Breaking Free

I must apologize for my absence on this blog this past year. I’d been going through a highly introspective period where I needed to retreat inwards, rather than express outwards… had to take a step back from the whirlwind that is life. To those who have stuck around, thank you!

Gently nudged by a friend on here and by virtue of my emergence from my place of relative silence, I’ve decided to share a bit of what’s been on my mind.

So here goes…

It’s a real struggle to live an authentic life in a world that is increasingly supporting the inauthentic… silicone bodies, plastic commodities, even our food is fast becoming only a figment of what real food once was. How are we supposed to feel right in who we are when the norm is a face caked with makeup and rolls on your tummy are considered grotesque?

I’ll be somewhat candid here, I’ve struggled accepting myself since I was a kid. I looked different, I ate different, as I got older my spiritual views were considered bizarre, and I didn’t socialize quite like everyone else coming from a culture where socializing without an alcoholic drink in one’s hand was met with suspicion and rejection. I felt out of place. But, this is part of who I was and who I am. I struggled because I couldn’t change myself into what I wasn’t.

Lest I go down a dangerously negative path, I’m going to turn this ship around and propose a solution to one of society’s greatest problems: our lack of authenticity.

Photo by Patrick Lanigan

The only way we can stop these insane fake standards that society has been carving out for everyone to fit neatly into, is if we all abandon them in droves.

In university I remember studying Foucault and his theories about how we police each other into conformity. And that’s where I’ve found my solution.

The only way I can be free to be myself, the only way we can ALL be free is if we abandon these ridiculous standards and be friends with the beautiful essence in all forms of expression. The more we adhere to inauthenticity, and the more we ourselves run away from the beautiful within us and don some garb to fit in, the more we will find ourselves creating a world void of acceptance, love, and true expression.

Also, authenticity is best friends with honesty. Can’t have one without the other. The more honest we are with ourselves and with everyone around us, the more authentic the expression of our unique spirit.

I can be your friend if we look into each other’s eyes and let the tears and joy flow uninhibited by any apprehension that we won’t be accepted. I accept you. I accept you even if there is something “wrong” with you. There’s nothing wrong with you.

This is awesome mirror work… but the real mirror is the world. Bring the love and the acceptance out there and let’s create a better world, one where everyone has a place and feels good with who they are.

And so there, I give myself license to dance my crazy heart out to the so-called lamest music I choose and the freedom to walk my authentic path wherever that may lead. And I wish the same for you.

To our freedom!

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A Present Worth Remembering

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” –Howard Thurman

Two scrapped blog posts later and as I near my self-imposed deadline the topic that I’m “supposed” to write about finally decides to implant itself into my mind. It’s funny… these things come at seemingly the most random moments. I was in the midst of my exercise routine and then there it was. And, you know when you’ve got it, ‘cause something inside of you just turns on and you feel those initial vibrations of inspiration pulse through you.

So here we go! I want you to think about your dreams. Not your nightly dreams, though they may factor in here as well, but rather your aspirational type of dreams. They’re what you set out as the highest ideals in your life, what you’d like to achieve, the life you’d like to live, the way you’d like to feel and so on.

Now, growing up we were often encouraged to, “follow your dreams”. Well meaning people passed this message along to us. Somehow, once the majority of people reached adulthood, this “follow your dreams” message got relegated to childhood fantasy and hence stopped being placed as prominently in our field of view. The tune slowly, but surely changes as you reach your teenage years and by your twenties and beyond, the R-word becomes so fully entrenched in your mind that it takes over at the steering wheel… at least for most. The R-word is “reality”. The fact is that a few people go after their dreams, but the majority begin to see an irreconcilable dichotomy between the concept of “dreams” and the concept of “reality” and abandon their dreams and let the R-word dominate their existence.

A point should be made here though that dreams are not merely childish fantasies and in fact, many dreams can be born out of experiences from adulthood and are very grounded. Dreams aren’t associated with childhood because they’re inherently childish, since that is not the case. They’re associated with childhood because children are able to achieve something that most adults need to meditate to be able to do, which is that they are able to achieve a state of mind free of the concerns, worries, seriousness and heaviness that adults often experience. Thus, children are able to open their minds and hearts and follow the paths to where they meet, intertwine and lead to dreams.

But, there’s more to dreams than just fantasy. Dreams are meant to be lived. Not in some far distant future, but here and now. Maybe that’s the true meaning of coming into adulthood and stepping into our maturity. It’s not about the heaviness of responsibilities and so-called reality. It’s about living the dream. Jeff Brown puts it best:

“Don’t just follow your dreams. You may lose them at a red light, or while wandering the trailways of transformation. Better yet, ingest and embody them, make them indistinguishable from you. Weave your most wondrous imaginings into the breath of your being.”

Live Your Dream

There you have it. We can’t just follow our dreams, because as evidenced by the majority of adults… they get lost because they are not an embodied part of ourselves. We don’t feel it like we’d feel the loss of some intrinsic part of ourselves when we lose focus of our dreams. And that’s a sad thing. It’s clear though that the R-word is a major factor here. But, very few people in my generation in the western world, save for those with physical ailments, are in a struggle to survive. In fact, we could become deadbeats and live off of welfare– sure not an ideal existence, but survive we would, no doubt. (I’m not trying to suggest that those on welfare are “deadbeats” as everyone is in a unique situation and we don’t know the underlying factors that lead to such scenarios; the reference is to say that we could theoretically do very little with our lives and still manage to survive).

You don’t live your dream due to some stroke of good luck or talent, nor by magically falling into a lot of money. You live your dream through living an authentic life which requires you to continually peel away at the layers of the onion to get closer to the core of your being. We have to be aware, aware of what is compelling us in a certain direction and what we truly want from life in each moment that we live. Living doesn’t happen in some distant future. It happens now. Following your dream means that it’s something you are trying to get to. Living your dream on the other hand, acknowledges that you are present in the dream. You are living fully and relishing the moment. And, authenticity indicates a departure from what’s imposed upon us and from the generic… What is meaningful to you? Forget the billboards and the commercials and the latest trends or the opinion of your friends and family. What makes you come alive? What do love? What pushes the boundaries of your own existence? Find your magic and make the world beautiful by living your dream fully.

In this remixed video, Jason Silva says, “return to things that are meaningful and bathe inside of them.” Yes, bathe inside of your dreams, don’t just think and fantasize. Immerse yourself fully, make them you, eat them up, digest them and live them. He calls for us to return to that place of authenticity and inspiration. That’s where we need to be living. That’s what makes life amazing. I know autotune irks some people, if the couple bits of it bug you in this video focus on the message, it’s worth it.

YouTube Preview Image

As I was putting this post together, Elephant Journal re-posted a blog post from a couple years ago and in it they had this very pertinent and beautiful video that I just had to include as an addendum to my post. Though, I’m giving credit where it’s due, since I did pluck it from this post. I hope this video makes you embrace the inspired way of life. (Hover over the video and click on “vimeo” to watch it in a larger screen- it’s worth doing so). Though we might have this or that limitation be it illness, financial issues, or whatever it is, we can’t let those stop us from living an inspired and authentic life that’s worth living.

“If I only scrape a living, at least it’s a living worth scraping. If there’s no future in it, at least it’s a present worth remembering. For fires of happiness and waves of gratitude. For everything that brought us to that point on earth at that moment in time, to do something worth remembering with a photograph, or a scar -I feel genuinely lucky to hand on heart say I love doing what I do. And though I may never be a rich man, if I live long enough, I certainly have a tale or two for the nephews. And I dig the thought of that.”  –Mickey Smith, Dark Side of the Lens

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