I have often wondered if happiness is a place in which a person can arrive and settle into for a prolonged period of time. However, from my personal experience I know that it isn’t. I have learned many lessons, some difficult and heart wrenching that have proven life sometimes is a BITCH. But these moments, when I’ve found myself screaming out, ‘what did I ever do to deserve this,’ have been peaks that have permitted me to summit one difficult range, only to prepare me for the next mountain that I was bound to ascend.
Recently, when I was speaking with my ex about our situation, and how we found ourselves in this terrible predicament. I used the analogy of mountain climbing. Despite our hard times, I felt during our battling 8,000 meter ascents, when we arrived at the summit (happiness), it was worth the struggle. Even if it was short lived. It could have been sheer minutes across the span of our lives, but it was worth the inclement weather we encountered along our ascent to arrive at happiness. The perfect beautiful vista where everything was clear, even if it was only momentary.
Unfortunately, I have come to realize that which grants us happiness in this moment, won’t necessarily provide us with the same fulfillment in the next. It’s something we’ve got to fight for, to battle each day, but it ultimately originates with our desire and our choice to seek it! We are constantly changing and if we decide to challenge our own imminent alterations we will be responsible for stunting our own happiness, and the pursuit of it. If we cling onto what has granted us happiness in the past we might miss what is waiting for us in the present.
While I was traveling during the holidays I had time review my year again, placing my failures and successes in their appropriate columns. I noticed that I had a huge void in my life. I felt living in Brasil wasn’t fulfilling the manifestations of my dreams as I sought and as I dreamt. I realized I needed to embark on a few new journeys to ensure my current happiness. Two things my heart seemed to be desiring was a change in geography and careers, but I didn’t want to loose my relationship in the process. But then life and it’s signs made me realize loosing this toxic relationship is probably the best thing to ever happen to me.
Though I have been struggling with the hand I’ve been recently dealt. My fighting of what I might deem unfair, unwanted and heartbreaking rejects the silver lining. I’m now liberated to follow my heart and to seek out what ultimately is going to make me happy at this moment. And thusly granted me a pass to explore my playground, the World. To bushwhack a trail in the wild jungle of life to seek out my next season of happiness. How it will unfold, Lord only knows. It’s scary and it’s an adventure in every aspect of its’ definition.
When I think about the logistics I get frightened and overwhelmed. And in these times I have my faith to pull me through, in spite of its’ weakness when tested. I know that even better things are still yet to come. I may not see the complete world of happiness as it exists in this moment, as I am still in the grieving process. But I am becoming more comfortable with the idea that if we allow ourselves to walk through these periods of darkness, eventually we will encounter light. We just may need to walk awhile, weather a few storms, experiment with what is new, there might be rocks, thorns, or glass and perhaps we could even get lost. However, we are fortunate that none of this is new territory or groundbreaking. In these moments when our lives totally change, we need to believe that it is for the better, because when one door closes, you find a window that is just waiting to be jumped in.
The rain poured down and soaked my curly hair
In spite of the rain, I was without a care in the world
As the guitarist’s fingers strummed the cords of their instrument
I saw you out of the corner of my eye, I wanted to forget your existence
I wanted to reclaim my happiness and saw you were a mess
When I caught you in my sight, my delight and joy was shattered since you were once someone I loved
I tried to dance my feelings of love away
As my arms swayed with the rhythm of the music and my feet touched the puddles on the ground
Each movement brought me closer to releasing you for good
I was cleansing myself from the destruction you created
I knew that if I stayed dancing at that stage, I would ruin this transformative experience
Dancing the night away in the rain, allowing the music to make love to my soul
For weeks I have been confused, but I no longer am
You were a disaster that brought Hiroshima to my front door
Though with each disaster comes rebuilding
Which is where I am
Attempting to reconstruct my life without your painful presence breeding toxicity anymore
I control my tongue but my body does not lie
It walked away despite what it once felt
I was caught up trying to be someone else which was fatal for my soul
I know what I might try to say, you probably wouldn’t receive
Maybe if I wrote you a ballad you would lend your ear
It would be a sad one as my love for you has bleed out
I was wrong to chase something that has long been gone
My body’s dance that night wrote your epitaph
It might have been futile, but I have since been liberated from the claws you had embedded
So, now I can walk, I can run off into the night as I am freed from the chains which were drowning me within my own existence
Mystery, the wonder of unknowing possibilities lurk
Hopes rises like the daily morning dusk
Feeding the souls and the minds of civilizations
Some fear, suffer but exist
While others consume lavish delights, destroy and exist
Where is the balance in this existence
Why are there such poles, and so much indifference
How is it that we fail to see our interconnectedness
What happened to our faith and the preservation of what was so freely given to us
Life is life, human or anything else
Each contains spanda that emanates energy and thusly is alive
There is crisis everywhere we look, without effort to remedy the disasters that exist
No one is unaffected, all contributing to the problem
Solutions, where are they
Perhaps we are the solutions we desperately need
People dwell on thoughts of the future
But what future exists if life ceases to exist
The fury of my heart desires its’ sweet nectar that has since departed
My heart’s desires conflict with my brain
They now reside in a state of confusion and no longer are the same
My heart has experienced something so blissfully sweet
And returning to spoiled fruits no longer has its’ appeal
The nectar is what consumes my existence, my heart, mind and soul
Was my sweet savory taste of this nectar just a mere taste
That has come like stormy gusts of wind, or the changing tides of the sea
I would wander miles endlessly to encounter my nectar once more
But would there be any certainty in my procurement
Or would I aimlessly seek for forty years in a forsaken desert
Wandering with everlasting hope, but only encountering mirages formed by my heart’s illusions
Oh my sweet nectar, why did you escape me
Why didn’t I realize when I first saw you the harvest you’d create
My trust ran deep, having placed my life in your hands, whilst you encouraged me to ascend new heights
I felt alive, my soul fully awakened, and in touch with the divine
You’ve planted electric seeds within my being while your fingers danced upon the cords of my life
Summoning me to strive to become the fullest version of myself
Elevating my ambitions, while reducing my fear
I desire to run in wild pursuit of you, to follow, to seek, to love
With all of these aspirations, I acknowledge the imminent risk
Rejection, or perhaps discovering my sweet nectar doesn’t truly exist
And was the power of the moon in its’ fullness that brought forth this all consuming fire that burns within my soul
My mind revels in the idea of such timeless beautiful perfection
Oh Universe, how I desire this to be tangibly real
Oh God, why would you give me something so liberating and sweet, far beyond this physical realm, only to have it be a dream
A dream I don’t care to reawake from
I beg of the heaven’s pardon to fulfill my heart’s prayer
As I watch the descending lights of this day, my hope grows more and more
Tomorrow will come as will the furious rupturing of my heart’s desire to recover its’ sweet nectar for which it has stolen
After some unexpected alterations to my trip and a 25 hour bus ride, I found myself nestled in the a small but remarkable town in Patagonia, called El Bolson. A friend told me that it was a mystical place, one not to be missed. It is unique and unlike a lot of towns in Patagonia, since it isn´t flanked with tons of tourist, which maintains a lot of its´organic beauty. It was about 20 hours into my bus ride that I began to notice the monstrous mountains off in the distant, which bred great anticipation and excitement within my being. I knew that my destination was growing closer and closer. I wasn´t sure what my plan was and where I was heading when I disembarked the bus, but I had faith it would unveil itself when the time came. As soon as I got off the bus in Bariloche, Rio Negro for a quick leg stretch, I noticed the drastic change of temperature from Buenos Aires, and found myself with a deep desire for my down coat which was tucked in my backpack in the under carriage of the bus. From Bariloche to El Bolson, was another 2 hours which we encountered heavy rain on route 40, as we entered deeper into Patagonia, this can be treacherous to travel on these curvy roads that go up and down without interruption. Soon I found myself in between two beautiful cascading walls, I knew with great certainty that I was in the Andes. The little child within me grew more animated with joy as the peaks soared higher and higher into the sky. I continuously was switching back and forth from each side of the bus, trying to capture the perfect shot of this first encounter.
When we finally reached El Bolson, I was so eager to have arrived that when the bus attendants couldn´t find my backpack I quickly jumped in the elevated under carriage to look for it, and successfully found it. We all had a good laugh, because I easily managed to get in and locate it; sometimes being vertically challenged has its´advantages! Initially I noticed how the cold weather and how it pierced my skin, my spine was stiffened by the moist dampness of the weather; and yet I was filled with surges of energy and bliss. I was mesmerized by the snow capped mountain peaks and despite the changes in my physical body, I felt nothing but overflowing gratitude. Internally, I began to hear the sounds of Michael Nynam´s All imperfect things; it might sound silly, however, when I lived in the Himalayas, I would often wake up in the morning, play this song while staring at the monstrous beauties (mountains). This morning dance would fill my heart with peace and soothe to quiet my mind, afterwards I would move through the day with joy, peace, silence and gratitude.
Martin Luther King Jr, said ´Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by the symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.´Nature, specifically mountains often times seem to render me speechless. The words to accurately describe the beauty of what is seen and experienced, cannot not be found. No matter how articulate I might believe I am, words are incapable of doing these encounters justice and can only be summarized in the experience of the emotions, energy, contentment and gratification that fills me in the exact moment. Mountains summons us to be quiet, to be still, to breathe in the richness of the natural environment surrounding us and observe our deep fundamental connection to it, to surrender and be free.
All of the above reminds me of another quote from Rumi: ´This silence, this moment, every moment, if it’s genuinely inside you, brings what you need. There’s nothing to believe. Only when I stopped believing in myself did I come into this beauty. Sit quietly, and listen for a voice that will say, ‘Be more silent.’ Die and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign that you’ve died. Your old life was a frantic running from silence. Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence.´
Mountains no matter how big or how small, embody strength, power, quietness and beauty. If we allow ourselves to simply be present in the moment, to soak in the experience, to observe and exist without trying to define it, analyze it, we can liberate ourselves from being entrapped to small moments. These moments can become monumental ones that can continue to exist beyond the initial moment. It can create deep and great transformations far beyond our wildest dreams and simply starts with a little silence.
“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” – Chris McClandless
Yesterday was devoted to myself, and ultimately to letting go. I awoke with an overwhelming desire to let go of anything and everything that was not serving me along my path. We’ve recently entered into the rainy season in Belo Horizonte, which means unpredictable spurts of heavy to light rain. This means waking up and going for a run can be difficult, unless one likes to leave the house in a downpour. So in the last week, my running has been slacking despite the therapeutic properties of running in the rain. I’ve always enjoyed a long run in the rain, since it brings the therapeutic cleansing properties of ridding oneself of negative or unwanted thoughts into the physical realm. When I left for my run, I wasn’t sure if the sky was going to open and shower me with its love, but I was prepared nonetheless for anything the Mother dealt. As I pounded the pavement, I had a strong internal desire to soak in everything (people, the quasi natural environment, sounds, etc), and questioned myself ‘what do I want?’ I purged my thoughts, feelings, and emotions to uncover the treasure of my desires. Slowly with each stride, I awoken with an all consuming desire to let go of my fear of failure, my self-doubt, my anger, my often battle with self-motivation that then paved a way for my actual goals and true ambitions to rise to the surface. With each of these aspirations that arose, I allowed myself to recognize and etch them into my heart. I created an intention for each of these desires, and will await the manner in which they will transform me.
In the tail end of my run, it started to sprinkle and I rejoiced with each drop of rain that touch my head. It was as if God, was telling me I was running in the right direction. As I made my final push up the hill to my house, I was overcome with joy and gratitude. And in the final strides, I had the infamous words of the Grateful Dead’s Touch of Grey in my head, “I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.” (often at this part of my run, I am extending myself beyond my endurance and there is often the inclination to walk up the hill) When I got into my house, I decided that I would greatly benefit from a kundalinini yoga practice. I did a search on myyogaonline, and picked Gloria Latham’s Cleansing: Joy to Freedom. A 107 minute practice, that was unlike any other kundalini practice I have done. It incorporated a variety of chanting, meditating, pranayama with movements, pounding the floor with my hands (literally, I had red palms to prove this after the practice), and DANCE! My physical being was exhausted, but I literally rocked out. In the beginning of the free flowing movements, I remained on my yoga mat, but suddenly I had the urge to I let go of all my inhibitions and dance around the room. I had the largest smile I’ve had in days across my face, and my heart was cracked wide open. I was dancing from the abundance of my spirit, and broke away from the chains that were restricting my ability to live in abundant joy. I may have even let myself fall prey to the Jersey Shore fist pumping, but I didn’t care, because I was blissed out. Nothing could steal my joy in this moment, and now that it is another memory I have, I look upon it with deep reverence. If each of us could function as we did in the privacy and freeness of our solitude, what a tremendously fearless world we’d live. Imagine how many dreams will come to fruition, how many people would live up to the great abundance of their full potentiality? So I ask you, what is restricting you from living out of your abundant potential? What are the chains you must break away from?
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” – Freiedrich Nietzsche
Throughout my day, I also reflected upon the many lessons I have learned in my life. Some hard, and often difficult to swallow, but all have contributed to shaping the person and the character that reside in the essence of my being. And here is my list of the 10 lessons I’ve learned from my 31 years of life that I believe will aid me in continuing to live in abundant joy and gratitude.
1) Holding onto anger and resentment is slow painful death.
Our ability to forgive is not a gift to we hand over to someone else, but a gift we present to ourselves. Holding onto anger and resentment is like sending ourselves to an early grave. If we are truly to live in abundance we cannot carry the baggage of our past into our present. No matter how painful it may be to extend forgiveness to those who have wronged us, it is more troubling to hold on to our resentment, because unconsciously we are choosing to limit ourselves and the greatness of our existence. We cannot move forward when the chains of our past have us gripped by our necks.
2) Family is everything.
Family is the source of our physical existence; without our mothers and fathers we would not exist. Life is all about relationships; relationships to people, to nature, to thoughts, etc. How we choose to approach these relationships, or cultivate them we learn from our family. Our first encounter with love comes directly from our relationships with our family, this teaches us how to love unconditionally and to allow ourselves to be loved. I can attest to this as I have been blessed with the best wolf pack (my family), far better than I could have ever dreamt of and as a result they have been the most amazing gift in my life.
3) Traveling is the most rewarding experience.
Adventure is defined as an exciting unusual experience that contains dangerous or unknown risks. I have been fortunate enough venture to many countries. In these experiences, I have gotten lost (literally and figuratively), had random encounters (some amusing and some uberly awkward), been challenged physically, emotionally and mentally, and most importantly learned about our universal interconnectedness. Through traveling I have gained more knowledge and wisdom than I did from my $100,000 college education. These experiences have been priceless, and the depth of their transformative effects continuous. Now, having talked about abroad experiences, I cannot deny or reject, the appeal or value of traveling within one’s own land. Some of my greatest adventures have been in the refuge of New York’s fine mountains with my family. Traveling is all about a journey, it doesn’t matter the destination, but ultimately it is about the the transformation and growth that takes place in the in between.
4) Life doesn’t stop for anyone or anything – live each moment to the fullest, LIVE in the NOW.
Actively living in the moment can be quite treacherous, however, it enables us to experience the pure joy and exhilarating impermanence of each precious moment we encounter. I’ve often found myself clinging to the past, because of a need to hold onto to a specific experience, person, or feeling, which has often inhibited my ability to live/be in the flow. I’ve also found myself overwhelmed with worry or concern with the future, which has inhibited my ability to be present as well. No matter the situation we find ourselves in, it is and always will be impermanent, whether we faced with great suffering, great joy, or frustration it too is impermanent. If we perceive all things from the scope of impermanence, we will be able to savor each moment, no matter what it entails.
5) Do not invest all your time on material things.
It is impossible to hide from the fact that we live in a capitalist world. But, we can choose to shift our focus and determine what we ultimately want to devote our time and our existence to. For many years, I was caught up in the material world, which often left me with a huge gaping void in my life. In my life (and in my opinion), I’ve learned money cannot and never will be able to buy happiness.
6) God really does exist.
Before I truly connected to my belief of a higher power, there was a constant emptiness in my life. One I could never fully put my finger on how, or why, but only after exploring my spirituality and thusly developing a relationship with the higher power was I able to fully discover my purpose as well as evolve into the truest form of my being.
7) Be grateful, ALWAYS.
There is no such thing as too much gratitude. Because the more of it you express, the more reasons you’ll be given to express it. There are few words in the any language that carry the significance of ‘Thank You.’ It is not only beneficial for ourselves, in planting seeds of gratitude, but also it communicates to others that they are valued and appreciated.
8) Be vulnerable.
Vulnerability is scary, but what is even scarier is doubting our worthiness to be our true selves. Most humans, including myself are scared of vulnerability because there is no guarantee of a specific result, or outcome when we allow ourselves to be open to joy, love, belonging, pain, rejection and loss. When we close ourselves off from being open, we also close ourselves off from the experiences of positive outcomes that stem from being vulnerable. We must have the courage and the belief that we are worthy, lovable, accepted and beautiful despite our imperfections. We have to be willing to let go of the idea of who we should be, and allow ourselves to flow in the true essence of our being regardless of the outcome.
9) Dance and sing each day.
There is something so liberating about dancing and singing. I’ve always been a fan of the saying, and have adopted it as a lifelong motto: ‘dance like no one is watching, and sing like no one is listening.’ Each day I have tried to live according to this saying, no matter who is around, no matter what was currently happening in my life. It was a daily goal. There are few activities I’ve encountered that provide the pure sensation of absolute freeness that dancing does. It is a means of letting go of all inhibitions, all cares and concerns that infest our minds that prohibits us from present moment living. The same is true for singing, it requires us to be vulnerable, to act without concern of what others may think, even if we may be singing off key. Sometimes we must allow ourselves to be free, to dance and sing to our own beat, to be organically original to our true selves.
10) Share your experiences and allow others to share theirs – LISTEN.
Most of us encounter situations in our lives, where we ask ourselves why, why on earth is this happening to me? These often painful experiences present us with the tools to relate and help others who might find themselves in similar situations. Our greatest wounds, often become our strengths that can serve us in finding purpose and direction in our lives. If we have the courage to share these experiences the possible impact we might have on another’s life could be beyond our imagination. Which is also why it is equally valuable to be ready and able to listen to what others might have to share. We can never know where someone has been, or what they’ve been through unless we are prepared and capable of listening. This is not only a gift of learning, but also a gift to the person who is willing to share, because through our capacity to listen, we are telling the person they are valuable as are their words and their experiences.