Dear Society

There is a pain to growing up, a hurt inherent to not knowing how to ease the woes that accompany a given life.

Woes arising from the truths we dare not face; our identity naturally in opposition to anything that threatens our core underlying beliefs about who we are.

These core beliefs are typically unconscious, childlike assumptions about life, formed at in early age in order to allow us to understand our families, thus becoming our blueprint for navigating the world at large.

This is why childhood patterns of anguish persist throughout adult life. Our guiding stories – paticularly in regards to relationships, and generally from a gender correlative view – in turn become our very limited and incorrect assumptions. It’s as if our parents are the unconscious, assumptive benchmark by which we judge everyone else – for better or for worse.

And from an evolutionary and anthropological standpoint this no doubt equipped us with a set of intutive assumptions about our kin, by which we could cohesively assimilate into primitive, tribal, or village cultures – essentially the world that humans knew for tens of thousands of years before the relatively recent development of modern, high-density societies.

Only, today, instead of a few hundred, interrelated realities intersecting, we’ve got tens of thousands in a given city, all with their own homegrown beliefs about how people are supposed to be. And if you grew up in an average middle class family, with relatively neurotypical parents who instilled fairly vanilla values into you, this might not be so terrible, for you are apt to follow a fairly typical life path, and assimilate healthily into a world that needs more accountants, realtors, or whatever you end up doing; however, if you grew up like I did, which is to say the typical childhood of a writer, painter, or whatever oddity life has made you, well then, your woes are apt to be much grander – at least in your own eyes – for life is a little more difficult for those whose values do not center primarily around fitting in. The artist has world views that often oppose reality entirely, or values which fall into direct opposition to society’s priorities. Read enough ‘great’ writers, and you will see this truth time and time again, both in their characters and in the lives of the writers themselves.

This is why the artist is such a tortured soul. It’s his values that torture him; he is a misanthrope – a castaway from his own people – he worships different Gods, which is to say he cares naught for the trappings of society, and if he does, then he secretely detests what he lacks the courage to renounce.

Story of my twenties; so rife were the last five years with torment; I lived as one does who lacks ample courage to be completely true to himself; in a word, I was miserable.

I spent the last five years trying to escape my woes, afraid to face what I could not, opting instead to cling to my innocence, as if my idealism were the Jedi force by which the world would magically conform to my view of it (This is a fantastic recipe for self-pity, by the way).

Ironically, our futile attempts to deny or escape the truths we find ugliest only strengthen their presence in our lives, proving the adage that, what we resists persists.

I’ve quoted it a dozen times, and I again lay the words out like a blanket on the grass:

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

The unconscious, repressed truths we feel incabable of accepting posess us, directing our fate back to them in a grotesque paradox. But it’s through the same inescapable and utterly painful truths that we become whole, mature, actualized adults.

For me this has culminated in a coexistence between my ideals and reality.

To quote Jung’s protege, Marie Louis Von Franz:

If we can stay with the tension of
opposites long enough —sustain it,
be true to it—we can sometimes
become vessels within which the
divine opposites come together and
give birth to a new reality.

Which, after years of the unuterable. and inescapable truths I fought to deny kicking the absolute shit out of me, I am finally managing to do; for, my beliefs are in almost all aspects directly oppositional to reality. If I did not posess the learning I do, I surely would have found the chasm between my soul and reality too great, and would likely have killed myself. But, having the balm of art, philosophy, shamanism, and psychology, I have tended my wounds and in the process kept my head.

My soul intact, my heart whole – my spirit resilient – I am ready to dive into the gulf, to live between the hard facts of life and the comforts of my beliefs, refusing to again sacrifice one for the other at the expense of myself.

Wonderfully, at this same time, I am reconnecting to my childhood dreams in a very realistic, almost magical way. I do not want to say too much – for I desire to go about my plans quietly – but it is as if I am becoming who I was meant to be, who I dreamed of becoming. The priviledge of a lifetime, as Joseph Campbell said about being who you are.

The depth I have as a man and as a writer has been hard won, but it would be completely false for me to say my life hasn’t been guided by something greater than myself. And if I had let the world shape my values I simply wouldn’t be who I am, which is an individual – in the most rugged and impractical sense.

Have your life society. Get fucked. Swipe right all day. Keep up with the Joneses Kardashians.

I am going to keep on following my intuition, my heart, my G-d, my dreams, my passions, and my purpose.

And that is the difference between you and I.

Dear Society

Reached a truce at truth
Let go after thirty years of youth
“Innocence lost”
Feared the cost
Clung to notions,
In oceans of debauch

Feared for naught
Never taught
Bitter truths
As a youth,
Thought my family was the bad of the lot
Hah

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And This is What Love is

One of the things that continually bolsters my spirituality is the way synchronicity and serendipity have a way of bringing the right signs, messages, people, and lessons into my life.

And what’s really shown me this is the fact that I went through a kind of dark night of the soul over the past couple years where these things simply did not happen, because I didn’t believe in anything except science; however, once the spiritual poles in my life reversed from zemblanity to serendipity – voila’ – the magic came back.

As I said to Bunny S via text tonight, I believe in God more than I believe in love – to which she replied, you used to be the opposite. And she is probably right.

Whichever the case my be, I maintain enough fluidity in my beliefs to account for other, often more mature perspectives. After all – perspective is just a filter, and it would be hubris to think that my outlook at 29 is the be all end all, and after all, I’m a long way from being the sage grandfather I am destined to be.

So tonight when I was at my local Whole Foods and I found myself in a chance conversation with a woman who was open and willing to share her perspective with me, I made sure to listen to what she had to say.

And she told me about how as you get older and the people you love start dying it changes you forever – how losing those you love – mom and dad included – changes you; how loss is a part of living and getting older, and how you don’t experience this when you are young, and in a sense your outlook on life is unspoiled by the loss you have yet to face in the passing of relationships and the passage of loved ones.

And in turn I told her about the Grant Study, and how after 75 years and twenty million dollars they concluded that happiness was love, full stop and that the other pillar of happiness [besides finding love] was finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.

And that’s really difficult to do in the face of loss.

But she [the woman at whole foods] was right: loss is an inherent aspect of life – in every facet of nature, it’s simply the way things work.

As one of my favorite quotes from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button states: “You can be as mad as a mad dog at the way things went. You can swear and curse the fates, but when it comes to the end, you have to let go.”

And that’s just innately difficult [letting go]. We all live in denial of the inevitable. So – to look back on a relationship and think that the ending itself or the absence of someone you once loved from your life today is somehow unfair is simply childish. And this is what naivete is. It’s not naive to believe in love; it’s naive to believe that you will bask in it’s richness forever.

Love is a holiday. It’s Thanksgiving spent with your favorite people. It’s the safety of Christmas eve. But it’s also understanding that you can’t stop this train.

It’s not naive to believe in love; it’s naive to believe that you will bask in it’s richness forever. Love is a holiday. It’s Thanksgiving spent with your favorite people. It’s the safety of Christmas eve. But it’s also understanding that you can’t stop this train.

And as much as you want to get off and go home again, you can’t,

And this is really what love is. It’s holding on tightly to what you have to let go of. But it’s also knowing you will have to let go.

And it’s knowing that home is where the heart is, but it’s also knowing that your heart is the only home you can ever truly count on being able to return to – every other home is just a resting place for your heart, someone special to share to with.

And whomever you have to share it with now – friends, family, whoever is there in your life today – these are the people that matter. Hold them dear, for they will be gone tomorrow.

But of course, we all feel like ‘You don’t know how it feels to be me’. And this is what love is; because we don’t [know how it feels to be you] – but we all have to let go.

 P.S. I’m reminded of a philosophical exercise where a professor holds up a glass of water before his class and asks the students (a very bright bunch) what the glass of water weighs. Of course, the answers are rapid and forthcoming – “8 ounces!”, “10 ounces!” – but the professor elucidates: the weight of the glass of water is relative to how long you hold onto it; hold it for a minute and you will feel the weight of it (say 10 ounces), but try to hold it for hours or days and it will become unbearable. And this is why we have to let go of things – because their weight becomes unbearable in time.

 And this is why we have to let go of things – because their weight becomes unbearable in time.

Edit: I want to clarify that this outlook on love here is in no way meant to say that you can’t spend the rest of your life with someone you love. I’m 29, and as such, I understand that your twenties are often a very rich burial ground for relationships and first loves, but there is no one rule. And your exes are most likely exes for a reason. Just don’t give up on what you deserve, and hold tighter to what you find next knowing that you have to let go of it all regardless. But if you are lucky enough to find real love – someone who truly loves you and stays by your side through thick and thin – and there will be thick and thin – then hold onto that person, because that’s as good as it gets.

Opening The Door: The Patterns of Fate, Serendipity, and Happiness

I talk about serendipity a lot.

I just came across a post shared by modern day expeditionary, soul-searcher, and human philanthropist Dave Cornthwaite. It’s written by a man named Matt Ridings, and it tells the story of how he [Matt] felt compelled to reach out to Dave, and how the two subsequently became friends.

You definitely want to read The Patterns of Fate, Serendipity, and Happiness.

As much as I read – when it comes to online content, I’m underwhelmed the majority of the time. Not so in this instance. The big lesson is that Matt not only trusted and believed in serendipity, but he took action to listen to that feeling within him. This trust was the seed that intervened to open the door for fate to make it a reality. He soon was face to face with Dave over dinner.

I’m reminded of the obscure Steve Jobs interview where Jobs tells the camera about how most people don’t pick up the phone – they never ask.

This is really relevant to me because I’ve recently set a goal to become friends with my intellectual heroes. Not that heroes is the right word, but I think in the past I held these people up as somehow out of reach. Today, my vision and my goals are larger than ever. I know I’m going to need these people in my corner. I’m going to need mentors, I’m going to need to enhance my peer-set to align my relationships more closely with my mission, vision, and purpose.

Coming across a story like Matt’s is such a crystal clear reminder that we should all have the faith in serendipity to be confident that fate just may line up for us. The universe has lots of possibilities in store for you that you will never even open the door to. These limits you have are a human construct. If you’re going to take your life to the next level, you need to surround yourself with exceptional people, with passionate people. Don’t keep yourself on some sub-level below those whom you admire. They are passionate about what they do and so what they do to inspire people, and many of them would love to connect with someone who shares their passion and their vision.

While someone like Bill Gates or Elon Musk might be out of reach for obvious reasons, I bet if you wanted to reach out to and connect with one of Space X’s top scientists or to one of Microsoft’s top engineers you very well could. On a sad note, which I have to publish for obvious reasons, I was having lunch in Manhattan Beach two years ago and met two Space X Engineers who invited me to come by for a tour, and I never did : / – today I would not make that mistake. I know that when a door presents itself, I owe it to myself to open it and walk through if I can.

There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be reaching out to the people who inspire you. Not every person will reply, but those who do will make your efforts worth it to an exponential degree. This is how successful, no-limits people operate.

How many strangers have moved you in the last year? How many times have you been inspired? How many of those people have you reached out to. Do you have a dream? Who in your city has done something similar? Who do you want to be friends with? Read a book that changed you life? Fire off a letter to the author, start looking up email addresses, create opportunities, and for chrissakes, seize them.

If you trust in serendipity, you can recognize the patterns of fate, serendipity, and happiness that present themselves to all of us. If you don’t knock on the door, no one can answer it.

P.S. Watch this video from Dave Cornthwaite and envision yourself reaching out to someone like this and having dinner with them.

Wicked Tuna, Serendipity and Zemblanity: The Zen of The Universe and The Power of Authentic Belief

I hate to post something on the heels of my previous post, which meant a lot to me – but this has to be written.

Tonight I was talking to my dad and he was tell me about watching the show Wicked Tuna, which chronicles the stories of competing Bluefin tuna fisherman in Gloucester Mass.

What was interesting was my Dad’s observation about how the show really illustrated the concept of The Secret, but in a much more palpable and nuanced way due to the non-fiction nature of the show. What my dad observed specifically was the difference in the attitudes and beliefs of the crews on the most successful boats. He saw a clear distinction between the authentically rooted beliefs of the successful crews, versus the wishful or hopeful, or merely optimistic attitudes of the crews on the less successful boats.

Now, this is interesting. We’re talking about fishing. Clearly, there are a lot of factors that play into the crew’s fortune during the fishing season; from the Captain’s experience and the crew’s knowledge, to the fishing grounds, to the exact rig the fisherman are using to catch the Bluefin tuna – there are a lot of tangible, influencing factors beyond mere luck.

Now, I understand I may not be able to convince you that there is any correlation between authentic beliefs and success – but as I settle into my 29th year, I’m learning to trust in the serendipity of the universe more, versus attempting to understand everything in concrete terms; however, that being said, it’s not hard to imagine how authentically believing in your success aligns your actions more congruently with what’s required to achieve an expected outcome versus had you deep down expected to fail or simply didn’t authentically believe in your success . But we’re talking about fishing here, not selling insurance policies. So what gives?

Part of the open-minded fluidity of my own beliefs is understanding that there is tangible value in faith. And I’m not talking about faith as a noun, but faith as a verb. If you believe in something authentically you not only act accordingly in your actions and decide accordingly in your decisions, but you also think differently – you see the right signs, messages, and lessons – suddenly you start meeting the right people. And what this ends up looking like is that our beliefs actually shape the universe. Things have a way of falling into play that support our beliefs. And it doesn’t matter if our beliefs are positive or negative. Let me ask you, if there are two people and one believes that people are inherently selfish and mean, and the other believes that people are inherently generous and kind, what do you think is going to happen to each? Each is going to have experiences that support their respective beliefs. Beliefs are inherently self-strengthening because our subjective experiences and both our conscious and subconscious thoughts and actions are rooted in our beliefs. In this way beliefs can be thought of as foundational to human experience.

We experience life as we believe it to be. And to anyone who tries to use extreme adversity as a counter argument to this, I implore you to read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, which recounts his experiences in four different Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz, from 1942 to 1945, and the importance of finding meaning as a necessity for survival.

I’m both incredibly humbled and deeply uncomfortable using Viktor Frankl’s story as an anecdote for a blog post on belief as a means to success, but I suggest every adult read this book. It’s a treasure and will undoubtedly benefit you, the reader for having read it. One of the lessons I took away from Viktor Frankl’s writings is that when we give up hope, we have already lost.

So, how does belief affect the success of a fishing crew?

I think there is something beautiful in this question. I also think that we shouldn’t try to answer it, but rather use it as supporting evidence for the basis of our own empowering beliefs. It may be, as I explained above in this post, that we merely act in a way that influences the probability of a given outcome, but what I find so alluring and ethereal about this example [the success of a fishing boat] is that it seems to point to more than that.

For whatever reason, almost every time I have failed to succeed at something in life the underlying current has been that I didn’t truly believe in the desired outcome. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I wanted to see myself succeed – whenever I didn’t really and truly believe with the fiber of my soul that I was going to succeed, it just didn’t happen. However, on the flip-side, whenever I knew in my bones that I would succeed, I practically willed things into existence. Success, love – even happiness.

As this scene from The Tao of Steve shows, it’s all connected – and we can’t pretend – it has to be authentic.

And if you were to ask me about my spirituality today I would tell you that I believe in serendipity.

Serendipity is defined as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

But I think it’s more than chance. I think we can create serendipity in every area of our life when we believe in it with our entire being.

I also think we create zemblanity through our beliefs. Zemblanity is the opposite of serendipity:

So what is the opposite of Serendip, a southern land of spice and warmth, lush greenery and hummingbirds, seawashed, sunbasted? Think of another world in the far north, barren, icebound, cold, a world of flint and stone. Call it Zembla. Ergo: zemblanity, the opposite of serendipity, the faculty of making unhappy, unlucky and expected discoveries by design. Serendipity and zemblanity: the twin poles of the axis around which we revolve. – Armadillo, by William Boyd, 1998.

That’s kind of my spiritual belief system. It’s a paradigm for creating heaven and hell in the different areas of our life. We are constantly creating either serendipity or zemblanity in our lives based entirely on our beliefs.

Negative beliefs create zemblanity, and positive beliefs create serendipity. This is the yin and yang zen of the universe [for me]. And trust me, the universe has an impeccable bullshit detector. It knows what you are attuned to, whether that’s scarcity or abundance. The universe can responds only to authenticity, whether positive or negative. So it’s equally important to know that false beliefs and weak beliefs also create zemblanity.

So my advice for creating what you want in life is to work on aligning your authentic self to it. I wrote about this back in my Real Life Limitless series, describing what I called omnipotent beliefs.

Unfortunately I turned my back on my belief system because I was satisfied and I was lost in thought and unsure of my identity (Falling in love and going through a quarter life crisis will do that to you). But what this amounted to was that I was not authentic in myself and I was unsure of what I wanted. But today, I have returned to the pole of serendipity in a major way. And it’s unreal. The universe and I are on good terms again. I didn’t see it coming, but it’s been a long time in the making.

I just wrote the title for this post (I come up with title after I write everything) and I’ll be DAMNED if that doesn’t sound like an awesome book title: Wicked Tuna, Serendipity and Zemblanity: The Zen of The Universe and The Power of Authentic Belief

You heard it here first folks.

P.S. If you’re interested in reading more about how you can create authentic belief in your life, I suggest you check out this series from ordained Taoist David James Lee, The Law of Attraction or ‘The Secret’ a Taoist Perspective.

P.P.S. Albert Einstein said: “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” In this same fashion, I believe that you can live as if everything is effected by your beliefs or as if nothing is effected by your beliefs. But please take my word for it when I tell you that the latter might rob you of all the miracles entirely.