Life As a Failed Hypothesis: Try Again.

I’ve hit a wall today. I feel like throwing up. Fact is, I’m here, where I am in life, as a result of my choices.  In a word, I made the wrong hypothesis. It’s all very complex, you see; allow me to rewind so that I may tell the story in full.

In 2010 I built a successful lead generation business that brought in monthly what many take home in a year (I tell the story here). At this same time, when I was suddenly making gobs of money, I got back together with the girl I had dated for 5 years after an approximate 24 months broken up. The conditions of the breakup where what you would call nightmarish, but I was foolish, and I suppose I sought closure.

Having gotten back together with this first love of mine, we moved to Seattle.

After 6 months, she left.

I was left alone in a condo we had spent thousands furnishing. I didn’t give a fuck about any of it. Maybe I had started the business and made the money to “win” her back. After all, my initial plan was to “randomly” pull up where she happened to be in a Lamborghini (I was 24); however, Before that ever happened, we reconnected.

Once she was gone, however, the two years of heartache, the business, all of it came crashing down. It was a house of cards. A game I had set up for someone else.

I convinced myself I hated the business and, frankly, I was in that very toxic male mode of “not giving a fuck”. Unattended to, the income dried up.

I took a 10 day trip to Hawaii, and I was every bit as lost as I had been before. Upon my return, I was facing eviction from the condo I was renting, and, suffice to say, the pain of it all was a lot. Dark days.

At about the three month mark after said ex departed, I left Seattle for Milwaukee, at the invite of a good friend whose work was taking him there.

I had no dream, no plan, no nothing. And although I had almost no money, I somehow managed to live a fairly carefree life there for a year; however, by the time I left, I was living in a motel by the airport, and only 1 friend visited me (Garry, I’ll never forget that).

When I left Milwaukee, I came to LA, where I crashed with a friend whom I had met in Santa Barbara, where we had both worked at the same bar.

LA was, in my mind, my favorite city. I felt different there.

I was also poor as a rat. I would walk to the store for a single serving of yogurt and a banana. But I was happy taking long walks through Mid-Wilshire, exploring Koreatown around sunset, headphones on. It was a calm time.

Nonetheless, I needed to feed myself, so I started building websites using the skills I had developed in my lead gen business. I hated it. You get a small deposit, you work your ass off, you get paid the balance, and then you try to find more clients (I suspect many web developers hate their work).

Around this time, while visiting my sister in San Diego, I met someone who would end up being my second love, whom I would date for three years. This is, of course, a novel in it’s own right; however, for today, I’m mainly focusing on work / career.

That said, while we dated, I at first continued building websites; however, I soon thought about entering the lead gen game again, which I did – for all of three days.

On the third day I had been running paid traffic to my landing page, I got a call from a past client (A lead reseller). I was offered a job in LA, where I would be responsible for running their marketing. And although I had already been at an approximate $300 profit for the day, I did something stupid: I took the job.

Then my girlfriend, who had been very convincing in me taking the job, backed out of moving to LA with me. What’s worse, I wasn’t even in LA, I was in Hermosa Beach, which was just a more expensive, more bro-ish version of where I grew up (Pacific Beach). I would have rather been back in Koreatown. On top of that, I wasn’t feeling empowered enough in my new job, and my efforts to communicate this – even accompanied by an offer to forgo my salary till I felt I was paying for myself – all these were met with little response.

I left the job, miserable in a city where I was so alone, and I retuned to San Diego, where I ended up moving into a little apartment in La Jolla Shores, about three blocks from the beach. Around this same time, I was offered a job consulting for another lead gen firm, located in Ohio. It was on a trip there, where I contracted blood poisoning, the result of a faulty ass piece of shit pair of tennis shoes (A story I tell here). The blood poisoning was serious, and it came to be a kind of soft turning point for me.

I was twenty-seven and working very hard to please a girl who wouldn’t even stay at my new place the first night I moved in – on my birthday!

That said, the relationship crashed and burned. We had different values.

As casual as I sound about this now, it was by no means a cakewalk; I was a fucking mess. Another multi-year relationship had ended with me being persona non-grata. These are breakups where you say and do the worst things to each other, which, of course, no matter what end of it you are on, you end up totally deflated, devoid of self-worth. Not exactly a recipe for success.

Now, at this time, I had been writing on my blog for 3 or 4 years (Since Seattle). It was also around this time that stories began to take shape in my head, novels. I knew it – I had known it all along – I was supposed to be a writer. This in mind, I began living what I imagined to be a sort of young writer’s life. I was in no way shape or form concerned one iota about the getting of money. It was like, what had all that been worth? All this chasing of money, only to end up investing in the wrong dreams, which had left me depressed and heartbroken.

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before the Sheriff came and let me know it was time to move out. I had simply stopped functioning. No bills had been paid. My cell phone was cut off. I simply didn’t care.

Of course, I knew all along that I wouldn’t be homeless. When I called my mom and asked if I could stay with her – something I had done before – it was an automatic yes. A friend of her’s even let me use her guest house – the main house which was occupied by various young middle-easterners, all of whom loved to smoke spliffs in the gazebo, where they had moved a TV to watch early morning soccer matches.

Again, I was doing a lot of nothing. Eventually, when a tenant came to rent the guest house, I moved back to my mom’s. I was thirty.

During this time, I had no real future plans or trajectory, other than knowing I was to be a writer. In following this, I spent my days volunteering at the library, and my nights reading everything I could get my hands on. I started to build a decent library; however, I was in my mom’s house, so the books were stacked at first along a wall, then, after, on a door, made like a desk atop two wooden folding chairs.

Not long after, I would cook down a few feet of San Pedro and have my first Mescaline experience – something that would have a profound effect on me, allowing me to see things about the world and myself I had hitherto been unawares of. There’s a reason Huxley called his book, The Doors of Perception.

I had multiple cactus tea experiences, all by myself, on a blanket near the water. Just me and my candles – two non-working cell phones for music (In case one died).

I guess I just wanted to “be”. To experience stillness and possibility.

Soon possibility would be upon me. I would fall in love again.

I remembered laying in Sarah’s bed, sleeping in one morning while she was at brunch, and saying aloud to myself, “Is this the girl you’re going to marry?”

Maybe I’ve been lucky in love. I’ve always thought so – despite things not working out in my twenties.

Sarah and I spent hours talking about what we wanted, and our values were a definite match – she even had psilocybin mushrooms in her freezer.

I soon had moved in with her, and we set up a desk we had found for me. I felt once again compelled to strike out on my own and do something.

I spent countless hours trying to build a User Experience consulting business. It failed. I tried to pivot my model to focus on the financial industry, where I felt I could make the most impact. I didn’t get a single client.

Around this same time, we were tired of apartment living in a beach town. We soon decided to move to LA; however, it would be reading Stephen King’s, On Writing, which would compel us to change our minds.

The image of Stephen King typing away in a shed for hours, living in a trailer, working in a hospital laundry, seemed almost romantic to me.

Fuck, I thought, I need to go all in on my writing. 

Besides, neither Sarah nor I was overtly materialistic, so we had no problem with a simple life – particularly one dedicated to the pursuit of my writing.

So, a plan was formed. We would move somewhere cheaper than LA. We opened the laptop and got on google maps and craigslist, zooming out from where we were.

It seemed we might be destined to move to Nor Cal, when we found a reasonably priced three bedroom on the edge of the woods, outside Big Bear, CA. Sarah left her job, working from home for a govt contractor, and I decided I would support us doing websites (It seemed fair, Sarah supported us the first six months), writing in the evenings.

Only, it wasn’t that simple. We moved to the mountains and I spent all most all of my time working, barely scraping by – despite long, often grueling hours to finish projects.

The truth is I was in a very saturated market. There are a billion front-end web people, and the price of the work you do naturally reflects this. But what drove me fucking crazy is that I had hardly written. Life up here in the mountains had become about keeping the lights on, paying the gas.

I had imagined that somehow, I could support us with my web work and write.  I had imagined that going after the money didn’t matter.

After all, I felt my writing was the only thing worth investing myself in; I didn’t want to chase money, I wanted to live simply, I wanted to write, to pursue my career as a serious novelist and screenwriter.

This was a great romanticization on my part.

I’ve come to realize plain as day that this was a failed hypothesis. In short, my writing hasn’t progressed as I’ve wanted, and I’ve struggled for months to scratch out a living doing work I loathe.

Not a recipe for happiness. In fact, it was a recipe for disaster.

Early this year, I would up having a full-blown nervous breakdown. The kind where they take you in for three days to observe you. How’s that for bragging rights? Not much.

By the time I was in the hospital, I was relieved to be there. I had had a terrible flu and hadn’t slept for a week. I was a skeleton. The first night I was there, I got up, walked down the hall, and asked the nurse for something to finally get to sleep. I was offered an injection of some sort in the buttocks, which I happily received.

My nervous breakdown over, I came home and started therapy immediately, consoled by the words of Joseph Campbell:

“If the person doesn’t listen to the demands of his own spiritual and heart life and insists on a certain program, you’re going to have a schizophrenic crack-up. The person has put himself off center. He has aligned himself with a programmatic life and it’s not the one the body’s interested in at all. And the world’s full of people who have stopped listening to themselves.” 

I began to want to listen to myself more deeply. To avow myself not to do the thing I hate. I also realized that there was no sense in trying to live the starving artist’s life. Being a pauper is simply not for me.

So, where to from here?

Well, I’m certainly not going to continue down the same road with a failed hypothesis. I did that and surely, it’s part of what led me to have a nervous breakdown in the first place. You can’t do the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

It’s become clear to me that I cannot support my writing with freelance web-work.

This is, however, still my current bread and butter, which I have no immediate way of replacing. I can, however, change my expectations.

It’s reasonable to assume I cannot expect to flourish as a writer under these circumstances. So, firstly, I need to drop my expectations of writing until I have a reasonable means of supporting myself, Sarah, the dogs lol.

In conclusion, I’ve been looking into returning to where I started: generating leads. At one time, I was earning $2k a day without much work needed to maintain it. Today, as a freelance web developer, I have to do an immense amount of work to earn the same, and it just hasn’t been practical to write, as I’ve told above.

My new hypothesis is based around the idea of security first. I’ve built a bad life for myself as a starving artist: and maybe, the days of the starving artist are done – they certainly are for me.

I feel today, that it’s my right, my duty to create a new set of circumstances for myself, one in which I am prosperous and able to write. Maybe I just lacked the imagination or the confidence to go after that in the first place. My younger self certainly would have dreamed a better dream, but after my twenties, I had such a bad taste in my mouth about the pursuit of money, I just thought it would be crazy to take that route – particularly after the defeat of two failed consulting business models. But I was never a good consultant. I was never a good employee – even when I was a successful employee I loathed the Sisyphean nature of trading time for money, day in day out.

I said something to Sarah recently, about how there are other people, who, with my knowledge and experience in the lead gen industry would have undoubtedly gone back again and gotten after it. I simply wasn’t hungry before. Now I am.

Thirty-two and starting to build a new life again. I mean, isn’t that what it takes sometimes: getting the shit kicked out of you and getting up again. And maybe there are other people who would not get back up, but I have to.

I just don’t see any other way. And really there’s not. So I have to do what I have to do.

The idea is that I’ll create a comfortable life for myself, and that I’ll once again own my time, which I will invest into my writing. It reminds me of a paradigm I wrote about a while back: Hacking an Open Source Cognitive Model for Goal Prioritization and Attainment, in which I talked about how Elon Musk’s “Software” works. Essentially, we have our wants and we have reality, in between are our goals. By focusing on the right goal prioritization, we expand our reality, allowing us to attain the things we want. Elon long ago wanted to build rockets and cars. He started Zip2 / Paypal to do it. It just wasn’t possible without the capital. The same seems to be true for my writing. I need the capital to be able to commit my bandwidth to fiction, rather than web development.

And it breaks my heart to write all this today, but it’s simply the reality I now find myself in. I wanted to come here to the mountains and have a comfortable life, where I could write. I didn’t create that. I created a life of stress and struggle, and, frankly, I’ve had enough. Thankfully, I’m still young and willing to take risks, I just can’t risk continuing to live like this. It’s been hell. I had a bad hypothesis. Time to try again now.



What I Was

Preface: This has been an incredibly pivotal season of life for me, and I have been going through a time of radical self-realization. Tonight I took my blanket and candles to the shore for the supermoon blood lunar eclipse, and I wrote the following in reflection (Mainly) on the later part of my twenties. As I have certainly published TMI before, revealing my past flaws – flaws which others around me likely already saw clearly – is not something I am afraid of.

What I was:

Stuck in my head
Socially undiscerning
Feeling driven
Mentally passive
Overly effeminate / feminine dominate
Obsessed with the past
Too emotionly empathetic and vulnerable
Easily influenced
Scared of life
Insecure with women
Spiritually uncertain
Nervous / afraid
Unsure of myself
Hard on myself
On edge / jumpy
Approval seeking
Stuck in my story
Trapped in a bad feeling
Ignorant to how life works
Weak willed
Unaware of my potential
Unhappy with life, uncomfortable w life
Easily manipulated
Responsible for other people’s feelings
A victim
Sorry for myself
Reliant on others, dependent
Unexcited about life
Closed minded
Small minded
Did not define happiness
At the mercy of my feelings
Resentful of exes
Unable to understand extrinsic motivators / others
Distrustful of the universe
A passive partipant in life
Addicted to the past
Disconnected to others
Uncomfortable with silence
Felt responsible to lead conversations
Down about life
Poor self-image / externally defined
Defined by my past / confined to who I was
Defined by experiences (past perspectives)
Resentful of my childhood
Uncompassionate to myself
My own worst enemy
Unwilling to take responsibility
Blameful of others
Easily influenced by ideas and concepts i.e., “I’m a writer”
Unforgivng of myself
Concerned with people’s judgements but not healthy approval
Unable to let go
Uncomfortable with discomfort
Afraid of confrontation, discomfort
Resigned, ignorant to the power of will, unable to “change” / stuck in my experience
A passenger in life
Stuck in my perspective, did not take responsibility for it
Not at home in the world
Desiring for a “home” but unwilling to take responsibility for it
Afraid to confront my emotions
Concerned w having all the answers to unimportant questions
Unaware of my biases and assumptions
Not aware that my experience was nothing more than my perspective, my processing computer
Unwilling to let people down
Afraid of bad things happening
Poverty mindset
Overly sensitive
Unable to interpret people
A product of family society
Ignorant to the oaktree in the acorn
Quick to fall in love
Full of sorrowful, pity laden, excuses
Poor boundaries, wanted to be loved by everyone, friends w everyone
Wanted every girl to like me
Too open too soon
Unwiling / afraid to examine the past, the deeper reasons behind my decisions
Unprepared, backwards – rather than forward thinking
Selfish in the wrong ways, not sensitive of others
Ill prepared, poor at prepearing
Did not view myself as lovable
Did not understand why people liked or did not like me
A follower of the wrong minds
Unwilling to say no to people
Note: need to go back through life story I wrote and learn, resee things
Was not objective of things, life, decisions, limited to my own head
Victim rather than hero mindset
Could not contain my feelings to myself
Unable to see past present feelings, to a larger narrative
Did not define my own disposition
Egocentric instead of reality centered
Way too impartial due to emotions, did not fault ex girlfriends
Unable to set a plan and stick to it, afraid to pen in my dreams
Needed people to believe in me in order to believe in myself
Unaware of my flaws
Felt I needed the girl of my dreams to dream
Unaware of the limits of my dominating paradigms ex: “The purpose of love is to dream…”
Note: the purpose of love is to share happiness
Unable to move on, to adopt a healthy outlook
Unable to discern other people’s values,
Not concerned enough with them
I lived inconsistent w my own (values) – as a result, I had mixed/poor priorities
Emotionally masochistic
Nothing, including my happiness and wellbeing (nor the happiness of those I loved) was sacred
Did not understand what people wanted for – or from – me
Did not have healthy / confident / worthy expectations of myself
Conformed to the desires of others without taking my own into account
Not at peace with myself and with life
I created struggles in order to justify my story, the pain of my past
Did not define or understand what I needed in the day to week to week living of life
Did not give myself healthy credit for the things I did right, or even just for trying
Did not love or even like myself
Made promises I could not fulfill or did not plan to
Did not apologize when I should have, forgave when I should have not
I looked for the bad and I missed the good
Did not have the compassion to understand who I am
Said the wrong things and sometimes left the right things unsaid
Thought in absolutes, did not understand the perfection of balance, tension between opposites
Let other people’s emotions effect me too much, was not grounded in my own calm masculine energy
Drifted through life, was conquered by my weaknesses, rather than finding victory in my strengths
Attracted the wrong kind of attention to myself
Did not have healthy, mature boundaries
Did not understand people are a product of the times, as was I
Did not understand what I was so desperate to escape from
Did not think about the consequences of my actions
Did not know any better
Did my best

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” – William Blake, The Marraige of Heaven and Hell, (From which Aldous Huxley took the title for his book, ‘The Doors of Perception’, detailing his experience with Mescaline).


Mindsight: Going Back to The Start

The imagination is the greatest ability we have – for what may be born of dreams extends far beyond the reaches of the eye, which is limited by our reality – yet the bounds of reality extend far beyond the morrow, all the way into the clouds and past the horizon. Mindsight – our ability to see past today, past practicality, beyond the abyss of fear and the cove of doubt – this is the key that unlocks doors where others see walls. It is through this magic of evolution that we may dream while we are awake, seeing what others do not.

If you think this is the stuff of mere daydreaming, fancies and whatnot, then you, my friend, are seriously shortchanging yourself.

Things do not happen by mere chance: that couple that is going to make love tomorrow on the yacht of their dreams, you think that is mere fortune? No. That, my friends, is the product of a dream, a plan, a goal, and, of course, hard work.

The problem is, most people confine their dreams to their resources rather than letting their dreams detemine them. If your dreams do not guide your reality, as a needle does a thread, your reality will guide your dreams. Unfortunately, most people lose their ability to dream – both through lack of use and the normal setbacks of life. We’ve all given up at some level.

That last sentence is heartwrenching, isn’t it.

You see – dreams need to be curated, protected, and evolved, but the difficulty is that we live in a society that applies immense pressure on us; our values, our goals, and our desires are constantly being dictated to us by our peers, our parents, and ultimately our fraglie and insecure egos.

I hit a point last year when I realized my dreams weren’t even mine.

They belonged to an ex or someone I felt I needed to best, or my wish to gain approval from someone who doesn’t matter. Ayn Rand was right; selfishness is a virtue. Luckilly, I can still afford to be selfish: no wife. No kids. No limits. It sounds absurd but it’s true; if you’re out there and you’re feeling sorry for yourself about being single, you are seeing it all wrong. No, you can write your own ticket.

But most of us, single or taken, struggle with this – with determining what is we really, truly want.

The irony, and the key to unlocking the mystery within us, lies in the past; before society replaced our dreams with things: flat TV’s, great shoes, nice cars, a great place, this is adult shit. Children, on the other hand, know better. We all know better. We’ve just forgotten.

Go back in time. Remember when you were a child. Remember that thing you did that made the hours pass like minutes. The thing that dissolved reality into a mere sidenote. That; the call you stopped answering a long, long time ago still lives within you, and if you pick it back up, it will ring as true today as it did on afterschool afternoons twenty years ago. It’s 1995, and you are on the floor in your room looking at a book, feeling like you just set foot on the moon. Fast forward ten years and you were working in a call center not even realizing what happened to you. Five years later and you just wanted what others had. It’s a sad story, but it’s the story of an adult life. Wrought down by the weight of living, we forgot what we loved. We traded in our dreams for flat screen TVs, twenty inch rims on our leased SUVs.

It is time to reach back in time and take back the light that once kindled your soul.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung

Awaken. Please.

I am begging you, as the pain I brought on my soul has long begged of me.

I write this because today I am taking full responsibility for my childhood dreams: I own them once again, and I am no longer owned by the pressure of society, a pressure no child really knows.

When I was a kid, I loved nothing more than books and boats. I read every book in my school library on sailing, even Kon-Tiki. Dove, Spray, Adrift – you name it. I remember one day, while reading a story of sailors eating hard-tack at sea, just wishing I had some old, stale bread in my kitchen. I just wanted to taste it, I wanted to live it. And for a time, I did.

But then life happened. That drug of love, and the desire to be cool, to be admired, the desire to admire myself for the things society upholds as measures of happiness and success took over.

I’ll save you my autobiography, but at thirty I am once again as bitten by those same bugs as I was at eleven.

It’s an incredibly beautiful and healing thing. This, my friends, is as true to myself as I can be.

Books and boats.

P.s. We may know the dreams most suited to us by the ease and comfort in which we can clearly imagine ourselves in them. So, try them on, until, just like Goldilocks, you find the one that feels just right. So chill out; you had it all figured out as a child. You need only remember. Now go get lost in it. Once more. For your own sake. Don’t let yourself down another day more. You read this, and I wrote this, for a reason.

Journal: Green Pastures, and The Storybook

Below, at the bottom of this entry, is an entry I began writing before publishing, Past Reconciled: Future Reclaimed; however, it overlaps much of its predecessor in substance and feeling, and thus can be considered an accompaniment to the aforementioned.

Just in the five minutes I spent finishing the entry that follows, which we may call The Storybook, I felt the burden of shifting into too low a gear, having resolved and decided it’s time I look to the future and having lived today a bit lighter than the last now that I have reached this turning point from which I go forth – vowing not to turn back. Yes, I have ruminated on the past and chewed my cud in full. To do so further would make me sick, it would be to beat a dead horse. But I wouldn’t even beat a live horse.

I laugh, I feel light.

Today was a good day and every day is and has been for a long time. Long enough to remember everything but certainly not too long that I forget the time, not so long ago, when my past was an affliction. Bah! Past be done. Gone but not forgotten, yet not so close at hand by necessity that I need not remember it. Cud chewed. Nutrients gained. Soil fertile. Green pastures now call.

I guess I am a bit in shock though. My grace and good fortune stuns me. Even tonight a blessing found me as I spoke with a friend over coffee (this friend I unexpectedly ran into), and a gentleman, overhearing our conversation and a brief summary of my work, thereupon engaged me to meet with him this coming Thursday. Fortuitous indeed.

And now, preparing to rise from the sandy spot where I sit, I close my Sunday. I go home to a book and a cup of tea. Ha-ha. How nice my life.

I thus leave this entry below and release what has been, holding onto what has made me.

It will be a great week on the green pastures I now call home.

The Storybook

Note: I personally feel this entry is shit as far as writing quality goes, and for a variety of reasons it was difficult to write, but the beauty of editing your own blog is that you needn’t hem the rough edges of your work. For in this case, although the edges be rough and the sentences thick and obtuse, there is meaning enough (to me) to preserve it’s asymmetrical form. Not everything I write is going to flow but some rivers need to run, rough as they may be.  And maybe, these rivers need to run most.

Thirty years, and a storybook at that – of course no storybook being without its forests – so it is, I have met my fears and my hopes they did assail, but alas; like Jonah’s, my hopes did prevail.

I’ve been in love twice and my heart is still full of life enough to be charmed by Cupid’s arrow a third time, G-d willing.

This confidence I have in my heart is part of what carries me on; and this despite two major breakups: most recent (Eleven short months ago) with a girl I spent a thousand nights next to, and previous to that with a girl I shared many more but no less with.

Twice those nights ended and twice I was heartsick.

I spent a long time disappointed, a long time digging myself deeper and deeper, trying in vain to discover what lie under the sad thing. I, of course, never found it (The search itself being the sad thing), and my sorrow could have carried me all the way to the grave, there being no end to the sorrows of an angry heart.

And so it is: disappointment, adding to the weight of age as it does, often becomes a great ballast, pulling our hopes and dreams beneath the deepening sea of a reality we once floated upon – before the wrecks, before the storms, before we lost faith in what once propelled us.

And then, lacking fuel and muse for our dreams, we sink to the bottom of ourselves. And in the dark night of the soul we face one of life’s most important questions. But for many it’s a foregone conclusion: their heart can’t carry them on. So they cast off the weight of their dreams; their hopes sullied and soaked with disappointment, they blindly cleave at the withered branches of their hearts.

Thus the weary gardener, stuck by the thorns, prunes the roses in winter. And robbed of its promises, the light in his heart loses it’s muse and everything’s dimm’d forever.

And so it is, yearning for Sixpence he never sees the moon, and missing January he loses June.

This being sadly so, some, having shed their dreams, never surface from the dark night of the soul – and the question is answered without ever being considered.

The question, of course, being whether we might find something bigger, better, more exciting, more magical than the magic of the past that animated us and brought us to life. But when up goes down and pleasure becomes pain, we hold onto what ails us and in doing so we quit our grip from our dreams and we lost the buoyant optimism they gave us.

As Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

This is our problem. It’s this failure to move beyond the past and evolve our reasons for living and getting up in the morning that brings on the ten years winter so many spend their thirties in.

So, you’ve lost your why. Welcome to the layer cake son.

Time to venture deeper, further, closer. Time to birth new dreams.

For the things that put life in your heart may die off – you musn’t die with them. But many do. Their glory of many lives stuck in a gone season; long after their dreams die, they live dead, killed off by the ghost of a reason no longer capable of animating them. As Ben Franklin wrote, “Some people die at twenty five and aren’t buried till seventy-five.”

Just as nature fixes biology at a certain point and we can no longer bear children, human nature and time compounded fixes our psychology so that beyond thirty few again birth dreams. This death of our ability to dream follows the death of our dreams. The dream of Love. The dream of success. The dream of happiness. These dreams are our myths. And as soon as they no longer ring true we either become enslaved to them or we lose faith entirely.

I’ve been there, the prisoner of dead dreams, but I’m back from the dead. And dead was I a very long time.

Many years ago love came along and it was more bright and beautiful and intoxicating than I had ever imagined a comfort could be. And I called love Daniella. So funny now seeing her name. Today it means no more to me than the name of G-d to an atheist. But back then, and for many years after, it meant love, and that love meant happiness.

This is the last time, save an autobiography one day, I will ever think of her as love. For when her love turned to ash Love did too. But that taste, the ashes of Love, stayed in my mouth for many years.

Even when fate delivered me a girl who was capable of being so much more to me, I held onto the old myth of Love and I made this other Goddess of Love a martyr and a bastard of my dead myth. Today I can see how cruelly and utterly wrong I was. Beyond stealing our joy, living a dead myth almost killed me, in many ways – and in many ways I was dead.

For if we don’t posess a living myth, the dead myth will ways posess us. And never before have these words rang truer:

“Until we make the unconscious conscious, it will direct our life and we will call it fate.” – C.G. Jung

For what is a dead myth but a myth we have repressed and buried. The pain of living a dead myth, however, always finds its way to the surface. And until a new myth takes its place, we live the dead one.

For, if Daniella was love then how could Shannon ever be? If Daniella was happiness – how could I ever be anything but unhappy. I could not. I was miserable inside. And all that repressed misery made itself visible and palpable in a thousand-and-one-ways.

We must cultivate our garden. And our garden is the place where our myths we live. Our soul. This is the soil and the shaping force of our life story.

I no longer have to question the pain I went through, the pain and sorrows of a full life. For the man who questions his suffering has yet to find its worth in his myths.

And when he does find it, his pearl of great price, he returns to himself a great and wide piece of what he lost. For while no grown man has a tabula rasa, few do have a pure, unspoiled heart. This brightness of the soul, so often embodied in the youth – who carry it unknowingly – is recognized chiefly by those who in the hindsight of age can see what they once held.

This brightness – if revived and maintained – will be your greatest asset, allowing you to mature without the weight of aging and to live without the pain of dying. To do this, you need birth new dreams to replace the dead, lest they kill you. And in this, you will be be reborn.

Past Reconciled: Future Remedied

For a very long time I lived by the banal platitude that if you were depressed, you were living in the past; if you were anxious, you were living in the future; and if you were at peace, you were living in the present.

The mindfulness of conscious awareness and gratitude aside; I have learned: the past needs examining if you are to free yourself from it; if you want to forge a new dawn you must bring to light the unconscious myths and metaphors by which you blotted out the sun. The man who ignores his past risks being ruled by it and the man who loathes it, most surely is.

To quote Jung for the billionth and not final time: Until we make the unconscious conscious, it will direct our life and we will call it fate.

And where else does the unconscious lie but in the seeds of the past by which it was formed.

Through this alchemy of the past we turn suffering to freedom, and by the light emitted from unconscious wounds we see clearly and we become conscious.

I have used a lot of my time these past six months to reflect and look back on my past. And wisely was it spent, for I certainly would not have the clarity and peace I do had I used it otherwise.

Prior to the time spent in reflection, I looked inward, which, for all its inherent dangers, offers its own good: allowing you to search the dark for the God within.

I would compare this inward self-examination and exploration to a kind of diagnoses of one’s wounds, which, before being exposed, so long went ignored, only their symptoms surfacing. And so it is, the wound comes to light and it is ugly and painful.

And then, the wound being located and examined, we turn back to the past and after a personal archeology of its wrecks, we find there the evidence we so long ignored of the crimes we ourselves often committed against ourselves. Here, in the past, we slowly piece together how it all happened; we come to find out why we have done what we have done and why we felt the way we felt to make us do the things we did – the doing and the feeling connected and either through denial or self-deception made completely unconscious to us at the time. And finally, after putting it all together in the hours and months spent in silent rumination, we see ourselves not as victim, but culprit. Our guilt in the excuses, which – if we have been honest with ourselves – are no longer valid.

Thus, we heal in owning our bullshit and claiming our baggage; we take back the same raw material that once burdened us and it becomes the foundation for personal growth and the responsibility that entails. What once owned is now ours. Thus we begin anew, our relationship with ourselves made healthy by virtue of the newfound grace dug up from the graves of our past.

These proceeding ten paragraphs summing up the past six months in which I, in repair, set my heart right.

Today, June 27th, 2015, in my new relationship with myself, ghosts and all, I can now look to the future, a future I have been so diligently working toward, being cautious not to live in it before its time.

As I read in a book, which name I cannot recall, learn from the past, live in the present, and plan for the future.

[Edit: the book is called The Present]

By this maxim I have come to arrive at a time when the future of my design is soon arriving.

Twenty six days and I will again take up residence in LA, whole, as I never was before, with surety, security, confidence, and the Grace by whence it all came.

And so, being learned of my past, I go forward knowing I must think different; whereas in the past I would have exceeded my means and lived to impress others; I live now seeking to impress my soul before a G-d that has given me an opportunity to show Him, to show myself, that I am worthy of all I desire and capable of bearing the crown I aspire. It was under the Emperor Rome burned just as it was by my hand I fell, and by my hands I shall and do rise.

“What kind of life do you desire?”

The words of Alan Watts echo in my mind, their weight clear to me now, their meaning full. And in my own power as a Man, I can now answer this question with a straight face and an upright spine.

With great power comes great responsibility: this is the human condition; the power to build a legacy and the power to lay waste to one. For me the latter is done and the former resumes – but not where I left off, for the past now complete; the future is finally up to me.

Poetry: The War is Over

I was stopped short of the start by every worry that ever gripped my heart
Because there’s a kind of squeezing that made me sick,
But there were no days off

Just a weekend’s denial to bury the fear,
I kept it at bay long enough to keep running,
I ran towards the dream:
The dream that one day everything would be okay

But it’s tiring living in the spectrum between fear and assurance,
It’s emotionally taxing to support the war of feelings constantly fought amongst your thoughts
Because it pulls you back on forth on a ride you secretly wish would stop
So you sleep – you lie in darkness,
Anything to shut that part of yourself off

These invisible thieves of joy could never make sense of your feelings,
And you can never find meaning in the nauseous emptiness they leave
Because ancient animal instincts never learned to factor logic into fear and worry
So we’re drowning daily in a flood of chemicals that barely know the difference between run for your life and hurry

So I’m penning a letter to the part of me I used to think was real:

Dear false self,

To all the thoughts that hurt,
To all the feelings that were never a friend –
You never helped me,
You only brought me down in the end

So I’m asking,
Isn’t it time I stopped caring so much about what I think?
Isn’t it time I stopped caring so much about how I feel?

Isn’t it time I let my inner voice do the leading, instead of believing all that my ego wants me to think is real?

Because I’m learning that I’m not what I thought I was,
I’m not what I wanted other people to see;
I’m not what I was, should, or could ever be

I’m simply me

The boy who saw a life of possibility,
The boy who dreamed of being empowered and free
I’m the guy who fell in love, picked my heart back up, and put the song on repeat

It’s time I recognize there are parts of me that would kill me before I could ever manage to manage them
There are parts of me no drug can suppress, and for which even therapy will not put at rest

There are parts of me that will never be free as long as I take them seriously

There are parts of me that given my conscious attention would forever leave me in a state of needing to meditate
These parts have kept me on the run far longer than was ever fun

These parts, forever wanting to get lost,
No matter the pain, never mind the cost

These parts –
These pieces divided
They’ll never be satisfied and they’ll never be decided
They will always measure, always question, and always compare
And following them I’ll forever be waiting on the day when I can finally say I feel alive –
But they’ll never let me arrive

I can’t wait on the day any more

I can’t pretend my life isn’t underway
I can’t keep being creative with the math to say ‘my life’s just begun’

I can no longer dream of the day when my house feels like a home and my thoughts are my soul’s choosing alone
I can no longer wait on the day when my babe will be there for me and I can forgive myself completely

I can no longer be headed home
And this is not a practice run – there’s nothing beyond but the empty unknown

This is it
My running is done and it’s finally up to me,
Not the skin I’m in, nor the eyes through which I see

It’s not my job to set a heart right that will never be ready,
And it’s not my job to calm a mind that will never be steady

So I’m stepping into my soul and no longer vying for control of a body that’s less than I am
I’ve accepted that the deed will never be done and that someday will never come

This is the song of a soul awakening
This is the resignation that I’ll never find an equilibrium between my heart and my brain

This soul is taking the reins – and while it’s not immune – it’s capable of understanding pain (and it doesn’t create it’s own)

I’m no longer a lab rat, chasing equilibrium
My wings are no longer clipped and I’m no longer marooned in a mind that’s waiting on the ship to come in
I’m shedding my skin and answering the call of my pulse

My soul is calling the plays and the fear isn’t as bad as I thought
The war is no longer being fought and tonight I’m finally able to give my all

And I know that never again will my inner voice and my purpose be forlorn by a body so small

This is a song of a soul in control
This is the release of worldly pain
This is the declaration that my inner voice and my purpose are one in the same

The war is over
He is home now
He is free
I’m no longer chasing equilibrium now that my soul is in the driver’s seat


Poem inspired by the music of John C. Mayer