Placed upon our perch, we wander this Earth
The view lacking in girth, Made up for with every new birth
He who decides to be unborn, steps into the forlorn
For the regression of what we once were, opens the door for new life to spur
A baby is conceived, although no new face is perceived
Eyes wide, it’s a new person to decide…
What to Be, and How to See
What a gift. To have a way with words.
Used to express and convey feelings. Point to meaning. Give ideas context.
Helpful. But never the meaning, the expression, itself.
They add an extra layer. In need of deciphering, translation. Disguising. Distracting. Misleading.
Used as tools of manipulation. Conning. Facades of false portrayals.
“A way with words” – the ability to translate truth and beauty into spoken terms OR disguise insecurities behind charm and deceit.
What a gift. To have a way with words. Until you forget to do away with words.
Real meaning – Felt. Experienced. KNOWN. Not needing to be explained. It is Understood.
Expressed in universal language.
Through locked eyes. Gazes not averted. Into souls of others, or the souls of ourselves.
Doing away with words.
There is no more misrepresentation. Conning others. Deceiving yourself.
With puns. Plays on words. It’s time to face yourself. And play onwards.
What a gift. A way with words.
Open the box. And find the greater gift.
To do away with words.
Because that is the true Present – Live in it
As I sit down to write I notice the elegant beauty of my scripted handwriting. Each letter with just enough room to bask in its own glory. All the while, lending itself to the next letter to aid in the announcement of its beauty. Together, they complete the peaceful transition.
Ever flowing as pen strokes paper, I wonder how I’ve assembled each word so perfectly?
In disbelieving awe, I peer in closer to the page. Upon further examination, the myriad of blemishes present themselves. Some words more skewed than others, but I cannot find one letter penned without imperfection.
Stepping back, I re-examine the work as whole. From this perspective I am able to once again bathe in the beautiful cohesiveness of the assembled words. It is only upon intense scrutiny of each individual word or letter during which I find imperfection or fault.
Taking a break from my notebook, I look up and gaze at the mountainside. I notice the perfect arrangement of wildlife that decorates the slope of the mountain. Not one blade of grass out of place, it’s a perfection greater than anything attainable by human design. Hence the awe in which we stand to admire these alluring sceneries. The ones Nature so commonly provides across the Earth. They captivate us in a way that calls us to draw pictures of the untouched forests, take photos of the flowing rivers, and paint the sprawling mountains.
If I were to venture up the mountainside though, in an effort to scrutinize the landscape I had just been surveying from afar, the imperfections would be abundant. Fallen tree branches, ripped flower petals, and decaying leaves would litter the forest floor. Dissecting each individual part to the masterpiece would make it seem as though something has gone terribly wrong amidst Nature’s creation.
By simply allowing everything to be, I realize everything is perfect as is. Right where it should be. Only when looking at the system as a whole – untouched – can this perfection can be observed.
The truth emanating from this viewpoint of a perfectly laid environment can be applied to our own environment as humans – a species of collective beings. Every individual is filled with impurities and imperfections. But each being brings its own unique energy to the collective consciousness of the whole. Each contributing to the expression of humanity.
Being able to accept these flaws, our own flaws as well as the flaws of others, will allow us to see the beauty of the whole. Only acceptance with no reservations – true acceptance – can bring about this awareness. To first see humanity as a whole will then allow us to be aware that humanity IS whole.
With this acceptance of each individual as they are, ceasing to judge, criticize, or blame others or ourselves, we can move beyond our egos. We can connect with each other from a deeper place. A place beyond the fearful interactions of our false identities, in which we are always attempting to cover up our own flaws, or expose them in others, when in reality the only flaw is not being our self.
The seeming chaos of our world may actually be orderly and represent itself in a unique design created and supported by an innate intelligence greater than that of ourselves. Hidden beyond the veil of our clouded mind, this intelligence emanates from the beauty of every creation in nature. It’s the underlying presence that is sensible in all living manifestations.
When we’re in tune with the most high, we can get in touch with this underlying presence. It is inside of us. It is the pure energy which flows through us, all around us, and between us – from one being to another.
We can allow the energy to lead us in life. To guide us in all the right directions and take us to all the right places at the right time. To give us the wisdom and confidence to make all the right choices – the ones that are the best for us and in the highest good of humanity as a whole. Because that is one in the same.
The energy that gives Life to everything. To the plants. The animals. Nature. The energy that created that perfectly arranged wilderness upon the mountain. This is the same energy gave life to US – Humanity – an equally perfect creation.
We can know this energy, this Life. And when we do, we will be able to see the beauty emanating from all consciousness, connect with one another, and be a part of nature. We can ALL experience life from a happy, blissful state of being through the pure emotions of Peace, Love, and Joy.
As Humanity. As Consciousness. As a Perfect Whole.
Life is simple. Salsa. Music. Rum. Nothing more is needed to relish in the beauty of the Cuban lifestyle. To see the love produced, for themselves and others, through the simplicity of dance and laughter is awe-inspiring.
To love and enjoy life, the people of Cuba don’t need anything else – and they prove that. But forbidden from being allowed to have anything else creates a void that they yearn to fill. This longing eats at their souls.
The government has trapped them within the confines of the sea wall. Physically and Ideologically. If they were free, some may never want to leave. But this lack of freedom locks up their heart and now they do feel a sense of emotional despair.
Amongst the streets of Havana they routinely get lost in one another. Whether it be through sharing the rhythm of music or a bottle of rum, they find solace in each other. Unfortunately, this peace is short-lived. Upon returning to solitude, they are still faced with the reality of living within an oppressive regime.
This reality goes beyond the inability to explore outside the arbitrary boundaries outlined by the ocean. Boundaries tirelessly solidified by the ruling power. The average Cuban government worker makes 25CUC/month (1CUC = $1). It is possible to survive on ration cards and domestically grown food but there is no way to lessen the cost of imported necessities. Shoes are 50CUC. Jeans are 30CUC. Shampoo is 4.50CUC. Toothpaste is 2CUC. 1 hour of Internet is 1CUC. Toilet Paper, so coveted, is rarely provided by restaurants at the prospect of it being stolen. I called these necessities. Cubans call them luxuries.
Money does not bring happiness. But one’s basic needs must be met before you are able to escape the daily struggle for comfort that will consume your life’s attention. No energy is left to focus on cultivating friendships, searching for love, or self-actualization if you have no sense of security when it comes to food, shelter, and health. The Cuban government does not provide its people with enough to obtain this minimum level of comfort.
“I Love My Life. I Love My Family. “ An eerily common Cuban response when queried about the Cuban regime – unwilling to directly broach the subject. This appreciation for their life and what they DO have is fascinating. Something we should all strive for. Unfortunately, for some Cubans the commitment to their immediate surrounding presence is not by choice, it is because they can’t bear not to. It is a coping mechanism utilized to evade confrontation with the emotional resistance to their circumstances and the dim prospect of a better future. A sign of lost hope for change.
Simple gifts were met with unbridled enthusiasm – a stunning mixture of bliss and gratitude. Nike Flip-Flops, MLB Jerseys, toothpaste, Band-Aids. It was as if these objects represented something greater than their material worth. A step outside the boundary set so hard in place by the Cuban government. A taste in the ability to go beyond these circumstances to which they have no escape. An ode to a world unknown in which they are constrained from exploring. An offering of hope.
But what I had to offer the people of Cuba pales in comparison to what they offered me. With so little, they give so much. In a life of scarcity, they live in abundance. The rest of the world has much to learn from observing the delicacies of the Cuban people.
My last night in Cuba I was taught that Salsa requires no music. It is through becoming one with the movements of your partner that creates the art. The government may have taken away their music, but the Cuban people continue to dance.
To all those who are saddened and disheartened by what this election has indicated about the state of this country:
It seemed like we had come so far. Moving towards unity as a whole. From being divided to being one. One nation, one culture, one species, one being.
So many walls between people had been torn down. Racism, women’s rights, gay rights, sexism, bigotry, prejudice. We were far from perfect but we were making progress. We were moving from seeing others as different to seeing ourselves in others
All that progress is being questioned right now. Is the outcome of this election indicative of our state of being right now? Who are these people who voted for a divisive bully who feeds on fears and insecurities through racism and elitism?
These people were my classmates and coworkers. My friends and neighbors. My brothers and sisters. I thought I knew these people, but do I?
This is OK though. All that progress that has been made has not been lost. All those people who helped us tear down those walls are still out there. They still see the good in the people. The question is – do you?
Fears and emotions that have been long suppressed are being felt. The only way to heal is to recognize those pains. To bring the suffering to light. To feel not only our pain, but the pain of others as well. It is through this recognition and suffering that we can become free. Free of the fears and insecurities that drive the divisive hate between us.
Trump is exposing wounds that have been covered up for years. Just like most wounds need oxygen to heal, these wounds need our attention. We now have the opportunity to treat them with Love and Acceptance.
Hilary Clinton would have just been a bandage. It’s in the darkest times that we need to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now is the time reach out to those who need it most. Be a shoulder someone can lean on. Lean on someone else’s when you need to. But most of all, realize we are all in this together.
Do not let rhetoric divides us. Allow our feelings to bring us closer together. For the sun still shines even when the clouds cover it. Take this time to get to know each other as humans, heal these wounds rather than allow them to be dug deeper, and let’s move closer to humanity.
If you’re reading this, you’re alive, just like everyone else. But are you Living?
To Live is to be aware of what’s going on in the present moment. To be aware of our senses. To see, hear, and smell what is around us. We have eyes and ears but often don’t see or hear.
To Live also means to be aware of our feelings and emotions – what’s going on inside of us right now. To feel our presence and the presence of those around us.
As humans we have a tremendous ability to feel. An essential part of living is feeling. Most of us, though, are afraid to feel. Feelings are strong and powerful. They can be overwhelming, especially when invoked by our emotions – consciously or unconsciously.
We are afraid to Live because we are afraid to feel. So we use to distractions to prevent us from being aware of what is going on inside of us. They also prevent us from being aware of what is going on around us.
We are afraid to just BE, alone or with others, because we would be forced to deal with what we feel. Feel what’s going on inside of us. Feel the presence of others.
Whether we remove ourselves from being aware of what’s going on in the present by thinking about the past or future, clinging to short lived pleasures such as sex, drugs and alcohol, or merely distract ourselves by checking Instagram or Twitter, we are denying ourselves the ability to Live.
We don’t have to give up all of these things. We just need to know that we can live our life with more balance. If we just step away from the distractions/pleasures, stop living in the past, and quit hoping for the future – we will live a fuller life. In fact, we won’t be giving up anything. We will be gaining the ability to be aware and feel what is going on in and around us.
Why is it so hard to move on? Deep down there comes a point when you know something that was a vital part of your life has run it’s course but you can’t bring yourself to let it go. You can’t bring yourself to step out into the unknown – it’s too scary.
For me, that was competitive running. I just recently ran my last NCAA cross-country race ever. The end was bittersweet, but the newfound freedom it has granted me has been exhilarating.
Running and racing has been the focal point of my life for so long. It has brought me so much passion, joy, and intense moments of aliveness. But earlier this year the fire inside me was gone. Maybe not completely, but it didn’t burn as bright.
There were still times I wanted to hit and accolades I wanted to achieve. I thought these achievements would make me feel validated or proven. But my self-worth is not predicated on such merits. Those numbers or awards do not define who I am. The more I can disidentify with those times and achievements, the more I can get to know my true self – wherein my true happiness and self-worth lies.
But I was scared to let go. I was holding onto that identity of being a runner, a D1 athlete, a teammate. It was safe and comfortable to be doing what I’d been doing for so much of my life. I used running as a way to rationalize all I did. What I ate, my sleep habits, how much I drank, etc. Everything was centered on improving myself as a runner and it was hard to let that go.
But now that I’m done, I’ve found other reasons for why I do things in my life. And there are other things I do for no reason – just because I want to. And that’s reason enough.
I still run everyday and I love it. But I run with a new meaning and purpose and it brings me joy in a new way. It doesn’t consume all my energies and thoughts anymore. This has allowed me to see other paths available and find new passions to pursue. These passions make me feel alive in a different way, yet equally as satisfying.
Do I regret not quitting? No. I ensured that I got the most out of my running as I could. But it was the safe choice. I’m not going to search for the next point in my life when it’s time to move on from something, but when it comes I’m going to be aware and accepting of it. And next time, I’m going to take the risk – trust myself and allow the doors to the endless new adventures out there to open. Then the question becomes: will I go on them?