Reflections on a Saturday


My ex is getting married today. My first girlfriend, I used to call her “Longterm” on my blog. I should probably care more, but I don’t. We were together five years, and we haven’t talked in six.

I’m staying home and relaxing. Watching the family dog while everyone is upstate. Might order in some fried chicken from the local joint in my hometown. Maybe play some guitar, or work on a script. Maybe jerk off and think about the night we lost our virginity together, or that time we did anal, and how some other guy is marrying her now. Ha. I got laid last night though, probably won’t need to.

She sells beauty products, apparently. We’re not Facebook friends anymore, but I can still see some of her profile. Looks like she got deep into some kind of non-toxic, chemical-free pyramid scheme resulting in a neverending stream of sales pitches on her social media. She even used her wedding as an excuse to publicize a special discount offer.

I think I dodged a bullet with this one.

Sweet girl, though.

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I do have her to thank for my blogging career, really. I still remember the day she told me she was back hooking up with her douchebag ex-boyfriend and how I was a “beta male.” She read that term in a novel. Coincidence.

But moreso it was the beginning of my coming-of-age. My process of growing up, to whatever extent you could say I’ve done that. It was our breakup that cast me out into the wilderness, alone in Los Angeles, and forced me to blaze a new path for myself.

It’s funny looking back at how devastated I was over her. I grew past that, found a new footing in life, laughed at my former naivety, and then did the whole thing over again.

But looking back at her helps me to see my last breakup more clearly. What upsets us most is losing the object of our happiness. It’s a mental construct, a projection of what they made us feel and who we were able to feel we were around them. We can care about the people, miss them, but the feelings are where we really touch the void. If we could bottle those exact feelings– that specific emotional symphony– we might move on overnight. But maybe we’d also miss out on some indelible human experience. Or some bullshit like that.

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It’s complicated. If you never decide to let go of someone, you can keep your life on pause forever. Looking back at how I really got over that first girlfriend, it all stemmed from my immersion in new areas of personal growth that made me feel “powerful”– in the sense of becoming more fully actualized in the world, more in control of my destiny. In other words, I resolved to move forward, and also look forward rather than back. And I gave myself plenty to look forward to.

Putting a breakup behind you, then, consist of 2 elements:

1) Acceptance

2) Forward Drive

Working in tandem, these two factors can keep the demons at bay, and return you to the realm of the functional. And from there, you can unlock the potential of being truly exceptional again.

It can be a non-linear process. Mine is a messy serpentine of carnival ups and downs. Extremes of high and low. Sometimes I want to get off the ride. But somewhere deep down I know it’s all beautiful, in some divine, fucked up way. Life is so much simpler than we allow it to be. We have to be careful not to lose our heads too far up our own asses. Speaking mostly for myself, here.

To borrow some terminology from statistics (which I believe I’ve borrowed before), the graph of my life is a random walk with an upward trend. The key is to maintain the calmness, patience, and trust (you can call it faith) that everything doesn’t have to happen today, this instant, but that your life is unfolding gradually, at its own pace, and great things lie in your future. Just beyond the horizon.

How To Diminish Your Suffering

Earth Hands

It strikes me in my own recent experiences and hearing about those of others, that we too often feel completely overwhelmed by our personal problems. They take on a weight and magnitude which feels many times larger than we are ourselves. Even though they are purely mental, our problems can reach such a size in our minds that they affect us physically, weighing us down like a burden we must carry each day.

A lot of suffering is caused by guys reading blogs, looking at self-improvement websites or books, and then feeling like they are fundamentally lacking. It can seem like an insurmountable task to get from where you are, to some kind of new way of being where you have everything under control, you’re in great shape, you’re making a lot of money, getting plenty of girls, and generally you just feel happy and at peace all the time.

Without a doubt, plenty of guys sharing their advice do have a good handle of their lives, and they probably have a fairly steady emotional life condition. They aren’t panicked all the time, and they pretty much know the direction they’re heading in.

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Much of our terror and fear strikes when we lose our sense of direction, or events disrupt the path we thought we were supposed to be on. This is perfectly natural, and there is an automatic, emotional response that occurs that we have no control over. That part is unavoidable.

What we can actually address is what comes next. How do we deal with this panic? Do we believe the story our emotions are telling us? Do we latch onto these feelings and give them more power, assuming they are the objective truth or our unchangeable destiny?

When you are gripped in this type of struggle, it can seem impossible to get control of yourself. Even the advice people give you makes you feel worse, because you know what they’re saying is true, but you don’t believe you can really get from who you are now (while depressed or under great stress) to the who they are telling you to become.

I’m here to tell you, that’s bullshit.

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The reason is because… you are already that person.

We have an illusion that we all operate under, that after we start juicing, lifting weights, approaching girls, etc etc, that we will become a new man. And maybe taking a snapshot from the outside, it looks that way. It certainly appears that way when we see before and after photos, or stories of self improvement.

The truth is, you already are who you are. Your life is your life. And that is enough. I don’t mean enough in the sense that you shouldn’t have goals for improvement. I mean it in the sense that wherever you are, your life is only unfolding from this exact moment, the who who you are right NOW.

A lot of our stress and suffering comes from forgetting that we can only put one foot in front of the other. We can only take the next step from exactly where we are. We can’t jump to the end point.

Here is the key:

Rather than trying to make yourself into something BIGGER in order to overcome your problems, you need to realize that your problems are smaller than you think. They are smaller than you. You are exactly the “size” that you’re supposed to be, metaphysically speaking. You don’t have to become a Super-Man in order to be happy and overcome your difficulties in life. You just have to be you, and continue embodying yourself.

When we resist our problems, fight them, fear them, and feel that they are bigger than we are, our suffering will only continue to grow. But by remembering that you don’t need to be any more than you are– that life will only unfold from the present moment and wherever you find yourself right now– you can find much more compassion for yourself.

And from there, you will find energy, rather than resistance, as you begin to take positive steps and actions to continue living your life.

Forward is the only way you can go.

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.