Put Your Problems In Perspective

EarthPlanet

When you are gripped in the throes of suffering, step back and ask yourself one question:

Why are my problems so much more interesting than anything else in the world?

If you ask yourself this question in good faith, you may have a moment of startled clarity. You might even laugh out loud.

There is so much to be done in the world. So much to learn. So much to build and improve upon.

How could our own problems, no matter how upsetting, ever be worth taking over the totality of our focus?

Should our resources not be reserved, at least in part, for worthier causes? Some energy set aside?

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It’s so easy to get lost inside the labyrinth of your own mind when faced with pain and trauma. Fear, guilt, suffering… Jealousy, loss, tragedy… These things surround us all our lives, just as love and joy do.

By posing ourselves the question above, we are forced to remember the world outside our own head. It should enable you to visualize your problem shrinking down to a less intimidating scale. You should feel a relief that, no matter how bad your problems are, they are small potatoes to the Universe. And they’re probably not that unique, either. You are acting out a play that has been performed for millennia, but with different costumes and higher resolution.

Seeing your problems in their true perspective lets your soul show through again, and you realize that your problems, regardless of what they might be, are simply an illusion. They are part of the human game, but they can be released and transcended at any moment.

By sitting and thinking, meditating, on the question– “Why are my problems so much more interesting than anything else in the world?”– you offer yourself an invitation to shift your focus to those things that matter more. And the things that make you more functional. Things that have greater impact, or just things that are endlessly more fascinating.

How could we ever waste time dwelling on our human, ego-driven, illusory problems when there is a whole wondrous, mysterious, and divine world out there to be digested?

Why are my problems so much more interesting than anything else in the world?

Well… I guess they’re not.

Love Thy Fate

Rocky Mountains

Amor fati.

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Sometimes in life we have to grapple with issues that are far bigger than what we can see or control. I experienced this recently, when for the first time in my life, I felt that I should break up with a girl who was in many ways ideal. It broke my heart and hers, and was a struggle that got made all the worse because I didn’t have the discipline to make a decision and stick to it. I was thrown around with the tide of emotions, and that caused her prolonged pain as well.

Eventually, we accepted the inevitable, and committed to going our separate ways. We still had a lot of love for each other, and a lot of pain from the way things fell apart. I carry some lingering doubts about why I wasn’t satisfied with her, and at times it’s hard to resist beating myself up.

But these times of intense suffering are also the greatest opportunities for growth. I’ve done some of the deepest reflection and spiritual exploration of my life in just the past couple of months. I launched this new blog. I started coaching others. Soon I will be making changes in my career and possibly my city. Motion has sprung forth.

Even when I’m gripped by the deepest levels of despair, I have become self-aware enough to observe it, to realize that it’s not objective reality, and to learn something from it. I hope that having gone through extremely difficult situations in my life will give me the empathy and compassion to fully help others to get through their pain.

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One thing I’ve learned is that we must love our fate. Whatever happens to us in our life is part of our “spiritual curriculum.” Everything is an opportunity to grow, whether it brings us pleasure or pain. It is all equally valuable to us.

Today I had a very challenging, upsetting, and also uplifting experience. I was texting with my ex because of a work-related question that she was suited to answer. We hadn’t spoken for about 3 weeks before this.

We got to talking about her new city, and she assured me she was extremely happy there, and knew from the moment she got there that she belonged there. She knew in her heart that all the pain we had been through had been for a purpose.

I was happy for her, but my ego was a little hurt to know she seemed to be okay without me. I made a couple stupid comments, but it made us start talking more deeply about “us.” She told me she wasn’t planning to tell me so soon, but she had already met someone else.

He is a friend of friends, and also lives on her block. They had great chemistry, and he seemed to be the embodiment of the type of man she told me she hoped to find in the future. She never belittled me, and always maintained that her love for me was unconditional. She also recognized my flaws and shortcomings, and loved me for it all.

The man she hoped to find was patient, understanding, serious about marriage, and Catholic. I have a lot of understanding and some patience, but the rest not so much. And that’s basically who she found.

It’s only been a couple of weeks, and she says she’s taking it slow because she’s been through so much. I have no idea if she’ll end up marrying this guy, but I can already tell that she hopes she does. It’s kind of miraculous in a way, that the stars aligned and put everything into place for her so fast.

For me, it’s also a form of catharsis and relief. I am actually really happy for her, even though my ego is feeling a lot of jealousy and sadness. I had my chance to have her, and I chose to let her go. I have to make peace with that, and love my fate.

But the fact that she is already in such a great emotional place, probably more than I would be willing to give her for the near future, helps me to see that everything will work out. Even if I don’t know my exact path yet.

Her and I are on different timelines. She should be prioritizing marriage and getting it done soon. The fact that she was “red pill” about this was something I loved about her. But I couldn’t embrace it with equal enthusiasm. I believe I still have more journeying to do before I really consider marriage. Not just sex, but the type of soul-exploration you can do best on your own. With the freedom to move and behave unencumbered by another.

In some ways, having a loving partner can inspire you as a man. But undoubtedly it limits you as well. There is a time and place for this in many men’s lives, and I actually do look forward to it. Committing to someone, building a family, sacrificing… these are all natural instincts for men, and we shouldn’t reject them because of some horror stories we hear. It’s not like that for everyone, and even people who get divorced don’t all come out of it as bad as the worst ones we focus on.

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This experience reminds me of the parable of the farmer and his horse. Roosh did a great job retelling and analyzing that story. Each time something happens to the farmer, people try to say it’s good, or bad. The farmer just says, “We’ll see.”

Essentially, sometimes the things we think are good for us lead to bad things later. And then the bad things that happen to us sometimes turn out to be good.

The truth is, things just happen. We don’t know why one thing leads to the next, and we can never predict it. Fate truly is out of our hands, and that’s what frees us to appreciate or enjoy anything in life.

My ex believed that her life was ruined when we broke up. I was afraid that she was right. Just a few short months have already shown us that we were wrong. Life goes on. And a breakup doesn’t have to break you. There are no guarantees, but doing the right thing is the right thing, regardless of what happens later.

In this case, I feel blessed that I got an answer so quickly. I don’t have to sit and wonder if any good will come from this breakup, and whether it was all needless pain. Even if I haven’t reached some kind of bliss and peace of mind like she has, I’ve always been excited by the difficult journey in life. The steps I’ve already started to take, even if they don’t look like forward motion yet, are a form of satisfaction for me as well. I have found peace in knowing that I’m moving toward my fate. And if I accept all of my fate, then it can never harm me or keep me from my happiness.

We’ll see.

We Act Like Nobody Dies

America has a dysfunctional relationship with death. Our average lifespan today is longer than it’s ever been, but we obsess over health more than ever before. When people’s relatives or close friends are diagnosed with a disease, they act like their life is ruined or cursed in some way. They post on Facebook looking for sympathy, and tell everyone about the tragedy their life has become. Our culture reinforces this with our Relays for Life, our candlelight vigils, our pink ribbons at football games. God forbid you become one of the “unlucky” ones actually dealing firsthand with these (extremely prevalent and common) diseases. What did you ever do to deserve that?

This reaction is so strong because we have such a powerful denial of death today. A staggering percentage of our population lives their lives as if they will live forever. The idea of death is so foreign a concept to them that it truly is a blow to their ego and the comfort of their psyche whenever they are confronted with the reality of death.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t wish cancer, or heart disease, or aneurisms upon anybody. All of these things suck. But compared to the realities of death faced by every previous generation, we have become a bunch of spoiled brats where mortality is concerned.

Why has it come to this point?

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There are a few factors, really. We have the luxury of ignoring death today because so many advancements have been made to combat infant mortality rates, childhood diseases, and many of the natural threats that humans once faced. However, we are now so completely coddled that the idea of any threat to our health is seen as inherently “unfair.”

But beyond that, the deeper culprit is capitalism.

Corporations drive the media message with their advertising dollars. That’s why today we still fear cancer like a lurking serial killer creeping up behind us in an alley, even though a third of Americans will get cancer. Shouldn’t it just seem like a normal way to die at this point? Not if Big Pharma wants to keep getting billions poured into research, development, and new drugs.

So we continue to deify “survivors” as if they came back from ‘Nam, seeing them on talk shows and commercials, or giving speeches at colleges. If they can survive death, maybe I can too! It’s just another form of soap opera, but one that fans the flames of people’s fear of death. Death is the big bad boogeyman, and anyone who doesn’t “seek treatment” (expensive procedures, surgeries, and drugs offered by the Medical/Pharmaceutical industry) is a social pariah. Shame on you!

It is truly amazing how our society has been steered toward our current paradoxical way of living: Ignore death even while it’s all around you (so you can keep having fun! and spending like a good consumer), and then become frantic and despondent when a common fatal disease comes calling for you or someone you know.

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My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago. She told me her diagnosis was early-stage and not life threatening, so I didn’t get too worried. It has a high survival rate, and is a very common disease. Of course I was concerned and wanted her to get healthy, but at times the family mistook my calmness for apathy. Apparently there is a quota for the amount of sympathy you’re supposed to offer in these situations.

I did discover that telling other people my mom had breast cancer got me a lot of sympathy. “Oh God, cancer… really…” People really felt for me. I guess part of it is a social thing; people don’t want to seem unsympathetic. The funny thing is, I only started to worry at the times when other people were treating the situation like it was really dire.

My mother was 60 years old at the time. Isn’t that the age where health starts becoming an issue for everybody? As in, literally every human being on the planet? It’s like people expect to just wake up dead one morning. “She died of being perfectly healthy!”

I didn’t panic when I learned about my mom’s condition. I know declining health and eventual death is a part of life (the fact that this distinguishes me is the problem). I want her to be as happy and as comfortable as possible, for as long as possible, but I don’t need to add extra dramatic emotion on top of it, to “prove” how much I love her, or convince others of how tough my life is.

If I found out she had terminal cancer and six weeks to live, I would be heartbroken and fly home to spend that time with her. I know when the day comes that she finally dies, I will feel a huge sense of loss. What I hope I won’t do is act like something has been stolen from me or that some profound injustice has been done to me because my mother died of (something).

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We shouldn’t spend our days obsessed with death; that can be a crippling burden. If you fear too much, you will never take any risks.

What you should do– especially as a man– is make friends with death. As early and as often as possible.

Accepting your own mortality and letting go of the ego-driven attachment to your own “precious” life truly sets you free. The stakes are not as high as you think. It’s just your one little fucking life. So make the most of it. It could end tomorrow, or today. Don’t live by anyone else’s rules, because they’re almost always playing a different game.

When you let yourself take risks– comforted by the fleeting nature of life– you will be living from a place of honesty.

And honesty is the fire from which true strength is born.

Living With Regrets

Regrets

One of the hardest lessons to learn in life is how to move forward while you’re still in pain.

The truth is, life is messy. We get into complicated situations, and sometimes there is no black-and-white moral explanation for how to “do the right thing.”

When we get stuck in one of these existential Catch-22s, it can rend part of our soul. We are pulled between impossible poles, Scylla and Charybdis, and we can’t come out of it completely intact.

Walking this path yourself– experiencing it, living it– is the only way to understand it.

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The term is psychology is “complicated grief.” We all have negative experiences in our past, forever written into the timeline of our life. We can look back and revisit them as often or as rarely as we’d like. We can walk through the museum of our past and try to live there amidst the monuments, or the shattered rubble. We can never change our past, and if we keep a painful memory alive by dwelling on it and remembering it constantly, it will still never change or go away.

All we can do is accept, and let go, while still feeling that pain. The mental sting of your regrets will pop up into your mind at will– you cannot control your thoughts. But you can learn not to latch onto them, to recognize them as outside of your control, and therefore to not be controlled by them.

For every small regret, there are past days of happiness, elation and joy. There is no benefit to focusing on the negative memories over the good. In fact, too much focus on the past is detrimental to your life either way. Past memories can be a source of joy and inspiration, but they will always be faint shadows compared to the vibrancy of the present. As Blaise Pascal said, “Life is a moment between two eternities.”

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It’s a mark of growth to be able to live with your sadness, loneliness, or regret without constantly trying to find a fix to alleviate all negative feelings. We cause ourselves even greater pain by lashing out and convincing ourselves that the temporary alleviation of our pain is the same as finding happiness.

After going through a breakup, for instance, your ex becomes a mental fixation which seems tied to your happiness. If you want to look at this chemically, it’s an oxytocin withdrawal, and your body is crying out to get just a little drip again.

Our instinct when we feel desperation after a breakup is to bring that person back into our life– even just for one night, or even one dramatic phone call– in order to alleviate our pain and reclaim our object. But when the foundation of a relationship is no longer in place, you are ships in a storm with no anchor, flailing violently. You will find a temporary high, but soon after be plunged back to your lows, and need to repeat the cycle again. If you want to be in a relationship with someone, it should be because it brings you both positive emotions, not because it can be your shield to hide from negative emotions. In other words, Fuck Yes or No.

When you can accept that your negative feelings have no easy fix, no permanent solution that can be found in the short term, you can begin the healing process. In time, you will move forward, your emotions will stabilize, and you will begin writing the next chapter of your life.

The reason that time heals our wounds is that we gradually do become a different person, as we all change throughout our lives. When you look back at past regrets and painful memories, it’s like they happened to somebody else. This allows us to disassociate, and realize that our present happiness is not in any way tied to events from our past.

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When you can learn to keep your feet moving, even through a storm, you have entered a new stage of maturity and understanding of yourself.

We will all carry scars of our past, because life isn’t clean and easy. And it’s not supposed to be. It would probably be boring as hell if it was.

Learning to accept and even be grateful for the pains of our past, right along with the joys, is what fully frees us to experience life.

The key is not to push our past regrets away, but to realize that they are lessons, they are unavoidable, and that ultimately, the pain of the past is not tied to our present or future.

Balance Of Power

 

ThirdEye

There is a power which vibrates beneath all things in this world. It is always present, just out of sight, but it can always be felt. We are all subject to it, even those who don’t believe it exists.

This power is a universal law, like gravity. It was never invented, it just is. It is part of the firmament, woven into the ether. It is one with nature.

It is the power of a lion chasing down a gazelle. Scything its teeth into the neck, thirsting for the taste of blood, becoming ever more awake and alive through the ecstasy of embodying death. Devouring with abandon. Then resting peacefully in the sun.

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This power is not just part of nature. It is our nature itself. It is the quality of embodying the human animal that we all are. It is the power that comes from tapping into what humans call greed, selfishness, lust… but in animals is the sole domain of the winner.

Much of our emotional turmoil in life is caused by fighting this power. Swimming against the current, rather than with it.

In order to live in harmony with it, we must first become aware of it. We have to identify it and be able to feel and see the true path. Once we have done that, we can begin to attune ourselves to this new frequency, and tap into our most primal energy.

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For some, this power is the ultimate answer. Once they have found it, they cannot imagine relinquishing it. It can become an obsession, a distortion. Like any force, if taken to the extreme it can be deadly. These people covet it, lose themselves in it, and eventually drown inside it.

There is no permanent joy in the exertion of this power, nor everlasting peace. This power is volatile. It will create great peaks and valleys. Some are content to ride this wave until the day of their death.

For others, it is too dissonant from other parts of their being that give them joy, such as sharing with and caring for others, allowing themselves to be emotionally vulnerable through personal expression, and the desire to love without putting up a wall because they are afraid of being hurt. This robs many of true, unfettered freedom and presence to become fully happy. To completely let go.

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The answer lies in balance. The “middle way.” This is not the cowardly compromise of a “purple pill” that tries to dilute truths to make them more palatable. This is the understanding and incorporation of truths, reality, and power in whatever way they serve us, and simultaneously, not being ruled by them. Not trying to form our core identity around them.

The truth is that we are a little bit different than the rest of the animal kingdom. And too often we get excited by the selfish aspects of human nature once we discover them, and neglect the communal, tribal, and selfless aspects which are equally inborn.

Without the freedom to stay present and experience our lives as ourselves, we can never have joy. The laws of power are irrefutable, but that does not mean that learning them, or even mastering them, makes them our master. We humans have a great capacity for transcending our basic animality. Just as we are opportunistic maters, we are opportunistic lovers, sharers, builders, and friends.

What we have forgotten today, is that the opportunity to share, build, and love still surrounds us. We have narrowed our view of what is opportune, and bought in again and again to the cultural forces that would have us de-evolve ourselves back into apes. Or rats in a maze.

So the highest level of our personal growth is not just the mastering of power, but the courage to balance it. To know how we can gain selfishly for ourselves, and to nonetheless consciously sacrifice for an even greater good.

Only in this realm can true, transcendent power be found.