are ‘a happening’. Your thoughts are ‘a happening’ just like the sounds going on outside and everything is simply a happening and all you’re doing is watching.”]

Poetry: Perfume Made Sweet

Sweet Perfume in the air and it’s dinner time,
I’m walking home by the cafe.
It’s humming quietly in this little coastal town,
And I tell myself I’m okay.

Because the perfume in the air it’s thick and sickening,
The feeling of scented hair I’ve been lost in,
Loveless tresses and dresses I should have never known,
They haunt me now as I pass under a street lamp’s pale glow.

It’s like a Monet in this moment,
All the soft colors blending together from afar.
But the muted hues are covering something.

Something deeper, darker, and different altogether.

They just see a boy walking,
And they think he has it all together.

A casual smile tells me this.
And for once, post-impressionism becomes clear.

It’s the sharpness of the perfume,
Transmuted into softness.
And in this subtle mask,
We peer into the artist’s veneer.

He takes us where he cannot go.
Because in a painting as in a poem,
There is no longer any fear.

A Cafe Terrace at Night, Vincent  van Gogh
A Cafe Terrace at Night, Vincent van Gogh

On my Poem: As Above, So Below

My poem As Above, So Below was originally inspired by the plight of the North Korean people – specifically the 150,000 to 200,000 estimated denizens of the regime’s torturous gulags.

In my own reflecting on this dreadful and strikingly overlooked fragment of the modern world, as well as in my reflections on the human rights crimes in other nations, such as Sudan and Syria, I can’t help but be overcome by feelings of confusion and bewilderment. How can individuals – from the despotic leaders and their military generals, down to the lowest soldiers and guards – how can they perpetrate unspeakable horrors and heinous crimes against their fellow human beings – including women and children? [We’re talking nightmarish shit – a full Khmer Rouge redux].

I’d like to think that these thoughts are the result of my being a rational human being and not simply the product of childlike naivete, or the embodiment of First World pontificating, and I find it rather sad that I would even question such a thing, but the inescapable truth is that there is something that vexes me about the inhumanity of it all: there is just something seriously fucked up and dark about the depths of human nature and the soulless depravity of its most ghastly and abhorrent capabilities.

And in my ruminations on this ugliness, the utter loathsomeness of it, I began questioning why this is and how it came to be. Sure – I could turn to books for answers, such as this and this, but it would seem that an answer should be more simple than the undercurrents of social psychology and the underpinnings of moral philosophy. So, in positing my own answers to this from an invariably egocentric and ethnocentric perspective, I began thinking that perhaps modern atrocities are a resultant product of modern societal shortcomings – i.e., there is no proverbial village to maintain the accountability of moral and social responsibility to one another. Venturing down this rabbit hole further, I reviewed this hypothesis in the context of various Pre-industrial stages of society in reverse chronological order from Agrarian, to Pastoral, to Hunter-Gatherer culture. The result of this existential inquiry I turned into the poem As Above, So Below.

A couple things that may shed more light on the 4th and 6th stanzas of the poem can be read here (Warning: contains a poem with potentially graphic subject matter relating to culturally driven female genital mutilation, which has occurred for centuries) and here (safe for kids) respectively.

Another note I would like to add about my own perspective on what causes human divide is a brief anecdote about a video I watched on youtube where three Sikh women discuss the importance of beards on their men. As I watched this, I couldn’t help but feel that it is precisely this line of thinking (‘We are separate, we are different’) that keeps us separate from one another – and thus capable of judging in such a disparaging regard.

Bless the atheist for doing what is morally sound not based in his belief in a culturally rooted G-d, nor in his fear of hell, but in his own personal code of integrity.

However, we must always remember the words of Eric Hoffer: “Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.”

[“a devil” in this case being the group that the leadership of the mass movement derides the people into hating – or the person or group the individual hates as a result of widespread cultural influences.]

Poetry: As Above, So Below

I used to think the man in the modern city was in trouble.
For he had no ties to those he buried in ash and rubble.

And I thought of the man in the village,
but he too seemed lost.
For in exchange for grains and property,
Hapless slaves paid the cost.

So I looked to the tribes,
Asleep in peace underneath starry skies.

But even the sweetest of grandmothers,
Mutilated innocent teenage brides.

Then I looked to hunter-gatherers – egalitarian and free,
Hoping for comfort,
in what I would see.

But it was too late,
Their humanity was paid for and bought –
As they built the first temple,
And buried their dead beneath the rocks.


Edit: 4/25/14 – I just published a short follow up detailing the impetus and the meaning behind this poem.

Lying Down in The Darkness

Listening to Louis CK. Humor is such a divine blessing.

Laughter is truly the best medicine. There are certain things in life that are irreplaceable necessities for the soul.

Things that are renewing.

Today is the kind of day I need renewal. It’s the kind of day I want to take my pillow in the bathroom, throw it on the floor, close the door and hide.

It’s one of those days where you wake up in the wrong city without the support system you need to bemoan the shortcomings of your life.

So you just put your foot forward because there is no best foot on days like this. There’s just the motions of walking, eating, and laying down.

And no one want so hear your problems. Even if they have empathy for you it feels at times as if you’re just throwing shade on their day. As if you’re just an annoyance.

And I know I must sound bitter; complaining like a loser isn’t cool. Self pity isn’t cool. But fuck it, you can’t be cool when you’re having a day like this. You’ve just gotta be a friend to yourself because that’s the only solace you will find.

There should be a survival guide for days like this. A plan.

I don’t know what that plan would look like but I guess it would be summed up in three words ‘take it easy’.

In some futuristic altruistic society I suppose we would have better guidelines for days like this.

I guess you could call it a mental health day – but the problem with mental health days is that we never take them preemptively. By the time we need it it’s already to late – so instead of taking a day to rest or restore our vitality, we’re just taking a day to recover our sense of sanity.

There’s no low fuel sensor in life; you can’t always know when you’re about to run out of gas, hit a wall and crash and burn. It’s the slow destruction and the wreckage that tells us we have gone too far for too long. And for what? Why do we burn up, burn out, and burn down? It’s all for nothing.

In Buddhism there is this concept of polishing the mirror. Meaning that we have to maintain our connection to consciousness. If we don’t polish the mirror we will not see ourselves. To polish the mirror is to meditate. Take walks. Sleep. Pray. Love. But it’s not just everyday living. It’s living gracefully. Without grace we are fools. And baby I’ve been a fool.

But I’m writing this to share that. What an utter and total waste of a man I feel like today. Because I love knowing that other people went through similar shit. That’s why I’m writing this. To validate someone else’s experience.

Whenever I read or hear similar tales of mental and emotional struggle from people I look up to, it’s incredibly soothing. This is something I’ve recently discovered about myself and about life.

I became acutely aware of this in a fit of emotion the other day. In the midst of it I was suddenly struck with a strong desire to pick up a book and read. But I didn’t want to read just anything – I wanted to read a passage in which someone detailed their feelings in an equally trying situation.

Perhaps I was looking for a reminder of the transient and fleeting nature of seemingly overwhelming emotions. Perhaps I was seeking a deeper context for self-acceptance through increased compassion and empathy for myself in that moment.

I think it’s probably most likely that this desire to know that my idols or the people who have made it further in life than I have, that they have been through similar situations, that they have felt similar feelings – I think this desire is driven by my need for validation. I just need to know that others have made it through the heartaches of life.

I once heard someone say something to the effect of: When you share your story it validates everyone else’s experience. And in addition to this, I think it’s kind of what lends integrity to art.

Songs, writing, paintings. Whatever the fuck your favorite art is – some of the very best of it was likely born out of the kind of dark days that only the bleeding heart of am artist can experience. And this is what art really is – using your humanity to create change in others.

For me that change is often a sort of birthing of empathy.

And that’s really what it requires to survive days like this. Empathy. Serious empathy for yourself. Without this you are likely to end up in a far darker and heavier hearted place than you should be. I often wonder if this is the kind of place wonderful men like David Foster Wallace and Heath Ledger found themselves in.

They didn’t have to go there but they did and in the end there was no where else to go. Their heavy hearts sank them.

But that’s not the way to go. No matter how much pain you are in. It shouldn’t tie you in knots too tight to untie. But I suppose it could if you let it. Depression and darkness can be a slippery slope – one that can feel like a cliff. You fall off and fuck, what have you done, what happened to the good life you could have had – the life that you sullied. The grip on which was never adequate.

My, how very well have I known that feeling. You could say that I’ve been intimately acquainted with it. I’ve gone days and weeks barely leaving home and just sleeping all day. I’ve had my heart broken and worse I’ve broken my own heart. I’ve abused substances in the quest to alleviate it – the dull and sullen agony of despair. It’s been the propellant for my most self-destructive behavior, and beyond my own self-destruction there’s been collateral damage that’s effected persons dear to me. Many of whom I’ve managed to compel to abhor me because of this darker side of me.

No one is their best self under
the broken mirror of despair. It’s the wise adage of: Hurt people hurt people.

In my own humanity I’ve made mistakes. And I’ve tried to be more human than my mistakes. To evolve and outgrow them.

But what I’ve come to learn at this juncture of my life at 29 years old, is that you will have days like this. I truly understand for the first time the meaning behind the clichéd phrase of: Momma said there’d be days like this.

I can’t say that has any literal, biographical meaning to me but I’m writing this to inform you that there will be hard times in life as certain as the seasons. You will have days that make sleep appealing to an unhealthy degree. You will feel the nauseous anxiety of tears inside your chest that cannot be released. You will hurt too much to cry. You will walk around and feel like an alien amongst what to you are suddenly normal people. You will look in the mirror and feel older than your years and more meager than your worth. These type of days – like the one I am having today – these days are going to make you question things that you normally wouldn’t and probably shouldn’t question.

As certain as the seasons. Your life is going to fucking blow from time to time. Dead certain. Everybody hurts and there is no escaping it, and if you try to escape it you will experience the inevitable pain of fucking yourself over – of emotionally abandoning yourself.

Life is a storm my friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment and be smashed on the rocks the next.

The words of Alexander Dumas are a poignant reminder of the transient nature of happiness.

Yet we pretend as if this is somehow a fallacy – as if happiness is the only proper setting and the default mode from which we should live and experience life.

Sure, some are happier than others and our baseline happiness is often the result of nothing more than the outcome of genetic roulette. Some people are darker than others. Some people are more linear in their moods and some people simply are above and beyond the little things that possess to the inherent power to royally debase the happiness of us mortals.

I’m not particularly special when it comes to happiness – while I have a childlike wonder for life and an almost grandfatherly like appreciation for the seemingly mundane, I am also prone to depression in the way that only a writer with a poet’s heart can be. Or at least in a slightly narcissistic my emotional world is the center of the universe sense.

But what I’m coming to find out about myself is that it isn’t the emotional storms themselves that have the biggest impact on my wellbeing but rather the manner in which I choose to reconcile my feelings. For most of us this is just a slow car crash – we do nothing to stop it because it’s already in motion and our internal world is not going to be a pretty place for awhile.

You could call this resignation. A blind compulsory acceptance of the degradation of one’s own feelings. That’s certainly the natural course for many.

Another choice is to try and escape your own pain. Drink. Drugs. Sex. Wherever your poison is. I won’t write more in this because if you have one then you know how it ends. Never good. The hollowing out of the soul.

Or you can, as someone recounted to me once: Light a fire in the hearth, get a blanket and snuggle with a good book, riding the waves of sadness with a healthy embrace of it’s presence.

I admittedly haven’t taken like a duck to water to this. I haven’t handled depression well. And I’ve only lately become better at this but I still am less human than my depression and I’m still learning. But I’ve done well today.

I’ve done well because I’ve learned to. I’ve learned what works. Trying to escape the pain of depression and trying to fight despair has not worked. It’s exacerbated things in an extremely magnifying manner. Spiral. Out. Of. Control. Anger. Sadness. Pain. Ugly shit.

I never knew any different. But I’m learning. I’m figuring out how to polish the mirror when things get dark. Essentially, this entry was spurred by the desire to share the ways that I properly and healthily handle days like this.

I want people who read this to know that you can find solace within a dark place and that it’s possible illuminate even the gloomier days. It just requires figuring out what works for you.

For some people this could be going for a run, for others it’s perhaps cooking or taking a bath. Personally, if I’m really depressed I couldn’t really imagine leaving the house – much less going for a run. You can forget about cooking too. There does exist a certain kind of day where I don’t want to stray very far from my pillow.

On this kind of day my best bet is to listen to melancholy music, write, and receive my thoughts with compassionate self-love. Comfy clothes and comfy thoughts.

Listening to melancholy music may sound like a counterproductive pursuit; however, it hardly is. There’s something reassuring about feelings put into words put to music. It sounds a bit clichéd to listen to REM’s Everybody Hurts, but trust me, it will wrap you up like a blanket on the kind of bleak day when hope is nil.

I cannot underscore enough how vital music is for me when I am feeling emotionally, mentally, or spiritually devoid. There are certain songs, such as Greg Laswell’s Comes and Goes or John Mayer’s In Repair, which really capture a blue kind of feeling for me (sick of both songs by now) and open the doors for increased empathy.

There are other songs too that don’t express how I feel but that relieve the feelings for me and grant me some peace and serenity. Bridge Over Troubled Water is a classic example. Trevor Hall’s The Lime Tree, is a good modern example as is John Mayer’s Waitin’ on The Day (studio acoustic) and his song The Age of Worry. I’ve listened to a lot of John Mayer this past year.

And then writing. It’s definitely my saving grace and more and more I am turning to writing in dark times. I’ll just start writing on my phone. Sometimes poetry, sometimes whatever the fuck I feel like. It just does it for me.

That’s only two ideas, but music and writing are central to me traversing days like this and I don’t know what I would do without them. I can imagine there are additional things I would be willing to try as well, like drinking tea and just burning a candle.

Another thing I’m getting into is really good fiction. To get an idea of what I am talking about, check out this one minute video.

I’d like to have a bigger toolkit beyond writing and music for polishing the mirror when things are dark but sometimes all you can do is just lie down in darkness.

But facing down days like this isn’t just about diminishing anguish and relieving the anxiety of sadness – it’s about progressing, healing, growing; and although it might seem that a dark place isn’t the best point of origin for growth, that’s often precisely what’s required.

You never know, you just might face the truth you need to hear in that time.

And either way, the bottom line is that there are going to be days like this. Your best bet is to approach it like the wave that it is and ride it out like a boss. YouTube some Louis CK standup. Write a poem about how you feel. Listen to Peter Gabriel’s The Book of Love. Know that in this life you are going to have days too awful to smile through. But you’ll also get through shit just as you have in the past. You owe it to yourself to make life easy on your soul. Heartache is a part of life. Loneliness is a part of life. Sadness is a part of life. Own it. Take care of it. Take care of yourself. Don’t resign to do nothing for yourself.

Now go lie down in darkness and forgive yourself for feeling like shit. It’s okay. Get some sleep. A better day awaits. This is all just part of what it means to be a fucking human being.

Nothing. Stardust. The Illusion of Thought and the Nature of Reality.

Last night – just before writing this, I went for late stroll at about 1:30 am to a secluded beach where I sometimes sit under the stars and listen to music. The reason I went there was because an arbitrary stressor had upset me and I needed to change the channel in my brain to something more calming.

I am not one to stew on things these days without taking conscious action to alleviate my stress (breathe, focus on how I want to feel in that moment, meditate, go for a walk, run, hike, gym, focus on gratitude, or listen to calming music). Particularly since my “awakening” – because it was then when I learned that inner peace was absolutely real and that I could find it in the midst of any situation because it was within me and MORE powerful than fear or any other opposing emotion or feeling. (Note: feelings are how we react to things, emotions are how we feel.)

This awakening has been wonderful in empowering me to actively alter my state when my inner peace has come under the siege of stress, worry, or fear. Effectively it’s enabled me to use better coping mechanisms because I know they are capable of delivering me from the lowest valleys of my most negative thoughts and feelings.

As was the case last night. After a short while sitting on the sand and doing some light breath meditation (approx 10 mins), the initial stressor had subsided completely. From there I walked over to a still burning fire and watched it burn, staring into the pulsing glow of the red hot embers. Then I climbed up to a place I like to sit, listened to this and started thinking. Blissful for a time.

But the blissful feeling of having alleviated my stress didn’t last long.

For, I soon found myself faced an actual truth: the truth that part of the change that characterizes life is the internal changes we are constantly being subjected to by virtue of being thinking and feeling human beings.

We’re on this ride, and happiness is never a permanent feeling. We’re at the mercy of circumstance and emotions, and really, life’s this roller coaster of feelings that bounce us around like a pinball at times. Part of the day you might have an argument with someone you love and be upset, later you might worry about something coming up and feel anxious, then later you might relax and laugh, which is a nice respite – but what you really desire is inner peace that lasts and sustained freedom from anxiety, worry, and depression.

And in thinking about the transient nature of happiness and inner peace, I felt frustrated that the temporary stressors in my life had the power to so easily rob me of my highest value / most important core desired feeling (inner peace).

Why is that? Why does life get in the way of this quest for lasting inner peace?

I suppose because I allow it – because there is this perpetual flowing of thoughts and the ebb and flow of feelings and emotions that come and go in waves – and I’ve decided to let these illusory things become rule my reality.

This concept of an illusory reality – a thought centered reality – is a central theme in Buddhism. Buddhism teaches that while reality itself is real, how we perceive it and think about it is illusory. This ignorance, in living within the illusions of the thought world, is what leads to suffering.

Then if thought is illusory, what is this reality we cling so dearly to?

While on a sunset hike yesterday, I came across a beautiful spiderweb. In pausing to admire it, I was struck with a brief moment of zen awareness.

In the grand scheme of life, the impact of this spider’s existence on my city was akin to the impact of my own existence on the universe. His web and my life were both temporary yet here now. And perhaps, the web meant to the spider what my life meant to me; both of us clinging onto our respective existences out of the instinctual fear of their inevitable destruction.

Dust in the wind. Yet, we hold onto that dust because it’s solid, and we cry and scream and whimper and shout as if it all really is forever. But it’s just a spiderweb to the universe.

So, what does this mean? Are we just nothing – infinitesimal dust in the end?

Sure, perhaps. But we’re not just any regular old dust.

Allow famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to explain:

So, now that you know what you are made of, it’s time to put your existence within the context of the existence of the earth as a whole. For this, we’ll turn to another hero of mine – Carl Sagan. His narration of the legendary excerpt from his book Pale Blue Dot, which was spurred by the famous photograph of the same title, is an all time favorite of mine.

Enjoy some excellent animation as Sagan explains the earth in a way you may never forget:

So, where do we go from here. We’re as fleeting as a spiderweb, made from stardust, and on this pale blue dot. How do we reconcile with this reality of nothingness, with the fact that we’re meaningless to the universe?

Since, my heroes have been doing such a good job so far, let’s let philosopher Alan Watts discuss reconciling with this reality of nothingness. I’ll be damned if this isn’t the one of the most therapeutic things I’ve ever heard. (If you’re not in a rush, watch this first – before the video below.)

Well, if you’ve watched each of these videos and come this far then I hope I’ve fucked with your entire concept of reality enough to put your life into a more rational and healthy context than you previously held.

It’s pretty special to me that my journey has led me to such parallel ideas on the fundamental nature of reality. Perhaps those individuals (my heroes) arrived at complimentary viewpoints because what they are talking about is completely true. I’m being a little bit aloof here because I want these truths to set in for you.

And before any of my heroes wrote or spoke their words, a writer (and Zen kind of guy) named Jack Kerouac immortalized a similar, but different viewpoint in a 1957 letter to his ex wife, (his first wife), which was used as the script for this epic hipster short by high-end Spanish/Italian bicycle company Dosnoventa:

In a way, the words of Kerouac are very much detailing a similar kind of zen realization as the spiderweb moment I had while on my hike.

The narratives of the Buddhists, deGrasse Tyson, Sagan, Watts, and Kerouac on the nature of our existence, the world, and reality are all essentially cohesive narratives of the spiderweb story.

Life is but stardust. A temporary glistening in the sun. All stress, worry, dilemma, fear – it’s just an illusory experience veiled in this thing called thought that we accept as absolute reality, but in the end it’s all false. Our lives will disappear eventually – just like the spiderweb melts in a single rainfall. Poof. Gone. And what are we so fucking stressed and worried for?

We’re okay.

Feeling down? That’s okay too.

Stressed out? That’s okay too. It’s all okay. It’s all ecstasy inside as Kerouac said.

We float on, no matter the day to day experiences and how they effect us. Whether pleasant or pushing the boundaries of our tolerances – the constant changes in our day to day feelings do nothing to alter the basic truth that we are alive regardless of whether we are happy 100% of the time or not. We float on and the universe doesn’t give a flying fuck either way.

It’s up to us.

p.s. I did just recently say that Eckhart Tolle was full of it, but this video from actor Jim Carey, makes me think it’s time for me to read The Power of Now again:

“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”

– Lao Tzu

Saturday: And It’s only Just Begun

In summer’s thoughts and winter’s fears.

I turn back around and go down,

Reclining into my thoughts.

We’re all just doing our best I say,

But what I say doesn’t suffice [not for her].

Because in words sufficient I’m only perfect for a moment,

So I turn to my spiritual grandfathers to find better words.

Lennon, Watts, Mandela, Aurelius,

Give me the grace.

And then there’s music. Sweet music.

Songs speak for me and in lyrics I am understood,

Because I know that something isn’t right when all my heroes are in black and white.

If I had a pool I would dive in that motherfucker every morning,

An indoor pool like Garden State.

That soundtrack.

Garden State was my generation’s On The Road.

But I digress because the generation gap is getting smaller.

Now it’s Spring Breakers and that stupid child’s name that I will not say. Who gives a fuck about the VMAs anyway.

I never look back and watch 10 year old music videos thinking about how great they are.

I listened to Lorde’s entire album,

Royals was perhaps the least good thing on it.

And in my appreciation for it I came to the conclusion that all 17 year olds should be required to make an album,

Skizzy Mars I’m looking at you.

In what future can I make this a reality?

Maybe I’ll be a teacher one day and my class assignment will be as such.

Or maybe, like my book, I’ll be a member of some organic futuristic colony in New Zealand.

Haha – what a great sentence.

If only everything I wrote were as grandiose.

But then again, I might go insane,

I need some semblance of normalcy.

Hardwood floors and French doors. As my friend said recently, I don’t want a girl who does drugs, I just want a girl who tolerates me doing drugs.

I laughed my ass off.

I don’t care about drugs. But in that same way, I don’t want a girl who is eccentric, I just want a girl who tolerates me being so.

How lucky I’ve been in love.


If angels exist, I’ve dated them. I don’t know why, I’ve just been the luckiest son of a bitch alive.

Because I’ve been a real SOB.

What more can I say,

Nothing could be sufficient to measure gratitude insufficient. My words fall short of the awe in my heart. Even now I feel stupid continuing to try and express what Shakespeare said best.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

And this is why I love the arts. Our own words don’t have to suffice for our feelings.

Even tortured souls lend grace to beautiful and awful things,

Because there are days when I want to fake it through the day with some help from Johnny Walker Red – oh Elliot Smith how I love you for singing those words.

And there are days when I need the cathartic inception of reading David Foster Wallace’s words:

Fiction is one of the few experiences where loneliness can be both confronted and relieved. Drugs, movies where stuff blows up, loud parties — all these chase away loneliness by making me forget my name’s Dave and I live in a one-by-one box of bone no other party can penetrate or know. Fiction, poetry, music, really deep serious sex, and, in various ways, religion — these are the places (for me) where loneliness is countenanced, stared down, transfigured, treated.

And I am understood [by myself] again.

I learned something else about loneliness this year through the words of Carl Jung:

Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.

Can I get an amen.

So I countenance, stare down, transfigure, and treat my loneliness by communicating the inadmissible truths.

The truth – the truth in art. The truth in love. We all have our various ways and places where we face the truth in our souls,

Some of mine are guilty pleasures that few if any people alive know of. How I still listen to Fiona Apple. I wonder what happened to that 5th grade girlfriend of mine who idolized her. Can’t even remember her name. Wish I could.


Art, man. Just art. Words. Like little acid tabs sometimes I feel like I’m frying because the tiny death I get from art massages the back of my eyes.

It’s an intellectual kind of sex.

I just got up and hung a blanket over that window that always let’s too much light in – lit a candle, burned 5 seconds of incense and put it out (the incense). Haha

This is the best kind of morning.

I’m listening to various soothing sounds, and I’m just laying on this chaise writing.

And I’m 28 years old.

How perfect would this have been had I ended at that. But I’m not that perfect. I’ve got to communicate what’s important to me,

Which, today – is art. The ways in which other people have used their humanity to create change and understanding in my own. There are few causes more noble than art.

Art can get you stoned. Lay back, wrap yourself in nothing but a sheet, place pillows in creative places to support your legs – put in some headphones. Listen to something emotive – and start writing.

Or Listen to this.

Or Read these.

Or maybe don’t.

I don’t know,

I just know I’m really high right now.

Don’t seize the day. Savor the day. As Alan Watts said, “It is your solemn duty to learn how to enjoy yourself.”

And I do. I’m a classic epicurean,

So I’ll enjoy everything I do today.

I’ll get up and wash my face or take a shower and pretend I’m James Bond. Then maybe I’ll eat pancakes.

I’ll do some work.

I’ll do some private writing on paper later.

Maybe a check will arrive in the mail. Maybe not and I’ll curse.

I’ll do whatever I want to do today because I have this day to take me closer to my dreams,

And it’s only just begun.

Danielle LaPorte: Visualization: Loosening Your Mind Shackles

After the gym today I walked by a boutique pharmacy (Pharmaca) and saw a book in the window that caught attracted my attention.

The book was called, The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with The Soul. I took note of the author’s name and after a barefoot walk on the beach to watch the sunset, I looked her up on facebook and found her page.

While browsing her most recent posts, I came across a short visualization exercise she posted that looked interesting and I went ahead and pressed play, closed my eyes and followed along.

Needless to say, I felt it worthy of sharing here.

It’s only about 9 minutes long, but it went by in a flash and I look forward to repeating it. Enjoy:

Danielle LaPorte: Visualization: Loosening your mind shackles

“Infuse your sensitivities with courage, and while you’re there tell fear to fuck right the fuck off.” – Danielle LaPorte

Real Life Inspiration: Marina Keegan

Marina Keegan
Marina Keegan

Before beginning to type this I sat upright in my desk chair, remaining still as I felt the air from my ceiling fan softly caress the damp and cool tears which lay on my cheeks. I love to cry in the way that people who can’t cry do. As the Jewish proverb says, tears are soap for the soul. There’s just something renewing about them.

But before I knew it my tears had evaporated leaving a salty shadow in their place. The skin above my cheek bones adhered slightly to my hands when I finally wiped them on a dry face. But the cry had been good.

I cried for Marina Keegan.

In a rare moment of emotional cowardice I admit that it would pain me to type the details of her story. As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff writes in his most recent column:

TWO years ago, Marina Keegan’s life brimmed with promise. She was graduating with high honors from Yale University, already a precocious writer about to take up a job at The New Yorker. She had a play that was about to be produced. She had sparked a national conversation about whether graduates should seek meaning or money.

But it wasn’t her accomplishments or potential that made the car accident that took Marina’s life such a tragedy. It was the fact that she viewed life in a light few have the courage to see it in. This she expressed beautifully in her writing.

Her Poem Bygones is perhaps my favorite piece of literary art in the world.

Bygones by Marina Keegan

I had a dream the other night that I was checking my email.
That dream sucks.

And woke to woes of seniors writing
love songs for tomorrow and
Tomorrow and the melodies
That flirt us forward, whispering
the next thing and the next thing
and – so we beat on
birds flocking south until we
circle round and realize maybe
maybe all that running wasn’t worth it.

Maybe we should build a cabin.
Or teach high school.
Or use our hands.
My palms are smooth as words –
Weak with fashion and double spaces.

I want everyone else’s club and job and class
The grass I sleep in always browner than
Than that around erasing dreams
To sit and breathe because you
Only bank for two years then it’s over
And twenty two is nothing new
It’s just another chance to build
For when we’re twenty three
And twenty four
And time begins to sell for more than
Any 9 a.m. to never.

We’re not stuck.
That’s the thing, we’re not stuck.
We owe no one our nothings.

Yale will be what it was,
Gothic dreams of lucky, of amazing
Not a staircase or corner office contract.

At home, I walk in forest fields,
Orange light and dry trees,
Becoming slowly sleepy,
And disgusted with my vintage shoes
And the thinness of my skinny pants,
my florals laughed at by the flowers,
whispering, hip. Whispering, there’s no
sidewalk that cares.

But let me tell you, I look cool at parties
And success sufficient to make men fall in love
As we smoke again and open wines
And text to leave because the here is never
Good and I heard that thing on Chapel was fun, well do you wanna leave soon?
Who’s there
Do you wanna leave soon?

I want to bake my blackberry into blackberry pancakes
And live wire-less,
With a husband who runs in the mornings
And lots of books
And a baby who I raise…
To be anything – or nothing
Because that’s okay too.
Because working in a bookstore and having babies
And nothing and being in love is okay too.

Ambition is a choice.
Ambition is a race we chose to run
So we could get here so we could
I don’t know so we could save poor
People or invent something or be in charge.

Last winter I slept in word counts
Face pressed to table tops until the
Snow came and the sun rose
And a man came in to vacuum the floor.

And I’d be tired.
Not just sleepy, but tired.
Tired until all I wanted to do was put on something
Acoustic and romantic and vacuum castle floors.

Why do I feel like I can’t do that?

I’m not sure anymore if I want
To schedule meals and be late
And delegate because that’s what
Good leaders do.

And I’m tired of justifying with tomorrow’s bliss, because
Yesterday’s tomorrow is today and
Someday the sun is going to die
And then the human race will end and
I’ll still be texting to see if that other party’s better.

Do you wanna leave soon?
No, I want enough time to be in love
with everything.

We’re too smart to sell our time
For cocktail moments of
This is what I’ve done
And summers lost for
Three lines on a document
That can’t contain the time
We got high on pancakes
And built a snow fort.

We’re not that young.
We’ve always been young
But now we’re not that young.

And the world is so beautiful.

And this is what we’ve got, you know? This is what we’ve got and we’ll just keep flirting forward, shrinking fonts and grays in love songs to future companies who may decide they want us on their team.

The middle of the universe is here, is tonight,
And everything behind is a sunk cost
Lost in our oceans and our oceans are deep.

So I went to Yale.
So I got good grades.
So we beat on
birds flocking south until we
circle round and realize maybe
maybe all that running wasn’t worth it.

Or the snow comes, and the sun rises, and the vacuum starts,
And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.


And this is why I cry yet again this morning. Only now I wipe my tears instead of savoring their chill on my face. Somehow, I just don’t feel worthy of such a small and curious pleasure in the light of someone who is such a personal hero to me. She deserved to be here not me.

She was a hero for baring herself so authentically in her art and a hero for being who she was – herself. She had confidence, character, and personal modesty as a Yale lecturer had said.

And yet, as a friend of hers told the Yale news:

“Marina was someone who looked at the world and knew it had to be changed, but at the same time saw there was beauty in it.”

She knew it had to be changed. And she walked the walk. Who knows how many students she saved from a life of drudgery and regret with her poignant anti Wall Street college recruitment views.

Standing outside a freshman dorm, I couldn’t find a single student aspiring to be a banker – but at commencement this May, there’s a 50 percent chance I’ll be sitting next to one. This strikes me as incredibly sad.

Marina represented the idea of being true to yourself rather than subscribing to societal dogma. As I prepare for my 29th year, (a formative time in the careers and lives of many men), I can’t help but feel her words are too strong not to heed. While not a Yale University graduate, I feel at this point in my life an equal sense of pull between my dreams (being a fantastic published author) and my desire for more secure success (my business, which I am not in love with to the same degree).

In thinking of Marina, I found myself writing this morning:

Broken hearts mend, regrets don’t.

While that may seem to be the kind of sentiment an angst filled teenager might share on facebook, I can’t help but look into those five words and feel a sense of both comfort and fear. What regrets am I willing to live with? This is the question few of us ever dare to ask but all of us inevitably must answer for.

What would Marina say to my life? What would she suggest I do with my dreams?

I look to her words and I feel I already know the answer:

What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.

Am I going to lose my sense of possibility? Am I going to circle round one day after running the race of ambition only to realize that maybe all that running wasn’t worth it?

I don’t want Marina Keegan’s legacy to me to be just a bleeding-heart story that I express my lament over before going about my day life. I want to realize that ‘Working in a bookstore and having babies and nothing and being in love is okay too’.

It’s madness that we live the way we do. Are we going to be another inmate in the asylum of society because we don’t have the courage to follow our dreams?

Who among us will listen to the beautiful words of Marina Keegan and do something about our lives because of it? What will people say about us when we die? So few of us would be content with the answer. And yet we beat on.

Note: The Opposite of Loneliness, a collection of essays and short stories from Marina Keegan is being released on Amazon tomorrow! (04/08/2014).

And remember, it’s never too late:


Also, Give this great Alan Watts audio a listen.

Meditations Session One: On Stories and The Waking Dream, Self-Worth, and Happiness

Update: 11/5/2014

I’ve just published a new entry on story and personal mythology, which this compliments excellently – enjoy.

Technically, these are the second set of notes originated through my newfound journey into meditation. The first were published in my entry: Transcendental Realizations.

Per my previous post, I am going to attempt to make a habit of transcribing the handwritten notes written at the end of each meditative experience into sessions which I will publish here. The only caveats being that I am unsure whether or not my future meditations will maintain the same transcendent quality as the initial experiences – and additionally, whether the act of publishing the notes itself will somehow hinder my ability to achieve the same egolessness required to produce them. But I’m excited at the prospect of being able to continue this journey and incorporate these experiences into the journey that is 7Saturdays.

Note: Everything within bold text (section headlines included) or parenthesis (except for the squiggly kind) and brackets was added at the time of this publication to organize / clarify and or add afterthought to the notes at the time of publishing.

Attl: Typing these up as I watch Cloud Atlas, one of my favorite movies.

Stories and The Waking Dream.

  • We’re all just acting out the stories we tell ourselves. (The way we justify our feelings based on the stories we tell ourselves about the past [how we are interpreting life])
  • Find out what your waking dream is (Your relationship to the present moment [your behavior] based on your attachments [feelings and beliefs] from past experiences.) and change it.
  • There are no other limits than that waking dream which we call reality and the degree to which we let the reality (the waking dream) of others influence our own (waking dream). (We get to decide whether we respond [by operating from our stories] or react [by operating from their stories] to others.)
  • If we’re not taking action towards the future we want, we’ll end up with the future we think we deserve.
  • If we look back at the past we’ll tend to see that we’ve created for ourselves what we felt we deserved at the time, based on the stories we told ourselves.
  • When someone says you create your reality, this is the essence of what they are talking about – everything is story (waking dream).
  • To rewrite your story you have to go into the soul and step out of the narrative of your conscious mind {thoughts} (the present) and step into your true power as a creator (where there is no past, present, or future, only the stories that guide you – these you must rewrite).

Reinterpreting Our Stories

  • This inner work is about creating a new story in which we create a new and more healthy, forgiving, accepting understanding of the past using our present relationship with reality to let go. Then the past no longer has the same power over our future.
  • (Reinterpreting our understanding of the past (our stories) to change the roots of our beliefs and feelings requires us to use both the positive experiences we’ve had in life and our vision for the future experiences we desire to establish more rational and empowering beliefs and feelings, which will then shape the waking dream we desire.)

Letting Go of the Past

  • Letting go of the past is about forgiving yourself and others (for the past) for the way you’ve felt (you feel about the past).
  • Holding onto the past is about the emotional reaction we have to it. We can only release ourselves from that reaction once we’ve forgiven ourselves for our feelings and let go of our attachment to them.
  • We must resolve the past attachments that are preventing us from feeling good enough about our future self.

Questions About The Past

  • What beliefs from the past are holding you back from feeling worthy?
  • What fears do you have that are stopping you from feeling fully deserving of your desires. (?)
  • (Q:) What events in the past cause those fears, and how can we forgive and let go. (?) (A:) By reinterpreting our understanding of them (the events in the past that cause our fears) with more rational and empowering beliefs based on the positive experiences we’ve had in life.
  • What experiences are those beliefs rooted in and how can we reinterpret our stories of them from a healthier, more rational perspective? (See: Reinterpreting Our Stories).

The Past and Fear

  • Fear is rooted in past attachments {feelings / beliefs}, outcomes and experiences.
  • It doesn’t serve us to base our present relationship with life on our fears. (Hence, why we need to reinterpret our stories.)

Questions About The Future

  • What do you need to to do to create that you deserve the future you want {dreams}. (?)
  • What do you need to be doing each day to create both inner peace – present centered actions – {gym, meditate, writing, walking} with (and) future centered actions {(i.e.,) work, goal setting, planning}?
  • Which activities are beneficial to both (inner peace and the future) {meditation, inner-work, self-reflection, introspection, breathing, and envisioning}?
  • Which activities, habits are counter to both (inner peace and the future) / unhealthy {self-pity, getting caught up in past emotional traps, self-destructive behaviors} (?)
  • Which needs of yours cause the needs that you have (<- recursive thinking, or unintentional sentence error…hmm) that trigger those unhealthy / self-destructive behaviors. (?)
  • What inner work do you need to do on yourself to address your unhealthy needs?
  • What desired emotional states are driving those unhealthy needs. (?)
  • What beliefs of yours do you have that are driving your needs for those emotional states. (?) {i.e., if I am loved then I am worthy.}
  • What stories are behind those beliefs?
  • What inner work do you need to do on those beliefs to transform them into healthy / empowering beliefs. (?)
  • How can you reinterpret them (your stories about the past) to more accurately reflect the reality you want for your future. (?)
  • The stories you tell yourself are going to determine the stories your children tell.
  • What stories did your parents tell themselves (The feelings and beliefs they had that originated from their outcomes and experiences in life) that you need to let go of (i.e., stop responding to life from their stories). (?)

Self Worth

  • Being happy with what you have is about being happy with who you are.
  • We accept the love and the life we feel we deserve.
  • If we want something we must believe we are worthy of it.
  • We believe we can achieve the things we think we are worthy of.
  • Feeling worthy of a thing (love, success, a goal) is about feeling good enough for it.
  • The inner work of building a new relationship with the past is the key to building a new relationship with yourself.
  • Carry yourself so that your esteem is worthy of your dreams and then your actions will be.
  • Self worth ultimately requires nothing more than self-love. Build abundant self-love and you will have no problem feeling worthy of abundance in life.
  • (All of the above can be worked on by doing the inner work of reinterpreting our stories.)


  • Separating feelings (soul based, self-aware stories) from thoughts (conscious mind, outer world, unconscious stories) is one of the most empowering skills you can develop… to learn to feel from the soul (inner world) is to access the divine wisdom of the soul’s ability to perceive the world from a loving and unattached (unattached from the thoughts, ego, and outcomes of the outer world) perspective. This is the key to happiness.
  • (Examining and reinterpreting the underlying stories that shape our beliefs is essential to growing the compassionate self-awareness we need to operate from soul based / self-aware stories.)

Note: If you’re still not sold on why you need to reinterpret your stories, read my entry: The Power to Change Your Life.

My Budding Romance with Meditation

Meditation has recently become a central part of my existence, and I’m in love.

I started writing about it in Transcendental Realizations and as a follow-up entry I published A Cocktail for The Soul, which encompassed simple instructions for my current favorite meditation technique.

Using the same technique detailed in the latter entry, I’ve enjoyed truly phenomenal experiences. Some of which I am not brave enough to detail – but needless to say, they have been mind blowing.

Having an experience where you can access something that feels like a higher consciousness is akin to losing your mental virginity. And truth be told, I didn’t expect that; however, I did do a lot of research and I entered into it very well prepared.

Prior to this year, my ‘meditation / transcendence’ experience was comprised primarily of the following:

In no particular order of importance:

  • The rare Yoga session where I felt a breakthrough.
  • The rare introspective walk with the right combination of sunset, solitude, and moving music (I recently wept watching the sunset while listening to this mix.)
  • Using my Heartmath Institute Inner Balance Sensor to meditate using the quick coherence technique. (This “taught” me how to breath and get into coherence and has been wonderful. I still use it when I meditate, but when using the aforementioned “Soul Cocktail” technique I don’t follow the breath pacer and use it primarily to gauge the quality of my heart / breath balance.) Wonderful gift / great purchase by the way, and you can also practice heart coherence techniques without the sensor but it really helps. Here’s a great video on coherence that got me into this.
  • The rare sensual embrace which love lent a certain spiritual quality to.  (Can’t give you any advice here – but I expect heart coherence has something to do with it.)
  • The rare night looking up into the dark above my bed and getting deep into the right balance of thinking and feeling. (This is kind of hard to explain, but I would describe it as the combination of gratitude and wonder.)
  • The rare kind of workout that gives you an almost spiritual endorphin high.

However the problem for me with each of these transcendent experiences is that I could not easily recreate them each time – hence why they were ‘rare’. Often a walk is just a walk…etc.

I’m expecting that as I continue to grow spiritually the frequency with which those activities are peak experiences for me will improve. I’ve already started to notice this – for instance: when I wept watching the sunset I had meditated for two hours that afternoon. I’m also expecting that as I grow more and become more attuned to myself and educated about things like heart coherence, I’ll be able to better understand the exact physical, mental, and spiritual factors that influence peak experience and thus be able to get into those states with more frequency and ease. So, I would summarize these two statements in saying that as I become more practiced and knowledgeable I’ll become more capable of these transient moments of self-actualization. Unfortunately, since having a peak experience with the above listed activities can be a hit or a miss, I’m not doing them with the same frequency I would be if they were transcendent / peak experiences each time.

I’m a big believer that we do things in order to change our emotional states; we are naturally inclined to pursue ways of changing our state. The downside is that many of us never learn healthy and empowering ways of accomplishing this and as a result we end up using things like television, food, sex, and alcohol to change the way we feel. When those things become so central to our coping in life that we become addicted to them – even something like sex or working out can be unhealthy.

For people who don’t pursue powerful and healthy ways of changing their emotional state, their peak experiences are extremely rare. They may happen while traveling or sometimes they even happen incidentally and we don’t even realize what it was – we were just watching the sunset when this powerful sense of awe overcame us.

Some people are on a pursuit of peak experience and they don’t even realize exactly what it is they are chasing – these are the people who describe themselves as “adventurers” or “adrenaline junkies”. I’m inclined to go so far as to include self described “hopeless romantics”, or people with “a sense of wanderlust” (I have personal experience with both). Side-note: people often say they suffer from wanderlust – I think people should start saying “I suffer from being a hopeless romantic”. (<- this entire paragraph is a piece of shit structurally and grammatically – but I don’t feel like rewriting it.)

In hindsight, I feel that my wanderlust and hopeless romanticism both stemmed from emotional needs relating to peak experience. Once you’ve transcended everyday consciousness in an Oxytocin releasing way, it’s hard to go back. And while both my wanderlust and my hopeless romanticism helped me to create myself they never helped me to find myself.

As digital nomad Mark Manson puts it:

They say that people who suffer from wanderlust are in a perpetual state of either looking for something that doesn’t exist, or running from something they can never get away from. My experience tells me it’s not a question of either/or but rather a statement of both and how much.

For me my wanderlust and hopeless romanticism were attempts to alter my relationship to the world and to fundamentally change the way I felt about myself.

However the problem with both is that you’re placing the fulfillment of extremely important needs far outside of your own control. So, while there may be those moments of peak experience in a new city, or that time in the relationship that felt like a dream, you ultimately run the risk of finding yourself back in your home city or single again. Then it’s back to the emptiness and the need to continue searching. You’ll find ‘the one’ or you’ll find the ‘right city’ that ‘finally feels like home’. But in the end, no one else can save you from yourself, and wherever you go, there you are.

Were it not for the incredible meditative experiences I’ve recently had and the higher consciousness insights I’ve garnered through them, I would never have come to see any of this. I’d still feel empty and lost. Not that I don’t have my moments, but through meditative self-exploration I’ve become aware of the underlying mechanics of my conscious thinking and I’ve started doing inner work on the needs I need to fulfill for myself (internal fulfillment).

I never expected that this part of the journey (meditation) would be so powerful and enjoyable. Prior to my recent experience I viewed meditation as the kind of thing addicts (i.e., Robert Downey Jr.), zen hippies (i.e., Jeff Bridges), or overachievers did. And since my initial ideas about meditation were that you had to sit in an uncomfortable position in silence for an hour chastising yourself for every thought that entered your mind, my first attempts were forgettable to say the least.

Conversely, it’s been a life altering experience now that I am using an approach to meditation that works for me. I don’t think I’ll ever give it up. It’s been more beneficial than therapy; although, I definitely do utilize the knowledge I’ve gained in therapy in my self-inquisition and in the expansion of my self-awareness.

I must state that it wasn’t by accident that I’ve uncovered such powerful insights about myself through meditation. I’ve been doing inner work and searching for solutions to the conundrums I’ve faced in my life. I’ve realized that growth is the only way to keep up with change and it’s central to my personal philosophy that I work on growing to be the best version of myself I can be – for myself and for others. It’s not easy to stare into yourself and work on the recurring themes and stories in your life. It takes courage. But you have the courage within you, and much more to be found should you embark on the journey.

The impetus for writing this came from my experiences meditating yesterday: I meditated twice within a 24 hour period, and both instances were (damn, I can’t even find the right adjective) powerful beyond what I had expected – but equal to what I had hoped was possible. I followed my own instructions, as described in the A Cocktail For the Soul method, forming my own intent prior and commencing writing immediately after.

It was a wonderful surprise to discover that I entered into a similar (but less powerful) state as the state I was in during my Transcendental Realizations experience. As a result of this, when all was said and done, I had filled a few pages of my notebook with some fucking wonderful chicken scratch (it’s a language only I can decipher).

Based on the fact that this blog is the closest thing I have to a legacy and writing here has been central to my growth and identity, I am going to start blogging (G-d I loathe that word to describe my writing) – ahem, publishing my meditations. Not that I think myself a modern day Marcus Aurelius, but as Meditations was, these writings have also been directed solely at myself and not obscured by consciousness or ego.

I obviously am not going to behave like some stoic Sarah Jessica Parker – where I just meditate, hop on my laptop, and start blogging snarky self-advice. No. I’m going to continue doing as I’ve done and chicken scratching it after meditating, and then wait until I feel ready to revisit it – whether that’s the next day or the next week – and then I’m going to type it in an organized manner here.

If I feel that for any reason this practice is inhibiting my abilities or drawing my ego into a realm it doesn’t belong, I’m going to discontinue it immediately.

Currently there are a couple other topics I am excited to write about (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Defence Mechanisms) as well as some poetry I want to write, so things are going to continue as normal for me, but I would love nothing more than to have a long and organic relationship with this higher consciousness or soul-centered egolessness in which I am able to continue the growth and discovery that meditation has provided me with thus far. And if I can publish it too, wonderful.

I am not sure what is possible or what will be, but I am willing to go for it.

Atomic Tom: Music Makes the Heart Grow Stronger

Music Makes the Heart Grow Stronger, from the Brooklyn based Atomic Tom. The integrity of the song speaks for itself. Enjoy it.

p.s. I have a feeling that the combination of Saturn Returning for my 29th year and the emergence of daily meditation into my life is ushering in a very prolific time for my writing, so I hope my subscribers enjoy the ride – if not, feel free to unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of my auto-generated emails.

A Cocktail for The Soul

I just published what is unequivocally one of the most important entries this blog will ever have, Transcendental Realizations.

While I did offer up the caveat that I am not a meditation teacher or a spiritual guide – and this isn’t the exact process I used, I would be doing present and future readers a huge disservice if I didn’t also publish this entry, detailing one of my favorite meditation practices.

I was never great at meditating (until recently) and present day doctors would label me ADHD; however, I’m incredibly thankful this particular practice has become an important part of my life as before I would have had a drink to silence my mind, whereas now I enjoy a cocktail for the soul! – Meditation. (50 times more satisfying).

The Cocktail for Your Soul

Note: After the 55 min mark when the low brain waves begin is when I transcended.

My tips for meditating are:

  1. Drink some water, get comfortable, safely light a candle if you wish.
  2. Outline the goals which drive you to meditate. Is the goal an exploration of emotional states? spiritual enlightenment? Inner Peace? Or insights from a higher consciousness? Spend at least a few minutes in introspective reflection outlining the objectives of the meditation prior to meditating. Typically I select an area I need to improve on or something I know is bothering me. Sometimes it’s just that I’m feeling like shit. And it’s 100% okay to not have a goal, you don’t need one.
  3. Follow the guided meditation (Complete youtube embedded above for FREE, also avail for purchase at: Mind Silence, Stepping into Stillness by Paul Santisi) Note: Phenomenal program.
  4. Optional: Deep, slow, and relatively-effortless breaths that expand the stomach are a great addition – but not necessary if you are just beginning. Play with breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth and doing what feels natural.
  5. Keep white paper and a pen with blue ink next to you to write after you meditate. You might be surprised at what you can access.

Transcendental Realizations

I had an experience recently that opened my eyes to a kind of transcendence of the self. Some call it self-realization, ego-death or awakening. It’s difficult to even write about because it was not a conscious, reality based experience. In fact I’ve been waiting to publish this because I wanted to give myself time to internalize it before typing up my notes. I also plan on meditating on each of these for further insights and internalization.

I would say this was unequivocally one of the most powerful experiences of my life. I’m not kidding when I say that many of these realizations opened up life for me in ways that I never dreamed would be possible.

That being said, I’m not a meditation teacher or a spiritual guide, and I’m not going to advise you on how to achieve this yourself. Each person’s path is different and what’s right for one person is not right for another. But I want to share the realizations I had as a result of this experience and organize them so I can return to these powerful truths.

Remember, this information came to me in a state that was outside of my normal waking consciousness. Take each bit of information with either a grain of salt or a gold ingot depending on whether or not it speaks to your soul. And no, there were no recreational drugs involved. This was a meditative, solo, soul-seeking journey designed to help me break through the conscious and subconscious barriers that were keeping me grounded in a reality I didn’t like.

The notes that follow were written in my notebook directly after this transcendental journey (which I meditated for over an hour before beginning to prepare for and to sow the mental seeds for the questions I wanted answers to). Note: Everything within bold text or parenthesis was added at the time of this publication to organize / clarify.

Inner Peace (Presence) & Fear

  • Inner peace = presence.
  • There is inner peace. It’s really special. It’s nowhere to reach because it’s inside of you; you must go to it.
  • It’s more powerful than fear.
  • To escape fear return to presence.
  • My biggest fear is being scared and lonely and not knowing what to do.
  • There is no dark place within you. You do not go there, you only create dark energy if you allow yourself to become it.
  • There is no future / then. There is only presence. And it’s not present, but presence. Not a place, but the ritual of living in the now.
  • You can find love and inner peace in a hopeless place.
  • We can only BE in the present/presence.

Inner & Outer Reality

  • The inner and the outer reality are really two different things. You can be a master to the inner or a slave to the outer.
  • The outer world is false.
  • The soul perceives. We’ve just been taught to believe that the outer world is true. It’s not real vs. fake, (inner and outer) but true vs. false.
  • Personality can be the construct of the outer or the reality of the inner.
  • Doubt is stupid  <- Outer.
  • Ask if what you are feeling is outer or inner. All worry / fear is outer.

Love / Reality

  • Love is the only real thing. It’s in everything.
  • Beauty isn’t real. Only the truth is beautiful / Pure love.
  • We’re all connected, but we’re connected only by love. Our different realities separate us.
  • We all create our own realities. We cannot allow ourselves to get sucked into the reality of another. I am the creator of my reality.

Moments & Memories

  • Memories are like the cool side of the pillow. Use them that way – for good.
  • Beautiful moments won’t last forever. Enjoy them.


  • Doing something cannot make us happy, only we can make happiness. It’s the universe’s illogical truth.

Inner Voice / Thoughts

  • All the ‘voices’ in you (i.e., the cynic, the bummer, the achiever), you created them and you shape them. (Interesting addition to the quote: “The way you speak to your children becomes their inner voice”.)

Appearance / Behavior

  • The way we present ourselves (appearance) is a choice merely to make us feel good based on how we feel the outer world perceives us.
  • Behavior is how we react to the present.


  • When a door opens in life, you mustn’t be afraid to enter it or you will never enter it. (This is a great compliment to the Benjamin Button quote: “Our lives are defined by opportunities; even the ones we miss.“)

The Body: Pain & Relaxation

  • Tenseness is held in the body. (relax the body)
  • Pain in the body represents body held / world held (outer reality?) pain. It is not inside of you (inner reality?).

Creating & Achieving  (Trusting For The Future)

  • Reality is just something you create.
  • The future is only as uncertain as our present action is allowing it to be. Shape it all.
  • (Q: How do you make decisions?) (A:) You decide / make decisions based on what you want the future outcome to be.
  • (Q: How do you decide what you want your future outcome to be?) (A:) YOU DESIGN IT.
  • (Q: How do you design it?) (A:) You cultivate your tastes, explore, imagine, self-inquiry. DISCOVER.
  • (How do you know if something is the right thing, in terms of life designing?) You know what you like.
  • Realization will come when you need it. (The fairy godmother of the soul ;)

Update: For anyone interested in their own transcendental journey, I’m not recommending you should load the universe into a cannon aim at brain and fire – but a Cocktail for The Soul is a great jumping off point and was a huge part of the experience for me.

Poetry: Poetic Therapy

Poets only write when they are upset.
So tonight I write poetry for things I can’t forget.
But a poet can’t live in the past – for in the past there’s only his regret.

For in poetry humanity forgives itself.
In poetry the poet heals his soul and feels what he can’t anyplace else.

Because in a poem he feels love, for a time he’s worthy of his feelings and he’s enough.

For in life he rarely felt what he felt in a poem.

A poem is home. In a poem you’re never alone and there’s no unknowns.
Only the ebb and flow of the words.

And for a moment life and feelings are the same.

A poem is a sunset. It soothes the soul and forgives the day. It feels as good as that quote I still replay.

“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.”

I’m trying. G-damnit I’m trying. But if I said I didn’t remember one thing a day I’d be lying.

I still have the same dreams and I still want the same things.

I won’t settle for less than better and to get there I will survive whatever I have to weather.

And I will only tie myself down if I know the knot will last forever.

But there’s no guarantee but change and you can’t predict the weather.

But you can prepare for the inevitable and you can design a life that’s incredible.

But you’re gonna go through your fair share of pain just as a crop needs it’s fair share of rain.

And when things feel unbearable, I write my feelings into words shareable.

Sometimes I stare into into the dark of my ceiling and use metaphors to make light of my feelings.

‘Like a withered leaf in the fall wind I scrape along the pavement unnoticed.’

Poetry bathes the brain and soothes an incurable pain.

It releases me and frees me from my anguish.

Poetry is the only countenance for the inadmissible truths I face:

I’m plagued with Jungian loneliness.

I’m still repeating tired mistakes.

I’m still searching for home.

These truths mask my fears and give cause for my pent up tears.

So tonight I wrote this poem to forgive myself for the love that I couldn’t give myself.

Im no longer so upset.