Have you ever felt stuck in life? You wake up one day and everything that was okay yesterday is not okay today. Maybe you hate your job or your partner or your kids? Maybe you had a great boss who got let go and the new one sucks? Maybe your significant other is not being the warm, supportive person they usually are? Or maybe your dog is sick and his plaintive moans are crushing your soul because you can’t help him? Maybe your kids are driving you nuts with their constant childishness, unreasonableness and demands on your life? Maybe they want more and more and you have nothing else to give?
Now, you can do something about it.
There is only one thing to do. Accept it. Surrender completely. And then go through it. There is no other way. This is not open to debate. This is not speculation. This is truth and truth is that which cannot be made simpler. When you really get to the truth, you know it. Nobody needs to tell you. You don’t need confirmation from outside sources. You simply know it.
Now of course, the mind is capable of all sorts of tricky delusions. Often times you arrive at what you think is the “truth” when in fact it’s just your mind giving you an easy out. Maybe it tells you things like you just have to put on a happy face, think positively, banish all negativity and good things will happen. Or perhaps it tells you that you can paper over it by meeting up with that person you don’t like at work and coming to an understanding? Nope. This is false truth. In the back of your mind, when you are just about to fall asleep, when your mind shuts up for a second, when your borders break down after too many glasses of wine, you know it’s wrong. That’s how you know you haven’t gotten to the truth. When you really get there it will be unshakeable. Of course, there is even a trick where the mind can make you think you’ve come to an “unshakeable” truth when it is wrong as well. This is the most dangerous kind of delusion. It is the kind that keeps you locked on a course or a trajectory that is absolutely wrong for you. It’s the type of delusion that keeps you trapped in a marriage you hate, a job you despise, maintaining a friendship that is now poison, and chasing more and more stuff that you don’t need. It is the most sickening kind of delusion. What if I could reach into your mind and burn this hideous falsehood from your mind and heart, but I can’t. I can barely do it in my own life, much less help you with yours.
I can tell you that I am fighting through my own crap right now though. I’m in the process of setting fire to all the things that are wrong for me in life. Please do not take this line literally. I am not starting any actual fires. The fires I am starting are spiritual ones. They’re ones that let me burn away long-standing delusions and sadness. I am burning away all of what is not me.
Admittedly this often makes me a pretty uncomfortable person to be around. I am at times seized with a self-righteous passion that declares war on all that is false and phony in the world, like some mad Holden Caulfield or Ahab in Moby Dick. I am obsessed with this transformation. I will make it or I will die. I will get past the false life I have created for myself and become the person I was meant to be. This is the grand journey of life. This is all of our journeys, whether we know it or not. It is true of the macrocosm and of the microcosm. I have looked into the Void and seen the nature of God. I have looked into my own heart and seen my own ugliness and my own beauty. I have seen the straw reality of the people around me, running to and fro, wishing they were doing something more important and yet desperately clinging to the false choices they made because they are afraid. I am afraid too. I am terrified. There is no fucking way out of this.
Except through it.
I will go through this fight. I will accept the battle scars, the wounds, the sorrows, the losses, the joys and power that come from this journey. I will slowly tear away all of what is not me. What is left is only one thing.
This is the true me. This is the clear me.
I am a writer. I am a motherfucking spiritual warrior. I cannot be stopped. I will come to the ultimate realizations or I will die trying.
Maybe you’ve heard this story before? You have. It’s your story too.
You see, all the stories you loved as a child or an adult, the great adventures and love stories, the great mystical journeys up the mountain are not someone else stories, they are yours. You are the Buddha. You are crucified. You are the swashbuckling hero who swings in against impossible odds and saves the beautiful girl. You loved these stories because at a level you could not see, they were you. They were right there, all along, telling you how to live, how to grow up, how to face life’s ups and downs, its joys and failures.
As a writer, I love these stories in a way you never can. You love them and then leave them, but they are my life. They are all consuming. As a writer, my job is to live my life in the open on the page. This is incredibly fucking dangerous. People are stupid. They are delusional. Worse, they think they are sane and that makes them the most dangerous kind of insane. When I put my words out in the world like this, I am risking that some poorly realized soul will read my words and see exactly the opposite of what I mean. This is possible because of the very tricks that illusion plays on our hearts. This illusion is what drives Martin Luther King’s assassin to shoot him in a crowd or Nazi soldiers to burn a bunch of people alive that they don’t really know at all. People can so easily misinterpret what I am saying; it is terrifying. As such every time I sit down to write to you I am taking a great risk. But that is the risk of life. That is the risk of our true purpose. If you are not terrified almost daily, then you are doing the wrong thing. This is not speculation. It is undeniable fact. And yet people will deny it with every single fiber of their being.
We deny it because we are in fact the least evolved creatures on the planet. Our dogs and our cats are infinitely superior to us. You are probably scoffing at this right now. I understand. I assure you if you don’t know this you are wrong in the worst kind of way. Think of all the qualities that you prize in life: selflessness, instant forgiveness, self-sacrifice, unconditional love, a sense of play and connectedness, and loyalty. Are these not the qualities of dogs or cats? Perhaps you thought that the funny joke you learned as a child, that God is just dog spelled backwards was nothing but a funny joke? It’s not. It’s a clue. It’s truth. Dogs are Buddhas. Dogs are Christ. Dogs are Vishnu and whatever other deity you pray to. They don’t aspire to Buddha consciousness; they are fucking Buddha consciousness. If you want to understand what you are striving for in life, then don’t read another book or attend another stupid seminar, just get a pet. Then take care of that pet. Understand that pet. Be with that pet and you will understand everything you ever wanted to know about life and the nature of the universe. If you don’t, I assure you, you are not looking closely enough.
Now, sometimes when people read my words, they want to talk with me about their own life journey. That’s fine. I’ll tell you that you are better off writing to me instead of talking. Then I can think about what needs to be said and say it clearly, when I am in a state of clarity. There are exceptions to this. You’ll know when they are without me needing to tell you. Some problems are immediate. I am not always in a state of clarity. You see, I am of the lesser species known as humans and I am not always loyal or selfless or understanding. As such that is not a good time for me to help you. That’s why I am not always fun to be around. I will help you when I can help myself again. I am intense. I am a goddamn wake up call when you are around me. My fire forces you to look at your own life and most people can only take that in small doses. I understand. I can only take me in small doses too. As a writer, I can only connect with you deeply through my words. I need a little distance between us. I cannot connect with you in life the way I connect with you here. There are people who are meant to do that, but writers are not those people. We need a little distance to be real to allow our true selves to show through, our emotion and humanity and our ugliness and beauty. The best writers expose what is true. They sing about it. They put our lives into fun, exciting stories that give us bitter pills in a cookie. It’s kind of like the pill pockets I use for my cat. It tastes like a treat, but it’s fucking medicine. The worst stories are merely a distraction that sinks us back into denial and delusion. When I read these kinds of stories, I am like Shiva the destroyer. I am not kind. I cannot accept them because stories are sacred to me and I will not have them defiled. I cannot accept false stories and I cannot accept the writer because they are not trying to climb the mountain, they are trying to sit at the bottom of the mountain and pretend they can tell people what it is like to be at the top. When you are climbing the mountain is it painfully fucking obvious who is not climbing at all. I hate these stories and the writers who write them. I cannot accept them. They are dark matter to me. I must destroy them or they will destroy me. We cannot exist in the same world. These stories must be fixed or they must be cast aside because they contribute only to delusion and not to understanding. If you are a writer this can make me not much fun to be around, as I will not give you any room to squirm out of your falseness. I will highlight what is false in your work and you will either hate me or fix it. Personally I could care less, which it is. Know that I do hope that you fix it though. I do like having friends. It’s just that if you are a writer and we are talking about writing, writing comes first, before our friendship. Stories are my medium, my understanding of the world, and I will not tolerate writers who do not aspire to tell life like it is. This does not mean that I need stories that are all Irish style slice of life. It can be big romantic woman’s fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, slice of life, literary, urban fantasy, whatever. I transcend genre. I do not have likes and dislikes anymore. I can only see what works and what does not. There is no way back for me so I can only go forward.
What you saw in your favorite stories growing up is the essence of life. Think back and you will see their wisdom was working in your life all along.
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned from my favorite stories. When things go wrong in life, we only have a few options. Fight them or accept them. Only after we have accepted what’s wrong can we fix it. We cannot heal what we cannot acknowledge. When I am fixing people’s computers they often tell me, “it was working yesterday.” But it isn’t today is it? And yesterday is not today. In the simple case of the computer, the person I am helping must realize that their computer is broken and that wishing it was not so will not change it. In life, this is a bit messier. Especially when our problems are big and seemingly insurmountable. But the process of fixing a computer and fixing ourselves is the same. First we accept, and then we can heal. Unfortunately, what we usually do is the exact opposite of healing. We fight first.
Fighting without awareness is madness. It is flailing around. It is useless. It just makes everything worse. It tangles you up further.
Right now perhaps what you have is a broken life? That’s all right. Realize that is in fact true. It is not a myth to be covered over with TV, sex, drugs, friends, going out, food, dancing, playing, reading, movies, travel, games or any other of your favorite distractions. You have a fucking problem. It’s real. That is what you need to see first. Only then can you move. Only then can you take action.
You feel like there is no way to go back, no way forward and no escape. You are trapped and the walls are closing in on you. You’re right. But look closer and you will see a light not far off, dim, far away. The way out looks treacherous. You have to crawl through a rat-infested cave in the seething darkness, the filthy water choking you. You can’t make it. There is no way. And then all of a sudden something happens. You wake up. You realize that there is no way out, but through. You have to start crawling and you do. You find a way to get through that murky, shit filled water. And you will make it out or you won’t, but you sure as hell better start crawling. There is only one way to wake up from this nightmare and that is to realize there is no way to wake up. You just have to go through the storm.
I am on a journey. I am on the great journey that we all are on, but that most don’t realize they’re on. My journey is one from falsehood to truth. It is a journey from the dream of childhood to the vivid daylight of adulthood. You are on this journey too.
The hero with a thousand faces, that’s you. The Buddha’s journey, Christ’s crucifixion, the Shaman hallucinating wildly in the desert to understand the Great Spirit; all of these are you.
There is no way to make it to the top of the mountain without climbing the mountain. You cannot wish yourself there. You can’t teleport to the peak. There is only one thing to do, put your head down and go through it. Just bring a raincoat because it is stormy as hell on this fucking mountain.
I’ll see you at the top.