Ride or Die
Mountains & Magic Carpets
An essay on life cycles
Growth, a shape-shifting and ferocious, albeit benevolent, sovereign of life on earth relentlessly chases us from one peaceful peak to the next.
Let’s begin by listening in on a conversation of enthusiastic hikers:
“Hey, Johnny! Look! How enchanting! A mountain! #iloveadventure. Let’s climb it.”
“Golly, Dinah. This is a lot harder than it looked. But fun! I feel good. We have snacks. Time. It’ll def be worth it.”
“Good god, Johnny. Why the F did we do this!? Can we turn back? You’re right. Too far. Fine. Onward.”
“HOLY F. I can’t feel my toes. You ate all of my crackers. There’s no more water. It’s not worth it. I thought I could hang. I suck. I hate you. Everything. I’ll die here.”
<<a tiny, teeny bit of time passes>>
“Dinah! WOW! We made it! Everlasting peace is ours! I feel strong! And special! Let’s rejoice! And travel blog about it!”
“Oh look, Johnny! How exciting! A mountain! Let’s climb it.”
This is the script of growth if we got to choose all of our own adventures.
But we don’t.
Like in the magic carpet level in Aladdin on Super Nintendo, time keeps rolling and hunks of rock speed toward you whether you’re ready to hike or nah.
And thank goodness for that since we humans have a propensity to hide from Challenge, the ugly mask that life-giving Growth wears.
The value and beauty of climbing is obvious with every step,
except those f#rs nearing the summit.
The only things that feel valuable then are a hot shower and fresh cookies.
You’re depleted and depreciated, and utterly humbled by your earlier idea that you, small but mighty human, had a shot at the top.
It seems like this is life.
And there is nothing that can be done but to surrender to its cycles,
ride your magic carpet with fortitude, focus, and good humor,
and repost as much #inspo as you need to remember that it’s just game for your enjoyment and development.
You won’t really die.
if you put your mind to it, you might get really good at it and learn some cool tricks.
Maybe even collect extra lives and bedazzled trinkets.
when next to the alternative of parking on a peak and indefinitely chillin’,
it’s sort of fun and exciting, right?
Ain’t no stop,
Not any top.
Today marks the 6th anniversary of my little sister’s suicide.
If you’ve been following my annual memorials since Paige’s death,
You’d see a pattern.
First, it was about me.
And I think this year,
It’ll be a synthesis of all of those.
And probably the most controversial or seemingly absurd tribute to date,
I’d like to say this year,
Maybe you can learn to love tragedy.
Maybe loss isn’t so much a death
As a birth
Maybe the burning down of your existence is actually a gift.
If you stick with it,
It will cut you open
And everything you were meant to be will spill out.
They say that when the going gets tough,
The tough get going
And many people have remarked about my strength over the years.
But I don’t have anything you don’t.
I choose to tell a story where I needed strength.
And so I found it.
It seems like we’re all our own narrators.
We write our own stories.
I heard a call that maybe there was more than I currently knew.
And so I followed it.
And I wrote that story.
It wasn’t going to be about death.
I wanted it to be about life. About living.
So maybe this year, this message is a push for you to listen to that voice within you.
The one that aches.
The one that whispers, hey, maybe there’s more to this.
Maybe it isn’t all in vain.
Or if you’re still within the throes of tragedy,
this might shine as a light in the distance that says, ‘keep going’
the pain isn’t forever.
And it really doesn’t have to be.
i dont think so anyhow.
If you give yourself to what’s in front of you,
To the pain,
You can use it to find that “more.”
Or you can keep it as pain.
It’s up to you.
It’s your story.
Anyhow, this is all to say, maybe there is more to death than sadness.
Maybe what’s in death and loss, is actually life and growth
Paigie’s death was a run in with mortality that made me realize the inevitably of my own death.
We often forget that we’re all dying.
Eventually, when the time was right, my thoughts transformed from “f it, I’m gonna die’ to “f it, I’m gonna live.”
And not from a survival stance,
But from an experience of living stand point.
If death is the only ultimate and you can’t escape it, then what do you really have to lose?
And so I began to look for what actually could be lost, which turned out to be my life and living it, and what I’d do with it while I was here.
6 years later it’s come to my attention that what I was looking for all along was right here.
Everything that spirituality, philosophy, science and art pointed to,
coalesced into a bright understanding.
Life is for living,
Opening up and surrendering to what is right here and now
And giving it every ounce of you.
And while I wonder what took me so long to figure it out and feel it, I also don’t.
That’s the story.
I think it’s a lot like in national lampoon’s Christmas vacation,
There’s clark tediously adorning his house with every strand of Christmas lights known to man because he has this idea, this pull, this creative urge,
And then he goes to turn it on,
And for the sake of the story,
His big vision.
His call to action,
And yet he doesn’t quit.
He keeps trying.
Sometimes the lights go on,
But he has no idea how.
Nobody else can see them.
everyone thinks he’s crazy and he should just forget it.
And then finally, his heart, vision, work on the line,
He tries again
and with the help of a loving, unexpected hand from the outside,
And everything and everyone is flooded by light that wasn’t there before.
Everything and everyone is changed.
so while the experience of living may feel painful or seem somewhat unnecessary and arbitrary,
Maybe it isn’t.
Maybe if you stick with what you envision, what calls to you
And you commit to doing the work even when you can’t find the switch,
Maybe, right when you least expect it,
The lights will turn on.
And it will be more than you ever imagined it could be.
An essay on Life Work
There comes a day in most people’s adult lives when they’ll ask, ‘Is this all there is?’
The question arises after some level of tangible success, personal or professional, and the awareness that the accompanying feeling sadly lacks the oomph that from years away from the goal it appeared it would have.
Conditioned to seek love, accomplishment, identity, and joy beyond the boundaries of our own bodies, the modern human is often found wanting.
Why do we seek balance between work and life?
Why do we not instead see that they are the same thing by different names?
Time has been artificially proportioned to things we do for money and things we do for fun. The interchange of these is ironically cannibalistic. The more fun you want to have, the more money you need to make. The more money you make, the more fun you need to have. And so a carousel of constant unbalance ensues with riders lost in anxiety of how to gracefully flit between two imaginary horses.
What if instead the rider discovered that the things he seeks externally are to be found internally?
Would the horse he was on matter as much?
If you ask of your desires, “Why do I want this? What will it give me?”
You’d be hard pressed to find an ultimate, underlying objective that wasn’t “to be happy,” which by another name is the experience of inner peace, congruency, or love.
I want to be a millionaire
Why? What will it give you?
I won’t have to worry about money and I can do whatever I want.
Why? What will it give you?
I can spend time with my family and enjoy them. I can work on things that matter to me
Why? What will it give you?
I’ll feel good and be excited about life.
Why? What will it give you?
I’ll be happy.
Recalibrating what you think you want to the feelings that underpin it will free you to understand what it is you actually value.
And who you really are.
Some desires will be conditioned, ‘have Luis Vuitton luggage’
Others will be true ’spend my time writing.’
True desires are your universal handprints.
The work you’re here to do.
The contribution you could make to expand consciousness.
That’s why they feel good.
When you do them, you’re aligned with your truth.
And so I propose that instead of alternately splashing in diametrically-opposed, artificial buckets of time that you knock them over and allow the pool that forms to be your Life Work space.
In it, you can ask questions like, “what does this task allow me to develop? Who is this person challenging me to become? How can I use my time to be truer to who am I and what I value most?”
“Work” is space by another name.
A place for you to grow and expand who YOU are.
If you approached its temple with a new mindset, perhaps you’d find that you are already where you want or need to be.
Identify the means AS the end.
Find the lesson in the moment.
Flow into its wisdom.
Integrate into the now.
There is only one path.
Wherever you are is perfect and necessary for your destiny. Opening to this now, this here unlocks the treasures you need to level-up.
Like most adults, I think about life in terms of the Super Nintendo classic—Zelda, A Link to the Past.
We dash about from one area of the spacetime map to another, picking up a potpourri of skills, tools, and potions to successfully find and enter the next castle, destroy its menacing boss, and reemerge into daylight against a backdrop of a beautiful melody and equipped with the capability to wash and repeat at a higher, never-before-accessible level of performance.
New castle, new boss, new treasure, here we come.
Realizing that to progress on your only path you must wring out the current situation of its lessons and life trinkets will open your eyes/heart/mind to the endless possibilities present.
You probably won’t know what <insert magic token here> is for when you find it, but you’ll knowknow that you need it and you can’t go further without it.
Rather than question “Where is the correct path?,” ask “What do I need? Why am I here?”
Einstein was right.
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
If you push aside your ideas about who you are, how things should be, and why life is the way it is as if they were overgrown shrubs, there is space to step through and behold a whole lot of… well… nothing. Or everything. Depending on your current emotional/mental/physical frame of reference.
The noise of social conditioning not only drowns out our own true thoughts, but also the obvious unreality of “reality.”
The value in standing out there, naked and afraid, is the view it affords you of the jungle you left behind.
Knowing that it is:
Knowing that it is:
I’m still learning how to hold that much truth in my hands—let alone my heart. I guess that’s why artists, visionaries, and sages only point to it. It’s a slippery son of a gun.
After a decade of swimming in the literary, scientific, and religious works of pointers before me, here is what I came up with:
The point (pun intended ;) ) of alternately trudging and frolicking through the imaginary jungle is the same as it was when you played Explorers as a kid. It’s an opportunity to safely experiment with danger and different points of view, to create brand new worlds and fantastic ideas, and to add a spectrum of feelings to an otherwise typical afternoon.
Then, before you know it, it’s time for dinner.
Answering this question has been the focus of wwayy too many of my waking hours. And probably all of the ones I’ve slept.
As a curious kitten, I’ve studied it wearing many different cat hats.
I have several pale gray, ethereal ones with ‘Philosophical’ delicately scrolled across the brims. These are niceties and practically useless.
There is a growing pile of bad azz ones with lights and transformer-style tricks emblazoned with ever-evolving fonts spelling out ‘Scientific.’ The quantum physics and cellular biology ones are my current fav’s — though I’m still learning how to use ‘em.
Stacks and stacks of woven golden ones cover my shelves without words. These are the spirituality caps. They are nearly indistinguishable in function, but they all fit a little differently. When sitting under their protective shade, there are no answers, only quiet. It’s kind of nice.
Hung lovingly and worn on doorknobs throughout the house in bunny-numbers are stretchy, silver-infused hats, some with feathers, others with sharp edges, all strikingly marked ‘Artistic.’ These seem to be the most useful, although environmentally and mood-dependent.
But if you put one of each kind on at the same time (I often do stuff like that), something magical happens. The most beautifully complex symphony disguised as a graceful, simple melody beats down on your soul like afternoon sunshine.
And for one moment, you get it.
The ‘big picture’ swells until it whites out reality around you.
That the ups and downs aren’t happening TO you, they are happening FOR you.
You are safe.
And there is nothing to fix.
And nowhere to go.
Then, with the untimely, abruptness only a sibling can yield, there is a pound on the door and paradise falls away into the rumblings of the metro ride home.
You know now.
There is more.
And this life?
It’s all gravy, baby.