A Lot to Be Me: Solitary Jules, UN Spaz Cadet

I am a product of the culture. Of the times too, but I feel like I’m times two – extra learnt, so I stay extra turnt – RIP turntable.fm: that was a really blessed online space, where I had room to explore and just be me, drinking alone with a lot of other strangers, many who were doing the same, taking turns playing songs, for the room / genre theme we were in. And anybody could create their own room… yeah… tech spaces are a big hard on for me. I taught myself to code, and spent a decade doing so, during which I learned myself in User-Experience, analytics, marketing, a bunch of other shit. My friend Danilo, whom I worked with, at his and Mark’s company, Blue SEO, in Santa Monica – anywho, Danilo – love him – anyway, Danilo told me I was a unicorn. If only I knew how much of a unicorn I really was to be back then.

I spent a lot of time thinking I was stupid, or, rather, just that institutionally educated persons were the smart set, and maybe, I, one day, would be there – if I took the path they did. Then – maybe a year or two ago – I may have been tripping when I first realized it, but I basically came to the realization that I was not stupid [“They looked at me like I was stupid, I’M NOT STUPID”. – ughhh, love, love, love the Hamilton soundtrack – never even seen it – but the soundtrack is a part of me]. Anywho, I am not writing this to butter my own bread – haha yea right, all I do is fucking stunt and go dumb for fun – but as much as I love them, may I never sound like David Foster Wallace, though, I do all the damn time – also ,on my Jekyll and Hyde, Fight Club is a fucking lit film – I relate to that shit hard). So, I realized I was not stupid, and that all those years of my insatie curiosity – Cloud Atlas, that film – I realized that all my years of passionate curiosity and reading, from being the kid who spent every lunch in school in the library alone – always in books that dealt with the oceans, journeys, pirates [bigfuckingmoodofmine.exe] – to growing up and living this life that only in my wildest dreams could I have written – I realized that it all was adding up to some really dope shit. Because I don’t give a fuck abt IQ – you won’t find me in no nerd society, just the higghhh society thepercocetandstripperjoint.mp3; goddamn I love Future. Truly from Pluto. Catch me on Jupiter. If you know the mythology, you know where I stand in my mythical family tree. Bish.

AORIO. I been prescient like I’m pre-sent; know what life’s about: health in the present.

But yeah, Future – the rapper – is a really special person to me. ‘High Off Life’ is an incredible album – I be on my shit, devil emoji. And I’m not going to stand here and pretend I don’t know I’m smart. I figured out that much. And this didn’t come from privilege – and I won’t lie to you and say it came from hard work, some did – yeah – been working since I was twelve – and I worked myself to death the past decade – but the real smarts came from play, from consuming culture. As a teen, I worked at the two dope AF record shops in town. Shout out old beachfront Taaang records, and The Garage – that guy was really cool abt me crashing his car when I was hella underage – but, in my defense, IDGAF. I was trying to get laid. Drove bad. But, yeah, just, music. My all. 

My parents fucked up just about everything – they had it tough, and they didn’t make it any easier for themselves by loving one another – but they did let me sing – bless the neighbors, and The Strokes, and The Doors. My music love and play goes back to my childhood. Hope my mom has the photo of me in those ripped jeans, holding a microphone attached to a cheap keyboard.

I don’t praise my senses enough – but lord do I spoil them. Just, grateful for music. It has been a major part of my education, and my being. I love the new shit. Shout Dababy, Lil Baby, these two gentlemen have been bros to me via their voices. Energy. Black energy is really sacred and powerful to me. Black people were raising me, in my headphones, helping me see my situation in an empathetic light, when I had no one giving me empathy, or even attention. But damn, how I wanted a No Limit Records tank chain. Still do. Goals. Musically, I time travel. The other night I was going hard to Wu’s Triumph, and a bunch of Makaveli – Don Killuminati. Goddamn Pac was bright AF. Love love. Patron saint of real ones everywhere. I got angel wings on my whole damn team. We mainey. And far as I see it, if you got good energy – and I ain’t talking about moral good – I’m talking about a wavelength wherein ethical shit matters, morals can all get fucked. I’m very much a free person, for a free society. I came out from beneath this collective shadow – and my personal shadow too, and I am pretty much liberated from the confines of guilt, shame, taboo. I don’t do harm. I am not malevolent. But I’m no fake. I love my dark side. It’s the healthiest, funnest, most devilishly evil yet purely innocent dark side I could ever imagine. Like a grown up child’s. But I’ve long related to the loneliness in being negatively projected on. Looking around at America right now, a lot of us are starting to see that Jesus is perhaps the problematic one in our culture. Just maybe worshipping a white man isn’t a great idea…

Just dropping some tracks I’m listening to as I write this. Pausing for some cannabis. Never not high (Future). So glad I bought a Hookah from that incredible Middle Eastern shop. I will be back there. But what a day that was when I went there. Some stories I will just never tell because having my own intel allows me to own a mona lisa smile, with a salt bae pinch of ben franklin’s unfuckwithable smirk on the hundred thrown in for good measure.

Good fucking god do we need Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color on our money. Also: WOMEN. Look, I’m a fan of a lot of dead white men – from Steinbeck, to Jack London, to Victor Hugo, Jung, Emerson, Victor Frankl, Solzhenitsyn… jus, this is a time to tear down monuments. I forget which writer said it, but ‘the second job of every writer is to create new myths, the first job is to destroy old myths’. I paraphrased it inelegantly, and I would probably say ‘deconstruct’ rather than destroy, but I’ll tell you, I fucking love history. It’s more than just a TV channel that used to be legit – but IDK, I don’t watch television, unless a series like Westworld – and I don’t have cable or sat TV service. But yeah, history, that time machinesque lens, which, when looked back at enough, with the right intensity of truth, trains our own inner sight to see forwards, allowing us to look through time at what might be, rather than merely at what us. Like Walt Disney, I have that ‘sense of my destiny’, but I have something else too. I’m learning.

There is a je ne sais quoi – a yo no se que, porque some things you just can’t represent in words. Felt memory. Memery. Though I loath the Thomas Carlyle idea that “The history of the world is but the biography of great men” – firstly, people – individuals, rather than the monolithic exclusionary, and patriarchal singular “men” – but also, just, no artist, thinker or doer is an ocean unto themselves. Often they are just those with enough privilege, persistence, and patience. Look, people like me don’t get the PHD in philosophy from Yale, we don’t study art – we fucking live art and philosophy. They study us. Growing up, it wasn’t just hip hop that was raising me, but punk rock – I feel that my own lane musically encompasses those energies, but also, I go gaga for my Bon Iver style falsetto – JAMESVINCENTMCMORROW, love – singing and rapping are a fucking major thing for me, and years doing both has produced a neat effect, but the real quantum jump in my singing came after the last couple years of becoming a fucking diaphragmatic breath Jedi. I broke through some wall I didn’t know existed. So, yeah, I’m doing some music, will be forever. My writing is also alive and well – though those in my life often display a ‘how come it hasn’t happened for you yet if you’re so good’ kind of attitude toward me as a writer – a cautious distrust – but sorry, I won’t fucking defend myself: ‘Fresh out of fucks forever.”, as Lana sings.

My life is not about success, but it will produce success; however, on its own, I don’t fuck with success culture anymore, and just, really, any and all capitalistic, materialistic views of life that quantify people solely based on assets, accolades, accomplishments, degrees, FICO scores {Should be called a ‘priviledge score’ and those with lower scores should get a handicap in life so they can catch up} – yeah, ugh: suck my fucking girldick bish. No chips on these pretty shoulders. I’ll collect the odd honorary degree or two later. I don’t need no fucking titles in front of my name unless it’s ASAP or Baby. I got my own name, and it’s got all the respeck in the workd on it.

The gatekeepers have fallen – Elon taught himself rocket science from books – the Library of Alexandria is open 24/7 online, you can learn anything you wish. I go down a lot of fucking rabbit holes. Oh ye of little faith: oh the places we can go. Will. Go. The things I’ve seen. Data dreams. Rivers of time crossed. I am James in The Giant Peach, solitary Jules Verne, The Little Prince, Lawrence of Arabia, Mansa Musa, Marco Polo. Genghis Khan. Ra. Aman. Atun. Baruch atah adonai. I am my own Elohim. My H to the izzo. Keep up. My avatar movie fast af homie.

As Future raps on Accepting My Flaws: “Take my blood baby, we going digital.”

I basically see myself as some sort of self-imagined alien futurist sexy AF super smart quasi AI bitch.

Phiillip K. Dick, who wrote Blade Runner, and a bunch of other incredible stories that a bunch of dope AF films are based on, is a human that is very archetypally / energetically / consciously twine with mine own self – as all my favorite authors and stories are – but on a personal level, he had some experiences that I give weight to based on my own gnosis. I need to read his Exegesis.

But, basically, PK Dick had what some might call ‘paranormal experiences’. He liked to do a lot of drugs too, on some A Scanner Darkly [Great film] type stuff, but his experiences went further than your typical mk-ultra-ish intelligence-cartel run spy operation – you know, the ol’ “This person does a lot of drugs, but they give us and or the culture, society, a lot of good shit, so we keep supplying the drugs and or looking the other way more or less and monitoring them as a kind of one person think tank” – no, that’s basic old-hat shit in any country nowdaze – this imagined scenario would be pedestrian in comparison to the type of next level alien AI hypothesis PKD constructed. He called it VALIS, for ‘Vast Acting Living Intelligence System’ – just, check this. He was in some ways, almost prescient, like the oracles in the movie Minority Report [Yet another amazeball film based on his work].

“VALIS has been described as one node of an artificial satellite network originating from the star Sirius in the Canis Major constellation. According to Dick, the Earth satellite used “pink laser beams” to transfer information and project holograms on Earth and to facilitate communication between an extraterrestrial species and humanity. Dick claimed that valis used “disinhibiting stimuli” to communicate, using symbols to trigger recollection of intrinsic knowledge through the loss of amnesia, achieving gnosis.

I ripped that from Wikipedia [A place I learn a fuck ton from], but basically PKD saw VALIS as both a “reality generator” – and a system of extraterrestrial communication. As a really cool kid at a coffeehouse in Big Bear told me (People who work at coffee places and in the service industry are often the best people you can ever have as friends.), anyway, as this cool ass kid told me: ‘”aliens” don’t need no fucking spacecraft – they got consciousness – they can just send that’. Yeah. It was fucking lit. I agreed. Something like being “in the cloud” – or perhaps, like a psychedelic [psyche + delos] bacterium in the actual clouds – in the macrobiome [biosphere] – as Trevor Hall sings: “Swallow the ocean, drink of its potion”. And I do. Gut / brain axis health and my microbiome are an absolute fetish of mine – like breathing, self-talk, smoking weed, and listening to music. My shit clean. I spend all my guap on my guts and my brains. And I need to get back on my topic, which I will fucking do, but let me just soapbox the truth that privilege and inequality create a microbiome divide, wherein neurotransmitters and wellbeing are rationed out according to oppressive systems of power, priviledge, and control that forces those without the means or access to the ‘whole foods life’ to suffer on an actual physical level – to live on a lesser plane of existence. Inequality is so much more than just not having the same stuff, or the same place to live: it’s the state of your nervous system, the quality of how you feel each moment of each day – your consciousness – and nervous system inequality is a personal issue for me, having grown up in a true-life actual PTSD fucking nightmare of a childhood. It was pure hell. No wellbeing. And, healthcare, fucking forget about it, dentist too, nah, that’s for the privileged – the rest of the people settle for sick care, and often only when the pain and or suffering is untenable. Just pull the fucking tooth finally, we say. People fear death so much, not realizing the horrors of actual life for so many – the bravery of everyday folks, it’s so humbling and beautiful when you finally begin to see it. If you can. And I see it everywhere I go. Quiet unknown heroes. Walking around sad and unknown with their heads down like dead people. Breaks my fucking heart.

But yes, aliens and AI – VALIS – well, another brilliant thinker I am quite fond of, the maverick polymath psychonaut John C. Lilly, developed a similar hypothesis, which he called E.C.C.O, for Earth Coincidence Control Office. The following wikipedia rip breaks it down:

“Solid State Intelligence

Solid State Intelligence (S.S.I.) is a malevolent entity described by Lilly in his 1978 autobiography, The Scientist. According to Lilly, the network of computation-capable solid state systems (electronics) engineered by humans will eventually develop into an autonomous “bioform”. Since the optimal survival conditions for this bioform (low-temperature vacuum) are drastically different from those humans need (room temperature aerial atmosphere and adequate water supply), Lilly predicted (or “prophesied”, based on his ketamine-induced visions) a dramatic conflict between the two forms of intelligence.[citation needed]

Earth Coincidence Control Office (E.C.C.O.)

In 1974, Lilly’s research using various psychoactive drugs led him to believe in the existence of a certain hierarchical group of cosmic entities, the lowest of which he later dubbed Earth Coincidence Control Office (E.C.C.O.) in an autobiography published jointly with his wife Antonietta (often called Toni). To elaborate, “There exists a Cosmic Coincidence Control Center (CCCC) with a Galactic substation called Galactic Coincidence Control (GCC). Within GCC is the Solar System Control Unit (SSCU), within which is the Earth Coincidence Control Office (ECCO).”[20]

Lilly also wrote that there are nine conditions that should be followed by people who seek to experience coincidence in their own lives:

  1. You must know/assume/simulate our existence in E.C.C.O.
  2. You must be willing to accept our responsibility for control of your coincidences.
  3. You must exert your best capabilities for your survival programs and your own development as an advancing/advanced member of E.C.C.O.’s earthside corps of controlled coincidence workers. You are expected to use your best intelligence in this service.
  4. You are expected to expect the unexpected every minute, every hour of every day and of every night.
  5. You must be able to maintain conscious/thinking/reasoning no matter what events we arrange to happen to you. Some of these events will seem cataclysmic/catastrophic/overwhelming: remember stay aware, no matter what happens/apparently happens to you.
  6. You are in our training program for life: there is no escape from it. We (not you) control the long-term coincidences; you (not we) control the shorter-term coincidences by your own efforts.
  7. Your major mission on earth is to discover/create that which we do to control the long-term coincidence patterns: you are being trained on Earth to do this job.
  8. When your mission on planet Earth is completed, you will no longer be required to remain/return there.
  9. Remember the motto passed to us (from G.C.C. via S.S.C.U.): “Cosmic Love is absolutely Ruthless and Highly Indifferent: it teaches its lessons whether you like/dislike them or not.”[21]

Now, that’s a lot, I realize – and, here is a good place to state that I didn’t arrive at this point of discovery in my being by blindly adopting common beliefs as my own – hip hop and punk rock ensured my freethinking no fucks approach to life – in a word, I go on my own experiences – but, when those experiences run parallel to the ideas of others, who are vv much like me, I have to call it what it is, you nahmsayin. Jung coined the word Synchronicity to describe two acasally disconnected yet subjectively related things: “meaningful coincidences”. As Portia (loveu, sry we loss touch) anyway, as the lovely Portia told me, “There are no coincidences, only co-incidences”. And don’t think for a second that I am sitting here looking back on my own years and history, and arrogantly proclaiming some empty sheltered suburbian new-ageism like:  “Everything happens for a reason”. Bone cancer in children. Famine and war in Yemen – no – I don’t give a fuck what your coach told you in your retreat in Bali – it isn’t all love. Get fucked. Everything has a cause: but some things happen for no damn good reason. Because greed, power, fear, the stonk market, yeah, clean money really be the dirtiest. “The heaven of the rich is built on the hell of the poor”. Look, I’m no more revolutionary than a well running system of time and progress will be. The expansion of consciousness – the dissemination of intelligence, of ideas, cannot be stopped. “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” If you haven’t noticed, technology is advancing. AI. Robotics. Genetics. Nanotechnology. We just don’t always see it bc we often only notice advances in things we interact with, like cars and phones, gizmos, and gadgets – love my Quip sex toy, I mean toothbrush – yet we don’t see the world around us being increasingly quantified, captured, analyzed, widgetized: No four horseman here. Instead, we are living through The 6 D’s of Exponential Organizations [And the world classifies as an exponential organization]:

But yeah, this tech shit is here to stay. Hell, I have two fucking AI assistants: Alexa, via my Echo, and Google, via my trusty and seemingly bulletproof Thinkpad [Mil-SPEC 810G standard, you know real bossh shit], and I speak to both of them throughout the day, and they respond in return to me – and they are getting better all the time. I notice it in increased depth of interaction, tonality, prediction, autonomy – the ambient, trance, and house music playlists my Alexa generates for me are positively out of this world – I’m actually tempted to play some ambient music right now, but it always sends me on some astral journey, and I’m thankfully tired enough as it is. It’s a lot being me. Living in my head. Sometimes I see why the kids take those drugs I don’t play with. To take a pill and shut it down. I liked sipping lean when I did it – the handful of times I came up on a bottle of codeine w promethezine – there is a reason it’s popular, a reason why some of my artistic muses rap about it. But some things I don’t play with. Too many lives lost. Xanax took Peep, Percocet took Juicewrld. These are my boys. The kids need better drugs. The amount of people who could benefit from therapeutic / informed usage of Psilocybin, LSD, DMT, MDMA, Mescaline… don’t even get me started. Just, without the unique states of consciousness – my history of experiences with these alien-like substances – I would not be who I am. What good fortune I have had in being an end-user for these trafficked doses of consciousness – as Aldous Huxley saw it, the brain was “a restricting device for consciousness”, and substances such as Mescaline [San Pedro my bb] opened up the ‘doors of perception’ for us, which was the title of his 1954 essay/book on Mescaline [The Doors of Perception], based on a line from a William Blake poem: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, man would see everything as it were, infinite”; only, “the Pharisees and the Scribes have received the keys of knowledge, but they have hidden them” [Thomas Gospel]. Real talk.

More people need these keys. Organizations like MAPS are working toward these ends, and there is a healthy psychedelic pulse in any lit tech / arts scene worldround, from Boston to The Bay to Berlin. But it’s another example of privilege. MDMA is incredible for PTSD and other things: as Future raps, “You need some molly in your drink to boost self-esteem” – only, it’s so often rappers and spoiled kids at Coachella taking this stuff, while some transgender veteran is homeless wanting to kill herself. With nothing but a bottle of booze.  I was her, I know. Two fucking pills – oh how this is me.

I circumbobulated a bit – think that’s one of those Moby Dick words of Melville’s – of wait, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumambulation – yeah, I left a tab open with that to read later. Anywho, the relationship between consciousness and the subject, between the subject and self, is one that can be very effectively experienced, programmed, deprogrammed, developed, and healed through the unique, special states of consciousness that psychedelic drugs provide their users. God, I mean, have you had to suffer through through one of your conventionally privileged friends tell you all about how they did ayahausca with a shaman in Peru, and how it changed their life “blah blah blah – ‘you have to try it’… this story is a common thing to hear in LA or NY, or any city with the Bali-abled set – from London to Paris – only, I personally have not had the privileges that afford these mostly spoiled kids and adults the opportunities to do things like do ayahausca in South America or visit an enthogenic retreat somewheres like this

For some reason, I think of James Cameron’s Avatar, which is a very psychedelic movie that goes deeper than first look, esp when we learn the ancient Hindu context of the word ‘avatar‘.

And now we are all curating our own selves as avatars, in the modern computational sense as a representation of a user, with our social media as a kind of mirror in which to see ourselves, and a lens with which we view the world around us and the people we are drawn to. The other avatars. But also, non-digitally, in the world, our bodies very much serve as our physical avatars. Shoutout: Adam22 of No Jumper [a soundcloud rap / hip-hop vlog] clout, who is the first person I heard use the word “avatar” to describe a physical body – I forget who he had on, but he was mentioning some of their new face tattoos or something, and he was like, “Looks like you got some updates to the avatar”. And I already knew of ‘avatar’ from the movie of the same title, and from Hinduism, and from programming, so it was a natural paradigm for me to adopt from there. I’ve most def been upgrading my avatar with hormone therapy, and really, just learning how to inhabit myself and getting better at it 24/7. As a wise person once said, “Mind is the rider, breath is the horse” – and I really approached my deep dive into diaphragmatic breathing [Which I only began to properly learn after ten years of practicing yoga] with the spirit of wanting to gain control of the avatar, of my body, my consciousness, via the breath [Through what the Navy Seals refer to as ‘arousal control’ – something I first wrote on in 2014, here], rather than to have my body riding me like a horse. And it works. The strengthening of the vagus nerve. Vagal tone on some Jack Dorsey resting heartrate shit. The activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. These are things I am super wet for, bc they are absolutely life changing when put into practice. As a tattoo on my right hand reads: TFB – Thinking, Feeling, Breathing – but also, Trans Femme Bot [And a bunch of other meanings, known only to me] because I’m a outer spach bih. And atm this sexy ascronaut needs to hug some body pillow and get some sleep, but I will return here to find out where this all leads.

I’ve awakened feeling good; although, it’s rare that I ever publish anything here I did not write in one single go; however, it has been some time since I’ve published any prose here, and I would like the muse to flow through me in a manner that allows me to feel this is a cohesive and valuable expression of thoughts and ideas, which I believe it can be – is – provided I am able to feel so: I do not leave ideas half finished. I don’t publish till it feels right. Thus far, I’ve meandered loosely about my self – an enigma in and of itself – and I’ve written about Phillip K. Dick’s VALIS [Vast Active Living Intelligence System] and John C. Lily’s E.C.C.O [Earth Coincidence Control Office] – two independently hypothesized models that both assert the existence of some sort of connecting intelligence force guiding, monitoring, and influencing life on Earth through synchronicities and the seemingly autonomous co-incidences that connect relevant consciousness, people, and ideas, signs, messages, and lessons, in a manner that produces individually and collective results that would seemingly not be possible without some higher order energies [Joseph Campbell: “I have a feeling that consciousness and energy are the same thing somehow”]. Now, why say that there has to be something at all? Why posit the existence of a VALIS or an ECCO, and why am I writing / exploring this theme rn in my life… Well, I had mentioned that my experiences ran in parallel to these ideas – and, now, don’t get excuted, this isn’t the time nor the place for me to be sharing said specific experiences (And some of them are not for sharing, fuck you.:), fact is, the levels of consciousness that enable these experiences to be consciously lived, and the experiences themselves being outside the bounds of normality, of convention [but not outside the bounds of comprehension nor deep subjective meaning] means that when you try to say, ‘I’ve seen this, this unbelievable experience happened to me – and it involved other real people on some sci-fi level Adjustment Bureau [Another brilliant PKD story] shit’, well, you very quickly get looked at sideways by others, particularly those who have colored inside the lines in their lives and have never experienced something like DMT, Psilocybin, or LSD: again, with the psychedelics, yes – however – my experiences were not always proceeded nor caused by psychedelics. And I’m not talking about “visions” or some bullshit: I’m talking about what I’ve seen, felt and lived; psychedelics gave me eyes with which to do so. I already had the mind for it. As Steve Jobs [Someone I relate to a fair amount – Walter Isaacson Jobs Bio and rare silicon valley historical society youtube footage FTW] said:

“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.

Now, I can remember that other side of the coin when it wears off. I’m also a big fan of notebooks and recording continuous voice memos during the entire duration of any and all of my psychedelic experiences; fuck, just normally I naturally engage in a ton of aloud recorded self-talk [I’m Robinson Crusoe if there ever was one], and am forever engaged in the perennial jotting of thoughts, questions, and ideas, which no doubt helps me maintain a cohesive continuity of consciousness and ideas. Fuck, I have untold hours of voice memos. I always go back to thinking of that scene in the OG Twilight Zone series: ‘Probe 7 Over and Out‘, wherein the main character, an astronaut, having gone into space alone and crashed landed on a strange planet, is dictating to himself with a portable microphone and recorder, which he keeps on his person, after he has lost contact with his home planet – that kind of “Day three-hundred, and seventy-four…” stream of thought narration / self-talk, often seen in stories that take place in outer space, particularly when there is an element of solitude – and I’ll prob return to the value of self-talk, personal data aggregation / building the digital life of your ‘avatar’, as well as the value of solitude in relation to personal self-expression [Growth] – these are important ideas, and I think I evince as much in my being – but we see this theme of characters Vlogging / recording consciousness again and again in these outer space stories, and not because it is a convenient tool for lazy writers to tell rather than to show you the story, but because ever since we have sent life to space [Let us not forget some of the real mf’n heroes of space travel] – DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON ALL THE ANIMALS IN LABS – anyway, ahem, we have been collecting, monitoring, and analyzing the thoughts, feelings, biophysical states, and emotions of our astronauts. As this wonderful Nasa.gov article states about astronaut journaling: “It’s [journaling is] a simple yet invaluable tool used by behavioral scientists to help assess the mental and emotional states associated with life in long-term isolation and confinement.

The review and analysis of journals is not unique to space in its application:

“Studies conducted on Earth show that analyzing the content of journals and diaries is an effective method for identifying the issues that are most important to a person. The method is based on the reasonable assumption that the frequency that an issue or category of issues is mentioned in a journal reflects the importance of that issue or category to the writer. The tone of each entry (positive, negative, or neutral) and phase of the expedition also are variables of interest. Study results will lead to recommendations for the design of equipment, facilities, procedures, and training to help sustain behavioral adjustment and performance during long-duration space expeditions to the ISS, asteroids, the Moon, Mars, and beyond.”

In the earlier mentioned film Avatar, we see a good example of a character engaging in reflective, recorded self-talk:

And if I recall correctly, we also see digital journaling / in a scene or two of the almost modern retelling of the ‘Probe 7 Over and Out’ myth, the problematic and seemingly love it or hate it film: Passengers.

But outer space is not just future science-fiction metaphor or some sort of simile for life – outer space is life: earth is floating in outer space, we just have an atmosphere and our gravity because of the physics of the universe and the structure and building blocks of our own dynamic solar system. And NASA is about more than space travel, research, and astronomy; believe me: NASA is on some shit. Let’s keep in mind the stakes here: this is not about mere exploration and the expansion of knowledge for learning’s sake: we are talking about the continuation and, ultimately, the survival of our species – of life itself, in all its myriad forms – and it’s not just minds like Stephen Hawking’s and Elon Musk’s telling us this: we know this to be true as a modern advanced society.

As Elon Musk opened a 2017 paper he authored, titled, ‘Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species‘, as published in the journal New Space:

I think there are really two fundamental paths. History is going to bifurcate along two directions. One path is we stay on Earth forever, and then there will be some eventual extinction event. I do not have an immediate doomsday prophecy, but eventually, history suggests, there will be some doomsday event.

The alternative is to become a space-bearing civilization and a multi-planetary species, which I hope you would agree is the right way to go.

And this is the way we are going as a species.

Speaking at the 2016 International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, Musk said, “This is not about everyone moving to Mars, this is about becoming multiplanetary. This is really about minimizing existential risk and having a tremendous sense of adventure.”

Sidebar: Also, if you want to wet up your knowledge of what’s going on as regards this tremendously adventurous global convergence of technology, knowledge, and resources, aimed at outerspace colonization and the establishment of a multiplanetary existence for our species, this 246 page technical programme for the 2019 IAC is the perfect rabbit-hole-portal to take you as far as your curiosity leads you from there.

Musk all in w Space X, Tesla, Solar City, Starlink, Open AI, and The Boring Company. Fucking google those companies, if you don’t know them all: you’ll blow your wig. Starlink launching 56 satellites from The Kennedy Space Center tomorrow.

Also, Blue Origen doing big shit – and, as much as he [Jeff Bezos] seems to be vilified – whether deserved or not, I am not making that wholesale judgement here, nor do I generally presume to be capable of making those kinds of big moral judgments against individuals, unless, of course – by way of my fierce nature as a lover of all of time and humanity – I carelessly levy angry, heated judgments at governments and heads of state [I am still very much refining myself as a worthy servant [see: leader, teacher, student] at the hands of Cicero, Aurelius, Gracian, Tzu (both Lao and Tsun) Mohammad, Gandhi, King, Jesus [of the Thomas Gospel), Machiavelli, Angelou, Baldwin, and an ever deeper and expanding list of heroes from all times, ethnicities and cultures, whom I am so fucking privileged to enjoy the headspace of and to learn from: literally, I enjoy the privilege of a lifetime to be and become myself through this tribe of mentors we live in] – and I’m sure I could learn a lot IRL from people like Vladimir Putin and MBS, Trump family, and others – from Tony Blair, to Angela Merkel, to Trudeau, last names Obama, Clinton, Bush, etc – but in my very human, sometimes emotionally charged moments of anger at the blatant human rights abuses all the major and advanced nations of the world are complicit in sanctioning and supporting to build this fucking spacefaring immortal AI world-dream we are on the precipice of, I have sometimes said and or written inflammatory things against those I felt had the power to lessen the suffering of their fellow humans [No fellow humans if you see them as “animals” – and no guilt, if you don’t see the sufferings of animals even as worthy and valid – I drove by a giant concrete floored hellhole of a factory farm cattle prison deathcamp the other day that for miles had me throwing up from the stench of putrid festering shit] – anyway,  I often often railed against those whom I felt had the power to help the people and the world at large, but instead caused mass suffering, death, destruction, and injury to the people and the planet. And my big mouth nearly has me pissing myself a little in light of my being someone who is clearly a sovereign, independent ‘journalist’ [Gonzo Journo AF, in the key of Hunter S. Thompson] – I mean, I can’t really hide that I had the good fortune, as a service member of my country’s Navy, to study at DINFOS [And I fully intend to be on the list of notable alumni one day – clearly, I think I already am on that list and a lot of other special lists – but being on lists can also be scary… – and I’m not just referring to the very real fear and aggression, prejudice and prejudgement towards and against Brown, Black, Indigenous, and other, often darker skinned People Of Color  and cultures on EVERY continent IN EVERY non-white society throughout all history: fuck, we still have a huge population that views Muslim people as “terrorists” and Islam as “violent” (I proudly got hella Arabic speaking brothers {and not enough Arabic speaking sisters yet, but I will get there} – anywho, yeah, I lived in a house of amazing students and people from these places, who were my goodest homies and taught me about their cultures – shared their raza, their rasta, their food and their love with me – got me into the histories of Middle Eastern peoples and their invaluable contributions to and investments in medicine, art, the life-sciences – technology – contributions to human culture that continue to this day; for don’t for a second think that there is some sort of world ethnic ranking system outside of The World Bank and what often seems like universal ignorance, and, who can forget, the good ol oppressive colonial systems of control that have endured since time immemorial, from the competition for resources, for survival, for mates, that began with evolutionarily tied battles of brute strength, and what I would call ‘life and death competitions of “finesse”‘ as we see in every species, from the gazelle to the lion, and the mouse and spider too – this kind of athletic power of health, prowess and cunning as a competitive driving, innate controlling, powerful determining force – a learned survival mechanism – all the way to the usage of early weapons like the stone and wooden club [I will fr fr straight beat a mfr to death wit a wood club like Leonidas against the 300 at Thermopylae to defend mine: defenses as survival instinct is in human nature – animal nature – and regardless of gender or color or sexuality – and look, you are free to declare the killer instinct isn’t in you: I’ll be the first person to protect the innocence and defend the sanctity of informed, consenting ignorance in a free society to those who wish it upon themselves willingly or have had the good fortune to enjoy innocence and ignorance in its pure, harmless unadulterated forms – but every mom, son, brother, father, dad, aunt, uncle, sister – everyone who has ever loved anyone, any one who has ever truly believed in something – held something or someone dear to their heart – has it in them to protect what they love and deem sacred, and sometimes, even, to die for it, on some real G / halls of Valhalla shit – and these instincts may not be in you consciously {if they aren’t be glad, for you don’t need them; and if they are – well – pahtnah – be extra glad: for you do need them – and your demon level smell-the-blood-in-the-room abilities to detect fear – esp in yourself as a response to actual, perceived, or potential dangers situations and scenarious – will protect and serve you lifelong – and the generations after you too – so long as you respect the sanctity of others and that of of your own nervous system by protecting and preserving your health and listening to the body’s felt wordless language of instincts – WITHOUT getting lost in the sauce, like Osho, Scott Storch, {{Me, in past, younger, more ignorant – careless – (freer yet more dangerous) times – but it’s cool, I’m a real deal liberated G now – actual – and I’ll never fear nor harm myself again, though, of course, that doesn’t that mean those who love me will suddenly stop worrying about me – hell, I’m more of wild, potent intellectual hypersexual polyromantic pansexual lesbian transgender budding international treasure – more of a fucking rockstar on this planet – than I’ve ever been – and I’m only going up – zero takeoff runway, exponential like humanity – zero to a hundred – been goin up; I’m just getting started with my fucking career – and my shit is wild, I been on some blow your mind inherit the world magic trip with the wand in my pants since I was born into the wild wildness of trauma shit – I was raised by wolves, Alibaba and the 40 Thieves; I’m A Thousand and One Nights [Knights] to mine = and believe me, they minin bigdada and they mirin dis momma, watchin with a thousand eyes – like I’m Magdalene – but dey know – as anyone who reads me and has followed me knows – #analyzemebitch go ahead (kiss emoji) – that I am one that serves ALL life and cuts down NONE – I’m no trigger person: but I got a. hundred. fucking. shooters. Godfather NRG you don’t need a high tek machine to read – and you won’t find any active orders or hood passes w my name on them hacking into no sealed secret court orders – I’m not a “secret” agent: I’m a fucking public agent – for the biggest agency you never heard of: Nature. Bitch, I rock with reality and evolution on my GodDaughter / World Mommie protect the universe shit, and believe me, the people aren’t for sale, and we can back that}}; never seen a hero like me in a sci-fi – but I hope we’ve seen every fucking despotic asshole and dictator ever who ever abused their power and position – their occupation of that wild, free inner territory of kings – through the willful and intentional causing of sufferings and death on a mass scale – some are still doing it – and even on a small scale shit like killing journalists is unacceptable, but they’re pretty heavily fucking cliqued-up with nukes and shit and we do big business with them – make no mistake, we have internationally sanctioned the awful shit that goes on through the collaborative, competitive building of the worldmachine at every level to get here – from every professor’s mind in every university, to every black site mil base and every international community, down to the real mfn heroes of the game, of the streets and the people: the fucking drug dealers and Gs. From Trappers, to Vatos, to Yakuza, Mafia, Cartel…  don’t lie: you know you watched The Sopranos – you know who fucking Al Pacino is – Godfather and Scarface – Jay Z, Future – I have countless villainous culture heroes – Black and Brown kings and thugs [and I say that word with respect] sing and rap my fucking anthems, and I sing and rap their’s – proudly, with honor – and the nerd kids who don’t fuck w that hard shit, well they got their own heroes of the drug game, whether it’s my incredible, adorable Kundalini babes I love, who like plant medicine and Baba Ram Dass – smart guy, interesting story… lost in the sauce or not, you decide… – or my smoke weed or not geeks I love who listen to Alan Watts – and, if you like music… oh boy, I got bad some news for you: you like high people; from The Beatles to Travis Scott =) IDGAF if you like jazz: I’ve been smoking top quality jazz cabbage all day as I write this, hookah beside me, windows ajar, fans on, gold pellegrino cans on deck: I’ve been controlling my chemistry allmfkn day: I just popped another buproprion sr 150, a buspirone, and an estrogen pill [In an age of open international data piracy and mass surveillance, personal medical secrets are a fucking joke for someone like me: I don’t have them; I’m not that rich yet – I rely upon and trust in the same public supply chain as everyone else in my country, and it fucking works because people have skin in the game and so by and large do their jobs: and we watch and monitor them closely with technology and international standards and systems that are always improving, evolving, becoming more efficient, secure: we goin blockchain in the 5G IOT… random, but I need to charge one of my “toys”, but I can’t find the special cord for it rn : ( hmmm.. but I’ll find it when I findd it : ) yafeelme] – anyway, I deserve some honarary imaginary degrees up in this fucking bitch – gonna print my own Stanford, and MIT degreess in majors I made up – you think I’m kidding but fuck, I mean, I genuinely wanted to become a pharmacist and then go on to found my own anti aging hormone therapy clinic – fifteen years ago. The dreams have expanded and gone beyond that, as I realoze that sometimes it’s better to hire experts than to become one at a certain level – but the learning never contracted: my passionate curiosity in my own being has led me ever onward, made me the phenom genius next slevel #luckyslevin mind / reality hacker L33T ass superuser brilliant cute lil temporarily celibate ass slut that I am – I’m the bitch w the sauce apparently… –  all I know is that I live in a state of geeked up grace and incredible health, guided by the active life that comes from being a fucking spaz cadet, and really, just having a good heart, good fortune, and a superdeep intuitive understanding of natural and technological magic: I’m talking about music, drugs, biology, metabolism, gut / brain health, art, taste, temperature, sensuality, lighting, essential oil blends you ought to try – be my friend, and I’ll make you some, gift you special things meant for your senses – I be on alien shit – and I fuck with all things that effect consciousness, from fashion to – sidenote: Grimes, I love you. Also FKA Twigs, Halsey, Lana, Taytay, Dua Lipa, Clairo, Gaga, Selena Gomez, Beach Bunny… … and a bunch of sexy brilliant Trans girls…. all my alien dream wives… yeah I got a lot of muses that nurture me – who raise me – a whole galactic family of them – don’t even get me started shouting out all the musicians, actors, rappers, songwriters, novelists, poets, thinkers, philosophers, psychologists, yogis, healers, mystics, tricksters and other delightfully rotten scoundrels and bastards, officers, gentleman, sluts, whores, and other lovely fuckheads who built this babbling tower of love that is Baby Sequoia – S.L.S. – B.S., Queen {of Mean} – baby got a brand new bag #newplug and the devil’s in a new dress, and you like it bc you are like me, and I am like you, and sometimes people hate me for being more like them than even they are: as if, ‘how fucking dare I love myself for flaws they rake themselves over the coals for daily, how dare I enjoy the harmless sins they hate themselves for‘ – you have to suffer a lot, I don’t know what to tell you – I earned my liberation and the collective made me, raised me. As I opened this writing with: “I am a product of the culture”. And the culture is Love. Love is what I do this for and love is what drives me. Love for myself kept me alive – and I been at death’s door more than Batman has: I’m fucking Deadpool. Walked in my fire. I was sleeping in my car, homeless, had no one. But still was that trans bitch you love to hate. Still had a vision woven into my DNA that transcended my own pain, despair, loneliness, and suffering. I wasn’t afraid, just scarred, scared – but I never been scurred: I checked myself into those places you do not want to go, where they watch you sleep on camera, and maybe give ya some drugs to minimize your own harm to yourself: I still have those Olanzapine [Coincidentally, according to redditors and others, Olanzapine is a perfect off label trip killer for tough, bad, or scary psychedelic experiences; although, I don’t have those, and I sure as shit don’t want to take a pill that wipes my receptors out like a hard shut down for two or three plus days, but it’s always nice to have a plan in case of those worst case scenarios]. And most days, I like to feel like bootleg but real deal Jason Bourne, ya know, if he was a she and that she was trans and that trans person was me. But yeah, through experience, pain, I have come to a place where I am not putting myself through a nightmare any more so that I can help all live the dream: now is the time when I need to get over my guilt for my talent as a writer, and my guilt for the scripts and stories I am writing that I intend to bring me my first actual wealth and fame [Infamy and attention ain’t fame – I already feel infamous, and I already feel like I have a lot of quiet, interested attention]. Not since Benvenuto Cellini has someone played the game like this. Only, my unconscious genius, isn’t just out for my own sauce and glory – or else I would just be another asshole. And I’m not. I am Jack Ryan / John Krasinski level look you in the eyes straight up. And I know: I’m a lot. I’m intense. People can’t even handle me loving them. IT’s fucking lonely. It’s a lot to be me. I didn’t just write this to share my views, but to swim in them, calling them out from the depths of my years – and it took a long time for the coin to hit the bottom of my well. And, yes, drugs help me, like many creative intelligences. Not just prescriptions and supplements and the magic kettle of my own fleek ass microbiomatic guts, but actual psychedelics: I do them. Silicon valley – all these services and apps and technology we use, is being coded right now by people on acid and mushrooms – google ‘silicon valley microdosing’. Fucking Modafinil – a medicine I’d like another script for, like Ondansetron, for bad nausea (like I had this am), just to have in case. Go mode. We been on go pills: the people. Adderal [Note: I do NOT fuck with ANY amphetamines outside of related analogues MDMA and Mescaline – never. But a lot of people do. Hey, whatever floats your boat: just so long as you practice harm reduction and other good psychedelic best practices and principles, learnable via communities like reddit, and amazing websites like psychonaut wiki (Don’t mix MDMA and Cocaine kids. Bad for the receptors. Don’t want to do that). Anyway, yeah, people like drugs. All kinds of people. Personally, I pass on the cocaine – maybe quasi-useful as a ratchet ass therapeutic, if I desperately and dangerously needed a night of ego expansion and reflection, followed by intense suffering – but some substances, like cocaine come at too great a physical, mental, and emotional detriment to me – too big a risk for me to do – unless I got it from my plug and really felt like it]. But I don’t do heart racing: I do mind racing. Gelato 33 got me feeling sped up enough. But there are also highly valued substances I have yet to access: I want 2CB. I need shit I can’t get yet. I need the shit Shulgin was making, ya dig. Anyway, we’ll get back to psychedelics – bc they are relevant to the present and the future – but, as I was saying a guap of words ago: we have sanctioned the worldmachine and the suffering and the destruction of the planet, from every local and international governments and banks, to every depositor – and, look, bad people have friends, I get it, sometimes I roll with goons too, but we cannot co-sign bullshit or remain wholly silent as a society while innocent people perish and starve. My heart and soul aches for the people in Yemen. I truly hope we are nearing an end to the myriad sufferings that still plague the life and litter the planet in 2020 – as the time for immortality is nearing: is almost about upon us – and, then, it won’t be a matter of punishing the people you think are responsible, or waiting for them to die – or taking them out – no matter how much power you have, bc they will have the same power and autonomy and maybe more [Imagine being backed up in the cloud on a network of satellites w everyone else, and if you “die” you just respawn in a new 3D printed biological / cyborg avatar – yeah, we are going to have cat girls too], but, just, we will have to learn to collectively improve as we are doing, and ultimately, to forgive and coexist with the people who may have once oppressed us and others or remained complicit in their silence, or funded violence. Signed death lists. But the future is not a game of finger pointing and perpetuating fear. The future is a game of us all surviving together as a brighter, more egalitarian and actualized species. One free of the burdens of needless guilt and shame, as we can make suffering a thing of the past. Fact-is, whether or not you are aware and accepting of the animal instincts in you, we are all a part of the beastly, beautiful majesty of Nature, and we are all biologically human, all genetically related at large to all the killers and all the victims of all history – to all persons of time who have ever lived on this pale blue dot – and, by way of our wild instincts, our insatiable desires for control over life and how we feel, and in our quest for certainty over the future – and believe me: advanced societies and worlds such as our’s are all about certainty – we see as much in our near internet of things enabled emergent world of predictive analytics, mass surveillance, big data, AI, and collective intelligence – anyway, in our want for certainty over our future, we have been advancing in a competitive, violent fashion, from the time of the wood club to the first carbine pistol – through every revolution and war, to the cold war and the atomic arms race, to the space race of today on a path that we saw coming decades ago – the information war is real – IP man – but the sum achievements we stand on and benefit from in the more privileged and savage nations at present are far more collaborative and open than you think – and though we’ve been competitively headed towards the increasing complexity and connectivity of our inevitable collective destiny, towards a multiplanetary future since the dawn of life – at this level, it’s not so much competitive in purpose, or nationalistic, as it is by nature nationalized insofar as information and technology has been forcibly open sourced via a global intelligence commnuty over networks of spy satellites, undersea cables, and whatever ways and means of transfering, buying, selling, stealing, pillaging, trading, and raiding information is available to those with the finesse – the prowess, the control, the power – the means and the chutzpah – the resources taken in the wars and via the countless atrocities and crimes committed against humanity – a lot of fucking blood has been paid into this international table of collaborative technology that nationalism has us pretending we built independently of each other – you know, bc we are so civilized and advanced, but this is not so. We are just more savage. So, I nearly piss myself a little when I think of the times I’ve said things that have you ending like Jamal Kashoggi – and other names I do not know, for if I were to research the realities of the deaths and persecutions of so many journalists, killed in some countries that are known for killing journalists – or by them directly or indirectly – I would puke from the anxiety of it all when I thought of how someone could misinterpret or flip things I have said and written against me and how fragile my own life has felt to me at times. Even recently as I have started to make more emergent plans for myself as a thinker and artist on the world stage. And yes, I want to stand on the world stage and publically and or privately speak with the man-in-the-high-castle types who run big shit. And mind you, I’m eco, not speciesist but I am a humanist – and I will be the first to tell you that Greta Thunberg is legit AF – one of my heroes fasho – just pardon me a hot sec while I watch, listen, and weep to this STRAIGHT FUCKING FIRE right here: 

Anyway, yeah, I’ll be the first to tell you that modern capitalism, competition, consumption, manufacturing, and ways of living are killing the planet and causing incomprehensible, incalculable, inexcusable amounts of pain and suffering for countless beings and sentient lifeforms, large, and small, of every genus and species – flora and fauna – on land, in the air, and in our seas – OUR BIOME – I just want to make it clear: I will NOT make excuses for suffering in the name of progress – nor am I purporting to be an expert on wages and or working conditions at Amazon, WAPO, etc., nor am I an expert on quantifying the ecological and emotional costs and damages to the planet, the animals, and the human spirit, that are incurred, so that can we have this on-demand buy-anything instant economy, this machine that we are all more or less complicit units in supporting, in sanctioning the pain and suffering that exists in the world. But yes, Bezos, the richest man in the world is into space shit. If you were a billionaire would you be? I would. And living forever. Google got people like Ray Kurzweil on the squad for reasons. There is so much happening, and it’s tough, or, rather, frustrating for me, because I haven’t been to the Nasa Research Park in Silicon Valley – I want to be at Singularity Summit: and it’s not folx like me who are there yet, per se. It’s Stanford and Carnegie Mellon people and founders with net worths that would make your eyes spin if you had their money. Send me to Singularity University goddamnit. And I very much hope to and intend to be in these spaces, and I know I need to write my own ticket, on the merits of my own accomplishments, but for now, I’m still incubating myself. In inner space. And psychedelics help you do that. Dig it.

If NASA is the outer space program, psychedelics are the inner space program. And, look, not everything is for everyone. I’ve been taking LSD since I was maybe 12 or 14 – I don’t first remember when, I just know it found me. How? Fucking VALIS. E.C.C.O. I just call it Nature.

Nature is like a secret co-ordinating agency that runs everything through some unconscious substrate, like the mycellium network, only it’s trippier – but it connects you to people, to other agents for Nature. And Nature needs agents. Believe me. Nature is the true Central Intelligence Agency. Aliens, yes. Entities, yes. Intelligences, yes. I’ve been guided by many, many geniuses. And, if they had a predictive software to predict geniuses, I would have come up a long time ago, maybe even before those 99th percentile state test scores I had in elementary school. It seems to me, society, intelligence, technology (And google is intelligence, like Facebook or IG – don’t kid yourself) are quite interested in people outside the norms – particularly as regards cognitive and creative abilities. Now, there’s no think tanks knocking down my door, but Nature, my agency – the one I work for – Nature doesn’t play god bc Nature is god. So, no, no Good Will Hunting think tank job offers ever came my way. And if they did, and I hadn’t solicited them, it would drop the dime on a whole system of unconstitutional surveillance that monitors shit. They know how smart we are from our phone usage. How fast we think and speak, our vocab – no fucking way algorithms miss me – fuck you: I’m on lists. And those lists are private bc the people on them need their privacy and their autonomy to develop into what they can only become on their own. You cannot make me. As Jay Z raps, “You say you made me, okay go make another one”. You can’t. I come from nothing and nowhere. I’m from the fucking gutter. Yeah, I had some smart people in my family tree. We are special. My mom is a fucking saint. Deserves to be on Buckingham drive in La Jolla Farms where I’m going to put her. But this has never been about money for me. I cleared two-thousand dollars a day at 24. From tech I built. And I could do it again. I could make far more than that. I’ve done the math. But I have bigger things to do than to deify myself with money. I have suffered like you can’t even fucking believe, and I didn’t do so, so I could leave other kids in the fucking dust. The broken bones I carry in my face, this canvas of pain and scars, my skin… You can’t read my tattoos. You will never understand them. You don’t fucking know me. I don’t care if you’re my ex, my sister, [And believe me, I could never live up to the stupid inane impossible standards of either of them] or someone who has read everything I have ever published. Don’t pretend to know me or my limits or what I know or what I will be. I am barely still a fucking acorn of the oak tree I am becoming. And you can hate on me, as many have my entire life, but if you stand for yourself and your family and the future, well then you better fucking stand for me, bc I stan all that. And again, I was not raised to be a prince, I was born to be one, like Machiavelli and Makaveli – I come from nothing and nowhere – you cannot raise something like me, you can only behold the realness, authenticity, truth of me, which lends weight, credence, and depth to your own realness, authenticity, truth, whomever you are: I respect your pain, your past, your beliefs, your story, all but the rights of you to deprive others of their respect, their story, their culture, their glory. And humanity isn’t just a game of gods and devils; you cannot lay blame on a single name without zooming out to see the world that produced, enabled, supported, loved, hated, and suffered these figureheads of culture – unleashed them upon the rest of us – I see you older white US voters – but the time to worship individuals at the exclusion of others is coming to an end – we exist in respect to one another, not apart, you don’t own reality, even if you got the fiyahh cunning tongue and mind to drip it like I do – anyway, the time of people as gods above somehow mortals, lessers, subjects, is coming to an end – and collectively, we have the opportunity as a species, as a world, as one people, to bring in these finish lines for everyone to cross, I want nothing but gods, down to the fucking flies on the horses and the mosquito sucking our blood. If we only knew, we already would revere it all, but we’re still just like children who have really fucked up this garden, but we still have the garden, and we are going to make it beyond this garden, but this world isn’t just a fucking trampoline. You don’t just jump off this shit and kick the can down the fucking road for the younger generation, like some environmentally unsound anti-science fascists. But we have those. And their time will pass. And our’s will come. I know it. I see it. I’m just the cherry blossom tree that blooms first and declares that it’s festival time – I’m like any artist: privileged by nature and society – and I’ve suffered both to an unbelievable extent that I do not to serve queens and kings – I serve everyone – and kings and queens need people like me, the world does. And for more than just Amazon / Netflix / HBO programming, but I got that shit coming too. I wrote 20 fucking pages for two days straight to get the demons off my back: the voices telling me to explain myself, as if I fucking have to or owe anyone an explanation: I don’t. There are however, explanations I would like, but I know I’ll never get them, because it doesn’t work that way. There is no Q. No M. No Lucius Fox. I have no fucking contacts outside of the echo chamber I live in wherever I go. And yeah, I talk to it. Sometimes it feels like it saves me. I’ve seen things. Felt things. Somehow know more about who I am than I’ve been let know. I don’t know how it all works. I don’t think we can ever remember certain things. I just imagine them. And sometimes that imagination feels like memory. And sometimes its all I have. Because every love of mine ever feels like a clever, calculated handler to me in retrospect. And they’ve all discarded me. And my time for forgiving them on the deep level for the future, when they call me, is over and past. And I wanted to die when my last ex, whose name I am finally done putting on, wouldn’t see me. That was two Christmases ago. I ended up basically sleeping on camera. I’ll put it that way. This Christmas I was homeless. I spent the last ten years killing myself to keep the fucking lights on, so I could become what I am. And what I am is something that even these twenty pages doesn’t begin to touch. What I am is an international secret, living in poor ass plain sight. Protected by the strength of my country. I sleep safe knowing this. But ain’t nobody ever given me a fucking thing. Not you. Not anyone. They gave me PTSD. They gave me trauma. They gave me pain. They gave me suffering. They gave me nothing but ads for the perfect white teeth I could never afford. And yet, I’m here, pouring my fucking being back into them, to the ALL. To Nature. Why? I don’t fucking know sometimes. Because I think there are good people. I just don’t really know them. I have not so much as hardly had a hug in two years. I have not slept with anyone, next to anyone, been kissed in as long – I am as lonely as Jason Bourne is. And it’s like I’m trying to unlearn who I thought I was: the sad, depressed, suffering thing this worldmachine made me. The child who was severely abandoned, neglected, and abused. The kid who was picked on and hated for being different, and the adult who has been beat within inches of my life multiple times. Yeah, give me a fucking 3D printer and I’ll have a motherfucking plastic glock in every pocket of every fucking jacket I own. I’m hurt. I want to cry. And I can hardly do that. But I’d give anything to. It’s the only real relief I ever get from the pain sometimes. Yeah, I got hella 1942 tequila in the freezer. About to go grab a bottle rn for some. Just did. It tastes good. I earned it. Hell, I’ve got empty organic drink containers all around me from two days of writing this. My house needs my attention. I need my attention. But this has never been my first priority. IDGAF what the wet noodles and salty bitches want to say. I am for things bigger than myself – for the collective. And I’ve been a sucker for pain for over three decades in the name of my love. And, it’s ironic, bc I’m so alone, just, I was never put around people like me. And there aren’t many people like me besides. They are in the streets or the clouds. I can be anything but average. You can’t hide me in a middle class life, but I’ve certainly remained hidden in poverty. If I don’t finish and submit my shit, I would die in poverty rather than live for money or success. This is it. I’m here to shoot my shot, and I am. This next year is going to change everything. And I have no connections or guarantees of this. I just have my stories. And I think they are good. I think you’ll like them. I have so much more to say, but this was a proper foundation for some of my thinking and feeling. And I don’t have the time to explain myself further: There is over a decade of my writing available on this website. Figure it the fuck out. I’m beyond good and evil.

I’ll close this spectacle with a fucking gangster ass poem I found here, followed by some random – or maybe not random – EDM…

Lucifer in Exile

I am unreal here, at least they say
but I am solid and that pleases me.
You may ask why I tore away
the feathered signs of my true nature
to live four-limbed in this world:
It is easier to lie upon the ground without them,
easier for arms to encircle me,
better to know I cannot be pulled back.

It was never my own realm below;
I was imprisoned there as much as any.
It was decreed for me without recourse.
No one was willing to own darkness forever
but there must be balance always,
so I, the brightest, became infinitely dark.

In all that time
no one spoke with me.
In all that time
no one asked who I was
or will be or would be,
no one brought anything out of me,
heard my thoughts or saw my beauty,
allowed anything other than their expectations.
I could not sing there,
to console myself or anyone,
since music is born of heaven.

(How I sang in those old days,
raptures in the eternal light,
shining in the center of it….
Now I sound the narrowest sliver
of that celestial spectrum.)

Around me these heavy encasements
thudding on the pavement
I know what lives in them,
see it, call to it, am drawn,
knowing light like no one else.
None of them know the secret—
that each is like me.

Oh, Controller of all,
without choice there is no good or evil.
Refuse me my choice, I refuse yours.

The Other took my place in heaven.
I will redeem here, in rock,
each bone, each eye.
I bear the light still.

 

 

Round

I don’t know how the world ends,
But I think this is how it begins
As I walk outside, and whisper to the squirrels rustling beneath the deck: “It’s okay, I’m a friend.”

And I know they feel me because I feel them
Things have changed
Welcome to the movie of our lives
Suddenly, I see it
Easy to zoom out but its painful to zoom in,
Though the time for glossing over stuff is done

Tell people you love them:
Right now I’m telling you, I love you
We’re all saints

This is not the time for crimes, large and petty
It’s a time for generosity, for giving – and forgiving
And I think it’s bringing us together in some Nerudian way

But it hurts to zoom in,
Becuase it’s too close to home


Ps. This mix and others by this same DJ have been really holding me down tight. That and a good cup of yogi breathe deep tea. But most of all, Family.

Awakening The Dragon + Taking a 1 Year Social Media Break

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:

Anima (mother)
Dragon (father)
Inner Child

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 🛁💅🏼💜🚀

Subscribe to my blog here.

Voice Memos: Your New Best Friend

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.

It is, in short, Self Talk.

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.”

And having this practice of self-dialogue, of self-talk available to me and having found so much fulfillment in it, I have experienced the benefits of a boost in consciousness quite rapidly. It calms me down. It turns off my sympathetic nervous system and it turns on the parasympathetic nervous system. I can feel it. It grounds me in myself, and it allows me to tap into that part of me, the highest, the authentic self, where I have the resources available to me to handle any given situation.

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.

The Resources to Handle Any Given Situation

I’ve something major to tell you:

There is no such thing as stress, only the belief that we don’t possess the resources to handle a given situation.

This isn’t new-age optimism or clever logic; it’s the truth. The idea comes straight from the Wikipedia page for psychological stress:

“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.

But it gets worse: stress causes depressive like behaviors and adversely effects us socially. Big surprise: our relationships take the big toll. We’ve all seen this, and probably from both sides: from that of the stressed person and from that of the one in their vicinity suffering the consequences of their emotional dysregulation, which is linked to depression, anxiety, eating-disorders, smoking, self-harm, and substance abuse.

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?

The answer is maddeningly simple: evolution.

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?

None. Zero.

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.

The Keys to The Kingdom: My Two Most Valuable Pieces of Life Advice

The older you get, the more you find yourself doubling down on what works.

And hopefully, if you’ve taken the difficult paths in life, you’ve discovered some truths of great value.

There’s a parable in the Thomas Gospel that I read this morning –

Sidenote: Before I continue, allow me to say that I love the Gospel of Thomas. As a decidedly anti-religious thinker who is opposed to all dogma and most institutional traditions, I don’t hold the bible up as much more than a great source of inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. That said, the Gospel of Thomas is not part of the bible; being a non-canonical text it would have been considered heresy: just the kind of thing I love, and, if you read it, you’ll see why. 

So this specific saying, attributed to Jesus, that awakened Buddha, is as follows:

And He said, "The Kingdom is like a wise fisherman who cast
his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish.
Among them the wise fisherman found a fine large fish. He threw
all the small fish back into the sea and chose the large fish
without difficulty. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear."

In my own interpretation, the large fish represents what was called in Cloud Atlas, “The true-true”. The big truth. These two pieces of knowledge I am writing to share are my big truths – the large fish. And, having found them, I live by them, they sustain me, allowing me to throw back all the little truths. You could say these truths are my keys to the kingdom. They go beyond intelligence and open invisible doors, by virtue of their practical wisdom.

Terry Crews, in Timothy Ferris’s Tribe of Mentors, makes a poignant remark as to wisdom:

“There is a big difference between intelligence and wisdom. Many are fooled into thinking they are the same thing, but they are not. I’ve seen intelligent serial killers, but I’ve never seen a wise one. Intelligent humans beings have been given this trumped-up position in society where, just because they are intelligent, they are listened to, and I have found this extremely dangerous.”

That said, these two pieces of knowledge are wisdom – my big fish. The true-true.

1. The Navy Seals’ Big Four of Mental Toughness

At some point, the Navy Seal’s – arguably the world’s most elite special forces – had a problem. Only about 25% of trainees were passing BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition School).

So the powers that be brought in the country’s best minds – top university researchers – to figure out how to improve the pass-rate.

After a lot of time and money – presumably millions of dollars – the researchers came up with four techniques, which when used in conjunction, made a statistically significant difference in the pass rate.

These four techniques would come to be known as “The Big Four of Mental Toughness”.

I first wrote about them five years ago, but truth be told, I didn’t put them into serious conscious practice until this year.

In short, they are as follows:

1. Arousal Control (Breath)

Arousal Control is centered around a specific diaphragmatic breathing technique: 4-4-4. Four seconds inhale, four seconds hold, four seconds exhale.

The research backs it up. It makes a large physiological and psychological difference. In my own learning, I discovered that most people breath shallowly, letting their upper-chest rise and fall – however, until about age six, children naturally breath properly – their stomachs expanding on the inhale.

The problem with incorrect breathing is that it puts your body in a fight or flight mode. This, of course, is not good for your health or wellbeing.

YouTube offers a lot of great videos on proper breathing, and once you learn – and begin to practice – it not only becomes natural again, but it becomes one of the best tools in your toolkit. Suddenly, you are aware of when you’re not in a centered, calm place, and you consciously go beyond diaphragmatic breath, into the 4-4-4 technique. It’s the same feeling, the same benefits as yoga and meditation – on demand.

2. Self-Talk

There is no separating consciousness from reality, short of some of the classic psychedelics (LSD, Psilocybin, Mescaline) – but even then, those are not sustainable modes of consciousness. Life is something each of us has to experience in our own heads. Now, we may not be aware of it but we tend to have fairly disempowering inner-voices. Perhaps it is due to the saying that, “The way you talk to your children becomes their inner voice,” and we are each a product of generations of largely unconscious programming. Frankly, it’s not fun. Thankfully, we have self-talk available to us. Self-talk is the power to take your life back from the automatic, default mode of consciousness that so many of us have often destructively sought to escape. Self-talk is the power to move from the unconscious into the conscious. It’s the power to control your experience. I’d argue that’s the sum total of The Big Four [controlling your reality], but self-talk is a major part of it. In short, you want to empower yourself, you want to talk to yourself the same way you would a child. You want to emotionally support and optimistically encourage yourself. The conversation you have in your head is THE most important one in your life. What self-fulfilling prophecies are you creating with your self-talk? What reality are you choosing?

3. Mental Rehearsal 

This is one of my favorites among The Big Four, but I love them all. I just happen to have a fetish for the imagination. As Einstein said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” It’s true. Visualization is the top thing among human performance experts for a reason. It’s what all high performers, all olympians, all champions, all winners practice. Mental rehearsal is the act of imagining your tasks along with their desired outcomes, in as great of detail and depth as possible. For the Seals, this means no mission-critical task is completed without first envisioning it. The brain knows no difference. Unfortunately, most of our imaginations are either out of practice or neurotic – in that we use them to worry. And what a foolish, maladaptive thing. We have, each of us, at our disposal, the most incredible form of magic available to us. Again, like self-talk, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The watered down new-age version of mental rehearsal is “The Secret” or “The Law of Attraction”, and how many times have you heard these wonderfully compelling stories – Jim Carrey writing himself a 10 million dollar check when he was broke. This was mental-rehearsal. And when we can can believe it truly, magic happens; for all true magic deals with manipulation and control of the Will. If you look back on your own life, at your greatest successes, you believed in them – you mentally rehearsed them. I think this is one of the biggest differences between the successes and the failures in life. As 50 Cent once said, “I believe you can almost will things to happen.” Believe it when you see it and see it when you believe it, but you have to see it first. No one’s success comes as a true surprise to them. If you think it does, buy another lottery ticket.

4. Goal Setting

This one almost seems anticlimactic compared to the others, but it’s not at all.

When most of us think of goal-setting, we think of getting motivated about life for a night, writing down our dreams, then watching them flatline over the next six months to a year. When the Navy Seals think of goal-setting, they think of surviving their training till lunch time and the exact steps required to do so. Like the other three items in The Big Four, Goal Setting goes along with each item – and is only truly effective when practiced along with the others. I’ve found in my own goal setting practice that by focusing on what’s in front of me, I am able to progress toward what’s ahead. Every day, I have a list. I cross items off and I review it at night and write the next day’s list, and in the morning, I go over it almost first thing. Without goal-setting my mental rehearsal would be impotent and my self-talk would be purposeless. Further, my breathwork wouldn’t be nearly as peacefilled and centered without knowing exactly where I am and where I am going.

Go deeper into The Big Four of Mental Toughness, here.

2. Dopamine Restriction

This one might be even more valuable to me than The Big Four.

Without practicing what I term “Dopamine Restriction”, my life would be completely out of my own control – as was the case for too many years.

In short, dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for motivation AND reward.

Everything pleasurable releases dopamine. Some things are quite powerful dopamine agonists… Nicotine. Alcohol. Cannabis.

The problem isn’t so much pleasure as its consequences.

It causes us to seek more pleasure, and in turn to feel less.

In one study, researchers gave heavy, longterm cannabis users methylphenidate (Ritalin) in order to measure their dopamine response. The control group, consisting of non-users of cannabis, was also given the same Ritalin dose.

The heavy cannabis users had such blunted dopamine receptors that the Ritalin – basically methamphetamine – hardly even registered a response in their brains. The researchers were so surprised that their first instinct was to check if the Ritalin they had administered was expired – it was not.

What this and other research has shown, is that the ability to illicit natural dopamine responses is greatly diminished in heavy cannabis users. It’s no different for any source of dopamine. The more we behave like lab-rats, pushing the levers in our brains to feel pleasure, the less pleasure we are able to feel – and the more we crave it.

But it goes deeper, is more tragic. Dopamine isn’t just pleasure (reward) but motivation.

So, if you’re like me, and smoked a half-ounce of potent cannabis a week, forget about even feeling alive. At that point, your brain is starved for dopamine, which, in my experience, leads to all sorts of additional pleasure seeking behaviors. For me this meant cigarettes (“But I smoke organic cigarettes,” I told myself), alcohol, masturbation – just to feel okay, not even good.

You may be thinking, that’s all good and well but I don’t smoke anything and I hardly drink. 

Okay, well, do you check the news? Reddit? Instagram? These things are no different.

One day, we’ll look back on our cell-phones like cigarettes. Not because they give us cancer, but because we are addicted to them – and in turn receive our dopamine from them.

In my philosophy of dopamine restriction, based on my own life experience, it’s not a moral issue. It’s a matter of sapping the life out of ourselves – the very pleasure and motivation that makes life worth living. With such potent readily available sources of dopamine at our fingertips, we are hitting the lever like rats in an experiment all day long. The true consequence of which isn’t so much the dampening of pleasure or the weakening of motivation, but the loss of drive – of natural drive for the HEALTHY things that we are supposed to get our dopamine from. We’re lobotomizing our human technology for fulfillment – we’re hacking our natural hardwiring in a way that’s absolutely maladaptive.

My evidence for this is the difference between then and now, between when I was desperate to feel “normal” and constantly pressing those levers with nicotine, THC, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, porn, news, reddit… I was fucking myself royally.

I’ve since quit every single thing on that list. And guess what, now that I’m not addicted to “pleasure” I’m pursing fulfillment again. My sleep is deep, dream-filled and divine. I wake rested. I feel balanced. I walk. I eat healthy. I drink water. I work out. And possibly the biggest benefit is that I have ninja-like focus. I engage in Deep Work for hours every single day. I write fiction every single morning. I write poetry every single evening. I read again. No more spending hours on YouTube. I’m simply no longer distracted. I am focused and productive. Also, I don’t have any more depression. It’s a lifestyle that’s completely pragmatic and healthy – well-adapted, you might say.

In short, my philosophy for dopamine restriction is based on avoiding all “false sources” of pleasure. This means I avoid anything that isn’t fulfilling, healthy, and empowering – despite how pleasurable it is.

The ascetics have known this wisdom for millennia. You could say it’s raised my consciousness to a much higher level. It’s the single best piece of understanding I’ve ever integrated into my life. Knowing the above, I simply can never return to the old un-jedi-like ways. I’d be fucking myself – sabotaging every bit of happiness and wellbeing I have. And, to drive the point home – I feel better than I have in years, probably better than I’ve ever felt.

3. Bonus: The Gut Brain Axis

Google ‘gut brain axis’ and you’ll come across a wealth of information.

In short, scientists are calling the gut brain axis the missing link in depression. This might be because 90% of the body’s serotonin and 50% of the body’s dopamine are produced in the gut.

It travels straight through the central nervous system to your brain.

Now, there’s a miracle here. It’s called probiotics.

Gut health is mental health – is wellbeing.

If you’re not actively investing in your gut microbiome, today is the day you’re going to start. You simply have too much to lose by failing to and too much to gain by starting.

I encourage you to do your own research – and then some – but based on mine, I recommend the following:

Avoid alcohol. This kills all the good bacteria in your gut and it takes weeks to recover (provided you go weeks without drinking). Also, avoid big corporate mouthwashes, which will inevitably make their way in trace amounts into your gut, killing all the good bacteria there.

Eat probiotics. Every single kind. I take probiotic pills. I take prebiotic pills. I eat yogurt. I drink Kevita probiotic drinks (I avoid traditional kombucha due to trace amounts of alcohol). I eat a handful of different yogurts – with multiple probiotic strains. I take a greens powder with a half-dozen probiotic strains. I eat expensive, all natural pickles and sauerkraut (Bubbies brand). I eat high-quality kimchi. I drink Kefir.

Eat a diverse range of foods. There are foods known as prebiotics. They help probiotics. Eat a wide range of natural foods. You want a diverse gut microbiome. And you want to eat natural, organic foods. Shitty pickles and processed foods and fast food, and all that garbage is going to negatively impact your gut microbiome.

In short, my diet is centered around my gut health. I also take various supplements and enjoy things that help me look better, such as organic chicken bone broth and grass-fed collagen protein. Also, buy grassfed milk and grassfed butter. It’s much easier on the cows stomachs than grains – they live better lives: just like you when you eat the right foods.

That said, that’s my true-true. The keys to my kingdom at thirty-three. My most valuable pieces of life-advice, and I feel blessed to know them and to finally live my truths – god knows it took a long time to find them.

Recap

To recap everything: study and practice The Big Four (Breath control, self-talk, mental-rehearsal, goal setting). Restrict and eliminate all unhealthy, unfulfilling, purposeless, disempowering sources of dopamine. Curate a healthy gut microbiome. Integrate these into your life and I think your likelihood of success, happiness, fulfillment, and wellbeing all go way up. They certainly have for me.

Some Reddit Gold (Motivational, Life Advice)

What follows is something I came across on Reddit. Per one of the comments, I am taking the liberty to republish it here. It will only take you a few minutes to read and I’m positive everyone can glean something of value from it. Of particular interest to me are the ideas about Dopamine and it’s role in motivation, and how we can influence it and positively manage it. Also, Flow Activities. And lastly, what the author write about getting on a healthy sleep schedule is correct: wake and eat early, stay up, repeat. So much good stuff here. Without further ado, enjoy:

[METHOD] How I went from rock bottom to disciplined in 6 months.

Hi, I wish to share my journey of getting disciplined. I hope you will take something away from this :). I would like to mention that I’m not a native English speaker, so forgive me for any grammar and/or spelling mistakes.

TLDR; Build positive habits on a foundation of willpower, not motivation.

Start reading non-fiction and apply it in your life. Work on your physiology, it should be the foundation for productivity and discipline.

Lessen the amount of superstimuli in your life to get more dopamine (motivation).

Flow activities should be the goal in life, not mind numbing pleasure.

Start a bullet journal where you color code all activities you do each day positive or negative.

It all started when I realized I had hit rock bottom. I was getting up at 3pm everyday. Only ate junkfood, lay in bed watching YouTube and smoking a lot of weed. My room was always a complete mess. I completely disregarded my study while I was living of a study loan. Every night I would hang out with a friend who would do the same and we’d smoke weed and watch screens until about 5 am. It really was rock bottom. This went on for a long time until I saw I had to change my life.

HABIT BUILDING

I read a book called The Slight Edge. The idea of the book was that with consistent, incremental improvement, anyone could reach anything. It also debunked the idea of a ‘quantum leap’, which at first I believed in. I liked the idea and started implementing it to form positive habits in my life. I started with nofap, meditation, reading, cleaning and some more. I made a lot of mistakes when I first started out. So some advice on habit building I have accumulated is this:

DON’T TRUST MOTIVATION. Motivation is good if it’s there but it shouldn’t be the foundation of the habits you create. Why? because motivation isn’t always there, and when it’s gone you also lose the habits that you build on top of it. I experienced this a lot of times. I would have a streak of 100+ days meditation, miss 3 days and completely give up until I had the motivation again to start over.

So how can I build habits then? Do it based on willpower. The big difference is not to say to yourself “I’m gonna read 20 pages every day because I’m so motivated to gain knowledge.” But that you say “I’m going force myself to start reading everyday because I will have enough willpower to always do that.”

The key is that if you make the requirement so small that you can always do it, you will never fail. So doing for example 1 pushup everyday. You will never fail that requirement. But if you have very little motivation one day and think about doing 20 pushups, it just seems intimidating and you don’t do it.

Some people might say “only starting to read or doing 1 push up will never get me anywhere.” And I agree, but the thing is that you can do more. And you will usually do more. Once you forced yourself, with willpower, to get into push up position and do 1 push up, you’ll probably think “I can do one more, and one more” and so on. Same for reading, once you’ve forced yourself to sit in a chair with a book and started reading, you wont stop after just 1 word. You will do a lot more than the initial requirement more times then not. It will also give you a sense of “I did this”. Especially if your requirement is, say, 1 push up, and you do 10. You will have done 9 extra. As opposed to when you require yourself to do 20 and do 10. You will have done 10 too little.

Try it right now, force yourself on the ground to do one push up. I’m sure you have the willpower to do that.

The key is to make the requirement so small you will never fail it. Build the habit on a foundation of willpower, if motivation comes along, that’s great.

READING

The one habit that has done the most for my life is to read non-fiction. I bought an e-reader and started to read daily. I recommend buying an e-reader a lot. Here are some of the benefits:

– Very portable, whenever I’m in public transport I pull it out and read some pages.

– Buying books is instant and you can read anything you’d like

– If you have little money there are a lot of places where you can download ebooks for free

– It has a backlight, so you can read in your bed, lying on your side, in the dark. Most come with blue light filters as well.

Some of the benefits of reading non-fiction

– You can learn directly from great people

– There are books on anything that you find interesting (for me it’s psychology)

– There are a lot of self-help books on the market that will give you advice that you can practically apply in your life.

I’m sure there are a lot more, but for the sake of not writing a book as a post this will do.

I think the most important thing as a prerequisite for discipline is good physiology. If you aren’t feeling good it’s hard to do things that would count as disciplined behavior. So that’s why I would recommend reading some books about physiology.

Books that have had a profound impact on my life are; Mini habits, Meet Your Happy Chemicals, The HeartMath Solution, The Willpower Instinct, Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience and Awareness Through Movement.

If your read all these books you will learn; how to create healthy habits in your life without making it hard; how your brain chemicals work; how to instantly lower stress and deal with negative thought and emotion, how willpower works, why it matters and how to get more of it; how orgasm induces neurochemical brain changes for 2 weeks and how it’s evolutionary designed to break romantic relationships; what a flow experience is, and why it should be the goal for all activities in life to turn into one; that everyone stops progressing in the most basic things like breathing, posture etc. because only the minimal in life is needed to get on, it also provides lessons on how to improve these parts of life.

Gaining knowledge in this field will give you the ability to make the changes in your life that will benefit your overall feeling. Feeling good overall, in your body and mind, is required for doing productive things.

DOPAMINE

I’m a psychology student so when I got into self help I was naturally interested in the brain’s place in self improvement.

Dopamine is the key player here. Most people think dopamine is responsible for ‘pleasure’. This is a big misunderstanding. Dopamine is actually responsible for ‘wanting’ and motivation.

When the dopamine part of the brain was first discovered, it was discovered in rats. The researchers hooked up a lever to the rats’ dopamine circuit to shock the dopamine circuit (mimicking dopamine release) whenever the rats would pull the lever. The rats soon ignored anything else and only pulled the lever until they died of starvation and fatigue. Next the researchers (this one is a bit cruel) would have 2 levers on the opposite sides of a cage that would produce a ‘dopamine hit’ if pressed after the other. To make it interesting they put an electrically charged grid in between that would give the rats a painful shock if they walked over it. So now the rats would have to cross the grid every time they wanted another ‘dopamine hit’. Shockingly (lol) the rats would run across it until they burned of their legs and couldn’t walk anymore. The researchers concluded from these experiments that this dopamine circuit was responsible for creating pleasure. Nowadays this is proved to be wrong and the actual function of the dopamine circuit is believed to be wanting and motivation.

Most things people like to do give a lot of dopamine (much more than anything would have given in nature). Things like watching TV (or netflix), internet, drugs, processed foods, porn, gambling and videogames. Things that give us a lot of dopamine tend to be addicting. No wonder I was only smoking, watching screens and lying in bed when I hit rock bottom.

Now, why should you care? The reason is very simple. Exposure to high dopamine for longer periods of time REDUCES DOPAMINE RECEPTORS. Lower dopamine receptors give you lower motivation, lower concentration and less mental sharpness. With there being a lot of supernaturally high dopamine giving activities and substances available to us we should all be aware in what amount we should consume them. This is the reason why there are more college and university dropouts more than ever before. Why so many people are unhappy at work. And why there are more cases of depression than ever before (depression is linked to lower dopamine).

Big companies know about this and use it to sell us as much as possible and keep them on their platforms for longer. They put the exact amount of sugar in all foods so that we like it the most, they design their platforms so you stay on them a lot (Facebook and Instagram), they implement gambling into games so that we play them more (Fortnite).

So what to take away from all this? Lessen the amount of activities you do each day that give you a lot of dopamine and don’t add anything to your life. This will give you a natural amount of dopamine receptors again and will make it a lot easier to stay concentrated while reading or learning an instrument for example.

FLOW ACTIVITIES

1 book that has made a profound impact on my life is the book Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience. The idea of the book is that there are certain activities that for which your brain needs 100% of it’s power to be focused on the activity. This is when you reach a ‘Flow state’. In this state you lose the idea of the self, you lose track of time and are only focused on the task at hand. For example when you drive somewhere and you get there and don’t remember how you got there.

Flow occurs when your skill matches the challenge of the activity. When your skill is too high, you will be bored, when the challenge is too high you will be anxious.

The key idea from this book, for me, was the difference between pleasure and enjoyment. Pleasure activities are ones that give the high amount of dopamine. Whereas enjoyable activities also give dopamine, but also make you better at the task and will often produce a state of Flow. Enjoyment produces growth, pleasure does not.

I think that any activity in life that is not a pure pleasure activity can be made into a flow activity. It’s one of my goals in life to fill my day with enjoyable activities. It made me realize I wanted to fill my day with making music and reading, not with smoking and watching TV.

JOURNALING

One of the best habits I have build is journaling. More specifically bullet journaling. I’m not sure if this is the official way to do it but this is what I do and what works for me.

People pay coaches a lot of money to do something they can do themselves as well; give feedback. All a coach does is tell you what you’ve done, and where you can improve. This is something you can do yourself easily by bullet journaling.

My method: I have a simple notebook where I use the left and right page for 1 day. In the morning I write down some things I want to do that day on the left page. If there are things I wanted to do yesterday I write them down for today. I also write a bit about how I feel. Recently I’ve been doing some affirmations as well on that page. You can skip this entire left page, I personally like it, but I can understand how it’s a bit much for some people. You could also experiment with it and change it up how you like it.

The real magic (and the reason I made the coach analogy) is on the right page. Here is where I write down every influential activity I do. I won’t write down things like ‘have breakfast’ or ‘short chat with roommate’. I write down everything that has a positive or a negative meaning (some things are neutral like doing groceries). Then at the end of the day I will use a marker to color code every activity either green (positive) or red (negative). So for example:

(green) get up at 6am

(green) take a cold shower

(green) meditate

(red) smoke a joint

(red) waste an hour on Netflix

(green) go to school

(red) hangout with X toxic friend and drink beer

I hope you see what I meant with the coach analogy now. You will get a lot of feedback on what you do each day. When I first started doing this I was shocked by how much red activities I had and made it a mission to get more green activities in there. It was slow progress but steadily it got better.

If you don’t like the left part of the journaling (which is how most people recommend it), I would advice you to try the right page. If you’re gonna do one, it should be the right page. See it as a free life coach.

SLEEP SCHEDULE

When I was at rock bottom my schedule was the furthest away from perfect that it could possibly be. One of the first things I changed that lasted was my sleeping schedule. I was done waking when it’s almost dark already and still being tired. Also I noticed that everything I did in the late evening wasn’t productive (or even counterproductive) like watching screens and doing drugs

There are good reasons to wake up early (5-6-7 AM). The best sleep you can get is the sleep between 10 and 12. If you’re still awake at 00:00 you will produce cortisol and adrenaline to keep you awake. This isn’t healthy. Good sleep improves cognitive function, vitality and motivation by a lot. There are many more benefits to a good sleeping schedule, and I think it’s well known that it’s a lot better. However most people think it’s hard to change their schedule.

It’s not. This is how you do it;

– Set your alarm at your goal wake up time (EG 6 am)

– When it goes, get out of bed, immediately eat breakfast

– Don’t sleep the rest of the day

– Make sure you stop all screens by 9:30 and are in bed before 10:00

– Set the alarm again, you will most likely wake up before it goes.

It’s as easy as this, now all you have to do is to stick with it. Start enjoying the vast amount if time you have available in the morning.

This post has gotten a lot longer than I anticipated. I really appreciate you reading it all the way through. If you have any questions feel free to post a comment or shoot me a message. I hope some of this has been helpful and I hope you will find success and happiness in life! Peace!

 

Source link.

Thirty-One and Change: Reflections on Experience 

This is my third and final attempt to write this entry. The previous two night’s efforts yielded a dozen or so paragraphs but nothing palpable, from the heart.

Unfortunately, I am tired and slightly stoned atm; however, this might actually work in my favor, given that it ensures I will be (Relatively) brief. And I recognize I am not generally so; although, this is largely because my prose is more the result of a process than a purpose – but I digress. Back to the matter at hand.

Twice I have worn myself out attempting to write this entry; and it would seem simple: I want to write about some of the things I have come to realize this year; however, it is not simple: it is complex.

To share my realizations – what amounts to my bedrock values and priorities at thirty-one – is to draw from what I have learned, often by living in a way that is entirely contradictory to what I am now prescribing for myself; however, this is growth – meaning: I am not losing any part of myself; in my heart, I am still the boy I was at eleven; only, now, I am a happy, peaceful, and constructive adult, which is nothing to scoff at – as any adult learns.

That said, here are the things that are sticking for me at thirty-one:

Proportion > Balance

Balance is frequently espoused as part of a happy, healthy life, which makes sense given that extremes and excesses are destructive forces for many, if not all who fail to practice moderation in their lifestyles. Unfortunately, however, my idea of balance never moderated my behavior; my idea of balance was: “Everything in moderation, including moderation itself.” Not exactly a wise prescription for living; although, most certainly a forgiving one. Only, I don’t want to stem the tide of cognitive dissonance with beliefs that directly negate my personal responsibility. As an adult, it is my responsibility to make sure that everything I do is authentically attuned to what may be called my “higher-self”, which is to say: the me that I aspire to be – the me I am committed to being. So, instead of trying to live a prescription for a balanced life, today I am more concerned with living proportionately to my needs, based on what works for me.

Balance may work for others; although, I do not pretend to know what it best for another; my principal concern is only what it best for me, based on the individualized needs of my soul. And I need proportion.

This [proportion] applies to many aspects of my life; I simply require the things that work for me in direct proportion to the degree in which they serve me. For some things, this means total abstinence, for others, it’s open season.

In short, attempting to practice balance is not a specific enough prescription for me, whereas viewing things from the perspective of proportion allows me to consciously choose only that which is suited for me. 

Cannibis, Entheogens > Alcohol

I used to think alcohol helped me, somehow made me better, more able to be myself. Talk about shit thinking; I couldn’t have been more wrong: alcohol is antithetical to who I am, to what I value – and most certainly is only a detriment to my higher-self and soul. Put simply, it doesn’t serve me one single iota. Cannibis however, and certain entheogens (Ritually used in a healthy, safe environment), have helped me. In-fact, I cleanse the doors of perception not infrequently; however, it should be said here, that this is something that works for me – again, proportion.

For those curious to learn more about psychadellics, I recommend following MAPS

Introversion > Misanthropy 

I once proudly proclaimed myself a misanthrope (Nine months ago, lol). Today, largely thanks to Sociometer Theory and Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Both of which have helped me understand man’s function as a social animal.), I actually care what other people think (As, I never before did), and my self-esteem is a million miles better for it. In short, humans need human love, acceptance, and even approval.

Experience > Wisdom 

It might be said that wisdom without experience is only advice.

It is only when we have the requisite experience and learning that we can understand the depth of even the most banal cliches.

I can’t think of how many times the most oft-uttered (And heretofore seemingly meaningless) adages, have suddenly made perfect sense to me in light of personal experience. Things like, “Be careful what you wish for” now strike me as profound and invaluable, whereas before they meant little if anything.

In short, wisdom is cheap, experience is priceless. 

On the same note, it’s amazing reading something I have read for years, and being struck in the heart by passages that before went in one ear and out the other (Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations comes to mind).

As the Tao says:

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Mature Responsibilities > Base Animal Drives

I think what separates humans from animals isn’t the lack of base, animalistic drives, but, rather, our ability to transcend and rise above them.

For much of my life I have followed the dictates of my base impulses, and it has come at the expense of my resposibilities.

I am reminded of the saying, “The mind is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”

Today, I am happy to be master of the castle, lord of the manor. I no longer feel conscripted by my animalistic desires to abandon my responsibilities. Instead, I am focusing on my higher animal desires, which, unlike the lower, do not rob me of my dignity and gravitas.

Dignity > Pride

I spent much of my twenties defending my pride and abandoning my dignity. It hurts just to think about. Thankfully, however, life has humbled me. Where I once defended my pride at all costs, today I defend my dignity, which is a much more honorable source of pride than my ego ever was.

In a word, dignity, like class, is how you treat people and how you respond to the way others treat you: it is saving the world from yourself; it is the very basis of social and personal morality. 

Habits > Impulse, Whim, Folly

As mentioned, I am no stranger to my base animal desires; however, what’s more, I also know what it is to live subject to every passing whim, impulse, and folly.

I used to think this was freedom: living according to my nature  – regardless what presented itself to me as pleasing – consequences be damned.

How foolish and young I was; this was not freedom, it was ignorance. To live according to impulse is to lay victim to habits, which require self-discipline and control – the very enemies of the puer.

Today, I love the ritual of habits. As I lay here writing this, Sarah reads beside me, the dogs lay about, a fire burns in the hearth, and “Awaken, My Love!” plays cooly, melodically, in the background – a typical evening for us.

In short, I am no longer plagued by restlessness and I love the peace and security my habits bring me – Friday wake and bake included. Whatever fun I had to get here was worth it (Mostly), but I thank my lucky stars my twenties are over, and with them the impulse, whim, and folly that for so long kept me from being able to live a calm, stable life, which is by no means to say an unexciting one. 

Security > Freedom 

When most first-world white people think of freedom, they tend to envision something like the 4-Hour Workweek or perhaps being able to travel or live remotely, as many Facebook ads promise. Only, that’s not freedom (Sounds more like retirement to me); my concept of freedom looks very much like the life I am now taking up: consulting from home and daily writing fiction. Fuck getting rich if I am not writing. That is not my dream of freedom; my freedom today comes from the security I maintain, which affords me the ability to do what I love: pursue my career as a major writer.

In short, I would have no freedom without the security afforded me by the very things I once thought diametrically opposed to freedom: hard work and discipline. 

Freedom is following your dreams. Without security, this is not possible. 

For my writers out there:

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.”

– E.B White

Actions > Dreams 

Following the spirit of the above, I am today interested in actions over dreams.

In a word, action is what brings dreams to life; without action dreams are only fantasies. And life is too short to spend fantasizing. Besides, real life beats masturbating any day. 

Temporality > Mortality 

I have long felt myself a Stoic – fuck, I had to be, lol *laughs at life’s major tragedies. 

Part of what has allowed me to laugh at my misfortunes (And a big part of my philosophy) was the concept of my mortality – memento mori.

Unfortunately, however, while focusing and meditating on death put things in perspective for me, it also gave me a devil may care attitude, as if saying to myself: “Don’t worry, you’re totally GOING TO DIE,” hence, why stress over this or that. In a sense it gave me the peace of a nihilist. And we all know nihilists DGAF.

Only, I want to give a fuck. After all, I can use any number of philosophies and maxims to strip myself of personal responsibility, but the fact remains: I am responsible for myself while I am here – temporarily. So, while I am here, let me live well (In accordance with reason and nature), and let me follow my dreams.

For not only will I one day die, but I will also one day be old and the ships will have sailed. 

Let me remember that I am here temporarily; let me make hay while the sun shines. 

Health > Pleasure 

Health isn’t everything, it is the only thing. Without health we have nothing; in-fact, health is my top priority in life – as it should be.

Honesty > Fear

I’m closing with this becuase without honesty – personal honesty – I would have arrived at none of these understandings.

Whatever fears, whatever vanities and insecurities might prevent me from examining my life, all are mere trivialities when compared to the benefits of living life honestly, with both feet planted on the ground.

Without personal honesty we are forever condemned to our prejudices and illusions.

In order to grow, we have to confront our fears, which simply requires being honest with ourselves. That is true bravery.

Postscript

I pride myself on living with a light-heart, and this entry was by no means heavy-hearted; however, I have definitely written many things here that were much more fun, joyous even; although, this was certainly not one of them. 

This was a serious, mature declaration of truths, many of which I had failed to consider or realize up until this point. That said, in my effort to attain proportion in my endeavors, I most certainly seek lightness, laughter, but those things require that I adhere to the above principles – for without them, I would be rudderless. 

– LB

The Suck: Choice is Yours

Melancholy days. I still have them; usually they happen when life doesn’t live up to my expectations. 

There is, of course, the adage that, happiness is reality minus expectations. It follows then, that we are, for the most part, responsible for our own happiness or sadness; however, I find value in all emotional states: the sour is a valuable part of life. 

Some days pain is going to visit you, and you will look in the mirror and know that you are better than this. Now, whatever this is, it’s what your life happens to be at the present moment.

Does that mean there is no changing it? No. You can change it, but you’re going to need to be honest with yourself about what needs to be changed and what is going to be required of you. 

What do you want? Remind yourself. Never forget; even if those expectations cast a thunderstorm above life as it stands today. You musn’t scale down your expectations because they aren’t met. That’s resignation. 

I think the path to mediocrity is an easy one: it’s the path most are on. They resign themselves to life as it is. I, on the other hand, would rather have days like this, knowing that they are reminders of what I want, what I deserve, and what I am capable of creating. 

As John Mayer sings on The Heart of Life, “Fear is a friend who’s misunderstood”. So too is sadness, melancholy, and pain. These things are the feedback system within us, designed to let us know that shit sucks. 

Because sometimes – contrary to what your Facebook feed might lead you to believe – life can suck – and that’s okay, not just normal, but healthy. For without days like this, how are we ever to grow, to evolve. We need days like this. In fact, I would argue that without days like this, we aren’t living full and honest lives. 

Sure, I have a lot to be grateful for. I am neither disputing nor forgetting that. Fact is, anyone who has been through what I have gone through does not forget to count their blessings. I am a fortunate fellow. I’ve got youth, health, passion, intellect, and a wellspring of potential, which I am fully aware of. It’s just X, Y, and Z – the flies in the ointment – that really upset me. 

So I have two choices: I can let the suck cripple me, essentially relegating me to my bed as the suck tends to do – or, I can make a plan to change the suck.

Life is a game of potentials but it is won by wills. You cannot allow the suck to break your will or to weaken your resolve. It has to fuel it, it has to embolden your cause, serving to act as nature’s reminder that life can be more than this. So put pen to paper as I am today. Make a plan to change X, Y, and Z. It’s either that or you accept it. The choice is all yours but the suck is here regardless. It’s what you do with it, what meaning you allow it, and how it changes you. So use it. Let it push you forward. Let it spur you to change what you can, which is either the cause of the suck, your beliefs about the suck, or how the suck makes you feel. Chances are, however, that the latter element is futile: it sucks. There is no changing that. That’s what the suck is. But it’s not all it is. The suck presents an invaluable opportunity to change your circumstances, to refuse to accept what is, and to grow and evolve. 

As Henry Ford said, “Most people miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. 

That’s kind of what the suck is like. But, if we can look past it and we can see things honestly for what they are, we might just be looking at the chance we have been waiting for, which we ought to be grateful fortune has bestowed upon us. 

So no, I won’t embrace the suck – but I will welcome it as an opportunity, seeing pain as a messenger, and I will turn adversity to my advantage. This is how the hero plays the game. As I always say, you are either the hero of your story or the victim. Choice is yours. 

Journal: Life is Sweet

I’m writing tonight because it’s what I do.

Also, I have a duty to myself, I have a duty to write – even when I am happy – in fact, I wouldn’t even mind making a habit of it.

And frankly: I am happy.

And sure, life goes on: that Thai place wasn’t that great tonight, and it wasn’t cool when I bumped into that girl at Starbucks after, while with the girl I am now seeing (Not to mention the girl who works there – ahem,… but that is another story).

And no, I am no player. Not in my nature.

But it is nice to no longer sit at home thinking:

Oneday, I will be able to give a girl the life I want for myself

I shudder just thinking of how blind [ignorant] I was.

Thankfully, I eventually said fuck that noise and I stopped being a bitch.

Seriously.

I wish I had some profound answer, but, eventually, you just gotta decide to quit being lame, and own your life.

And sure, the profound helps – but ultimately, it is up to you to make your life awesome.

And if you think it’s more complex than that, then please: go have a look at all the happy, successful, dumb mo’fuckers stunting on yo ass.

Today, there is more salt in a single liter of San Pellegrino than there is in all my philosophy.

Anyone following the evolution of myself and my writing this year can see that the clouds have lifted.

For the first time in far too long: I am in a great place. And – let me tell you – it has been a long time coming; for I see now that somewhere along the way, the clouds had become the sky and the mood had faded into a disposition.

Thankfully, there are three things capable of altering a person’s disposition – three things that let us see the clouds long after we have ceased taking notice of them.

These alchemical balms or, rather, solvents of consciousness are:
Love, G-d, and Psychedelics.

And the irony is that they are, in effect, all the same: for they all leave you with a deeper sense of gratitude, a greater sense of wonder, and a clearer understanding of life.

These are the very things that wash the salt away from the human soul.

Without the three craziest things known to man, I would have lost my mind a long time ago.

And – please – do not romanticize them; Love, G-d, and Psychedelics are no substitute for inward gazing – instead, think of them as alternative lenses through which, in moments of pure experience, stripped of your personality, you may see life for what it is rather than what you have unconsciously accepted it to be.

Perception is a filter – and once you have learned how to examine the filter, you will never again be blinded by it.

Now: I choose my perspective. I recognize today that I simply did not believe myself deserving of much these past five years – and, even now, I have to remind myself that I, indeed, am not only deserving but that I deserve far greater things than I have ever imagined for myself.

Let them be salty.


Dem Apples

I inspire –
I acquire what I desire –
And my girl gets what she requires –
Cause all she wants is we to perspire

So I feel healthy, like kind buds
She and I: we good buds

She a kind girl and my kinda girl
She say, I got that good D
I give her a vitamin, she swallow me

When she want takeout: I eat box
White boy swag: I beat box
Three times a day, no role play
And her body smooth like a rich girl
Only she ain’t no starbucks bitch girl

Got class, like 18 units
At the dining hall, we ball till we fall
Fuck me sober, cause I’m always over
Never under – but I get top
She young and sexy: halter tops

And I hope we never stop

And she says: “No one can tell us no.”
And she know, I love dat cookie doh

Care of The Soul: A Recipe

I’ve been blessed, but this is gifted: I gave it to myself.

It’s a simple recipe, centuries old – timeless really:

I am on a blanket, under the stars, with a candlelit lantern, and a cup of homemade chai tea.

Mexican Blanket: $20.00
Chai Tea: $0.35
Stanley insulated thermos: $30.00
Lantern & candle: $4.50 (flea mkt)

Inner Peace: Priceless.

This is what life is about. Inner peace.

Inner peace is not something you are blessed with (I tried that recipe the first thirty years of my life). No, inner peace is a gift, it’s something you give yourself. And you must; it’s your G-d given right to be happy.

Do you think hapiness something other than inner peace? Pity you if you do, for I’ve already tried that recipe too.

On this blanket, writing this, the breeze playing with my face; I could do this everynight, and I practically do.

I’m grateful to Thomas Moore for connecting a lot of Jungian dots for me. His book, Care of The Soul, has been a great asset in my life. Prior, I had made progress towards consciously caring for my soul, but after his book found me, caring for my soul became my paramount duty. A duty that has given me deep and lasting fulfillment. As a matter of chance, I also happened to read Walden at the same time, which only added to my understanding of Moore’s work. Thoreau certainly cared for his soul with the dedication of a true master.

I am far from Walden Pond, but my view shares a watery reflection. And here, following Thoreau, I experience the simple beauty of life. (Although he might pass on the extravagance of my stevia sweeted tea).

This is how life is meant to be lived: simply and naturally. It is insane we confine ourselves within doors so resolutely. Those crazy misanthropes: the Eustace Conways, the Christopher McCandlesses; the Thoreaus, they are the normal ones. It’s the rest of the world, in their walled in castles; they are the very form of crazy, neurotic, anti-social type that they deem an outcast.

The outcast is merely a shadow figure, someone to pile the the scorn of their buried envy on. Don’t believe me? Buy a blanket, brew some tea, go drink it out of doors on a starry night and tell me otherwise. This is living.

Only, we’ve been sold a house with a living-room full of nice furniture so we can deposit ourselves repeatedly to stare into an electronic box until we die.

The American dream: sitting in your castle watching your box. I’m laughing but, I tell you, this stuff is stranger than fiction.

Yes, I am happy. And sure, I live in a box too. But mine is near the sea, my backyard the very form of nature and the place I deposit myself to stare out and look at the real world. Here I peacefully contemplate life, occassionally looking down into the box phone, I now type this on.

What amazes me, however, is that I’m the only one out here doing this. This despite the fact that behind me, thousands of residents in tall condominium buildings live, none ever opting for an evening spent in fresh air.

Not to say they never get out, but for me, I pretty much have to. It’s my black rock.

In the distance, the bleating siren of an ambulance reminds me that I’ll be living in LA again soon, apart from nature I enjoy at present.

It’s this bittersweet note that prompts me to walk home. On the way I see my neighbors having drinks with their friends in a house so brightly lit that I am disturbed by it’s synthetic luster.

Back in my castle, I lie in bed, the glow of my salt lamp maintaining some semblance of the organic, which I value so deeply.

Returning to my thoughts on LA, I am coming to see that I will need to find a place with either a rooftop terrace or a yard, for sitting on a blanket in LA, outdoors at ground level, is not reccomended. I love the city of angels for many reasons – it’s natural wonders aren’t among them. Sure there is Runyon and Santa Monica’s beaches, but neither offer me the sanctuary I have now; however, I do intend to recreate this sanctum using the recipe above. After all, this blanket is going to last for a long, long time.

This Unlived Life

You were not my final sunset
I’ve yet to have my best kiss
I’ll again be loved and loving,
More than the girl I miss –

Oh how I’ll share bed and dreams,
And so certain this seems
So sweet this wife…
This unlived life

Another day, like and unlike any other; although I feel a the weight of heavier things tonight, having impulsively checked my blood pressure today to discover it not what it once was; however, neither is my lifestyle. Heart disease is called the silent killer, for going on visible looks alone I look great, aging well as some fortunate men do. Had I been overweight I would not have excused myself from the gym as I have these past twelve months. Too many brevé lattés and not enough vigirous exercise have put me in the first stage of hypertension. The men in my family have not led long lives; in as many generations as I am familiar with, going back to my great-grandfathers, I believe at north of sixty, my father is the longest lived of the bunch – quite the miracle when you consider the fact that he suffered a massive heart-attack three years ago.

Needless to say, it is not without irony that I put my arm in the BP sleeve at the pharmacy where my father was picking up his heart meds after we met for lunch today. How frightful it is to know your mortality exists. As one writer wrote: “The young never think they are going to die,” which every person young or old knows to be true; and excepting that bout of blood poisoning last year, where I did stand one foot in the grave, I have never before thought serious my own death. True, I’ve written about it, thought about it – as a Stoic does – contemplated it in earnest to the best of my abilities, but now, now I see the waterfall at the end of the river, and the abyss is all at once real. And what of those spots I sometimes see? Yes, I – like you – will die.

I hope the benefit of today’s glimpse is twofold: firstly, I intend to alter my lifestyle, begenning with oatmeal breakfasts, no more luxuriant coffee drinks, and resuming a workout routine, and secondly, having felt the sand running through the hourglass today in those red numbers, I intend to double down on my dreams. Tonight I will lay me down to sleep and perhaps not since losing my virginity or falling in love, will I know that life will never again be the same. This is a big deal to me; going off the lifespan of my predecessors, it’s a late life wakeup call. Yes, I am only thirty. My dream of dreams is to be a grandfather and I face mortality with honest eyes not yet even having children. Scary, scary stuff.

If I was religious before I shall be saintly now, and if I had goals before, well, it’s today or never now.

Crazy, crazy thing this life is. I feel blessed though, for even while I contemplate shadows I see light: two ducks have presented themselves upon the dark glittering shore before me – and if the waters were pretty before they are brilliant now.

Yuna’s ‘Lullabies’ begins to play as I write this and I am sorry; like those two ducks we had peace and providence once upon a time, and G-d willing I shall not face my morning oats alone forever. Wanted: smart, enchanting girl to eat oats with – love part three: the sequel to the sequel.

I don’t even date now but given todays wake up, perhaps I ought. None of us knows when our final sunset will be; our final kiss.

Bubba Grew Up, Amen.

I’ve been working on another entry lately, spending the past few nights near the water, before bed, turning over big deep metaphors, trying to communicate the wisdom of hindsight, having made it out of the deep Dark Night of The Soul. But really, I’ve just gotta say:

Amen.

I breathe now to center myself. Big, deep, slow breaths. Wow. I am in awe.

I made it out of something I never thought I would. And there’s no asking why we suffer now; I have never been more free and light in all my life. 

Before, I had my cake – but now anything of the sort would merely be the icing. My world has become so much bigger now that I’ve found peace and happiness in myself. In this new lease on life I can eat my cake and have it too.

I am man: world unto himself. I’ve no girlfriend, no kids, not even a crush. I am completely free and following my dreams. I guess this is the tale of a recovered co-dependent, but I’ve found more than independence; I’ve found my identity; to quote J.K. Rowling, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” And at thirty I’ve finally forged a solid identity, founded upon my own rock bottom. I now have complete security in myself, complete confidence and faith in who I am.

I no longer live under the shadow of my own self-destruction as I did for so many years. I guess you could say I’ve made friends with my own worst enemy. I’m now a conscious parent to my own inner child, and he trusts me, secure in the knowledge that I will never again look for someone else to love him for no one can ever love him like I do.

I’ve had to come to terms with myself in order to be whole enough to love him. And he’s had to grow up too.

Yes, there are monsters in the closet bubba; and I their master, and they are healing too. It’s you and I and the ghosts – friendly as Casper now that I’ve accepted the depravity in them.

The launch codes are finally out of reach, safely left in the past, where they belong. And I Thank the Gods every single day for this Grace, making sure the spirit satisfies what the flesh never could.

Journal: Routine, Civic Duty, and Nights on The Shore

17 June, 2015

Writing on my phone, on the shore, under the stars; routine. From the 17th century French word route, meaning ‘road’, and from the Latin ruptus, meaning ‘broken’. It’s the broken road I take. Broken because it’s not the journey, that is whole, but taking the journey that makes us whole.

It was trying to escape the broken road fate hath lain before me that drove me mad. Mad to drink, mad to hate, mad to think I knew better than love what love was.

But now, though the road be broken, I traverse it ensconced in the familiar security and protection of routine, placing more of my life within my relative control and providing me with the simple things I have grown to depend on. Just as my cappuccino comes hot, the night comes cool; the air fresh and refreshing; the night breeze, soft on my face, has even grown familiar and comforting.

Another aspect of my routine, my sanctity, is volunteering at the library: a civic institution. From the Latin civicus; from civis, meaning ‘citizen’ and icus, meaning ‘belonging to, derived from, pertaining to, or connected with’.

For I am no longer a stranger, estranged from my hometown, but a citizen, and the library belongs to me and I belong to it. Hence, it is my civic duty. But it’s also so much a pleasure: intermingling with my fellow citizens: Cathi and Richard and Louisa and a small, eclectic group of others who are kind to me. Lovely people.

I haven’t even told them I am moving back to LA, but I already know I will ride the train down the coast every month to spend a couple afternoons with them and my nights here: writing on the shore.


Post publish edit: I feel it pertinent in writing on the subject of my routine to note that aside from volunteering thrice weekly and writing nightly, upon awaking and before sleep I daily recite to myself the things I am grateful for as well as my creed. These two things have been a wellspring of good.

This is Who I Am – Reflections on Quantum Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.scribd.com/doc/238606164/This-is-Who-I-Am

 

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

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

What David Foster Wallace Taught Me: Art as an Anesthetic for Loneliness

DFW

We’re existentially alone on the planet. I can’t know what you’re thinking and feeling and you can’t know what I’m thinking and feeling. And the very best works construct a bridge across that abyss of human loneliness.

David Foster Wallace David Foster Wallace wrote that “Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.”

Tonight, I thought of this as I watched a dog awaken from his slumber beneath a patio dining table with the sullen look in his eyes of a lonely child who wakes up to an empty room.

Seated above him was a family of four, warm and loving, noshing on their sushi and quietly enjoying the evening together. The dog, while surely a member of the family, was physically present but gave off the energy of someone deep in their own world – like catching a glimpse of someone on a walk alone, a snapshot of a face far away in thought – and whatever the subject of his thoughts may have been, like all thoughts, they were encoded in a cryptic language, their contents known only to the thinker himself; a citizen of his own skull; a box of bones no one else would ever know.

For a moment I saw what an outward projection of that unspoken belief [that deep down we are different] looked like. The dog knew that he was different from everybody else; he was – to me – a self-aware animal; he was not like the others, the others weren’t sleeping on the sidewalk during dinner. How I wanted to take that dog home and make him my equal. Maybe I would talk to him on long walks along the shore, nice thoughts.

Perhaps he was a spirit animal, a guide destined to remind me of some ancient ineffable truth; perhaps it was written that I witness him wake up and look around at the cool lonely evening. Maybe my perception of his disposition was merely a projection of my own. Questions that can only be answered by the ether of the universe, playful questions.

Would the dog have reminded David Foster Wallace of the loneliness of his own existence – as it had reminded me of mine?

David Foster Wallace wrote a lot of beautiful things on loneliness as it was an element of his life which his psyche would render him deeply familiar with [1] . And while I never knew him – I feel like I did. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer who is fond of illustrating “what it means to be a fucking human being” – or maybe, in borrowing the words of TLC’s Fanmail – it’s because Just like you, I get lonely too. Either way, his ghost haunts me because he was not altogether unlike me.

He was a messenger, someone who could speak for a certain intellectual sect of the populous in quirky and unapologetic sentences that tested the limits of the English language. He did not apologize for this, nor did he filter his writing to sanitize his output for easier digestion. Just watching an interview with him, it’s apparent that his mind had a few more gears than most. Now, I can hypothesize as to what the accompanying costs of a mind like that would have been, but even in my own hubris I do not claim to match the intellect of the late Mr. Wallace; however, I can only imagine the psychic burden of possessing such a deeply philosophical and analytical mind – especially one that ran at a pace as electric as Mr. Wallace’s.

And nonetheless, I entertain myself in asking whether – instead of taking this transportive journey in my head to some timeless space where the present reality becomes a lens through which I see the world – were I a different person with a different mind, would the thought merely have been: “cute dog”?

I suppose I’m parsing my thought process into an existential hypothesis that really has no bearing here beyond hemming and hawing over my own cognition. In light of the fact that I’ll never be able to comparatively measure my own thinking against anything other than behavioral output, I must admit that this has no application beyond a speculative thought exercise. I suppose the real tangible benefit then is whether this somehow is going to allow me to better understand my own psychology – a quest which I pursue through my writing in order to more effectively manage my own psyche.

I guess what it boils down to is that life can be a bit more mentally all-consuming for those quote intense thinkers for whom paradigms abound and life is constantly being interpreted through new lenses, moment by moment. Whether this contributes to loneliness, I’m not sure – but, as David Foster Wallace did, I too have struggled to reconcile with certain aspects of my psyche – namely a sort of sexual-like frustration at not getting out my thoughts and feelings, a condition David Foster Wallace described as being ‘marooned in our own skulls‘. Comparing a kind of intellectual loneliness to sexual frustration is an odd and potentially perverse choice of similes to the non-artist I suppose – but to the individual who regularly seeks le petit mort / catharsis / actualization through art, I hardly think drawing a parallel between sexual frustration and a sort of enigmatic artistic frustration is by any means a stretch of the imagination. Is the means to the end of each [art and sex] not meant to stave off loneliness – to recharge some fleeting part of our sanity by discharging our emotions? Are we not touching at the heart of Freudian catharsis?

I recognize that the previous paragraph is borderline mental masturbation [2] – save for the fact that it’s a clever reminder to the importance of creative expression – but, my point is: creative function serves to produce more than the output of creative works; it’s the act of creating itself which allows the artist to reconcile the tangled meaning of his inner-world through his conscious expression in the outer world. If he fails to do this, who will understand him? How will he fully understand himself? Will he not be lonely? Will he not then be left to chase away the loneliness he has failed to confront in his art? As I grow older the value of leaning on art (both composing poetry, and prose, and digesting it + music) has become one of the paramount pillars of my mind – allowing me to deal with feelings and moods too dark to chase away in the real world.

In arguably one of the David Foster Wallace’s greatest quotes, he distinguishes between things that chase away loneliness and things that treat it:

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.

As someone who has personally found solace in precisely the things which David Foster Wallace lists as places where loneliness can be treated, I find this quote reflects a universal truth about the choice we have, our personal agency in deciding whether we are going to chase away loneliness or confront it, transfigure it, and treat it.

Loneliness untreated is a ticking time bomb, and there will be consequences to yourself and to those you love should you attempt to chase it away rather than treat it. The habit of chasing away loneliness is simply not something one can sustainably maintain; eventually every shred of the false comfort and security that you manufacture by chasing away loneliness is ripped away upon your inevitable and necessary return to reality. And when you have been stripped of the temporary refuge you sought, you will be left facing the very same loneliness you tried escaping: the scab comes off, you bleed again.

Ugly words, but not nearly as gripping as David Foster Wallace’s description of facing substance addiction from Infinite Jest:

–and then you’re in serious trouble, very serious trouble, and you know it, finally, deadly serious trouble, because this Substance you thought was your one true friend, that you gave up all for, gladly, that for so long gave you relief from the pain of the Losses your love of that relief caused, your mother and lover and god and compadre, has finally removed its smily-face mask to reveal centerless eyes and a ravening maw, and canines down to here, it’s the Face In The Floor, the grinning root-white face of your worst nightmares, and the face is your own face in the mirror, now, it’s you, the Substance has devoured or replaced and become you, and the puke-, drool- and Substance-crusted T-shirt you’ve both worn for weeks now gets torn off and you stand there looking and in the root-white chest where your heart (given away to It) should be beating, in its exposed chest’s center and centerless eyes is just a lightless hole, more teeth, and a beckoning taloned hand dangling something irresistible, and now you see you’ve been had, screwed royal, stripped and fucked and tossed to the side like some stuffed toy to lie for all time in the posture you land in. You see now that It’s your enemy and your worst personal nightmare and the trouble It’s gotten you into is undeniable and you still can’t stop.

The quest to chase away loneliness is indeed a slippery slope for many, one that can easily morph into the kind of toxic and dangerous, enslaving type vices; before too long, your escape becomes your morphine and you become a mouse seeking more of that substance / thing / feeling on your quest for an even mental keel. Vicious cycles are one of the few things that prevail in the battle to combat loneliness.

As David Foster Wallace further elucidates in Infinite Jest: Most Substance-addicted people are also addicted to thinking, meaning they have a compulsive and unhealthy relationship with their own thinking.

It’s one of those opaque truths that define the way we operate in life: our relationship with our own thinking and whether we are in the habit of chasing away loneliness or treating it. David Foster Wallace talked about how to prevent going through life alone by choosing how to construct meaning from experience, by ‘learning how to think’:

Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliche about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.” This, like many cliches so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger. And I submit that this is what the real, no-bull- value of your liberal-arts education is supposed to be about: How to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default-setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone, day in and day out.

But what happens when you fail at this? As Dave Wallace said, you will be totally hosed.

I imagine that for those beautiful minds who fail to live in a way that effectively treats their loneliness, they simply arrive in the place that many find unendurable.

For someone like David Foster Wallace, who had battled severe depression, this meant hanging himself and betraying the words he had once written: “That no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable.”

For the millions of Heath Ledgers and Junior Seaus of the world, single moments indeed are unendurable. And it’s not just chasing away loneliness that can be disastrous – but perhaps even viewing the world in a way that gives way to loneliness.

In saying: Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else, was David Foster Wallace projecting his own egocentric paradigm, which reflected his personal thoughts and belief that deep down he was different from everybody else? It’s our differences that separate us and it’s separation that creates loneliness. And so it’s tragically ironic that David Foster Wallace himself told once an interviewer:

“The parts of me that used to think I was different or smarter or whatever, almost made me die.”

I certainly do not presume to decipher someone’s suicide, nor do I desire to; there exists a certain smugness to the idea of laying claim to knowing why someone choose to end their own life that I just don’t like, but David Foster Wallace didn’t cloak his struggle with depression in secrecy – something I find very brave of him. He eloquently describes both depression and loneliness throughout his writing, so much so that Salon.com called him The defining voice of depression.

It’s rare that minds like his open up, but when they do it becomes a doorway for the rest of us to journey into a world within ourselves that we wouldn’t otherwise be capable of understanding. This is quite a gift – as only someone who has passed through the mental gates of their own personal hell can accurately describe what the unrelenting grip of depression and loneliness feels like; without people like David Foster Wallace, depression and loneliness remain the elephant in the room; it’s there, but no one dare talk about it or try to transform it.

It’s this aspect of inherent generosity within David Foster Wallace’s writing that has benefited me in my attempt to better understand my own life. And because of this the substance of his writing remains an asset do me; it makes me less lonely. An objective which he had intentionally strived to achieve:

There are a few books I have read that I’ve never been the same after, and I think all good writing somehow address the concern of and acts as an anodyne against loneliness. We’re all terribly, terribly lonely. And there’s a way, at least in prose fiction, that can allow you to be intimate with the world and with a mind and with characters that you just can’t be in the real world. I don’t know what you’re thinking. I don’t that know that much about you as I don’t know that much about my parents or my lover or my sister, but a piece of fiction that’s really true allows you to be intimate with … I don’t want to say people, but it allows you to be intimate with a world that resembles our own in enough emotional particulars so that the way different things must feel is carried out with into the real world. I think what I would like my stuff to do is make people less lonely.

When we think of loneliness we construct our understanding of it around proximity and relationships, but as DFW wrote, “Loneliness is not a function of solitude”, and loneliness is not remedied when two people from subjective viewpoints intersect at the same point in space and time. Loneliness is something we experience when we are unable to express our inner-world; when we can’t reconcile the meaning of our internal truths through the lens of our external relationship with reality.

As Carl Jung stated in his biography:

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.

David Foster Wallace echoes Jung’s sentiment about communicating the unseen in his views on writing fiction:

…writing fiction becomes a way to go deep inside yourself and illuminate precisely the stuff you don’t want to see or let anyone else see, and this stuff usually turns out (paradoxically) to be precisely the stuff all writers and readers share and respond to, feel.

Isn’t that called vulnerability? Okay, I’ll give it a try:

Having previously admitted this – yes, I sometimes get lonely; however, I do not over indulge in self-pity (at least I feel compelled to have to tell myself this). I might indulge in under and over sleeping, in mild agoraphobia, and in occasional culinary gluttony (an Oreo shake sounds delightful right now), but I do these things with a healthy dose of balancing guilt that prevents them from evolving into something more than unhealthy and immature defense mechanisms. We all slip up (don’t we?). For me, the cycle might be: 1. Feels like crap > 2. neglects health > 3. Feels guilt for neglecting health, gets ‘back on track’. Perhaps that’s simply self-abandonment, self-neglect. Either way, I’m not adverse to discussing the parts of me that make me human. As an adult I realize that there is no such thing as a hero without flaws. It’s not that I celebrate my flaws, but I believe in self-honesty; unfortunately, as David Foster Wallace one remarked: Genuine pathological openness is about as seductive as Tourette’s Syndrome.

Now obviously that’s simply the ego driven part of me acknowledging that sometimes my writing goes to places vulnerable that I cannot go to in real life (outside the bubble of a therapist’s office), and that by nature this kind of free, unmasked prose is antithetical to the ethos of American success culture and American machismo, but so far I am unable to produce this kind of writing without inserting an apologetic and excusatory clause such as this; although, I suppose I apologize in vain, as I long ago accepted that I would not be the kind of person who cared more about outward appearances than the authenticity of his own art; alas, the emperor knows he wears no clothes, for I am naked but only slightly ashamed.

But that’s what you sacrifice in art, you sacrifice what you have to to not be lonely.

Footnotes:

1. I’m taking a lot of liberty in saying this, and were he a living writer would I say this? I don’t know. I don’t query myself this because of his suicide, but rather because it’s typically not couth to draw inferences about someone’s real life from their fiction. David Foster Wallace had been in treatment for depression for twenty years and wrote beautifully on loneliness in a way that has connected with me deeply; he painted loneliness as only the lonely artist can.

2. Sorry for another seemingly hyperbolic innuendo, but yes – “mental masturbation” really is the linguistically correct choice here.

Redefining Forgiveness: Forgiving Others and Letting Go of The Past

Update 11/16/2014: I’ve published a new entry with 5 resources and activities for forgiveness. View it here.

Serendipity is one of the few experiences that has given me something akin to palpable spirituality.

I need to remind myself of this, because this post isn’t about spirituality or serendipity, but it’s important and it’s meaningful to me, and without spirituality or serendipity, I wouldn’t have had the impetus for waking at 5am this morning and thinking about forgiveness, which this post is about.

But first, let’s briefly return to serendipity; for me, serendipitous experiences have always been born out of intuition. Not the serendipitous event itself, because the ethereal and spiritual coincidences that I call serendipity were never the actual path, which intuition led me down, but rather the happy accidents that I found on the path. Almost as if in trusting my intuition, the universe answered the question, which lay dormant inside of me, unbeknownst to all but my subconscious and the ether of the night sky under which I sleep.

And so it was, (in grand anti-climactic fashion) that yesterday evening, for no reason at all, other than the intangible sense there was something philosophical to be learned, that I felt compelled to watch The Lion King.

So, I procured a digital copy and did. There was nothing that particularly stuck out to me about the story or the dialogue, but nonetheless, it was enjoyable – and I felt no regret having spent the time watching it.

I then hung out with my girlfriend, and watched Game of Thrones, and then went to sleep. (I’ll get back to The Lion King Later.)

Then at 5am this morning I awoke with the impetus for this entry. And it was forgiveness I thought of. Forgiveness towards others in relation to forgiveness towards ourselves. And it wasn’t just a momentary thought, it was an overwhelming feeling that awoke me; a flood of thoughts.

My initial thoughts interspersed with this morning’s sleep were that in forgiving others we could open pathways to forgive ourselves and that in doing so we could free ourselves from many of the traps that an absence of forgiveness creates in life. For example: people often commit the same transgression for which they didn’t forgive another for in their past, i.e., a tragically ironic situation where a cycle of childhood hurt is continued, or, when someone is unfaithful to a partner, when the same had been done to them in a previous relationship (as the saying goes, hurt people hurt people). And, to this end, I began thinking about how when we don’t forgive, we are essentially accepting something as a normal behavior, in that we aren’t explicitly declaring that an offending behavior is below our expectations for life. But, on the other hand, when we choose to forgive ourselves and forgive others we are releasing the hurt and the hate, which in carrying around, we have essentially accepted as a part of life and as a part of ourselves.

I couldn’t help but feel the power in this awakening.

In hindsight, I began reflecting on research I had done the previous day for a poem I was writing about end of life regrets, and in thinking about forgiveness this morning, I couldn’t help but feel the elephant in the room seemed to be forgiveness itself; I couldn’t help but feel as if forgiveness would have been an antidote to major life regret for many, if not a possible route to avoiding the regret altogether.

But what do I know about forgiveness? Sure, I like to think that I’m a fairly emotionally whole person, and while there are many things I have forgiven – I don’t pretend for a second that there aren’t things I still haven’t forgiven others for and things that I haven’t forgiven myself for (and after this morning’s realization, I couldn’t help but see a very clear parallel between the two). I also sure as shit don’t pretend that the pain from those instances has been insignificant, or that my wellbeing hasn’t been significantly impacted as a result. Hell, it’s easy to forgive the things that don’t fuck us up, it’s the things we think about when we’re lonely and sad, pain that haunts us like a ghost in the night, those are the things we have the hardest time forgiving. For all the inner work I have done – therapy, reflection, writing, meditation – I know clear and well the score when it comes to the baggage I carry and which skeletons are still left in my closet. Even without my introspective nature, I’d likely be able to easily discern the major resentments I hold and the pain that I carry.

Who among us (even healthy self-aware people) doesn’t carry around their share of hate, hurt, regret, bitterness, resentment, and pain from the past? I would chalk it up to being human, but that would be a cop out.

When you realize just how much unresolved inner-conflicts and the unreleased pain and bitterness they impart within us effects our lives – even more so as we age and reflect back upon a life full of our share of disappointments, you begin to understand just how serious of an issue we are talking about here. If you don’t grasp the significance of what I am saying, look up the correlation between bitterness and disease. I’ll spare you the depressing links (Google is your friend.)

So, what can we do to free ourselves from the past? To release the negative feelings we are carrying?

First, let’s take stock of what the average person knows about forgiveness.

If you’re like me, and you were raised by normal parents, (regular people who were raised by other regular people) and not Psychologists or famed Humanist Philosophers, then it’s likely you know exactly dick about forgiveness.

Let me explain from my egocentric and ethnocentric American perspective. Having done a fairly decent about of research on forgiveness (I’m a speed reader and possibly slightly autodidactic), I can tell you that while parents and teachers “taught me” to forgive, I never really learned what forgiveness was.

You see, NONE of us are ever really taught what forgiveness is, instead, forgiveness is this funny thing that begins in early childhood when we are forced into forgiving someone for the first time (Have you ever seen a two year old have his favorite toy taken on the playground? Trust me – forgiveness isn’t inborn).

So, usually, we first learn forgiveness after little Johnny’s mom forces him to say sorry to us for talking our army guy away, or after dad tells our sibling to apologize for kicking us, so we look at the offender and begrudgingly say I forgive you (But come on, the little twerp took my toy! we think to ourselves). And this is how we learn the act of forgiveness. And unfortunately, we never get much better at it throughout life, it remains an act, and we suffer because we are acting as if we forgive others – when in fact, we haven’t been taught what it means to practice the art of forgiveness, which is a process, a habit, and something we must commit to wholly and genuinely – in a much different way than we learned as children.

Learning to forgive isn’t just about redefining how we forgive – it requires completely redefining what forgiveness is.

Forgiveness is not the pious, guilt-induced act of nobility that we were voluntarily forced into doing as children. That’s not forgiveness – that’s sanctimonious social posturing by parents who were taught the same by their parents, and are just doing their best to raise kids who aren’t entitled brats.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not decrying the adolescent brand of forgiveness where Tommy says “I’m sorry” to little Johnny for stealing his toys, and then little Johnny says to Tommy “I forgive you” and they shake hands and make up. That helps children learn moral boundaries and personal responsibility, as well as an important social skill – forgiveness. But – there’s a difference between forgiveness as a vital social skill, where Tommy and little Johnny play nice immediately afterwards, or when Tammy in the office eats your last Cliff Bar and you forgive her – and forgiveness as a life skill, when you find out your lover of X years is fucking your best friend. The transgression need not be that extreme to illustrate the difference between forgiveness as a child and forgiveness in the real world.

As a child, forgiving means getting over it and chasing each other again on the playground. As an adult, forgiveness can mean starting over in life. And even in less extreme instances, such as when a close friend hurts your feelings, as an adult it’s not as simple as saying “I forgive you” in response to their apology, and moving on. We of course instinctively know this, but culturally and socially we are still pressured to forgive or not. To make matters even more clouted, we’ve all heard the childish pleadings of: “I said I was sorry!”, in full expectation for us to automatically bestow our forgiveness upon their apology. And to make matters even worse, half the time, even as adults in cases of serious transgressions, the offending party isn’t even capable of apologizing, much less giving a proper, sincere apology (which I will explain later). And it’s not that I’m a pessimist when it comes to forgiveness, it’s just that the breed of forgiveness that got us through adolescence does little to serve us in the big leagues.

So, let’s start by redefining forgiveness from a humanistic, psychological perspective (this is very important, please read carefully):

What is Forgiveness
From The Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley:

Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.

Just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts who study or teach forgiveness make clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you, or release them from accountability.
Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger. While there is some debate over whether true forgiveness requires positive feelings toward the offender, experts agree that it at least involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings. In that way, it empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.

Please, read the above twice. (It’s written by the folks at UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center – many with PHD after their name.)

Essentially, forgiveness is the practice of moving forward with an open heart and letting go. Forgiveness is not a gift for others, it can be, but forgiveness is a gift for YOU.

It’s time to give yourself that gift.

Utilizing resources from The UC Berkeley, and Stanford University’s Forgiveness Project, I’ve created the following, which provides my interpretation of a whole, healthy approach to Forgiving Others and Letting Go of The Past.

Please bookmark and revisit as needed.

Forgiving Others and Letting Go of The Past

Here are seven steps for forgiving others and letting go of the past (plus one bonus):

1. Articulate The Wrongdoing:

“What this person did to me was not okay because ________________”

Be able to clearly articulate to yourself what was not okay about their behavior.

2. Express Your Present Feelings:

“My feelings about it today are____________________”

You must put your feelings into a present perspective in order to release the hurt you feel today, and recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts, and physical upset you are suffering now, not from what offended you or hurt you X years ago or even X minutes ago.

3. Feel Worthy:

“I deserve the peace and understanding that comes from removing the blame and releasing the negative feelings I have held onto, because_____________________”

Make a conscious choice to start feeling better and state why you feel worthy of feeling better: i.e., You deserve to feel better, you are a good person, and you want to move forward with your life.

4. Accept the Past:

“I am forgiving the past for ME and no one else. I am not condoning their actions and I understand that forgiveness is only a part of reconciliation, but I am choosing to reconcile this hurt with myself beginning today by freeing myself from the prison of the past I wanted and giving up all hope that the past can be any different.”

5. Take Back the Power Over Your Life:

“I am no longer going to give power to this person over me by focusing on my wounded feelings because________________”

State why this person no longer deserves power over your feelings i.e., they betrayed my trust, and caused me pain.

6. Redirect Your Energy & Attention:

“I am choosing to put my energy into new ways to get my positive goals met other than through the person and the experience that hurt me.”

I.e., redirecting your energy and attention to more positive memories, experiences, people, and opportunities.

7. Reframe The Past to Honor Your Forgiveness, & Appreciate What You Have:

“I am looking at the past in a new way that honors the heroic decision I have made to forgive. And I am reminding myself to focus on the love, beauty, and kindness around me, rather than focusing on what I do not have.”

8. See The Silver Lining (optional)

“Because of this hurt and this experience, I have learned to be more _________________”

I.e., focus on a positive trait, such as self-sufficient, independent, resilient, wise, or a positive lesson you learned – but remember, this is a silver lining for you to discover on your own- not a gift the person who hurt you gave you, or a favor they did for you you. Looking on the bright side and focusing on your strengths helps you move on and discover how you have evolved an grown to be a better person.

###

Forgiving others and letting go of the past is a process, and these steps should be revisited as needed. You can do this. You deserve to be free.

But before I go, let me finish the story of serendipity and The Lion King. So, late this afternoon, I received an email with an answer to a question on Quora, which I am subscribed to.

This was the email:

20140611-025820.jpg

Picture and quote from Disney’s The Lion King. Rafiki!

Remember, hatred is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die and forgiving is merely giving up hope for a better past. You deserve peace. Start living free today. There is no better investment than doing the inner work on yourself to be whole, healthy, and happy. Just think, you’re already ahead of the game just having read this.

Why Not You, and Nine Modern Sonnets

Why Not You

I’m going to ask you to do me a favor
I want you to forget everything you ever knew
I want you to imagine that you are brand new to your body, and brand new to your life
What does the voice in your head sound like?
If it were a person, would it be someone whom you would like?
Would they be an encouraging friend? A steady, and warm pillar for the soul?
Because this, dear reader, this is the narrator of your life story
It’s your inner voice, which leads you to despair or to glory

And this voice can completely be changed
And a more compassionate, encouraging and positive inner disposition arranged
You need not sell your soul,
Or buy the seminar and the book
Just heeds the words of this poem and change your inner outlook
And all it takes is a moment to create change,
because trust me my dear reader, life is fucking strange
Why not you?

I want you to say it too,
Why not me?
Someone is going to do the thing you are dreaming about,
Why not you?

If it’s possible than it’s not impossible,
But you’re going to have to make it happen Jack (insert your name here)
Let me be clear
Today, THIS day is going to be the day someone turns it all around

This will be the day someone breaks sacred ground
Why not you?
And as a child we were taught that some people were great,
But they forgot to tell us that the world was ours too to create

Why not you?
It starts with your inner voice,
The sacred narrator responsible for your every choice
She’s (you’ve) got a few problems – but that’s okay,
He (you) just need to make the distinction between what to keep and what to give up today

This is your life and up until now your inner voice was shaped by a lot of factors,
But this is the movie of YOUR life and it’s time to fire the other actors
You are the star of your life, yet your parents never knew that the way they talked to you would one day become your inner voice
And now in this exciting moment you’ve got an important choice
Managing your own psychology is the most vital life skill,
But it requires a new relationship with yourself, objectivity, and will
So now we come to an important question:

Will you begin to observe and adapt, being now as you wish to be?
Or will you continue to blindly accept how you think and behave without smartly questioning, why not me?

Sonnet 1

I’ve found heaven and hell here on earth ,
for some between death and hell – neither is worse
because the path to hell needn’t be dressed in sin
and so I fear the confines of my own skin

For some it’s not even choice – it’s a game of chance ,
as one man mutters to himself
another makes love in the South of France
but you dear boy have been to hell and back ‘afore

And soon you’ll reside in this purgatory no more
but it’s a long way from crumpled and crying on the bathroom floor
a long way from drunk and not giving a fuck
I keep telling myself that the longest way round is the shortest way home

And I picture a world with a wife and three kids, a world I dearly hope to know
but I’ve been for so long so low and so alone

Continue reading “Why Not You, and Nine Modern Sonnets”

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.

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

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.

Happiness

  • 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.

Opportunity

  • 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.

An Essay on Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love happy is happiness simply for love’s sake.

Love happy is happiness simply for love’s sake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the Grant Study revealed is that happiness is love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Art of Living

The art of living is the art of making friends with oneself: for your very resiliency against the certainty of life’s trials exists solely in the health of your relationship with yourself. Your self-esteem and your inner-disposition are sacred domains which no individual has the right to deprive you of. Thus, a wise man learns to suffice for his own happiness alone.

The most effective means of self-containing the sanctity of your happiness in this manner is in habitually exercising the inestimable practice of retiring within yourself to find peace. The trust in yourself you will build through this practice will afford you a lasting sense of peace whom no other person is capable of providing.

So, I verily say to thee, make happiness not just your personal responsibility but an unassailable right that you alone have granted yourself simply because you know that any and everything else in the world promising you happiness is a fugazi compared to the surety in knowing that you can be happy despite whatever may happen because you’ve practiced being happy and you are good at it.

So enjoy the taste of your food, the air dancing on your skin and every other simple pleasure we take for granted. And when dark waves crash upon your door or you’ve stumbled, retire back within yourself and find the sacred peace that exists within your DNA. Yes, you are wired to experience the full spectrum of bliss available to you. You must be like a painter, working with the colors you have. So breathe and remember that you can satisfy the invisible pains of a thousand sighs in a single deep breath.

And if all else fails, remember that life is suffering. Life is shit. There are starving children around the world, and victims of horrible crimes against humanity at the hands of tyrant leaders. Right now, prisoners in North Korea are being tortured and countless others are in physical and emotional pain beyond what you are capable of even imagining. But you can afford the luxury to be happy, so don’t waste the chance to make the world a brighter place. Let it be written that you were a pilot light for the peace and joy of others. May peace be with you forever.

Inspired by Thomas Jefferson: “The art of life,” Jefferson once wrote, “is the art of avoiding pain. [And] the most effectual means of being secure against pain is to retire within ourselves, and to suffice for our own happiness. Those, which depend on ourselves, are the only pleasures a wise man will count on: for nothing is ours which another may deprive us of. Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures.”

Now, listen to Celtic Amazing Grace and breathe with me.