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:

Neurotic
Stuck in my head
Compulsive
Emotional
Depressed
Self-pitying
Unsuccessful
Irresponsible
Anxious
Uncertain
Socially undiscerning
Judgemental
Insecure
Feeling driven
Mentally passive
Unhealthy
Overly effeminate / feminine dominate
Unhealthy
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
Bitter
Sorry for myself
Worried
Reliant on others, dependent
Unexcited about life
Closed minded
Unmotivated
Unhappy
Small minded
Ungrateful
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
Irresponsible
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
Impulsive
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
Indecisive
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).

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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.