Gleaming beyond where we stand is a whole, wide world. We believe up ahead is the promise of all we could ever want. There is the hope of something. The hopes of what could and should and will. Behind us is another world. The world of what we’ve done and where we’ve been. It’s often riddled with would’ve, could’ve, and should’ve. Neither world is entirely real, certainly not looking forward. But even looking back our pasts are just stories we’ve told ourselves. Sometimes a story was the only way we could survive our lives and make sense of its senseless happenings. This means our narratives are often distorted with shame and blame for either ourselves or the ones who harmed us, often both.
Good and evil, light and dark - whatever you want to call it - rival inside each of us.
We are creatures born to a set of circumstances, some are better and some are far worse than you or I may* ever know. I don’t believe in good and evil so much as I believe in circumstances and brain chemistry. It happens on all sides and in-between, people born into extreme poverty will likely act a certain way because of it, as will people born into extreme wealth. There is much more nuance involved of course, but we are all the becoming of the events of our lives. It is as much nature as it is nurture, and everything makes us more, or less (or so we tell ourselves).
This is a difficult way to view things because we enjoy having someone to blame, but we often live unaware of what we are doing making many of our actions less intentional than we may believe. This may sound like an excuse for those who appear to be perpetuating the suffering of others, but I invite you to imagine everyone is doing what they can with what they have. If we look back on our lives we may often cringe at what we coined "acceptable behavior" in our teens and early 20's, hell even into our 30's, 40's and beyond. Everyone is figuring it out as they go based on where they started, and what events and humans came into their life. Period.
Luckily we are all capable of waking up and doing the work to expand beyond these said circumstances, but to even arrive at this place takes some form of chance.
Who were you before you started waking up?
How does one begin waking up?
What does waking up even mean besides a set of words I’m using, likely making me sound like a millennial douche bag?
Waking Up (noun) -
1. This will look different depending who you ask, but I see it as the act of lifting the veil of illusion from our lives; from all we thought we knew. Maybe you read a book that brought all of your beliefs into question, or an experience happened that did the same. You begin to wonder if you even know who you are or what you stand for? And who decided what you stand for - was it in fact you, or was it society, your culture, or your parents (or any combo)? You begin to wonder if you’re more than just space dust with a drinking problem, and if you somehow came to be conscious in a perhaps a once-in-a-life-time-opportunity for more than your own self-sabotage or prosperity.
2. A book by Sam Harris is titled Waking Up. Sam Harris was one of the first authors to kick me out of the existential plane and hurl me towards the truths of existence. However, he is an incredibly white, privileged male - and it shows. I take his work with a grain of salt. Brilliant people aren’t always “right”. Neither am I, neither are you. No one is.
Our brains were designed** to make sense and to make meaning of what’s happening around us. It’s how we evolved to survive, and some even learned how to thrive aka live, laugh, love. But all of this meaning allows for a lot of hang ups. And hang ups prevent us from a lot of hang outs. And if you ask me, that’s all we’re really here to do - Hang out!***
I believe we're here to get to know one another. Create, expand, connect. Be human beings, not just human doings. You could say it’s our blessing and our curse - this consciousness we get to experience. But we fuss and fight over what it is and what it isn’t so much we keep missing the entire fucking point. To be here.
Arguably the single most complicated thing we can do is just be present in this moment. But how? Before we can even bring ourselves to this present moment it’s gone into the next, and the next. Some scientists even argue we're never fully in the present since scientifically we can’t even catch it quick enough with our scale of time. Woah.
Bur for now, what I comprehend as now anyway, I am sitting in my NY apartment writing this blog. As I look around, I see both what I’ve given up to be in NY and what I’ve gained. I’ve given up an entire life back home in Colorado. Over a year ago (August 2018) I packed what could fit in my mom’s car, and together we drove into the horizon of my new life. NYC beckoned playfully for me to come see what it was all about and what it had to offer. I came here unclear of anything really, but I now have a piercing clarity of what truly matters to me. And that's definitely what I've gained - the knowledge of what I stand for.
It seems, sadly, only when we’ve given up or lost so much we’re able to understand what we really have - and what truly matters to us, but more importantly what we really need. We don’t always need what we want, and we don’t always want what we need. Learning to distinguish between the two will be the key. You see, there’s a lot of people arguing for abundance right now, and while I do believe in an abundant Universe, I don't believe you're owed anything. Life is a strange, wondrous gift, but one that was given and can be taken right back with no satisfaction guarantee.
Some of us will live incredibly worthy lives by the standards of society. Men and women will be made into statues, and one day those statues will dissolve from the sun as it transitions into a red giant, taking out our entire solar system with it. All of our lives have purpose and worth for the mere fact that we are here. Even if we're just some spin off from the escalating entropy in an unstable Universe, you matter because you exist. You exist because you are matter, literally. You don't have to do anything with your time, but since you don't have to do anything with it - you can do anything with it! So you know what that means, you might as well get really rich and do blow off someone else's sex organs. Not really, it's a goal, but I was thinking maybe more along the lines of seeing the Earth and hugging more people, and trees.
Redefine what abundance means to you. The Universe is both abundant and merciless, so then, what will you do with what you have? Where can you go from right here. Take a moment and look around you. Look at the life you’ve cultivated. Look at all your things, and then imagine if they were gone. What’s left? If you were to stand in an empty room, naked, with no one and no thing, what do you have? And that - that's what this life is all about.
What do you have when you have nothing left?
Come back to this question again and again if you ever feel you’ve lost your way. You're never truly lost, just detouring.
If you noticed a * behind some earlier words, you're a smart little bugger, below is the down low.
* I say may ever know because who knows, we could end up in a nuclear war. Any day now...
** I mentioned our brains being designed, but designed by who? That is the question, isn't it? Often referred to as the "Hard Question", meaning who or what created this conscious experience. And if not who or what, then why, how? But you know what they say! Even the smartest of smarty pants don't fucking know why we exist, so go live it up for a few why dontcha?!
*** Once on a very profound mushroom trip I realized Jesus was just trying to get everyone to hang out despite their hang ups, and surely, that must be what existence is for. Hanging out regardless of the hang ups. Yup. Hard Question answered, suck it.