Monday, March 27, 2017

The De-Cluttered Mind

Two years ago I began the journey of quitting my job, selling everything and traveling the world because I knew there was a better way for me to live. And by "better", I mean a way that energized me more day after day. If we only have one life to live, then I wanted to live it large.

I also began this journey out of curiosity about the world. I had itches to scratch. What's it like to ride a bicycle for weeks through Patagonia? Can I become fluent in a second language? Is the skiing in northern Japan really as good as everyone says it is?

16 months into it, I've realized a few things: biking in Patagonia is awesome, but next time I'll avoid horse-fly season. Learning a second language can be very difficult. Japow is for real.

But I also realized something far more important. By removing all the stresses from my life (no job, no bills, no dependents) I unwittingly de-cluttered my mind, therefore allowing it to see more clearly. Through no intention of my own, I became able to see through the mask of the life that we deal with every day. I see the love and energy of the world and I see the gigantic pile of bullshit that humans unknowingly bury it under. I think this clarity only happened because I first de-cluttered my mind, though I'm told that for other people it can happen via any number of ways.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Dawn.

This is the sixth time I've sat down and tried to write something about this, so I'll keep it brief. It's not easy to share this kind of woo-woo stuff without sounding a little crazy or a lot full-of-myself. But the purpose of the internet is for people to throw shit out there and for others to judge the value on their own, right? Perhaps it won't sound crazy to some of you.

A warmth has emerged inside of me that I was never aware of. I've felt it for a week now and I write this partially as a record of its existence in case I lose it. In retrospect I can see it was slowly building, brick by brick, experience by experience, over the course of the past year.

Through meditation and ayahuasca, I learned that there are energies in the universe that we rarely see or feel. Through global travel I learned that yesterday's cultural norms often become today's bad habits, passed on lovingly by long-dead ancestors. I'm not blaming anyone, but most people have seen this in their own family.

I've learned that one's emotions are their own. If someone else is doing something that makes me angry or frustrated, that anger is my problem and not theirs. They may have plenty of their own issues, but the way I react to them is my issue for me to control. 

I've learned that happiness really does come from inside of us, not from outside of us. I believe that love is a flame that burns in our heart, not something that is given to us by another person (though I believe that another person can act as kerosene to brighten our flame).

I've also learned that I need to keep on learning because there is so much to this wonderful existence that is still beyond our current understanding. Dogs are able to hear and smell things that humans do not. Cats can see waves of light that humans cannot see. This world we humans see, in all its glory, is just one scuffed facet of a truly glimmering gem.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tangentially Speaking

I enjoy and find great benefit in listening to podcasts and reading blogs and books. Since quitting my job I've been blessed with time and I'm realizing how valuable time is for personal growth. I understand that virtually nobody reading this has the kind of time that I do for listening to wise people, but I encourage you to give it a shot.

There's an ancient Buddhist saying:
You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you're too busy. Then you should sit for one hour.
photo via 

My New Favorite Podcast

Tangentially Speaking
The host of this podcast, Chris Ryan, is a very wise and well-traveled, philosophical gentleman. Every episode has at least one gem that I take away, often they are Ryan's beautiful (if not entirely accurate) attempts to remember a quote from somebody else. Here are a few of my favorites:
When asked for life advice from a young person he quoted the more broad interpretation (i.e. without the word "God") on a famous St. Augustine quote saying: Love, and do as you please.
He took a Eugene McCarthy quote about politicians and football coaches and applied it to Wall Street investors and corporate America business leaders, saying that the most "successful" of them are good at the money games they play because: they are smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important.

I can't remember who to attribute this one to, but it is so true: Anger is what fear and pain look like when they show themselves in public.
There are over 200 Tangentially Speaking episodes and you can browse through the list of guests and start with someone who sounds interesting to you. If you want a place to start, try episode 195 ROMA 7 where he responds to a guy who is "mystified at how so many people fail to see through the inanities of modern civilization".