If you’re a fist time visitor, welcome. If you’ve been here since the start of this blog or after the fire, welcome back to the continuing saga. If you’ve been with me since Jambo Tanzania or Jack Will Travel, well God Bless you. I should probably buy you a drink. Now let’s get back to our irregularly scheduled program…
It’s June 9th, 2015 and last night I had a dream I was in an earthquake. No, I am not portending a seismic occurrence in the northwest. Rather I recognize it is a metaphorical abstraction, a symbol created by the unconscious to let the unconscious know change is coming…
When these thoughts that you are now reading started downloading into my mind, I was walking along the waterfront in Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Garden. Feeling this wave coming on, I rushed to the nearest place I could sit, pulled out my notebook, and began transcribing the information that was coming to me through my pen.
The first seat I saw was on an interactive sculpture called Love & Loss. I sat on the concrete seat, which from afar was the “L” in Loss. I immediately found myself thinking, “I don’t want to be sitting on Loss. I want to be sitting on Love.” But as I became aware of this thought, I realized there is much to be gained from loss.
Depending on how you cut it, Love & Loss could be the theme of the last decade of my life—or if you cut it another way—the last two years of my life. If viewed through the lens of the last decade, I lost both of my parents to diseases where they slowly withered and faded away. If viewed through the lens of the last two years, when I returned from 15-months of travel, the three pillars upon which I was attempting to build my life crumbled, in a span of five months, one-by-one.
Now before we get started and especially if you’re new—I should tell you, my dear reader—what you’re reading is an exercise. I have now done this four times in my life, all on the eve of some of the greatest adventures of my life. With that said, I am two days away from taking off on a well-earned trip for two weeks to Barcelona, and being that I am also involved in two personal projects of writing a book and a television pilot with a friend, it is also an exercise to once again find my voice—after all, if I'm being honest here every adventure and corresponding blog has been a writer’s exercise. So that would make you a hapless spectator who—who, like an innocent bystander passing a car wreck—has the free will to either watch the spectacle or turn away…With that said, and to catch you up very quickly, there was a big gap of time between when I returned from traveling and when my house burned down.
On July 4th, 2012, I landed at JFK International Airport where I hopped on a bus that took me along the Long Island Expressway into New York City. As the outlines of great buildings came into focus and the dazzling lights of the Empire City grew closer, celebrations for the nation’s birthday got underway. Against the backdrop of dusk, from behind the glass of my window seat giant starbursts illuminated the New York Skyline in sonic silence. All I could hear was the hum of the bus and yet it was equally, if not more mesmerizing, especially in my nostalgic and triumphant state. By the time the bus crossed the Queensboro Bridge for the final push into Gotham City, the grand finale lit the sky in brilliance. I felt victorious.
I had just completed a solo 15-month journey through Southeast Asia, the final three months of which I lived and worked in Berlin. Not only had I had amazing experiences and found my story, but the experiences kept coming. By the time I decided to go home, an opportunity came to me in which I could have traveled back to China to tour with Ladysmith Black Mombassa, a South African choral group who backed Paul Simon on Graceland. All I had to do was be their social media person.
The decision to return home, however, gave me a nice financial cushion with which to restart my life, in fact I came home with more money than I left with when the journey began. But truth be told I was tired of the road and missed my friends, my city, and my own place to call home. I was ready to start over.
I felt unstoppable and larger than life to the extent that when I was walking around Seattle (the first time I experienced this was in India), I actually felt an inch or more taller. Upon my return to the states I was a magnetic vortex capable of pulling from the field into my experience any of the infinite possibilities that existed before me.
Pay Attention Here
Now forget what happens after this part of the story because this is truly the sad part: when life presented me with this endless array of a-la-carte/du jour possibilities—despite my state of expansion—instead of stepping forward into the unknown, I cowered in the face of it like a Shrinky Dink. During my travels I conquered my outer world by taking risks; I trusted strangers, trusted the direction in which I was headed, trusted the experiences that came to me, and put my life in the hands of others time and again. But when the rubber hit the road, or as a friend recently put it—the cotton meets, the lace—I was still scared trust the voice in my heart and direction of my inner world.
And so from the behemoth proportions that travel provided I shrunk to the size and surroundings of my former self, the form of which I was so desperate to molt that I thought buying a one-way ticket to India with no plan, itinerary, or guide book sounded like a good idea.
My First and Ensuing Mistakes
When I came home from the grandest adventure of my life to date, my first mistake was to fall back into a relationship that was long over; and I can tell you I fell back into it with the velocity and mass of a wrecking ball. In the process I hurt someone I loved deeply, and in that process I wounded myself so deeply I couldn’t even entertain the idea of being in a relationship for fear I might hurt someone again as bad or worse. What was equally devastating was the relationship pattern I uncovered about myself, the ultimate reality being that this destructive pattern was a master and I was its slave.
My next mistake was to take a full time job I knew I was going to hate. It was the exact job I had been in a decade prior—just a different company and a different time and place. But wanting so desperately to be settled and tired of the unknown, I talked myself into the idea and took the job. As the expression goes—lipstick on a pig. The energy in the environment of the office was toxic to say the least. It began from the top and rolled down to affect everyone below him or herself. But as is the way with the Yin and Yang, to every darkness there is light.
The following day after the fire I was in my house sifting through the ruins when two coworkers showed up and presented me with an envelope of cash and gift cards. In 24-hours the 30-40 people who I worked with pooled together $1700 dollars. I was humbled and brought to tears considering at the time all I had to my name were two guitars, my computer, the clothes on my back, and the shoes on my feet. I already didn’t like my job and wasn’t a wallflower about expressing my disdain, so the fire just provided a reason to check out even more. Thus about a month after the fire I was let go by the company.
The fire was an awful experience and heralded the start of an even more awful seven months. Unless you experience a fire for yourself, what you don’t know is that they are a lot like burying someone close to you. Whether in person or in the digital form, for a week all of your friends from all corners of the world appear in your life to prop you up on their shoulders. And it feels good and you laugh, and for moments you even forget about what’s going on. But then at some point they all go back to living their lives and you’re left alone to mourn your loss and put the pieces back together. The fire happened on April 1st, 2013—turns out, not such a funny April Fools Day joke.
Rewind to February 22nd, 2013 and I’m getting my funk on at the Showbox seeing the New Orleans band, Galactic. At the end of the night I run into a girl and we feel like we know each other. Turns out she worked at a restaurant that I occasionally frequented and we figured that was the connection.
But we keep running into each other in the neighborhood and start spending time together. At some point after nearly two months, we’re taking a walk in Capitol Hill and realize we had met less than a week after I returned to Seattle at Burning Beast, a hedonistically decadent food and whiskey festival.
The two of us spent more and more time together, and without knowing what was happening to me, nor having any control over the process, I started to imagine being in a relationship with her. But without a job or a place to live, on a conscious or unconscious level, I felt emasculated. Without a job or a home I lacked any semblance of my former confidence, and so for nearly five months I fumbled around her like my awkward teenage self, all the while falling more deeply into the friend-zone.
In early August, unbeknownst to her, I had planned a date for us. We went to see an outdoor concert at the mural beneath the Space Needle. Imagine a scene of blankets, wine, cheese, and the band Cloud Control. To my detriment of being a connector and a hugely social creature, I made a critical error and let some other friends crash. We all cut loose that evening and at some point she and I were dancing on a table taking pulls off a whiskey bottle. By the end of the evening, with the assistance of liquid courage, I made a move, and for me the result was magical.
In my memory we shared this moment of exhilaration, the culmination of months of pent-up sexual frustration and flirtation. Wine, whiskey, and weed-deep, we talked in expressive excitement about how we both wanted relationships, someone to go away with on long weekends, someone to have physical and emotional experiences with, and someone with whom to create memories. I tried to assure her it was a crush, to not stress about it, and that we should just see how it plays out—but at that point I was already in love with her.
I went home that night to my temporary housing and saw a rare occurrence in Seattle; I watched a thunderstorm through the bay window of my temporary housing. I couldn’t fall asleep because, at the risk of sounding like a schoolgirl, I was over the moon.
By the end of the weekend, however, things fell apart in a very ugly, dramatic, and embarrassing fashion. I decided I didn’t need behavior like hers in my life so I cut her out, but she was persistent in getting my attention. As a result, over the course of the next week or two, there were two very uncomfortable conversations.
To her credit, instead of letting time carry on and leading me on, she broke my heart quick and dirty. As a result of, and a testament to the courage it takes to do that, we are still very close friends. During my seven months of drifting, from the time I lost my house to the time I signed a lease, I spent more time with her than perhaps anyone else. When she finally came to visit me in my new home, she paid me a compliment, that unless memory fails me at an advanced age, I will never forget. “You handled that period of time with more grace than anyone I could ever have imagined,” she said.
As a result of not jumping into the unknown, like an addict relapsing into the known, one-by-one the three pillars upon which I was attempting to build my new life crumbled; my job, my home, and a relationship. All that remained was myself, and it wasn’t a pretty prospect. The only thing I knew left to do was to throw myself full-blown into the meditation practice I had began three years prior.
Meditation as I understand it is about disrupting our known and predictable state of being by stepping into the unknown and merging with the endless possibilities within the Quantum Field. It is a paradigm shift from cause and effect to affecting the cause. When I came back from traveling, those endless possibilities awaited me, and I—I chose the road well traveled. Robert Frost would have been hugely disappointed with me.
What would my life have been if I had stepped into the unknown? The answer to this question is inconsequential because I’m stepping into it now. And today, this moment, is all that exists.
Next up, The Upside of Loss.
Next stop, Barcelona.