Death knocks lightly

Seattle, January 1993.

I'm happy to get out of the cold rain, and enter my 'home'. I live in the basement of a run down house complete with water leaks, two inch wolf spiders, and shady people (my roommates) walking in and out of the building at all times. A fire hazard waiting to happen, this house would eventually burn to the ground in a few years.

Anyway, I open the door to my room, close and lock it, turn my small electric heater on, and wait for it to warm up my space. I feel a sense of gratitude to whoever left the heater here, even though I know it will take a good 45 minutes before my place feels toasty. I'm off for the next couple of days and have been looking forward to being out of the elements. I couldn't wait to be home.

Seattle is colder than what I'm used to, but I'm adjusting after being here for a year. Even with that adjustment, I still hold some serious anger from my past. I'm angry with certain people and frustrated by my lack of progress in life. I also hate the noise of a house full of college students, drug dealers and users, and other stragglers that managed to make this their home.

I'm full of hate. (It took me awhile to understand who I was really angry with and wouldn't realize that until the next day.) My hate is somewhere in the background, but today, something else has my attention.

I feel a little sick, and I know something's not right with me. "It's ok, I'll just get some rest," I tell myself.

I get out of my wet clothes, the heat is picking up, and I shiver a little as I get underneath my blankets. It feels good to be in bed even if I don't feel good.

But something is vaguely familiar...

Pneumonia

I've had pneumonia twice in my life. Fortunately, my parents brought me to the doctor both times for successful treatments.

I took antibiotics both times, and learned that if pneumonia is not treated properly, death can result. I also heard that having pneumonia makes someone susceptible to having it again.

I'll never forget the symptoms - the pain, the aches, the bed sweats, and the green stuff that oozed its way of out my body.

Could I have it again??

The Storm

I don't know how long I've been sleeping. I wake up.

My entire bed is soaking wet. I feel disoriented and lost. I change the sheets but know I'm in bad shape.

My body aches, but I'm happy to get back into bed with dry sheets.

I close my eyes...

I'm not sure how much time elapsed, but now I'm being attacked by black shapes. I try to open my eyes, but I can't. The black shapes are moving fast and I can't keep up. I'm hallucinating I think to myself, but I hate them. I hate that they're here to torment me. I hate them for forcing themselves into my psyche. I feel like I'm being punished.

Why are you torturing me?

I'm able to wake up, but they're still inside. I feel sluggish and weighted down by their occupation. I groan, and think to myself, leave me the f*** alone!

For some reason I think they can hear me. Maybe they can. I look at the time, and realize I've been in bed for over 10 hours. I manage to use the bathroom, come back to bed and close my eyes. They're still here.

I try to sleep some more, but the pressure is too intense.

The suffering goes on for a few more hours, gaining in intensity and momentum. It's so unbearable.

Slowly it begins to dawn on me. I'm going to die.

I feel like I'm going to die, and now I just want it over with. My fight has led to despair, and with one last prayer, I say to any benevolent entity that's listening, "Please, please... just take my life. I don't want to live anymore. Just take me."

I never seriously asked God for anything before, but this wasn't an ask. I was begging.

I slip into darkness.

The next day

I awake. My bed is soaked from my sweat. The black shapes are gone and I feel a great sense of relief. I feel liberated. I lay in the bed, somewhat achey and sore, and look at the time. 16 hours have passed, but it feels like much more. Each moment I had with those black shapes felt like an eternity.

What happened to me? I thought I was on my death bed. I just knew it. I never felt that type of suffering before. I never experienced a psychic onslaught of that magnitude in my entire life.

But here I am. Alive, and actually feeling good. Not good, but much better than where I was, and ready to begin again.

I thought and reflected on what happened and made a decision. No, it was more like a declaration.

From today forward, I will make the best of my life. I will learn what I need to learn to be my best. I will stop being so angry towards people because they're all out of my control. I will be a better person overall.

A message for you

The closeness of what felt like death brought me more life in the end. I never wanted to suffer in that manner, but it's helped me find myself much faster.

You're alive on this planet and reading this post, but a storm is coming. It doesn't care who you are, what status you hold in society, or where you came from. It's coming to all of us. Just weather the storm. You have enough in you to do that.

It will knock you over. Get back up.

It will soak you down to your bones. Change your sheets.

It will send unspeakable fears through your mind. Face them.

It will make you wanna give up. Don't.

There's something on the other side of this storm that no one talks about...

Your best self. Claim it.

I believe in you.

Paul


Alien encounter

Last December, near Travis Air Force Base, my brother Antonio had an experience he would never forget. As he watched the unusual activity of strange white and orange lights in the sky, he realized that he was seeing something really out of the ordinary.

It's not odd to see strange activities in the sky near Travis, it's been going on since we were kids. But as he continued to watch, he became more and more afraid.

Those must be UFO's!

After watching the lights closely, Antonio began to think - what if they're warning us? Wait a minute. What if they strike? What if...

What would you have done? Would you stick around for scientific purposes, in awe of the strange scene in the air?

Or would you think science-fiction movies, and all the alien attacks, abductions, and weird encounters with humans?

Antonio thought science-fiction. As helicopters took to the air near Travis, he didn't want to stick around for an unnecessary provocation. It was time to go. He got in his truck and drove to the next town, what he felt was a safe distance away.

After playing some pool to pass the time and bring some normality to his world, the memory returned. As he drove back home, the lights were gone, and the thought occurred to him that he couldn't be the only one to see IT. Someone else must've seen this, too.

He scoured the internet for any reported sightings in the area, and found nothing. A week would pass before he told me about what happened. After recounting the events, I decided to check UFO websites for potential sightings, and found 3 of them.

One in Willows, one in Napa, and one in Fairfield. All sightings reported around the same time, in the same region.

It just so happened that somebody in Fairfield "caught" the action on his cell phone. I put "caught" in quotes because his camera work is not the best in the world, BUT this guy's emotional reaction to what he saw that night is stunning.

As Antonio watched this person's video on Youtube, he got the chills again, and told me that his reaction was very similar.

Here's the video:

Real understanding

My brother's reaction to run for cover seems justified, but at the time he explained it to me, the only thing I could think was, "why didn't you stick around?"

I damn near heckled him. Don't you realize what this means? How many people get to experience a once-in-a-lifetime event? No matter what he said, I couldn't get it.

Self-preservation trumps history, was his reasoning.

Ridiculous, I thought.

Looking back, it's hard to dispute his decision now, because now I've had time to reflect on the whole scenario.

An alien encounter is entering a brand new realm for just about anybody. I'm sure after getting over the initial shock, I'd be thinking, why are these aliens here? There are only two possible reasons: good or bad, and if you happen to run across ET, are you really gonna think good?

Nope. You're gonna think something like:

They're far more advanced than we are.

They're here to kill us and invade our planet.

I don't wanna get beamed aboard their ship.

I don't want to be some alien's lab rat or sex slave.

We don't stand a chance...

Coulda, woulda, shoulda

Humans love to compare. I was telling him what I would've done if I was in his shoes. The reality is, I couldn't be in his shoes, I'm in mine. And if I were in the same exact situation, what would I actually do? Whatever I imagine I would do is just that - imagination.

I do this kind of imagining all the time, even if I'm only doing it in my head.

Oh, why did you say that? You shoulda did this, did that, and then finished with THIS...

If [insert person's name] does this, then I'll say this, and that, and this and that....

You had the opportunity of a lifetime, why didn't you do this, and that, and this....?

Life just doesn't happen this way. You can't plan for everything, especially when RANDOM walks into your life. When reality hits, when the lights go on and it's time to perform, it's a totally different situation. To know something intellectually is NOT real knowing.

Instead of thinking what I would've done, next time I'm just going to listen deeply and ask questions, and do my best to put myself in that situation.

It's just better to listen, support, and attempt to understand than it is to show-off what I know, or worse, demean or trivialize someone's choices and decisions. I may not criticize someone openly, but I still think it, and I have no basis.

What would you do if you thought aliens were close enough to have direct contact with you? Would you stick around or get the heck out of dodge?

I'd like to think I'd stick around to see what's up. In reality, I'd fear for my life and hit the boondocks.

Paul


I drool

I like to fart.

I pick my teeth and sometimes my nose.

I scratch my butt when it itches, and hope nobody catches me.

I love to floss my teeth.

I wear bow-ties with pink flamingos on them.

I refuse to eat dessert in the morning.

I have recurring dreams of playing basketball or football (no, I don't always win).

And I always know when I'm drifting off to sleep because I start to drool.

It doesn't matter. I know you do, too.

No, you don't do the exact things in the exact same way as I do, but I know you do things that you may be embarrassed or even ashamed to admit.

It's ok. I know.

Blemishes are universal

We all have our our so-called idiosyncrasies.

We all have fears.

We have insecurities.

We all make mistakes, a lot of mistakes if you want to be GREAT at anything.

I know you know all this stuff, but I'm reminding you anyway. I reminding you because you'll still compare yourself to others or to some ideal.

You'll see someone who is wildly successful or just seems to have it all, and I want you to remember that they stumbled and struggled to get to where they are. They are just more comfortable and accepting of their mistakes than most people are.

You'll also see someone who is  so beautiful that angels sing when they walk by. Just remember, they fart, too.

But ultimately, I'm reminding you to be yourself, no matter what.

The world is full of copycats, but we're thirsting for more originals.

It starts with you. It starts with me.

Be yourself.

Paul

oscar_wilde_quote


So, when's your book coming out?

"So, when's your book coming out?"

That question shouldn't bother me, should it? I just finished speaking and could've taken it as a compliment, but he really meant it.

And it wasn't the question itself, it was the context in which it was asked.

Imagine

I just gave a presentation, and in the middle of it I talk about goals.

I say, "You need 3 things to have a goal. I don't subscribe to SMART goals because I think the acronym (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) is just someone's need to make an acronym work, but you do need 3 key components to have a goal."

I head to the whiteboard and speak as I write, "words - numbers - date"

"Everything else is just an intention. Intentions are cool, but do you really want people saying, 'she meant well' OR.......

'she f'n did it!'

 

And there it was. A clean setup. A softball for anybody to hit out of the park.

Someone randomly asks, "So, when's your book coming out?"

How did he know I was working on a book? Doesn't matter, he asked, armed with his newfound understanding of what a goal really is. We all knew what he was asking for: words, numbers, and a date.

I don't have words, a number and a date, I thought to myself. What do I say?

"I don't know, but I'll have a date next time I see you."

I won't be seeing them for 2 weeks so I bought myself some time, but now the clock is ticking.

There's no avoiding this one. Hypocrisy is not my cup of tea. I need words, a number, and a date.

Something like, "My book (insert title) will be finished, edited, and on the market (in the Kindle store) by December 25, 2014."

But I wasn't ready.

Lessons

  • The public is perhaps the best method to keep yourself accountable and get things done. Don't tell one person, tell five.
  • If you don't want to create awesome value in the world and make yourself vulnerable in the process, make sure you continue to suck and embrace mediocrity. You won't be alone if you do.
  • If you teach others about how to have a beautiful relationship, make sure your own relationship is beautiful. People can smell a phony, even if they don't tell you.
  • Commitment isn't scary. Meeting a challenge and the possibility of screwing up IS. While some people say 'commitment is scary', I finally see it for what it is: fear of failure.
  • Make sure words, numbers, and a date are part of your goal language, otherwise you just have an intention.

Update

I plan to blog everyday, for the next 30 days. I have a lot of catching up to do, and didn't want to write a 3,000 word post.

I return sooneth.

Paul


B.A.N.

[cs_content][cs_section parallax="false" style="margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;"][cs_row inner_container="true" marginless_columns="false" style="margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;"][cs_column fade="false" fade_animation="in" fade_animation_offset="45px" fade_duration="750" type="1/1" style="padding: 0px;"][cs_text][dropcap]F[/dropcap]or ages, people have seen "fear" as a villain to fight, something to overcome, and even something to fear. Yup, that's right. Even fear is to be feared. Guess we'll call that fear². And where does fear² lead us? What problems does it cause in our lives? Let's take a look.

Fear of Fear

Remember when this guy said...

quote-the-only-thing-we-have-to-fear-is-fear-itself-franklin-d-roosevelt

This 'timeless' quote has finally reached its expiration date. Thinking like that makes life suck... bad.

What do I mean?

Fear of fear is one of society's GREATEST problems. It always has been.

Fear is not, nor has ever been the problem. Fear by itself is stupendously awesome once you understand its purpose, as I'll explain in a bit. But fearing fear is a mutated human state, and leads to zombie culture where people walk around lifeless or in a comfortable stupor flipping channels.

Enough is enough. It's time to ban B.A.N. once and for all...

B.A.N.

Look, there's no way to sugar coat this. B.A.N. is...

bitch-ass-ness

Are you offended? Would you be offended if I used the word coward instead? Probably.

B.A.N. is slang for the cowardly state. A coward is someone who fears fear and ceases to act.

What does it mean to be afraid of fear? It means to avoid fear or the things/objects/symbols associated with the emotion of fear.

Don't fret if you B.A.N. at times because we all do. You're amongst friends. Many, many friends. One of America's 'greatest' presidents even endorsed this kind of thinking. It's woven into the fabric of our culture.

Yes, B.A.N. culture is all around you so it's easy not to act in ways that serve you best. It's easy to make excuses why you're not as badass as you could be.

Anytime you feel like leaving the security of your cozy reality for something grander, B.A.N. is there to justify why you should wait. Anytime you want to approach that man or woman but don't, B.A.N. creeps in to console you. Anytime you want to take the adventurous trip over that fattening cruise, B.A.N. says, "Let's take the cruise - we'll do something more adventurous next time."

"Next time." Ahhh yes, the signature phrase of all bannery.

You want to quit your job to follow your dream? Not today.

You want to finally learn how to dance and quit tripping over your own two feet? Maybe tomorrow, who's got time to be awesome today?

Really.

Who's got time to be awesome today??

Fear is Amazing

Look, you weren't born this way. You didn't have a gazillion fears as a baby. You slowly acquired them, but, and I'll say it again, FEAR IS NOT YOUR PROBLEM.

Actually, fear's pretty neat when you think about it.

Fear keeps you alive. That grizzly bear you saw gnawing on your tires? You knew not to approach her cause she'd maul you and bite your head off. Then you'd end up on a horse haunting your little village for the rest of your life. Do you want to spend the rest of your headless existence haunting people from a horse? I sure don't.

Well, you can thank 'fear' for saving you by making you run in the opposite direction.

There's two kinds of fears. The first type is the 'run from the grizzly' fear or biological fear. It's the fight/flight response that keeps your physical body intact. We need this kind of fear or we'd walk up to three-headed monsters asking them to get off our property unaware that we're tonight's dinner.

The other type of fear we'll call psychological fear. These kinds of fears include fearing public speaking, being rejected by another person, or fear of failure.

It's our misunderstanding of psychological fear that leads us to some serious B.A.N. moments. People tend to associate the probability of death that comes with biological fear to psychological fear because thousands of years of evolution are still in play. You may feel like you'll die if you ask for a raise, ask that beautiful woman out, or tell your manager what you REALLY think of him even if you understand consciously that you won't lose your life.

Sure, you may get rejected. You may make mistakes. You may offend people and hurt them. You may look silly and stupid. You may turn a bad situation into a worse one.

But you didn't die.

Conversely, you may also get that raise. That beautiful woman may say, "yes!". Telling your manager what you think may actually improve your relationship.

But in taking action, whether you got accepted or rejected, you're still here. You didn't die. As a matter of fact, in both scenarios I can assure you of one thing:

You felt more alive!

Fear not only keeps you alive, but makes you feel more alive. I guarantee that fear has led you to your most memorable experiences in life.

Fear was there before you totally screwed something up and felt the pain from that. Hopefully you learned from your mistakes.

Fear was also there before you took that risk. You said, "Screw it, let's do it..." and boom! You got an awesome outcome.

In either case, if you didn't act INTO fear, you wouldn't have the opportunity to FEEL MORE ALIVE.

And doesn't life SUCK when you don't feel ALIVE?

When you avoid this psychological fear you feel less alive. It's when you avoid fear that you don't progress or evolve. It's when you avoid fear that you miss out on opportunities, beautiful relationships, and the greatest moments that life has to offer.

The more you fear fear, the less you feel alive. The less you feel alive the crappier you feel overall. Ironically, the person who is most afraid to die is the same person who passes on opportunities every day to fully live.

You know anybody that wants to feel low, apathetic, numb, depressed, or crappy all the time? No wonder people use and get addicted to drugs, eat food or watch TV religiously. Drugs, food and [insert destructive habit here] will get you out of that shitty state ASAP, but did you solve your problem? Naw.

Your 'high' is gonna end, and your depression is lurking underneath, waiting for you to return to reality. Yes, it gets worse. You try to get high again, and then you come back down, then you get high again, and come back down...

The entire time you're bannin' hard. You refuse to face reality, so you inevitably create more problems for yourself and others. You refuse to face your fear, the one action that will lead you to freedom and more natural 'highs'. Instead you end up stuck in a rut and purposeless.

Get off the damn BANwagon.

Nothing Stops You

I read it all the time. Fear stops people from being their best. Fear is our greatest enemy. Wrong.

You think FEAR can stop you? Don't be ridiculous. Nothing can stop you from taking ANY action.

Let me repeat.

Nothing can stop you but YOU.

Unless you're physically restrained or limited in some way, then nothing can stop you. Certainly fear can't. So stop blaming fear. Stop making fear the villain. The problem is you.

You don't have the guts, courage, or heart to take action. You don't have the desire. You don't want it bad enough.

Fear is not a scapegoat for all your bannery. Stop it. Just stop it.

Face your fear. Deal with it. Go through it. Feel it. It's the only way out. It's the only way to real FREEDOM.

And if you continue to use fear this way, guess what? You will change. You will shift. You will TRANSFORM.

The Box

Let me illustrate.

This is the box. In the box is the known, the safe, the secure, and the certain. Outside the box is the opposite of what's inside, the unknown, the uncertain, etc.

The Box

Where is fear? Fear is right on the line between the known and unknown.

The Box & Fear

Fear acts as the gatekeeper to the unknown. The unknown is where life is asking you to play.

It's not enough to "think outside the box" -- you must ACT outside of the box.

The unknown is where everything you want resides.

You want a new car? More income? A more fulfilling relationship? Travel and adventure? It's all in the unknown.

Walking through fear into the unknown is where all the awesome parts of you wake up. Your transformation is there, waiting patiently for you to show up.

How can you discover what's possible for you until you walk through fear? Fear is asking you to face it because there's something amazing on the other side.

The unknown is where your best self ever awaits.

You think you have an idea of what your true potential is? You have no idea until you step through fear to experience it.

Potential

What is potential? According to the dictionary:

potential |pəˈtenCHəl|adjective [ attrib. ] having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future: a two-pronged campaign to woo potential customers.

and

noun 1 latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness: a young broadcaster with great potential | the potentials of the technology were never wholly controllable.

How can you begin to actualize your potential?

Before we answer that, think about this. Where is the actualization of your potential? Certainly not in the known.

Take a look:

Potential and Realization

Your "best self" is out there in the unknown. You still haven't experienced him/her yet.

All of life is meant to grow, to evolve, and to realize their fullest potential, but conscious beings (such as humans and certain alien species) can be/do/have so much more. Humans have to decide to NOT be their best, but animals and plants are far more likely to reach their full potential because their potential is much more limited.

"[Insert name] has so much potential." -- Can we finally do away with this stupid phrase??

Think about YOUR potential. What are you doing with your life? Who are you deciding to be right now?

I don't care how old you are or what your circumstances were growing up. A 73 year old woman climbed the tallest mountain on the planet -- what 'mountain' are you climbing next?

And don't make me research articles on how someone became a billionaire after being born in abject poverty, or how another overcame physical disabilities like missing limbs, or how another woman was born deaf, dumb, and blind and became a leader in the women's suffrage movement.

Excuses are over. Either accept that you've settled for so much less than you're capable of and live with it OR use what's left of your life to make shit happen.

Ban B.A.N.

How do we ban B.A.N. in our lives?

1. Accept Fear

Fear is a wise friend, trying to lead you to your greatest self ever. Stop avoiding fear and start welcoming it into your life. Fear is helping you to develop and grow so you can experience a full life.

2. Develop Courage

The origin of courage comes from Old French corage, from Latin cor ‘heart.’ Fear is of the mind and the heart will see you through fear.

Life is meant to be this way for a reason. If there was no fear then it would be easy for anybody to do anything they wanted. I'll let you think about why that limitation is in place.

So have courage. You don't need to travel too far outside the box. You can take baby steps. Start getting used to the unfamiliar. Break out of limiting habits.

3. Desire

How bad do you want something? If you don't want to meet that man bad enough, then you will never develop the courage to approach him.

A strong desire will make anyone power through their fear.

Do you want it bad enough? Do you want ANYTHING bad enough? You would know by how strong your feelings are.

If you don't feel too strongly about anything, then I suggest you begin to expose yourself to new things, new ideas, and new people. Simple exposure.

You can go to http://www.pinterest.com and look at beautiful places to travel to, fresh designs for your home, new fashion styles, and incredible images of nature.

You can generate desire from within. Write more, take pictures, or add some creative element to your everyday life.

Go to http://meetup.com and meet new people and network. Find topics that interest you and join a group.

When you get out there, expect to feel insecure, overwhelmed, silly, awkward, and vulnerable. It's all a part of the process of growth and transformation.

As you do this, you'll find yourself to be a more complete human. You'll have more depth and breadth. Your actions with be far more powerful. You'll have more conviction and passion for life.

So let's ban B.A.N. in our lives.

Go want something bad enough. Have courage. Accept fear. Rinse. Repeat.

Remember, fear is not here to harm you. Fear is the gatekeeper to the life you really want. If you fear fear you are missing out on something wonderful. Fear helps you FEEL MORE ALIVE. Embrace this fact.

Now go live an epic life.

One last comment...

I recently read an article about a nurse who worked with people on their deathbeds. In the article, she said that people generally had regrets. Here are the top 5 regrets of people on their deathbed:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

”This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

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B.A.N. is a serious problem in EVERY culture on this planet. Don't wait until your last dying breath to express what you feel or who you truly are. No regrets.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]