Monthly Archives: February 2020

Comfortably Numb.

At the end of 2019, I stopped using alcohol and pot. In a way, I am not sure what happened that led me to that decision. And, it doesn’t even feel like a decision, really. I just woke up one day and didn’t want to be under the influence of a substance anymore. It felt like a certainty, an awakening more than a decision.
I have been on the roller coaster of numbing myself through various ways for my entire adult life. The most common way that I would do that was with alcohol, and my use of that began in my late teens. I don’t think that I was fully aware that I was using it to not feel; in my earliest days, it was usually when I was in a social situation, with friends or family. But if I am being really honest, which I am, I always used it not as a way to fit in; but as a way to cope with the fear that I DIDN’T fit in. 
Fear has always been at the root of me using something to excess; and so, I would shop; eat mindlessly; drink alcohol; or use pot to disengage from my fear. The fears were sometimes somewhat elusive, like being afraid to be alone when Brenda was away; or being afraid to hug by myself on the street. Or meeting new people. I am amazed at how much I have had fear as an underlying theme, and wanted to use so many means to disengage from it, or from myself so I didn’t have to face it or just feel it and let it go.
Now, I have been sober before. I was in AA for two years a few years ago, completely sober from substances. The choice at that time was because I considered myself to be an alcoholic, and letting go of substances was my way to acknowledge that presumed identity, and to disengage from it as much as possible. And, since that time, I have used alcohol, and pot, in various ways and extremes, trying to figure out my own boundaries with it.  But, the primary question for me became, what is it for? What purpose does it serve for me and in my way of living? 
Two months ago, I answered that question. I decided that fear was no longer going to guide my life. That there seemed to be nothing that I needed substances for; and no need to be numb to the world and to Life. What has become more important to me, slowly over time, is being as present as possible. Here and Now. And, to be Here and Now as consciously and as awake as possible. As I result, everything, everyday, feels alive and fresh and new. It is remarkable. The veil has been lifted and I can see so much more clearly, and experience Life so much more intimately.
Being more Present has also helped me to understand that I don’t need to live in the extremes. For decades, I believed that to really feel, to really be in my emotions, I had to live in the extremes of being impacted by the world and those around me. It created a lot of uncertainty in me, and then, I would want to not feel emotions that seemed very intense and difficult. Now, being Present, I am able to more fully accept everything as it Is, which means, I don’t need to deal with extremes. I can get good with everything, just as it is now, and disengage from expectation, disappointment, resentment, and drama. I can just Be.
I know that I can choose to use something again, whenever I want. I have the freedom to decide. Yet, I know, that if I am choosing to be awake, alive, and in the Now, I will want to be in It as fully as possible. 

Comfort in the Chaos. 

I believe that as humans, we get comfortable with the way things are. We focus on external forms and factors in our lives, and believe that all that is around us in terms of belongings, jobs, money, and relationships, are the meaning of life. And yet, we feel unsatisfied, unfulfilled. Even if the circumstances of our lives are painful, and even if we keep choosing behaviors that are either unhealthy or dysfunctional, it is as if we cannot help it. We have learned to become comfortable with the overwhelm, and what we know if often preferred to what we don’t know.
It isn’t our fault; we are taught from the time that we arrive that the forms of everything is what is real, what exists. So, even though when we are born, we know deeply who we Are, we are then taught slowly and methodically that we are not our sipiritual essence, but that are very identity is formed and solidified by all that we possess or become. So, then we spend dozens of years building a form life that for many, becomes increasingly unsatisfying. That isn’t because it is bad to have things like a house, a nice car, enough money to live well, or satisfying relationships. The problem is in seeking all of those things as the source of our continued contentment. It stops working after awhile, and many of us start to participate in the schedule of our lives, which slowly stop having any real meaning.
I was thinking today about what I believe was the most unhappy time of my life. I had just left a very unsatisfying relationship, and was sharing custody of my child with their other parent. I was in an apartment, working three jobs to make enough money to make it, and many months living off my credit cards. I was drinking heavily every single night, watching television until I was numb, and feeling unloved and unsatisfied. Then, I got the shingles, which was probably the sickest I have ever been. I remember distinctly that I wanted to die.
When I reflect on that now, I believe that some of the biggest factors in feeling that way was that I equating my happiness, or unhappiness, with the quality of the form of my life, or rather, the perceived quality of it. I had many things to be grateful for; yet believed that I was missing out on a full life, at the same time I was sure that I didn’t deserve it. And, I was looking for it all outside of myself. I had not started on the diligent and arduous journey of looking within and knowing that was the only place I would ever find true peace, joy and contentment.
And, honestly, it took a few more tries before I really got upon that road of remembering my true nature. I didn’t give up, and I stopped believing that in the midst of dissatisfaction, looking to an alternate form outside of myself was the way to find it, through belongings or a relationship. I now deeply understand that in order to live the highest quality life that is possible, I need to tend to my own garden diligently and without apology. As the saying goes, I cannot offer to others what I have not already cultivated in myself. 

I still experience chaos in my world, but when I do, I remember quickly that I don’t need to get lost in it; that it is highly unfulfilling; and that I know the road back. The road back to my true I Am. 

Ego.

I remember when Brenda, my wife and I, first met. We were having one of our deep, spiritual conversations (which we still have on a daily basis, by the way). She was talking to me about ego, and how all humans have one. I was strongly disagreeing with her, stating that to me, having an ego meant being egotistical, which I certainly was not. It felt like she was holding a mirror up to my face that I was not willing to look at, yet over time, I came to understand the truth in the words she used.
Even though I never used the word egotistical to describe myself, and honestly, who would? It sounds harsh and self centered and negative. Yet, I have come to understand how deeply entrenched my own, personal ego is in what I say and do. It is certainly to a lesser degree now, but the form of it was apparent through the majority of my life.
My ego, as it lives in me, shows up in ways of feeling seen, and appreciated. I loved it when I would be recognized for something, even though on the surface, I was doing something for someone just to do it. However, I loved the little perk of being noticed or acknowledged for a kindness, or a good job. I loved being stroked, and while that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, when that is a deep reasoning behind our actions, for me at least, that is my ego taking the lead. 
My ego is very focused on the form of things; so, when things are going my way, when others see me and recognize my efforts consistently; when I can feel puffed up and important, my ego is very satisfied. But, I have started to notice that when I am seeking that, the recognition or being seen, the results often feel hollow. As long as I am being celebrated, I feel good about myself. When not being recognized, I feel like crap. I wanted off that roller coaster so started doing the real work of my life.
The real work is deeper and more simple. It is doing and saying what really feels authentic, and inspiring. It means pausing before I say yes to something, to ensure that it really rings true for me. Authentic decisions to participate don’t need to be made in 30 seconds; we can take a moment to decide. In the realm of authentic consciousness, of being more fully awake, I get to take my time, take a breath, and be one with what Is. There is no sense of urgency. The ego is always urgent; say yes, be on, flash your smile so you can have what you want.
But, am I really getting what I want after all?
I have come to crave the simple. Enjoy most those things that speak to me the loudest, which is often silent in its approach. Deeper conversations, or no conversations at all. It is leaving a note without having it be noticed. Not counting the likes on Facebook. Really offering without recognition.
Am I there yet? Not fully. But I am closer. I am much more aware than ever before. I get to decide, in a new and powerful way, what seems to work best for me, and what does not. I get to own my decisions with dignity and self love.
Ego? Sure, I have one. But I know I Am much bigger than my ego will ever be.

89 Days.

I love that each day it seems, I get to more fully awaken to myself and who I really Am. Beyond my career, beyond my relationships,  beyond anything that is defined by my physical form, I am realizing the power of that. The magic of that.
In 88 days, I will embark on the biggest adventure of my life, driving across the United States, hugging people, talking to them, connecting, sharing and opening my heart. On the surface, that could sound like any previous adventure that I have had through free hugs, and through shining my light in the world in my own way. Yet, this phase of the learning, this new chapter, is different than any other one I have experienced so far.
It isn’t about the magnitude of the trip; although, it is in reality, the biggest and boldest tour that I have ever intended. It isn’t about where it is that we are going. It isn’t even about doing it with my son. It is about lessons that are so much bigger than even that, so big that I am almost astounded at how at ease I am with embracing them.
The first lesson that this trip is about for me is otherness. The focus of this trip is less about me, and what I bring to the world, but mainly about what others in every corner of the world are doing to help spread a message of love and peace. I am so honored and excited to hear their stories, hug their bodies, and be in presence with them and all that they bring to the world, bring to Life.  To connect deeply with other humans satisfies my own craving for community.
The second big lesson is about being Present. For the last three tours, I have gotten dozens of opportunities each time to be in the moment, even when every fiber of my Being wanted to resist that. I wanted to anticipate, control, or predict what would happen and with whom. However, the bigger goal has always been, now more than ever, to not miss any aspect of how Life is unfolding for me. That may not always be what I anticipate, but it is always valuable and worth the experience.
However, the biggest and most profound lesson for me as I prepare for and anticipate this journey, is the brilliant lesson of letting go, surrender, and trust. I have not, for much of my life, trusted that all would be well, without me having a hand in it. Whether one calls that faith, or trust, or belief, I always wanted to see the proof to know that all would be well. And, of course, that was always a disappointment, because things never turn out exactly as we may anticipate, or wish for in our minds. Yet, I would plot and plan what I desired as an outcome, and then not only be disappointed, but also, not appreciate the beauty of how things unfolded.
I now trust that all is well, no matter what happens. I still get scared sometimes, yet I know that this trip is a symbol of my declaration of Trust, of Faith, of Believing and therefore, Seeing. I have sketched out an idea of what will happen, and then Let it Go. And, the most magical occurrences have come my way as a result. Because I loosened my grip and realized the fleeting nature of EVERYTHING. And, that I don’t need to see evidence in the physical world to prove to me that all is Well.
I can just Believe it is So. 

Listen, Dear One. 

Over the last few years of my life, I have learned how to more wholeheartedly, tune into my body. And my emotions. And although I don’t get physically ill very often, and never as a result of offering free hugs, I might add, when I do, I get really, really sick. 
Last weekend, I started going through some painful, emotional stuff. It carried over into the beginning of the week. And by Monday evening, I was down for the count. I had a headache, my throat hurt, and I felt terrible. As much as I had been feeling really healthy only a few days before, I knew that the impact of the emotional issues I was navigating had pushed my body to its limit. It was doing its best to get my utmost attention. 
It was telling me, with pure force, to listen.
I haven’t always tuned in with myself. I tend to go, and go, and feel as if I have boundless amounts of energy. I sleep on less, drive for hours, and spend evenings with engagements out of the house. Not much catches up with me, unless I stop tuning in, or unless my heart also needs some rest, some solitude and TLC.  So, when I don’t slow down, my body brings about an illness that forces me to slow down. To pause. To rest.
And, rest I have done, all of this week. I postponed answering emails and I took a day off from work. I cried a lot, watched my favorite movies, and really rested my body, and my mind. I understand that I don’t always have to let myself get to the point of illness to take a break, but I still have some learning to do about that. Some inner awareness and some boundaries in place to help me to stay as healthy and balanced as possible.
I am learning to more deeply listen, and to be gentle in the reminding, even if it takes something drastic to get my attention. I see my innocence and I care for it.
And, if you are willing to tune in more, I can tell you from experience, listening to what you really need feels really, really good.