The Beginning And The End

It’s an interesting feeling completing a cycle of the heroes journey, everything in the real world is the same as when I left it, but inside me, it’s like everything is both exactly the same and entirely different. – Alex Dirdara

Behold my level of modesty in quoting myself in the opening quote. Yet it’s a special occasion. As of the day of this posting, July 25th 2016, it is just past the two year mark of when I entered this journey on July 24th 2014. The events of my first post climaxed on that fateful day on July 24th, the one where enough happened in just the right way to spark my awakening.

In two short years, I’ve gotten a job I love, working with wonderful people. I’ve built up a social circle of inspiring friends. I’ve tried dozens of new things, and continue to do so to this day. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity, and am so grateful in each moment that passes. I’ve even managed to take part in some grand circumstances I would have never dreamed of before.

It feels fake to look back two years ago, and yet I don’t feel I’m a different person at all. I’ve merely eliminated a lot of the illusions that crippled me throughout the years. It was a process of unlearning that continues unto today. It would be boring if it ever really ended too.

So what was the single greatest thing that’s happened you may ask dear reader? *drum roll* … It was the discovery of space. There is a very practical side to this, as well as a very spiritual aspect too.

To start with the practical, I’ve found infinite applications of space. That is, to leave space when a loved one needs it. To leave space when you’re on a first date, and notice how it provides a platform for the other person to contribute, instead of simply running through a list of all your greatest accomplishments. To see the confidence that comes from taking up space, both externally and internally. To feel you truly deserve to occupy that space. Perhaps that last one was a little more spiritual.

In spirituality, it is the discovery of both the space inside of me, and the space on the outside. The space that is consciousness. The one that is not worthy or unworthy. Not a loser or a world champion. It isn’t concerned whether you get the girl or the job. It simply is space. A space that can be filled with anything you want, emptied, and then filled again with something else. It doesn’t mind. It doesn’t have to be so esoteric. Consider when you break out of a cycle of thinking, anxieties, fears. When you sit there and just embody yourself, taking life a breath at a time. Do you sense how where previously there was worries and fears, there is now a new kind of empty space? Don’t take my word for it, try it now and find out for yourself.

To me, this space of consciousness that pervades me, and everything else, is the closest thing I see to a god. That’s because nobody has to teach it, it doesn’t take time to learn, it can’t be studied at all. It’s simply always there, just sometimes forgotten. You don’t have to force yourself to remember or imagine its there. It’s there when we let go of the drama in our lives that pretends its relevant and important.

I like to pay attention to the lyrics in songs, I’ve found quite a bit of inspiration for different parts of my life in them. Among the many inspirations for this song was Kanye West’s Everything I Am, where the Hook contains the line “Now everything I’m not made me everything I am”. From the day we receive our names, we start attaching things to our identities. The space you are, is none of those things though. When you realize you aren’t any of the labels you place upon yourself, everything you are, is space. From there, possibilities start to manifest themselves in whole new ways.

 

 

The Battle For Worthiness

“Your problem is you are too busy holding on to your unworthiness.”
Ram Dass

The beautiful thing about fear is that it will follow you everywhere. You can’t really take a vacation from it. If you take a flight 3000 kilometers away, it will gladly come with you. Wherever you go, there it is. What if there is this thing I’ve always wanted to do, but I’ll never be able to do it? Forever is a long time.

Thankfully, once two things come into play, it’s possible to start removing fear pretty much immediately. First is acknowledging that you have the particular fear, and second is that you are worthy and capable of overcoming it. Unless your fear actually involves a risk of death, it is something that can be overcome with right effort.

I tried the whole “think positive” thing in the personal development community. “I am abundant”, “I am happy”, “I will get through this”. Unfortunately, the flaw to this strategy is that you’re changing your reaction to a negative thought, and not the cause of it.

If you feel you’ve messed up a lot at something, and your fear is that you’ll mess up next time too, telling yourself “I will get it this time”, consciously, will probably provide space for your subconscious to respond with “But I probably will just fail again”.

If that strategy hasn’t gotten you where you wanted to be, let’s look at what I mentioned above. First, acknowledge your fear. “I am afraid I’ve messed up at this thing, and I may mess up again”. Second, give yourself the resources to overcome it. If you can try something new, do it, and see what happens. If a friend or mentor has accomplished the thing your wanting to do, drop any idea that “they did it, but I probably can’t”, and see how you can integrate what they’re doing into your situation.

Some people are very dedicated at accomplishing a specific task. They will gladly throw themselves head first into adversity. They won’t let fear stop them. Unfortunately, overcompensation is as big of a risk as paralyzing fear. The one who is afraid of job interviews and doesn’t apply to any job, and the one who applies to every job, but doesn’t make any of them count, are in the same boat. It is a little better to throw yourself out there then to be paralyzed into inactivity, but thankfully the best strategy falls in the middle.

You may not feel worthy of a specific accomplishment. A fear of success, and not knowing what to do once you’ve got the thing you’ve always wanted, is a fear that can sneak up on you.

There is a strategy of compassion that will get you much farther, and allow your path out of unworthiness. Start by acknowledging your fear, as a wholeheartedly as you can. Next, acknowledge you may have a way to go, but that you’re willing to put in the effort required. Lastly, take some action in the right direction, and evaluate what happened. What did you do well? What can you improve next time? Take your findings into your next attempt, and repeat this until you see yourself succeed. Defeat fear with kindness, and your journey will take you much farther, much faster.

 

The Fine Line Between Holding On And Moving On

Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken. – Albert Camus

When it comes to life decisions, whether one wants to end a long term relationship, or even a marriage, change careers, change cities, or anything else that may dictate a change in the whole flow of life, there seems to be a fine line between holding on and moving on. It’s true even for lower scale life choices that may only effect you on a smaller scale.

When it comes to holding on, waiting for a situation to improve, it commonly feels like the safer choice. It’s the one your mind and habits are most familiar with, the idea is simply “well this is bad, but what if things are worse on the other side?”.

On the other side, if you choose to move on, there is always the risk of giving up too early. Did you fully commit to improving things? Were you just playing at it timidly because you prematurely decided to end or change things because it was easier then whatever you had to do for recovery?

There are lessons to be learned from choosing both paths, regardless of the situation. Unfortunately there will never be a right answer, and no article on the internet can magically help you create the conditions when one is true over the other. It wouldn’t be a fine line if it was more obvious then that.

And yet, there are ways to help you make the choice that is likely to benefit you the most. If you feel you’ve stopped growing in a certain environment, or both you and your partner have stopped growing in a relationship, that can be a clear sign it’s time to move on. It may sound scary to “start over”, but it’s the you with everything you learned from the last experience that goes into the new one. You may be starting fresh, but you aren’t returning to 0 and then working your way back up, you’re starting where you were at the end before, and reaching new heights.

You’ve somehow managed to deal with all your life experiences thus far. You’ve dealt with all kinds of varied experiences. You’re not special for it, it just seems to be a capacity of humans. If you’re worried you didn’t hold on long enough, and gave up too soon, or if you keep trying to solve something that’s not solvable, there is nothing wrong with that. You’ve got that in common with every other human around. Yet, if you’re aware that something needs to change, see what steps you can take immediately to see how that would play out. At worst, you’ll enter a new situation with all the experience you’ve gained so far. If you “made a mistake”, you’ll carry brand new knowledge and experience going forward.

Space: The King’s Frontier

“Only someone who is ready for everything, who doesn’t exclude any experience, even the most incomprehensible, will live the relationship with another person as something alive and will himself sound the depths of his own being.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

When I first moved to Montreal, I went into a rather small place that was conveniently located a stone throw away from work. It got cluttered quickly and having friends over was troublesome. Eventually I moved to a large place which seemed really empty when I simply moved my stuff from my old place to my new place. Suddenly I had all this space to do something with. From that space, I purchased items and arranged my place in a way that made it finally feel like a home. After having moved a  total of four times in a year and a half, I finally felt settled. Finally felt at home.

I’ve often heard a phrase in ‘self-development’ that stuck with me through the years, and that’s that this is a process of ‘undoing’ or ‘unlearning’ more then it is about ‘developing’ something. We learned how to judge others, and our selves. We learned how to feel like losers or screw-ups. Whether from family or the society around us, we can’t help but learn a lot of things that don’t benefit us as we grow up. Of course, our capacity for learning benefits us heavily as well. It’s the only way we could read and consume something like this blog, or know not to take candy from strangers.

Not everything that is learned is beneficial though, and that’s why unlearning is necessary. This is the practical tool towards living out The King’s Journey. The steps go something like this once you take something you’ve learned before:

  1. Question why it is you’re supposed to do whatever you’ve learned in the way that you’ve learned it.
  2. If it still makes sense to do things that way, and it benefits you, then keep it up, if it doesn’t, continue to step 4.
  3. Start to break down that idea. Who decided it should be that way? Is it still relevant today? Would you be able to live your life without it? How essential is it really?
  4. Once the idea is seen as simply an idea, and it starts to fade away, you now have space.
  5. In this space, you may freely choose to follow a new idea or concept, one that benefits you in the life you’ve chosen to create.

To give a quick example, imagine an idea like following in your family’s footsteps of being a musician, even though you’ve been drawn towards being a biologist.

  1. I’m supposed to be a musician because my parents paid a lot for my practice as a child, and it’s all they know. My brother and sister are both working towards being musicians as well, and they seem to love it, maybe there is something wrong with me.
  2. The idea doesn’t benefit me because it makes me feel guilty about my future and my past up until now and makes me feel like there is something wrong with me.
  3. My parents decided it, and I’ve never really talked to them about it, so I don’t even know how they would react. Not everyone who came from a family of musicians went on to be a musician themselves. Even though I’ve spent so much time on music already, I still have my whole life ahead of me, to continue doing it from now on just because I’ve always done it, is only going to lead to more suffering.
  4. I’ve just been assuming everything so far, and was so anxious I’d be doomed to an entire life of this. Either I’ll make my parents understand, or I’ll find a way to continue living my life the way I’ve decided. I can’t actively choose to be miserable my entire life just to please my parents.
  5. I’m going to use all my free time to study towards being a biologist while I work towards convincing my parents and showing them where my passions lie. Now that I’m not spending my days worrying about my future and what might be wrong with me, I can move forwards towards living the life I want to create.

Perhaps you don’t speak quite like that, but that would be a quick example of how you can go inside yourself to find how much truth there is to something you’ve chosen to believe this whole time. If a belief doesn’t benefit you, break it down, and create a new one.

As I said before, The King’s Journey is often avoided because it means you take full responsibility. It’s much easier to go with the flow, follow in the footsteps or advice of your parents, to let them take care of everything. It can be parents, other family, society, friends, or even Hollywood. Everything and everyone is trying to tell you how to live, and what to do. It may be harder to take responsibility and actively choose to create your life and the different aspects of it, but the rewards surpass anything you could imagine.

When you have space, you no longer have clutter, and you have the opportunity to create the life you want. All you need to do is find the borrowed ideas, and supplement them with your own. It may take months or years, but the journey is a blast too.