Epic story

tortola

-Epic Story-

“Perfect” will never be the discussion to describe our love.

Messy mornings, silent days, interrupted evenings. The moon in zenith.

Never getting the chance to say that word one longed to be said all day. In my thoughts, in my ear, but the words from my mouth never to “here”.

The touch of your hand. The crease of your smile. The inside joke. No body or mind knows the dark and clear crystal waters our souls invoke.

Fallibility. Our exquisite risk of love. Sometimes spread too thin. Oftentimes, overwhelmingly, peanut-buttery thick.

Brushing the intrepid curls from your face as you begin your sleep. A lump in my throat, a sign of the promise that I am yours…

Soul to soul. King to Queen. Frequencies in orbit.

The two became love; the love became marriage; marriage became trepidation; trepidation became ease; ease became strength; strength turned the 2 to 1.

-Epic story-

 

Fly Your Freak Flag! being authentic

freak flag

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too hight to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

A pondering this morning: what does it mean to be “authentic”? The term is thrown around a lot and I’d bet that if you asked 100 people if they are authentic, 100 would say yes.

It seems that many people think they are authentic, but they tell themselves this story only by tricking the mind through a process rationalization and comparison (he/she is worse than me, so I must be authentic). No one is going to tell you they are a liar, a phony, or merely a reflection of outward thoughts and influences (unless they are on a path to something larger and being honest). It is characteristically American to put on a strong face and persona for the world to see, even if it is under false pretense.

So how can a person separate themselves from that which is untrue (to them) to locate the source? The viewer of the thoughts. I struggle with the fear of not actually knowing who I am. Check out my other blog post “Eggs Over Easy“.

We can argue if truth is universal or not, however for the purposes of this post, I am interested in the individual. To a small extent, Kantism and to a larger extent Biocentrism. The knower and not the known.

The Thought

Words that can describe authenticism:

  • Genuine
  • Real
  • True
  • Pure
  • Honest
  • Primary
  • Still
  • Solitary
  • Humble
  • Focused
  • Unique
  • Resolute
  • Clear
  • Definite

I do not include “moral” or “ethical” as these terms only make sense in relation to another person or thing.

The Feeling

Have you ever said to yourself “oh I wish I had said that” or “oh I wish I hadn’t said that”? We are in a constant rivalry in our heads about what we should and should not do.

Have you also had the feeling of complete control when the thing you said or action you provided was EXACTLY what the situation called for? That feels good! I want more of that.

To get back to this place, I use a visualization and centering technique that involves energizing myself to actually feel the feeling, even before it happens. Before a big presentation, I imagine myself afterwards feeling proud and knowledgeable. I am, in effect, creating the outcome I want through emotional tethering.

Check Tony Robbin’s 3 To Thrive.

The Action

Practice, repeat. Practice, repeat. Practice, repeat.

“We cannot always control our thoughts, but we can control our words, and repetition impresses the subconscious, and we are then master of the situation.” Oddly enough a quote by Jane Fonda.

Here are a few mantras based on a some of the words above (note: you can simply put “I am” in front of any of them to have something pretty meaningful):

  • I separate myself from all that is not true (not me)
  • I am the stillness of the water
  • I am the water that clears once it settles
  • I am honest with myself and others
  • I am focused on my goal
  • I am solitary. I am one.
  • I am unique
  • I am genuine
  • I observe that which is not me
  • I walk my path with clear vision
  • I am not my thoughts (that is insanity)
  • I am the wave. I am the wind.
  • I am a hand

This last one is a bit personal and has to do with knowing my role. The spot in my mind and within the universe which is the authentic “me”.

Being real is hard work. Layer upon layer of “them” has to be released (or revealed) and a person has to come to this with an open heart and mind.

I appreciate you. Take care. K

“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone” – Alan Watts

 

Are you listening?

Kerouac radio

“[…]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

I AM SELFISH!!!

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Selfish. When you hear it there is an immediate negative relationship to the word. It’s ugly. It’s self-indulgent. It’s narcissistic.

Definition of selfish

  1. 1:  concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself :  seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

Thanks Merriam. 

Ugh. That’s bad. “Without regard for others”. That should be punished!

Has this ever been you: “Once I take care of all the important people and things in my life, then I’ll take care of myself.”? Yeah, you have a problem. The guilt we feel, either as parents, spouses, employees, children, etc. is overwhelming. So much to do, so little time. But this definitely is not the key to success. Driving your kid around to every event they desire to attend isn’t caring, it’s coddling. Not saying ‘no’ to a boss or colleague. And funny enough, it’s a form of abuse. Abuse to you. Abuse in the fact that humans learn things when the situation is difficult, not when it is easy. Sometimes in my life I wonder (i.e. fear) that things have gone too well. I have never been in war, never hungry, never poor. Believe-you-me though, the Universe has found clever ways of reminding me that I’m a human. I sit in awe of these moments.

If we do whatever the other person or “society” is telling us to do, we are merely a reflection. Not a real person but a facsimile of someone else’s desire. This is not to say that Service is a bad thing. It just has to come from the right place. If you desire to serve your community only to use it on your “insta” account, you are not in it for the right reason. Do it because you like it. And when you feel good about yourself, rejoice in it. I open the door for people for two reasons: 1) it is a nice thing to do and 2) it makes ME feel good. Selfish. 

What if, just for fun, we applied the definition above to the act of meditation, to see if it fits?

  1. “Seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage”. Check.
  2. “Pleasure”. Um, check. 
  3. “Well being without regard for others”. Holy shit. Check!

So by definition, meditating is selfish. And yet in study after study, the benefits of meditation are undeniable. Health can easily fall into this same category as well. I eat healthy for my own advantage, pleasure, and without giving a crap what someone might say. Asshole.

Same thing for opening that door for someone. 75% of the time I get a “thank you”. That makes me feel good. It brings me pleasure. But in the back of my mind I know that 25% of the time the person won’t say “thank you”. So I am doing this without regard for others. I am doing it for me. It also gives me the opportunity to move through an emotion of judgement. Again, this can be seen as self-indulgent. I am actually practicing my patience and compassion on people.

My heart pumps blood for no one else (although I am an organ donor, so one day who knows?). It feels. It hurts. It gets confused and flops from time to time. It races around. A healthy heart can give you more stamina. You live longer. You feel better. AND…  it nourishes itself first.

Namaste.

 

  • Old Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • New Rule: Do unto others as you would have YOU do unto you.

Presume Positive Intent

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How many times during our lives do we assume that something is going wrong because of something somebody else said? That someone doesn’t like us? Our work is horrible. We’re ugly. Someone is out to get us!

Only to find, that we misinterpreted it? “Oh, you were licking a stamp. I thought you were sticking your tongue out at me.”

Listening to Tony Robbins this morning, he was interviewing the guys from Warby Parker about how the company was founded. The team explained that they made it a point to meet with each other regularly to ensure the mission was on course and they continued to share ideas. Out of these discussions came the simple mantra of “presume positive intent”. Being co-founders (emphasis on the “co” part), it was easy to step on toes or get feathers ruffled simply by misinterpretation. They all had vested interest in seeing the company succeed, but as people do, they approach it in different ways. So they all agreed that before passing judgement (on an email, an action, etc.) they would presume positive intent. There is no bogeyman.

Humans are subject to technical issues, so choosing best possible to download is a good bet. When the little gremlin inside of you head pops in there and says: “uh, hey. I hate to tell you this, but you’re not qualified to be doing what you are doing”, you need a safeguard against spiraling into a ball of “what if”. A mantra. A code. Something to break the spell cast by the self doubt and low vibration thinking many of us carry around, just waiting to hear that ONE THING we knew was out there.

“I’m going to give you a little advice. There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.” – Ty Webb

 

Marina Abramović

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I am WAY late to the game. I didn’t know who Marina Abramovic was until this morning. I watched an amazing video of her confronting an old lover after 20 years. By itself, the video is powerful, but it deserves a deeper dive into who she is and where she has been.

Her life as an artist is unconventional to say the least. Wikipedia does a good job laying the groundwork for her history (or even better, the Guggenheim), but what is shocking are some of the performance art displays she produced in which she was the subject. In “Rhythm 0“, produced in 1974, she provided 72 implements to audience members and allowed them to use them on her in whatever way they chose. There was a feather, a knife, oil, a whip… and even a gun with a single bullet. The audience could have, in fact, killed her. This went on for 6 hours and she remained motionless and even more jaw dropping, emotionless, during the entire time. In her own words:

“What I learned was that … if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you. … I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the audience. Everyone ran away, to escape an actual confrontation.”

From Rhythm 0 (and Rhythm 2, 4, 5) the excitement and oddities continue. She now even has a cult following of teenagers. In 2013 she produced an exhibit called “512 Hours” where people would wear a pair of headphones and listen and engage in nothing. Just silence. She noticed a 12-year old boy returning day after day. She asked: “Why are you coming here every day?” The little boy replied “you know, it’s really important. I used to be so bad at school, and now I go home at stand in the middle of my room and listen to silence and then…then I can do everything.” Re-reading this I get teary-eyed. THAT’S impact. THAT’S legacy.

But this is a love story and what provoked me to write. It’s the story of Marina and Ulay. Madly in love, they collaborated artistically for years. In their 1976 “Relation in Space”, they simply ran into each other for an hour. Peculiar. From 1976 to 1988 they were an inseparable couple until, like many relationships, it got to be just too much. The drama too rich. The enmeshment too deep. They chose to separate.

Marina Abramovic and Ulay

And this uber-couple of the art scene did not go quietly into the night! No! They decided to climatically end the relationship by walking from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China and meet in the middle, over 1,500 miles… each. The idea was conceived in a dream and symbolized the fact that like in life, walking alone is the human condition.

“Because in the end you are really alone, whatever you do.”

After this fete, they did not see each other again. Until…

In 2010, Marina performed “The Artist is Present” at the Museum of Modern Art (take the 3 minutes to hear her speak in that video). In this performance she sat across from audience members, one by one, in silence. Again, motionless, emotionless. Thinking no one would show up (because who has time to sit in silence in the busiest city on earth?) a huge line formed. People lined up outside, waiting for hours. Emotions… tapped.

Marina_Abramović,_The_Artist_Is_Present,_2010_(4422516968)

Until there was one. Tne one person who could break through the art with the only thing that may be able to: love. It had been over 20 years.

Continue reading “Marina Abramović”

Eggs, over easy

eggs

A crack in the egg

Last week I was in beautiful Boulder, CO for a business trip and visiting my cousin. There are dozens of high end eateries and restaurants, but each time I’m there I have always gone to the same greasy spoon joint for breakfast, the Walnut Cafe, which dubs itself “The Funkiest Place in Town”. I sit at the bar and I’m greeted with friendly faces and some kick-ass coffee (seriously, this place takes there coffee, well… seriously). I tend to order the same thing, with only slight variations (e.g. fruit vs. toast if I’m feeling too gluteny), except for my eggs. I order them “over easy”, which means they are fried on both sides, but the yolk is still runny so you can sop it up with your toast (wheat, of course).

As the eggs arrived last week, I realized that I’ve ordered them this way since I was a kid having them at the NCO club on the air base that my Dad would take my brother and I to. They always had lots of choices there and I usually started out with either pancakes or french toast with Donald Duck orange juice in a can. I still remember the smell of the place and the paltry decorations of the seating area. Dad always ordered his eggs over easy with bacon or sausage. I never understood what this meant at first and thought maybe they were just being gentler with the eggs than if you scrambled them… which in fact you are. OK, sometimes my assumptions are correct.

Sitting at the Walnut Cafe, looking at the eggs on my plate and going on a brief memory roller coaster, my mind wandered off and I began to consider if I even liked the eggs this way. Maybe I wanted them sunny side up! Maybe I want pancakes and not eggs! I was having an eggsistential crisis. (oh, come on! live a little)

I began to ponder what else I might be taking for granted because “I’ve always done it this way”. What else had I picked up from my parents that I just did because I assumed it was the right way? What things had I picked up from life, that I just do because I assumed it was the right way?

I began to see a crack in the egg.

Old Rules

This is no simple matter and I believe it is not an area that many people examine. We find something that works, replicate it with success, and fall asleep for the rest of our lives content with the outcome. Content, not happy.

What other mindless habits do we keep? Even those that serve us well? What are some rules that we live our life by that we’ve grown up with?

  • Milk builds strong bones
  • OJ has vitamin C so it is good for you
  • Say no to drugs
  • Nice guys finish last
  • The early bird gets the worm
  • Curiosity killed the cat
  • Don’t quit your day job

For each of these idioms, it’s easy to come up with an alternative that disproves the rule. And yet I’ve lived my life by most of them (and many more!). Enchanted by their simplicity, I’ve used these rules as guardrails making navigating life easier; with a feeling of more control. The rules help the world make sense and more navigable.

Q: Should I stick my hand into this dark hole in the tree?

A: Curiosity killed the cat

Question answered. Done. Go about your business.

Q: What do you think about me chasing my dream of being a _____________?

A: Don’t quit your day job.

Question answered. Done. Go about your business. WAIT! Not so fast. Because I have another question to ask:

Q: When does playing by the old rules limit your potential and keep you playing small?

A: 

The answer is left intentionally blank. It’s not so easy to answer this one. There are repercussions. You have responsibilities. Commitments. And there are multiple solutions to this question.

New Rules

Ultimately, we know the answer to the question but it is buried under a whole-hell-of-a-lot of “what ifs” and old rules. The opportunity that is being presented to us is to acknowledge the beliefs you have had up to this point and are continuing to receive, and asking yourself if they serve you or not. To be awake during your day instead of sleeping through a barrage of questions that have pre-programmed answers. What would the world look like if the list went something like this?:

  • Milk has a detrimental effect on your bones
  • There is more sugar in OJ than in soda
  • There are tremendous benefits to plant based medicine
  • Nice guys finish first
  • Getting up early has no bearing on what it takes to be successful
  • Curiosity is what life is all about
  • Quit your day job

Quite a difference, huh?

Mr. Keating jumped and stood on one of the desks in his class and asked: “Why do I stand up here!?” One boy answered sarcastically: “to feel taller”. Mr. Keating replied “No! I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way”.

Time to change the perspective.

Coffee, to go

My eggs are gone, only a little bit of the yellow runny yolk is left on the large white plate. I finish my coffee and without the blink of an eye, they give me a hot coffee to go at no additional charge (I really like this place). I walk out of the door into the crisp Colorado air and stare, mesmerized by the Flatirons that pierce the impossibly blue sky to the West. Adventure. Fear. Energy. There’s just something about this area.

The flavor of coffee in my mouth. A full, warm belly. The buzz of caffeine and thin air.

In the end I realize: I like my eggs over easy. Sure, I’ll eat them fried, or sunny side up, deviled, whatever. But when asked the question, the answer is simple and satisfying:

Q: How do you like your eggs?

A: Over easy.

Question answered. Done. I go about my business.