Old Letters

A box of letters arrived in the mail from over a year ago, when I was living in Texas. They were kept in my old room where my parents lived. There they would be safe until I wanted to look back on them. The letters were sent to me in Texas last June/July, I was going through a rough time and needed support from my friends and family. I received around 50 letters from friends who I was close to back then. Some of them came from other countries and many were postcards.

I look back at that dark time and I can’t help but appreciate all the support. It’s humbling that people would take time out of their day to write. More than anything it shows me that there are always people who care. There really isn’t a meaning to today’s post, other than to say thank you. Even if you didn’t send me a letter, thank you for any of the support that you’ve given me over the past year and a half. I don’t know where I would be without the positive comments you have given me. It’s truly a gift to be surrounded by such wonderful people. Thank you.

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You cannot pass your Realizations to Others

Everyone looks at the world in a unique way and understands it from their own perspective. We know where our life is going and we look ahead at our own path. When we do this, we neglect other’s paths. Each person exists in their own world, oblivious to the real world in front of them. By focusing on our own life, often we think that others are walking with us in the same direction. However, this is not the case, everyone moves in their own way.

Your goal in life could be to make a lot of money and retire into a pleasurable life. Every day you focus on building that dream and walking down that path. You go to college for a profession that will assist in this ideal and you spend most of your life working until your retirement.

Another person’s goal could be to see the world. Each day they focus on traveling and how they can support it. Instead of going to college, they choose to be a waitress at a restaurant. This job provides them with enough money to travel to a new place, where they can get a new job until they leave again. Everything they do is about experiencing a new place. They don’t understand the concept of retirement because their goal is to travel over their entire life, not just later in life.

Imagine these two very different people go to a bar. They sit down and have a drink together. The conversation builds until they start talking about their life. The traveler doesn’t understand the worker because her only focus is on traveling. The most pleasurable thing for her to do is to find a new place to live and experience. On the other side, the worker can’t understand this because it’s a dream for the end of life. How could they abandon their life to visit new places? How will the traveler ever retire?

We look at the world from our own perspective and often this means that we neglect others. The worker may see the traveler as “irresponsible” for moving but the traveler thinks the worker is too “uptight”. Immediately there is a difference between these people: all the worker’s actions support their retirement while the traveler just wants to explore.

Both of these people only look forward on their path, the actions they take will only benefit them. The traveler won’t benefit by taking the worker’s characteristics. His path leads to retirement, not world exploration. Therefore, both will be unsatisfied by taking one another’s path.

This isn’t a difficult concept because we know that everyone has different goals in life. We understand that what works for you may not work for me. This is because we’re moving in different directions. So why is it that we treat others like they’re wrong for their actions?

We all exist on different levels of consciousness, with a different understanding of the world. The traveler understands how to live off $15 everyday to save for moving. The worker knows how to dedicate himself to his job and secure his retirement. When the traveler speaks to the worker, she doesn’t understand the other person’s skills. She assumes that worker knows how to live off $15.

When she gives advice, she acts as though it’s easy to live on such little money. For the worker, this would be incredibly difficult. He’s used to working and spending much more money. Their skills don’t line up and the advice may be useless.

Now apply age to the equation and it become much clearer. If you have a 25 year old explain how to live independently to a 15 year old, they’re going to be a lot of confusion. The younger one doesn’t understand how to live alone, nor can he learn by being told. He has to figure it out himself.

The knowledge you have is only useful in context. It’s not usable for people who aren’t ready for it. The traveler can’t understand the meaning behind work until she becomes curious for it. The worker can explain it to her because she won’t understand it. He’s trying to get to retirement, so the meaning behind work is obvious. She had to find her own context to why work is important to her.

This is why you can’t tell a person something they are not ready to hear. It goes over their head and often ends in frustration. The only thing you can do is intrigue thought and questions. Other people have to walk down their own path to their own dreams. You can’t tell them how to arrive or which way to walk. Your advice only has context for what you understand.

The purpose of this long post is to show you that there are some things that you can’t intellectualize. You can explain a concept to another person for hours but unless it has meaning, it will remain useless. Meaning is something you cannot supply, the other person has to be intrigued and apply it to their path. Everyone moves in their own way.

Here’s a quote recited by the Dalai Lama:

  “The Buddhas do not wash away the karma of other beings,
    Nor do they remove the consequences with their hands;
    They do not transfer their own realizations to others,
    But they reveal the truth that liberates beings.”

The only way you can help others is to provoke that questioning behavior. To make them engage in their own though and come to their own realizations. You can’t tell a 15 year old what it’s like to on have $50 for food or what it’s like to work 40 hours a week. That’s something they have to experience. You can provoke them to question what it would feel like but you cannot give them your understanding. You cannot transfer your knowledge to another person.

By leading your life and following your own pursuits, you will find that others can learn through you. Your actions cannot be fully understood by others but they can intrigue thought. You can’t give them your thoughts but you can excite them to find their own thoughts. To find their own way down their own path in life.

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Holding it in

It’s taken many years and countless purposeless arguments to realize how important forgiveness is. We hold onto so much in this world and our emotions are no exception. I’m guilty of clinging to emotions: I’ve held onto my own sadness for weeks and I’ve went to bed angry.

When we hold onto our emotions, we bring them everywhere with us. If you hold onto anger, you’ll lash out or bring that negativity to everyone around you. For example, if you just lost your business a lot of money, you may be angry/upset. Then when you go out to eat with your family, you may almost sweat your emotion.

When we sweat, we don’t always notice it. The smell can become apparent to others and you could taint an entire room. It’s obvious to us when we’re sweating a lot but we don’t always notice when we’re sweating. We don’t even notice the smell until it’s awful and all around us.

We hold our emotions in the same way and we let them out subconsciously. If the waiter shows up late or makes the wrong remark, that emotion you’re harboring could come out. Even if it doesn’t come out completely, everyone around you can sense that emotion.

When you cling to your sadness or loneliness, you bring others down. You sweat out gloom and cancel the happiness around you. This time it is thicker and drains you out, rather than anger which motivates you.

The reason to let go of your emotions is obvious: it taints your life and the lives of those around you.

The next time somebody is angry or upset around you, notice what it feels like. Feel the emotion that they bring and how it effects the environment. Don’t try to change it, just notice it. Then when you’re angry, maybe you will notice it. Once you realize that you’re holding onto an emotion, let it go.

It doesn’t matter how you justify the emotion, you just need to let it go. Clinging to happiness even will taint it. Your emotions have to be free flowing like a faucet. You don’t want it to get clogged or for the water to change colors.

The emotions that you’re harboring, guilt, blame, or whatever else, need to go. It’s your job as a human being to feel what it is like to be alive. If you feel angry, then acknowledge it and feel what it feels like to have that anger. Do not try to hold onto it or to push it away. Just notice it and it will eventually pass.

If you notice these emotions, realize that you don’t have to express them. That sadness doesn’t have to be brought to the group. The anger you have from work doesn’t need to be pushed into your family time. Acknowledge them and move on to the next emotion.

Yesterday a guy I was with got a phone call that angered him. He wasn’t angry at the group I was with or me but everyone could tell he was angry. When we walked close to us, nobody talked. Everyone was silent and waiting for him to blow up. It didn’t matter what happened, he brought anger to us. He wasn’t angry at us but yet we still felt his pent up anger.

I don’t blame him or say that he’s wrong but I want to point out what holding an emotion is like. You can feel it around you. The angry person doesn’t make you angry but it becomes more acceptable to be angry. If a man blames the weather for ruining his day, then maybe you’ll join in and start blaming other things as well.

You don’t need that. You are so much more than just one emotion. Feel it and do whatever you need to do but let it go in the end. For your sake and for everybody else’s.

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Document your life!

YouTubing, like blogging, has been a great experience for me! It’s given me valuable insight into my life and it’s given me a push to live my life to a greater extent. It’s pushed me to film in public and to challenge what I do with my time on a daily basis.

I wish I could say that it was easy. It’s more time consuming and exhausting than photography has ever been for me. Anyone who has ever rendered anything in Premier Pro knows exactly what I’m talking about. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from testing the waters yourself.

Communication and creation are the pinnacle of human existence. They are almost greater than any of the feats we’ve produced. In fact, the greatest things that have been brought into the universe have come in some way through a form of communication.

Vlogging, blogging, and taking pictures have been the avenues for my creation and communication through the years. They have shown me things I have never seen before and brought me to a place that I thought I knew but never actually experienced.

I wanted to talk with you all about this further in my vlog!

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P.S. My maps are all up and it makes me so happy! Do you see all of them? 🙂

P.S.S. Here’s a photo of my sister and I taking a selfie and filming downtown Charleston two weeks ago!

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Become Intimate with Your Fears

Lately I’ve been reading a lot from “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron. It’s a rather small book that seems almost too small to be significant. The book almost feels like it’s an older novel in size. This contrasts with how big the ideas are inside.

Pema came to my life when I needed her the most; amid the mental crisis of moving to a new place and hitting the restart button on most of my routines. There is excitement in going to a new place, but, for me, there is also the fear that I may not like what I’m stuck with.

When I was flying from Minneapolis to Charleston, I began reading. The way that everything is explained goes much more than typical Eastern philosophy. Sometimes you get those books where you have to interpret what the author is try to say because they don’t have English grammar down. Pema doesn’t have that problem at all! All of her examples are totally applicable too!

Basically “When Things Fall Apart” is a self-explaining name. The book is about crisis and when we react to those crisis rather than respond. Inside, Pema explains how fear is something that shows you that you’re alive and progressing. It’s something to become intimate with and understand.

Part of my struggle, and what I believe a lot of other people face, is that when we face the unknown, many of us become subdued. We climb into our shells and retract from the world. Pema explains that through fear, we can realize a lot about ourselves. We can look and see what we are attached to. We can see that we are attached to much more than we think.

Over time, we can release this fear of losing what we think we have, and we can accept fear as an emotion. So much of what we fear is illogical or creates unnecessary suffering for us. By paying attention to our fears and our worries, we can move past them.

Each time I’ve gone somewhere new in the last year (I’ve moved 4 times around the country), I’ve been afraid of the unknown. When I’m about to move, I become gloomy and act as if everything around me is coming to an end. Especially when I moved to north Texas. This fear destroyed the pleasure of getting to know a new place, and enjoying my last days in Mississippi with my friends.

By realizing this is cyclical, I can become intimate with that fear. Realizing that growth doesn’t happen without change. Fear and worrying go hand in hand; by worrying about moving and leaving things behind, I fear what I will experience in the new place. By fearing what I will experience, I worry about things that may never happen.

The silly thing is that fear is of itself. Let me explain. Fearing fear is another great fear. We realize that we are afraid and it amplifies itself. That fear compounds and becomes much more simply because we have a bad relationship with fear. We are afraid of being afraid.

That is exactly what “When Things Fall Apart” is about. Changing that, and realizing that fear is nothing to be afraid of. The cycle of fear is becoming afraid of something, then becoming more afraid because you are afraid.

Become intimate with your fear and when you are afraid, acknowledge it. Realize that you fear something and accept it. Don’t try and fight it or reject it. Simply think about the feeling of being afraid and why you are afraid. Your fear may not dissolve but you will stop being afraid of being afraid. Learn to be intimate with your fears!

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Daily Meditation

Feel the weight of your hands at your sides
the sensation of your feet as they press against the soles of your shoes
feel the air through the tips of your nostrils
and sink into your chest
notice how casually everything around you flows
without effort and without force
notice how life moves

Once you feel the forces around you
shift your consciousness to what is
all of your problems disappear
there are no problems
only mind

Feel the sensation of living
let life flow and be attentive to that which is around you
great peace arises from great attention

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Some follow-up Advice

Yesterday I wrote about kissing a questioning guy and unfortunately my head was preoccupied with it most of today. I struggle in my own life with wanting to give advice to people who don’t want advice – instead of speaking in person I’ve decided to just write it down here and express it. Maybe this will clear my head.

 

To start, I want you to acknowledge that I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, bisexual, whatever. This is just me expressing advice I can give from struggling with my own sexual and gender identity.

1. You don’t have to have yourself all figured out. It’s okay to have things remained undefined and it’s fine to not know. You don’t have to be on a quest to define who you are for the world. Just be yourself and do what comes naturally.

2. There’s no rush and no need to worry about it. Everything falls into place eventually and only you can decide what you want to do. Don’t let pressure or society push you around. You can be gay, you could be straight, it doesn’t matter. You don’t even have to label it. You are whatever you are and that’s perfectly fine.

3. Everyone needs to stop caring what everyone else thinks. It doesn’t matter what they think; the only thing that matters is what you think. That being said, the voice in your head that’s constantly telling you that you’re right or wrong needs to be silenced. Most people struggle with the criticism that other people give but everyone struggles with their own self-criticism.

4. I don’t know your life story but I know that you’re just trying to figure stuff out for yourself. Whatever you come up with is your solution – there’s nothing wrong about it. Who is anyone to say that you are wrong? You are just who you are.

I can’t help but feel like I’ve done something wrong but that’s on my end in my head. Whatever it is you come up with, I hope you find happiness and resolution. It’s frustrating not being able to talk and express this in person but I can’t speak to someone who doesn’t want to be spoken to.

Remember that you can make everything up as you go along. Life is a journey and it’s not about the destination – it’s about where you are right now in this moment. Find that peace and happiness will surely follow.

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