Link

I love this song now more than I ever did before. The way it’s presented in this version is so deeply moving that it’s completely changed how I think of the song and its meaning.

Advertisements

Breaking Flame

Image

ZenDoodle-1

I’ve been doing these kinds of doodles for a long time, but I’ve started to have a new appreciation for them and decided to start sharing them as they are “complete”. Some take a few minutes, some a few days. The only consistency is that I use one continuous and non-intersecting line.

This one was done while I’ve been ramping up a few different aspects of my life that are in alignment with my goals for the year. I’ve been much more active physically and allowing myself to stretch mentally – dealing with emotions and personal challenges that in former versions of myself would have been handled with much more disconnection and shock.

This image appears to me as the face of God breaking through the fire of surrender and release, beckoning, welcoming, and waiting patiently.

Pools of Reflection

Memories always seemed like something that I look at but don’t truly dig into. They’re something to be experienced and then let go. But as I dig into myself and my memories I’ve discovered something almost surreal: Memories are portals.

Or perhaps more aptly they are pools which shimmer and shine and reflect who you are while just below the surface you can glimpse something moving along with an invisible yet familiar current. As you reach your hand down to touch that pool you can watch the ripples radiating out from your fingertips, which just barely broke the surface and wait, hesitating, trembling, on the edge of breaking the surface completely … deciding haltingly whether to shift the balance of atmosphere and liquid.

When the plane is broken I stand staring at the reflection of someone younger and watch as the images change and swirl with the ripples in the surface. I feel that I am witnessing something truly magical which can absorb all of my attention and interest – a television that plays only for me and shows me parts of my past which I can become absorbed in. Lost in thought and ruminating upon the person I was as if we  iwere different people.

All around me are pools of shimmering possibility. I’m standing in a cavern which seems to go on endlessly. It is dark but not as dark as it should be for having no lights – the pools create enough illumination to extend the range of my vision in all directions. Some of the pools shine more brightly than others, but all are the same size.

I can walk in any direction and when I come upon a pool I mark its location so I can come back to it someday. But until now I thought that they were only pools. Shimmering and fluid mirrors that showed me the past trapped inside them. Now I know better. Now I know that they are portals.

Dip your fingers a little lower into the pool. It feels for a moment as if your fingers are being surrounded by water and then you realize it was only the sensation of breaking through the surface to the other side. That initial sensation of liquid surrounding your fingers being in truth the surface bending with you until finally you break through and find yourself on the other side – suddenly in a place which feels strange and familiar and impossible: you are in the past.

Memories are more than just a reflection. They act as a portal into the past. A touchstone to the places you’ve been and the times you’ve been. Exploring them fully could take and entire lifetime.

As I write of my memories I find that my challenges with recalling the past are but illusory obstacles which I’ve placed before myself to prevent the world of the past from completely overwhelming me. Imagine every moment in your life faithfully captured and accessible in your mind. The concept to me is terrifying in its allure.

I dig into my memories and find that they are whole worlds which I can explore and experience. The world of memory is one of places and things and as you walk around it and explore its details and crevices you come upon the tethers of other portals which you can touch and bring to life around you … at the risk of being instantly brought to a different time and perhaps a different place.

But in the end the pools have a limitation. Perhaps it is simply one I have created to protect myself or perhaps there is some other limitation that I am unaware of. The pools cannot be visited indefinitely. The world which exists below the soft surface layer of my mind are ones which quickly and easily repulse the visitor. As if submerged lightly beneath the water I find that I cannot help but float up to the surface and, having done so, lose sight of the beautiful things I have been looking at underneath, only to find their shadows or an imagined simulacrum in their place if I dip my head below again.

An ocean of coral beauty lies below the surface, but blink and it shifts in a way which makes it a stranger to you again.

But what if the pools could be further explored? What if you could fully immerse yourself in them? Would it truly then be memories? Or would it become something more? Something like time travel.

Relax. Take a deep breath. And slip into a pool.

Love All of You (A Confession and Reminder)

‪#‎MyWords‬ today helped me remember something that I preach a lot to others but that I sometimes forget myself: I am the amazing and awesome person that I am because of all the things that I have done or experienced, including the things which were not amazing and awesome.

In fact the hardest experiences in my past, the ones that I sometimes catch myself wishing hadn’t happened to me, are likely the ones that helped me shape myself most into the person I am today.

So here’s my reminder to myself and to you: Love‬ who you are, appreciate all your baggage‬ as a gift, and keep on being your badass self – the one that keeps growing and changing and becoming awesomer with every moment … including the sucky ones yet to come.

Yours in the Journey,

Christian

My Food Habit

I have to tell you that there’s really nothing more powerful in my life right now than the habit of creating habits. Whether those habits create a new pattern or break down an old one, it’s become something I put quite a bit of thought into and that I practice every day.

But before I knew how to put intention behind creating habits, I spent a lifetime building up habits unintentionally: habits of communication, food, sex, and more. Some of these habits have served me well but most of them have got to go.

On today’s hit list? Food.

I grew up eating as much as possible and not stopping until I felt full. I would usually end up overeating and that slowly became the only way that I would feel satisfied from a meal. It wasn’t uncommon to hear me referred to as a “bottomless pit” or a “garbage disposal” and I would be lying if I said there wasn’t some sense of self-satisfaction at being recognized for something – even if it was overeating.

But let’s take a step back and talk about eating – what’s it all about anyways? Well this is how our stomach and brain work: when you blood sugar starts getting low and your stomach is empty you start feeling hungry. The tumbly starts to rumbly and the only thing that will fix that is either A) putting something in your stomach or B) raising your blood sugar level.

I separate these two out because I think it’s important to note that you can trick your hunger into going away by drinking water so that your stomach fills. It’s only once that water is processed and your blood sugar is still below a certain threshold that you’ll start feeling hungry again. (That tip works a treat for when you’re fasting.)

When you actually put food in your stomach and it gets digested your blood sugar starts going up and you won’t feel hungry until it goes below the “I’m hungry” threshold again.

But here’s the thing: there’s a pretty wide gap between when you’re not hungry and when you’re full.

Did you know that airlines won’t actually fill an airplane’s fuel tank to full every single time? Rather they put enough fuel to get to the destination plus some for safety. The reason is that they don’t want to add the weight of the fuel they don’t need because that will cause the plane to be heavier and therefore to use more fuel.

The same thing happens to me when i eat past when I’m not hungry and all the way until I feel full. I start feeling heavier – like i have more to carry around. Rather than eating enough to get to my destination I’ve eaten so much that the fuel itself is costing me in efficiency and happiness and more.

Fuel is all that food really is. Imagine there’s a fire in your body that’s keeping you going and making everything work. That fire starts to die down so you add fuel in the form of logs and kindling.

But what if you loaded down that campfire with every singe thing you could find? You wouldn’t necessarily create a bigger fire – there’s a ratio beyond which you end up smothering the flame instead. If you’re just starting a fire you don’t add a whole tree to it after you get a few sparks because the fire needs oxygen to start.

The same thing goes if your fire is established but is getting low. You can accidentally put out a fire by adding too much fuel or adding it incorrectly.

By the way, the quality of fuel is an easy analogy here. Have you ever loaded a bunch of crap into a fire? Wrappers, styrofoam, plastic … anything like that? Well if you have you know what I know – it just makes a bunch of toxic smoke and noxious fumes. If your food is low quality you’re doing the same to the fire in your body and getting the same results.

Right now I feel like I eat too much for what i need. I’m gassing up my tank for a flight from New York to Hong Kong when I’m only going to Westchester. That changes starting today.

This is my goal: I will find a balance in feeding my body that feels good for it. I will find the point where I’m giving myself nourishment with the right kind (and quality) of fuel and only giving myself enough for it to be used up before my next meal. I will run lean and build a sustainable and healthy fire in my body.

Here’s how I’m going to build this habit. I’m going to start by putting a hard cap on how much I eat at any given time. I will observe how long that food lasts me and then gradually increase the amount of food until it consistently gets me to just before my next meal.

I will be very mindful about what I’m eating and journal the type of food and the amount. I will not be super specific – I know there are tools for that and I’m not interested. Rather I want to have a rough idea so that I’m paying attention to what I eat and I’m able to determine the types of foods that hold me over and feel the best.

Every time I finish a meal I’m going to check in with my body on how it’s feeling and try to really remember that feeling. That way when I get to the point where I feel like I’ve pretty much figured out the right amount of food I can memorize that feeling and always be looking for it when I’m eating.

Over the last few months I’ve gotten really good at building up habits and I know I can build this one up as well.

I know that I can retrain my body and brain to know what “full” feels like and that is what I will do over the next 110 days. I will re-learn how to eat. I will give my body what it wants and needs instead of smothering my fire with a forest of fuel. Less ash and smoke, more trees for rope swings. Everybody wins.

Beginnings

*** DISCLAIMER: Ramblings ahead. I woke up thinking the first line and wanted to let it come out, dragging a magician’s string of handkerchiefs behind it if it so desired. But I did want to publish it because that adds some reality that I couldn’t afford it if the bits and bytes that recorded these thoughts stayed locked away inside a digital den like so much treasure hoarded by a greedy dragon. ***

I sometimes think that my life didn’t really begin in earnest until I reached college. Specifically when I began attending Bradley University. It was then that I actually began to experience a tremendous amount of growth as a person – a trajectory which I would continue to see (grow and change) ever since.

I remember very clearly a moment when that growth was mentioned to me sometime in my second year. I was told by an acquaintance in Alpha Phi Omega that they thought I’d grown a lot in the last year and they were really impressed.

It was almost the first compliment I remember receiving that I had actually believed and taken pride in. (Sarah compliment) I don’t know if it was that moment that catalyzed the change I would continue to see in myself or if it was just a moment that would stick with me until now and hopefully for many years to come. But I do know that changing and growing has become more and more a part of me that I am proud of and focused on.

While I have many things about myself that I choose not to focus on out of fear or prioritization, there are many others (mostly internal perspectives and thought processes) that are constantly being re-evaluated and modified.

But these aren’t things I’m focusing on and then modifying. It’s more like being at the gym and working with a personal trainer where they are focusing not on the weights you’re lifting or the exercises you’re doing but on the form and movement of your body. (training with Khaled)

You start developing better habits around those movements by having awareness of where your body is out of alignment. It’s the awareness of things I want to do better in my life that helps me change.

The only issue I’ve run into that I have the most difficulty dealing/struggling with is that the more someone ELSE wants me to bring awareness to something and the less it was MY idea, the less likely I seem to want to change it.

A great example is biting my nails. I was never a hugely prodigious nail biter. I didn’t usually bite them down to the quick or have a lot of bleeding fingertip moments, but I did bite them quite a bit. I know I recognized the negative impact of biting my nails, but it continued on until sometime in 2011 or 2012 when I was taking guitar lessons. I wanted to learn how to finger-pick and that required having longer nails, so I stopped biting them.

That was it. No one asked me to stop biting them, or told me that I had to. It was just a question of “yeah, you’d probably be able to pick better if your nails were longer.”

Same thing with biting my fingers – I just decided I wanted to stop and while it’s been a much harder thing to quit, I find myself sticking to it more.

Ditto with smoking. I smoked from 1997 to about 2001 with a few months off around 1999  when I was trying to quit for my girlfriend at the time, (Jen). I recognized the negative aspects of smoking but they didn’t really stick in my head, nor the importance of stopping sooner than later.

I’m tempted to say something about how when you’re young you think you have all the time in the world, but the reality is that we’re always young, so that’s simply not a valid hypothesis. More accurate would be to say that our lives without focus and intention are not lives at all, but a string of experiences washed over us by an ocean of possibilities.

Someone posted on FB recently “vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.” That was my life until college. And it’s not that it changed instantly that year and everything was different, but it was then that things began to shift.

And it took about 10 years from then for the shift to accelerate to where I am now. Somewhere in 2012 is where I started really living with intention. Focusing enough of my energy every day on living with intention that I felt a shift from experiencing life to living life.

It really is a subtle shift, but it’s an important one. And that doesn’t mean I’m in control of my life now any more than I was before – you can’t control the world. But you can impact how you experience it.

I say impact because I don’t believe you can control yourself any more than you can control the world. You can influence both but you can’t control either. It’s really just a question of living with intention at the time and truly believing afterward that you did the best you could.

Because doubt truly is the mind-killer. It shifts our focus implicitly into the past tense and does a really good job of keeping it there.

“I wish I’d been …” is evil. It goes against not only the natural order and the laws of space-time (as far I understand them) but also against who you are. Because you are the sum of the experiences you’ve had and the choices you’ve made. So if you were to change ANYTHING in your past, you wouldn’t be EXACTLY who you are today.

And if you don’t want to be exactly who you are today then how can you begin to become the person that you want to be tomorrow? More importantly, how will you ever be able to believe that you’re doing your best?

In a way it comes down to a simple statement which I think you can either accept or reject: “I am the best version of myself that I can be and I intend to continue as such.”

If you accept that statement completely and permanently, then you will never doubt your choices and you will have a firm foundation upon which to build every day of your future.

And that’s the blissful part of life for me. The thing that really keeps me going and moving forward at what can sometimes seem like they would be break-neck speeds. (skateboard)

I don’t doubt or waver or question myself – just do the best I can. That doesn’t mean I always know what to do or what will yield the “optimal result”. But it does mean that regardless of the result it will be optimal.

I had a great conversation with David S and a few others a while ago that was around the duality of the reality of life. Specifically that you have no control over what happens but you have complete accountability for it. I can’t control the things that happen to and around me, nor can I control the results of my actions. But at the same time, I create the world I experience and therefore the things that happen to and around me, and every result of my actions.

In most conversations I have with folks there’s an implicit assumption that either they have NO control over life, the universe, and everything, or they have FULL control over the same. The latter tend to be fewer in number, but the “manifestation” crowd is definitely growing.

I’ve also met a very small number of folks who speak about the third option – BOTH and NEITHER. Jack Butler was I think the first person to introduce me to this concept in a workshop that he did on being a conscious change agent.

I still remember seeing a chart on the board (enneagram?) that had four quadrants which I believe were segmented based on varying degrees of your influence over reality and reality’s influence over you.

One quadrant was the victim – no influence over reality or its influence over you, just stuck experiencing the world as it’s handed out. There was also the author, who on the opposite end of the spectrum influenced everything around them including (albeit passively) the color of the sky and the firmness of reality.

Then there was the shaman. This quadrant assumed a fluid ability to navigate and adjust their reality. Accepting the influence of the world on the self and the self’s influence on the world as equal in measure and importance. This is the quadrant that I was discussing with David et al and referring to above.

There was another quadrant but I don’t believe we ended up talking about it and I’m not sure what it would be. Reality has no influence over you and you have no influence over reality … hmm … I imagine a leaf. A phantasmal leaf forever blowing in an unsteady wind – unable to change, only to observe. It feels like a lonely existence.