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


Now what?

I was listening to an audio book written by a business coach on the way to work this morning. She told the story of a client who accomplished her so-called dream job and the much coveted corner office. After a few months, her client began to feel empty inside, and was left asking, now what?

She thought she had everything she wanted, but what she accomplished didn't hold the personal satisfaction she thought she was looking for.

I know, first world problems, but I've witnessed the other side of the spectrum. I help people who have been homeless or formerly incarcerated get back on their feet, and many times they also end up in the same place - now what? They think they wanted the clothes, the car, a new apartment, a certain type of man/woman, but many end up in the same place.

Now what?

Now what? can become a serious problem if you don't know how to deal with it. Many get to the now what? space and turn to drugs, sex, gambling, binge TV watching, food, shopping, etc. If you don't understand that empty feeling inside, then a quick fix solution is to fill it up with something as fast as possible.

Stuffing your face full of food, smoking a little weed, flipping through channels or Youtube, and spending hard earned money on clothes you may only wear a few times are ways to fill the void inside. The only problem with these tactics is that they only mask the problem, but the truth is still waiting for you.

I experience now what? after every project is completed. I sometimes experience it after an epic blog post. I remember that now what? feeling when I came back from Europe and South America. The feeling comes and if there's no answer after the question has been asked, then I can get a little depressed.

Now what? is there to remind you that humans were meant to grow and evolve. It doesn't mean that you need to be working on something ALL the damn time. When I was in Europe I discovered my love for writing, worked on creative projects, and was free to travel when and where I pleased.

Nothing's changed since then because I still have those options, but my now what? feeling taught me to break from the norm, chuck the routine and live spontaneously - even if for a couple of weeks. I learned a lot about myself, discovered new worlds, and coming back to ordinary life taught me to want more.

Takeaways

How do you deal with that now what? feeling?

Here are a few things to remember:

  1. Now what? is a sign that you're ready to tackle a new project or problem. Ask yourself, what problem bugs me that I want to solve? Let ideas flow to you.
  2. Now what? could be a signal that you've lost sight of your personal vision, mission, or purpose in life. Call it what you want, but I believe everybody ought to be working on ideas, using their talents and gifts in unique ways to solve people problems. What are 3 big things you would like to accomplish this year? Next year? In the next 10 years? Use whatever timeline you want, just make it longer than this week.
  3. Now what? could be reminding you that what you're doing is not YOU. You're doing it because you think it will give you recognition from your boss, peers and colleagues, some dude or chic, or your parents. If you're not living life for YOU, then you may get that corner office, and in a few months be asking WTF?! Be yourself is the most cliche'd and BS advice given in the world, but powerful if carried out to its fullest expression. So, be your mutha f'n self! (I hate cliches)
  4. Now what? could be a time to sit with NO stimulation. Stop avoiding the void, and deal with it. The truth is sitting in the dark, waiting for you to face it. Whether you meet it sooner or later, it's there - the loneliness, the despair, the anger, and the I don't know what the f*** I'm doing feeling. The truth is undefeated, so taking drugs or some other escape is only prolonging the inevitable. Deal with your sh*t, head up.
  5. And finally, now what? could be telling you to relax and chill for a moment. Stop trying to make everything happen. If you're running solely off your head and not listening to your heart, you're going to have a tough life. Give in sometimes, and surrender to the almighty NOTHINGNESS. There's something powerfully peaceful in the VOID. It's just hell getting there.

Paul


Forgive me?

What do you do when your intention gets misinterpreted?

What happens when you hurt another's feelings without realizing it?

What's the next course of action when both parties think they're right?

Miscommunication is a chance to tell the truth. It's an opportunity to go deeper with someone. Don't squander your opportunity to get to the heart of things. Yes, it may be easier to run from the problem, or the person in the moment, but do your best to stick it out. There's growth on the other side of conflict.

Forgive.

Learn.

Grow.

Heal while you can, there's no reason to prolong the inevitable.

To all the people who I have hurt, knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally...

Please, forgive me.

Thank you.

Paul


Dream or Reality

I wake up to a strange light. It actually nudged me.

What do you want?

"Your life."

My life?

I'm half asleep, I don't who I'm talking to, but whoever this is, is familiar to me.

"Yes, your life. Why don't you give it to me?"

How? You want me to die?

"Let me show you."

I black out.


I'm starting to regain consciousness, stars are flying past me. I feel like I'm traveling at the speed of light, but something feels off.

"You're correct," as if my mind is being read, "you're not really moving. It's all in your mind. Relax."

Where are you taking me?

"Back to the beginning. Back to where we started."


I wake up. It's a dream and they are increasingly becoming more real, more vivid. I'm able to feel inside of them, touch things, and even sweat. It's not like before.

It seems that someone is communicating with me, not just in my dreams, but in waking life.

Deja vu happens more frequently. Strangers look familiar. It's probably just a phase.

I think about my dream, and Zhuangzi's words come to mind:

“Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.”

― Zhuangzi

I begin to wonder. Why does anything exist? Anything at all? If there is an almighty god or creator, then what came before THAT? And what came before that? The infinity of the question makes my mind tweak for a minute. I can't grasp it.

Fine. I accept it. I'm prepared for anything to happen. I understand many things in life are out of my control, and lately I feel like I'm being driven rather than the one doing the driving.

Sure, I can resist. I can stop the flow, but where will that get me? I have to listen more, follow that instinct, and trust. Yeah, trust, that's the hard part. If I don't learn to trust my Self, then I'm headed for normality and normal is just another word for mediocre.

If you're trying to do something meaningful, the biggest mistake you can make is to accept the norms of your time.

-Neil Strauss


A thought comes to me. I have a question. It's the question. It makes me think some more, then I get excited. I realize how important this particular question is.

Biased? I'm sure of it, but still an important question to ask. I believe it can bridge the divide between science and religion. The journey will be long and arduous, but I'll get there. Step by step, I'll get there.

Bet you're wondering what the question is, huh?

I hope I find an effective way to deliver it. I'll be fine as long as I trust. It's not as easy at it sounds.

Maybe in my dreams - or is it reality? Sometimes I can't tell the difference.

Paul

 

 


I can't vs. I won't

One day, I woke up so refreshed, it felt like every cell in my body was revitalized. I ran to the window, looked outside and the sun was setting. I had missed the entire day SLEEPING.

No biggie. I slept through the entire workday, and noticed my cell phone was bombarded with phone calls. They must've thought I died. Since when does Paul miss work? No call, no show is just aberrant behavior.

It didn't matter, because I felt like flying. I walked outside in my boxers, barefoot and all, and leapt into the air and flew. I didn't get very far, because I thought to myself, "I can't fly!"

I landed in a playground not too far away, and a child walked up to me, and asked me what was wrong. I told him that I tried to fly, and I couldn't stay up.

He giggled and asked, "Why do you pretend that you cannot fly?"

"Pretend??"

"Just jump in the air and go!", and there he went. He didn't look back, and here I was, trapped on the ground.

I jumped, and landed on my feet. I jumped again, and it seemed even more difficult.

Then a little girl walks up to me, "What's wrong?"

"I can't seem to fly", I looked up into the sky as I said it.

"Yes you can", she said in a matter of fact way, "Just jump into the sky, don't you remember?"

"I came close when I got out of bed, but now, I don't know...", my voice trailed off, hoping she could help me in some miraculous way.

"You'll figure it out. It's not hard."

"You make it sound so easy. I'm trying."

"Well, watch me", and she flew into the sky, and never looked back.

Why can't I do that? Why can't I....

And it hit me. It was so obvious. I was simply asking the WRONG questions.

It's not that I "can't" do it, because I just did it, even for a brief period of time.

It's just that I "won't" do it.

Why won't I fly?

Why won't I fly? Why won't I fly? I want to fly into the deep blue sky...

And I jumped and flew after the little girl. As I flew faster, I eventually passed her and began looking for the boy, but he was nowhere to be found. I just wanted to show him that I made it, but it didn't matter.

They both helped me to see what I could not. That I was always capable. I had simply forgotten.

It's not that I can't do something, it's just that I won't do it, and that choice made all the difference in the world.

Paul


How to rewrite the story of your life

My friend Lisa wrote a book titled, "Wired For Story". She wrote it to help aspiring writers, fiction or non-fiction, to write how people already think and interpret the world around them: through story.

wiredforstory

Lisa believes that all people, from all cultures and backgrounds, see the world as a narrative. It could be a boring narrative, an engrossing drama, or an adventure, but a story nonetheless. In her book, she says that writers can produce "better" stories by appealing to how people are naturally wired. Lisa's done her research, and there's a ton of science backing up her ideas.

It's an awesome book for writers, and I highly recommend it, but I believe a wider audience could also benefit from the book's thesis.

Think about it. If humans really view the world through a story lens, and if we're interpreting every interaction and experience as some form of narrative, then what does that mean?

A meaningless universe

I need to make a point before we continue.

The events in our lives are just events. The stuff that happens to us is just stuff, and none of it has meaning. None of it.

It takes a human, animal, or alien to create meaning from events that take place in the world. Conscious entities from all worlds make their world mean something, because inherently, the universe is meaningless.

Information enters the 5 senses, and almost immediately the mind is asking, what does this mean to me?

The creation of meaning is the formation of story. We spend our entire lives making up things about the world we live in, or we spend our lives consuming the creations of somebody else.

Are you even aware that this is what you're doing? Are you aware of this process as it's happening? Just becoming aware of your meaning making ability can influence how 'entertaining' your story ultimately becomes. Let me explain.

We are story

You ARE story. I am story, and life is the unfolding story of us all.

In life, there are many chapters with twists, turns, and challenges to overcome. Everybody gets their share of awesome climactic moments, and an abundance of fall-flat-on-your-face experiences.

The potential for an epic life, or a forgettable one, lies with every decision we make, but make no mistake - long after you're dead and buried, you will be remembered in story form by the people who are still around. If you're remembered at all.

This is profound. It's profound because we can observe what makes an awesome story from a writer's perspective, and anybody can apply the same principles in their lives.

The story's setting, plot, themes, conflict, and oh sh*t moments provide a character with opportunities to demonstrate their best self, or show their ugly side - just like LIFE.

The only difference is that a book, movie or theater piece has consolidated all the highlights (and lowlights), then presents it in a very entertaining way. You get to skip the day to day mundane aspects of a person's life.

Stephen Covey wrote in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (a personal development bestseller), begin with the end in mind. His point is that everyone needs a destination or vision first, then they can begin to work towards that vision. This is similar to advice I've seen authors give other writers: figure out a memorable ending FIRST, because that will help guide the writer's hand.

Profound entertainment

Entertainment is:

entertainment |ˌentərˈtānmənt|

noun

the action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment: everyone just sits in front of the TV for entertainment.


You can provide entertainment or have it provided for you, simple enough, right? But I'd like to coin a new term and a different style of entertainment: profound entertainment.

Profound Entertainment is simply you're ability to become aware of your own life story as it unfolds, and then to shape and advance it in the direction you choose. Self-awareness is essential.

PE makes your life story more dimensional, and gives you a chance to live your life in HD.

PE takes you out of consumer mode, where entertainment is merely provided for you, and into producer mode, where you're creating value for yourself & others, and really living life.

In order to live Profound Entertainment, you must do what all stories require you to do: face and embrace conflict.

That's the cost of living AWESOMELY. The cost is facing your fear, overcoming inertia and stagnation, and overcoming doubt, despair and depression. It takes heroic effort, the determination of that guy from the English Patient, and the courage of Rocky.

It's easy to read about (or watch) fictional characters transform their lives by dealing with their inner and outer challenges.

It's quite another to overcome your own inner demons and external barriers to become your best self ever. Yes, it's difficult, but profoundly entertaining.

malcolm x quote

PE Ratio

Your PE ratio is your Profound Entertainment ratio. PE is how much you create/produce versus how much you consume on a daily basis? Essentially, are you a creator/producer or a consumer?

You may be an avid reader, but what have you written?

You may love to watch sports, but how much do you play?

You may love travel stories, but how much have you traveled?

You may love music, but how much do you play?

You may love to learn, but what have you taught others?

If you're on the consuming side of the ratio, perhaps your pie looks like this:

pe ratio12% creator, 88% consumer. How would this ratio affect your body, mind, and spirit over time?

How do you feel after a productive day? After you've built something that you WANTED to build? How do you feel when you're with people you want to be with? How do you feel after having new experiences, seeing an idea of yours take off, playing a game that you excel at, or performing in front of others?

The spectator always gets the short end of the stick. The consumer vicariously feels through the characters/players he watches, but the power of those emotions are muted compared to the real thing.

It's why spectators turn into haters so fast. It's hard to appreciate something if you don't understand it, and how can you understand something if you haven't personally experienced it or have completely forgotten what the experience was like?

Vicarious feelings or the real deal? Which do you prefer? And which of those would benefit you the most?

Rebalance your PE ratio

Life is ultimately about PE. Somehow, this disparity between consuming and producing must shift. Feeling alive comes from playing, not so much in spectating.

Don't get me wrong. Passively consuming entertainment plays an important role in the evolution of our culture. We get exposed to new ideas, new perspectives, new language, and new methods of being and doing. It serves a vital function in community development. Stories must be told, shared, and passed on so that we can be better human beings.

But the time has come for new stories, new lessons, from new players. There's an old saying: there's nothing new under the sun. Perhaps that's the cosmic perspective, but it's just not true for humanity. We get a chance to experience new things in our lives every day. We have the opportunity to grow and be something we've never been. A choice is available to us in every moment.

What will you do with your moment?

Will you create something fresh? Or repeat or consume the known again?

Personal Stories

You'll survive

I moved to Seattle with $160 in my pocket, a car full of clothes, a mind full of ignorance, and a heart full of courage. I had no plan, no clue, and nowhere to go. The question that arises when all-or-nothing risks like this are taken is, will I survive? I survived.

And this would have never happened if I didn't make the trek:

Article PC - August 17, 2003This happened because I took some risks, challenged assumptions, and stuck to my guns when I was really shaking inside. There are many stories that led up to this, but the lesson remains the same:

Follow your heart.


Zjump!

I was in France, and my friend Mark asked me if I wanted to go canyoning. Say what? What's canyoning??

I was sick as a dog, but I would be leaving back home in the next couple of days. I chose to go, even though I had no idea what I'd be doing.

Next thing you know, I'm in the canyons in the mountains of France, not too far from Switzerland, listening to our french guide give me options: "Zjump? Or rappel?"

I chose to zjump. See my feet??

zhump!

zjump!

I leapt into pools of water I couldn't see, rappelled down steep cliffs, slid down natural rock slides, and froze my behind off. I was sick before going, and was revitalized after.

Sometimes you have to leap before you look, open a book despite its ugly cover, and say yes to the french guy because he thinks it's ok to jump. You think a better story would've had me say 'no' to canyoning so I could fly home safe and sound? No way.


I'm not going back

3 weeks into my trip to Peru, and we're finally on the Incan Trail for a four day hike up to Machu Piccu. It felt like an exciting adventure, until I hurt my knee on day 1. I'm clearly hobbling now, and our guide Wilbur is obviously concerned. After some discussions with another guide, he came over to me and said:

"You're going to have to go back."

Wilbur was an experienced guide, and he knew this was a problem and could possibly turn into something serious.

"I'm not going back."

He saw the determination on my face. I've been wanting to do this for over 5 years now, and here I was, injured heading into day 2 which would test my will, endurance, and patience. The highest peak on day 2 would be around 14,000 feet.

After some more discussion, everyone knew what my final decision was. A fellow traveler offered her walking stick after I made my decision, my friend Edgar said he would stick with me, and I hiked up that beast one step at a time. Here I am with two bamboo poles on day 2:

day 2 of incan trail

I had a choice. Turn back around, and say I gave it my best effort, OR walk through the pain, and have a better story to tell. I chose the better ending. I took this picture when I finally reached the lost city:

Machu Picchu


Startup Weekend

The first time I went to Startup Weekend in Seattle, our team came in 5th place. If you're unfamiliar with the event, the goal is to recruit a team of people whom you never met before, work on a business idea, develop it as much as humanly possible in 54 hours, demo the product to some judges, and walk away with a potential business, maybe even some funding for it.

It's an intimidating experience. I was surrounded by awesome talent: a ruby developer, Microsoft product guy, Amazon PR dude, and the founder of one of the most popular blogs in the country with an average of 10,000 readers a day. I'm glad I chose to play with them. I'm better for it. This was 2011.

I pitched an idea of my own in November of 2013 at Startup Weekend Davis. It was difficult watching my team crumble and walk away in the middle of the project because the vision was unclear and they just weren't feeling it anymore. We went from 9 people to 4, and none of us were developers.

On the day of judging, the facilitator asked me when we wanted to present, and I said, "We're not presenting."

She said, "Oh yes you are. Let me ask you this. How often are you going to get the opportunity to present to high caliber entrepreneurs and investors? This doesn't happen everyday, and at the worst, you will have gotten some good feedback and learned from it. So, what order do you want to do your presentation in?"

"I want to go last, if we can", I said in resignation. How else could I respond?

I prepared the slides, pitched the idea and our team came in 3rd place. It was the only time when coming in 3rd place felt like coming in 1st. I thought we had no business being up there, and almost walked away from the project myself.

But the lesson is clear: embrace conflict and learn, OR shun it and stunt your own growth.

All that experience would pay off in June of this year. We entered Startup Weekend East Bay, recruited a massive team, the largest I've ever seen at one of these events, and impressed Google staff who acted as the event's mentors.

We would come in 1st place for our category:

startup weekend east bay number app

The story doesn't end there. The next challenge is to actually build something, not just a demo or prototype, and build a REAL business from it.

Yup, PE is tough, challenging, and difficult. Ready or not, the show (story) must go on.

Takeaways

How can I say this without being redundant? Never mind. Redundancy is necessary.

  • Wake up the creator in you. The culture we have collectively built, and what's been passed down to this generation is not the best we can do. Let's improve. We can craft a more memorable story.
  • We've slumbered along consuming what other creators have made for us, and it's not healthy anymore. It's not healthy for your mind, body, or spirit. We can do better.
  • It's perfectly healthy to consume story, games, food, and other people's creations, just check your PE ratio from time to time. Watch for a disproportionate bias towards consumption.
  • In order for story to advance, conflict must be confronted and dealt with. Conflict is fear, doubt, hurt, pain, trauma, oppression, limitation, etc. Confront your fears, demonstrate courage, have faith, and transcend your pain and limitation. Nothing is stopping you, but you (unless you're physically restrained or caged).
  • An epic life = someone overcame epic problems. Are you facing the RIGHT problems in your life that will forge the best version of you possible? If not, then it's time to initiate a more appropriate form of conflict so you can FEEL ALIVE again.
  • If you want your life story to look and feel different, get out of the role of protagonist and back into the role of author again:
    • what's the setting of your story? (where do you want this phase of your life to take place?)
    • what's the plot? (what events would you like to take place in your life?)
    • who's the supporting cast? (what relationships are important to develop? who do you want in your life? mentors, romantic, friends, partners, etc.)
    • What themes or lessons are recurring for your protagonist? (what themes keep recurring in your life? what themes keep returning around relationships? themes around work? what feelings or emotional states seem to have a cyclical nature? what continues to happen in your life that you wish would change? what's the meaning behind them and how will you go beyond them?)
    • What types of 'conflict' will your character encounter? (what big goals do you want to accomplish? what activities make you feel alive? what challenges must you overcome to be your best self ever?)
    • What's the end of the story look like? How does each chapter end? (What's the ultimate accomplishment you want for your life? How does each year end, for the next 10 years? In each year, what have you accomplished for each and every month? What must you accomplish at the end of each day to move towards those outcomes?)
  • Finally, in key decision moments of your life, ask yourself, which choice leads to a better life? What decision will give me a better story to tell? Many times, it will be the more challenging choice. Take the road least traveled, and there will be reward in that alone.

Here's to your next chapter.

Paul

the-next-chapter


Everything's made up

"Everything's made up."

I'm in the middle of my workshop, and people are riveted.

Did he just say what I think he said?

I continue...

Anything woman or man-made is completely made up, created, designed, engineered or whatever verb you want to use.

Computers, tablets, and smart phones? Made up.

Institutions like schools, government, and religion? Made up, too.

Businesses, football, stoves, planes, cars, and the streets they drive on? All made up.

All the rules, laws, statutes, and codes that exist within certain systems, institutions, or inside ourselves? All created by fellow humans.

You see things, and you say, ‘Why?’, but I dream things that never were, and I say, ‘Why not?'

- George Bernard Shaw

This observation is clear when you think about it, even if some take offense to the statement at first, or accept it for certain things but not ALL things.

"My religion ain't made up! My god ain't made up!"

Perhaps god isn't made up, but out of the thousands of gods, which one is the right one to follow/worship/pray to?

Your feelings and the sensations you experience in your body are real. No denying that, but if you can get two people within the SAME religion to agree on who or what god is, then let's talk.

For the most part, religion and spirituality is a deeply PERSONAL affair and EVERYBODY thinks their way is right. The key word is "thinks."

Thoughts into things

We know how stuff got here. People had an idea, designed or engineered it, put some action behind it, and *poof*, we got something.

Anything that's something came from nothing, since an idea or thought is not something you can examine with your 5 senses.

Invisible stuff creates the visible world, and this is the way things get made, but WHY does it work this way?

Who cares. Call it natural law, or how stuff works, but the process is pretty awesome...more awesome if you're aware that life works this way.

If humans are NOT aware of their responsibility in reality making, then the world can get kinda crazy.

If people really knew that everything was made up, and that we're all co-creators and conspirators in our reality making, then the world we experience would change overnight.

There'd be less fighting and conflict and more moments of peace.

There'd be less blame and victimhood and more responsibility.

There'd be less hopelessness and despair and more purpose and meaning.

There'd be less hurt and abuse and faster healing and understanding.

There'd be less poverty and more wealth.

Because who would purposely, deliberately create more crap in their lives??

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...

Proverbs 23:7

War

A thought is just a thought, but when somebody actually identifies with a particular thought, interesting things start to happen.

If you identify with going to a certain high school, then anybody who goes to a rival high school is in conflict with you.

Sure, identification and attachment brings people together, and that's all good when it's fun and games.

But when you identify with a certain group, political party, country, region, sports team, neighborhood, social status, stigma, description, ethnicity, and on and on -- there is conflict with anybody who is not that.

This is how wars start.

It begins with somebody who thinks they're fundamentally "right". So-called leaders think their way is right, and seek to impose their 'righteousness' on the world around them and this leads to destructive conflict and wars that last for decades or even centuries.

Hitler was right, and needed the world to shift to his worldview.

And here you come, stating emphatically, "Hitler was wrong!"

Two worlds, different perspectives, different ideas must be in conflict.

Where is the wisdom in all of this?

7 billion

There are almost 7 billion people on the planet. That means there are 7 billion different stories, 7 billion distinct memories, 7 billion perspectives, 7 billion life philosophies, etc. You think all these people are seeing/experiencing the same things? You think others see what you see?

Nope.

Conflict arises between two people because they're living in two separate worlds and are completely UNAWARE of it. Two people, two sets of rules (yes, some rules are shared), but eventually someone will break the rules of the other and conflict will ensue.

If people were simply AWARE that:

  • You are making up your world as you go (as am I)
  • Belief and truth are NOT the same, and there's far more belief than truth in the world
  • You are NOT living in the same inner world as everyone else, though we share the same outer world
  • The inner world actually creates the outer world, conversely, the outer world has its roots in the inner world
  • The act of listening (real listening, not just using your sense of hearing) and observing leads to a better understanding of somebody's inner world, and simultaneously reduces conflict
  • It's better to understand first, then to be understood

...then we could solve many of the ridiculous wars, decades of conflict, and the silly arguments that occur between two people that may inflict needless harm and cause unnecessary trauma.

Takeaways

  • You are the creator of your reality, and so is everyone else. Yup, it's all made up, so why not make up the world you really want to live in?
  • And I get that you think that you're the center of the universe. But so is he, and so is she, and so is that turtle over there. Try to remember that everyone thinks they're the center of the universe when you're dealing with others. It helps.
  • Understand that we will never share the same inner world, but we do have to share this outer world. Let's do our best to understand the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of our fellow humans before going to 'war'.

Let's face it, everybody's right. And everybody's simultaneously wrong.

It's just a matter of perspective. Armed with that understanding, perhaps we can prevent the next war (or unnecessary argument) from happening.

Paul

 war quote russell


Farewell Seattle (for now)

[dropcap type="2"]S[/dropcap]eattle? I want to thank you for everything. Thanks for all the memories, the wonderful relationships, and for accepting my quirky, unconventional, and sometimes difficult self.

You know that I grew into the man I am today because of you, right? We both kept our agreement to maintain continuous growth. As you evolved, I did as well. I admit, I didn't always keep pace with you, but your example stuck with me and kept me going.

Sometimes, I was ahead of the curve, innovating in unique ways and bringing fresh ideas to the table. You celebrated me when I did, and I know I made you proud.

But nothing compares to the impact of the wonderful people you keep within your beautiful city. Those relationships, the impact and growth we shared, and the memories have shaped and influenced me for many lifetimes. Sometimes I was too stubborn and wanted to do things my way. Sometimes I was the inflexible one. But I learned, and as I learned I became more understanding, compassionate, and accepting.

When I arrived I was quiet, introverted, and raw. I had no idea where I was going, what my mission was, or who would be a part of my journey. As I leave, I am open, expressive, vulnerable, but still raw :)  Can't shake everything, right?

What else can I say to you? What can I possibly say to all the people who have played a major role in my life? What words could even express what I feel in my heart for the many people I hold dear, but perhaps they don't realize it?

No words can do it justice. No words can express the gratitude and appreciation for all the gifts given and received. So I will end by saying to all the beautiful people who shared valuable moments with me, I love you all.

And finally, thank you Seattle for being the magical place where I learned to be ME. I'm in the Bay Area now, and I promise to give my best to my new community. I promise to make you proud of me (again).

Farewell, for now.

Paul "Seattle's adopted son" Campillo


The End...

[dropcap type="2"]I[/dropcap]magine this: you wake up one morning to discover a new power in your arsenal. Whenever you think of something you want, you can have it instantaneously.

You are able to manifest your every desire at will, with virtually no time lapse.

You want a car? It’s there? Traveling to Paris? You’re there. A million dollars? Got it. (Do you really need money with this power?)

There are no glitches or flaws to your power. So if you think of a car, it will appear on the street instead of your living room, for example. Everything is perfectly taken care of.

No challenge is too big. No obstacle is too much to handle. Whatever you want is at your command. Anything you want. Everything.

Can you imagine never struggling again? Like, ever?

No health problems. No relationship problems. No more thinking, “What school am I going to go to?”, or “What am I going to wear?”, or “What am I going to do tomorrow?”

No more working in boring, mundane jobs. No more long commutes.

No more sitting in uninteresting classes or waiting in lines. No more hunger, suffering, abuse, and poverty.

No more death.

Now imagine if everyone has this same power. What then?

Now you, along with everyone else on the planet, can have what they desire, just by imagining it to be. No time, no delay, no waiting.

Instant gratification. Instant love. Instant abundance. Instant relationships -- drama free.

Now think about this for a moment. What would this world be like after a day?

After a month?

How about a year?

Think about that for a moment...

What would happen??

Here’s what would REALLY happen. It would be the beginning of the end.

"The end of what?", you ask?

It would be the end of your story. It would be the end of my story. In fact, the end of ALL stories.

The regrettable, tragic death of story.

We are STORY

You may or may not realize this, but you are a walking, talking, animated, always changing (or not changing) story. Your very life, with everything you experience and everyone you interact with, is the unfolding of your story.

As a matter of fact, stories are as much a part of our lives as are eating and sleeping. And without them, we wouldn't have anywhere close to the rich life experience that we have available to us.

Stories permeate every facet of our lives, and are interwoven through every community, and every culture. No one can be without them.

One of humanity's greatest gifts is our ability to make meaning and perspective out of everything we experience. Every one of us has this gift and we use it every single waking breath of our lives, either consciously or unconsciously.

And without our ability to generate meaning and find patterns we would be simple creatures, acting on instinct, traveling to and fro with no self-awareness. We would be commonplace and mediocre in our existence, capable of nothing more than what's already programmed in.

But we are more than that.

We are walking narratives that are made up of the painful and pleasurable experiences, the good and bad, the highs and lows, and everything in between.

We fall in love then promptly have our hearts broken.

Our health can be either vibrant or disease ridden.

Everyone has different relationships, to ideas, to people, and to nature -- than everyone else. A unique point of view in how we see the world.

There’s just so much to experience in life, and anytime we have any particular experience, we give it meaning, based on what we believe, our rules, our culture, our upbringing, and our unique perspectives.

And this is happening all the time. ALL the time.

It even happens in our dreams during sleep. After we wake, if we happen to remember our dreams, then perhaps we may analyze or interpret them.

But we are ALWAYS making meaning, generating the story of our lives as we live moment by moment.

And our ability to "make meaning" forms the tapestry of our story. It is woven together so seamlessly that it's hard to distinguish what's "real" and what's our "story".

Every living “story” (person) has memories. Each memory or unique experience we have is a sub-plot, or a short story. There are stories within stories within stories.

We may have a few hundred stories to share (if you’re young) or few thousand (if you’re mature). And they will be shared with others, either by telling your tale or by your sheer presence and relationship to someone.

Because they are interpreting your relationship into something meaningful to them.

And people absolutely love stories. It doesn't matter where or when you grew up. Remember growing up? We couldn’t wait for story time. And as adults we love movies and our television shows, while others may prefer to devour novels and attend the local theater and plays.

History = his story.

We are enthralled with the creators of the stories. We celebrate writers and authors, obsess over the actors/actresses who perform in them, and love the directors who share their unique interpretations with us.

We watch sports for the same reason. We follow a certain team, it’s players, it’s city and fans even, because each has a unique story motivating them. There's a his or her-story behind every person.

And why do we LOVE the stories that touch our lives everyday?

We love them because they are US. We ARE stories. The living, breathing personification of them.

No Pain, No Gain??

Now, let's return back to the scenario I described in the beginning. A world without struggle, pain, abuse, poverty, and everything else. No worries. No challenge.

And eventually, as in all great stories, characters do overcome, but only after so much struggle, pain, and tremendous challenge.

Instant everything. Manifest at-will. Everyone can do it. Everyone has the power.

What's the result of this newfound power? What happens when everybody can use it, anytime and anywhere?

Does it mean more boredom? More happiness and joy? A sustained experience of pleasure and gratification?

Nope. Not even close.

That particular scenario would initiate an ending. The end of story as we know it. The end of living. The end of our lives.

You see, every story has certain ingredients, including characters, perhaps a protagonist and antagonist.

There’s something for the character(s) to accomplish, achieve, resolve, and obtain. Some type of goal.

Then there’s a conflict or challenge to overcome, a struggle on the way to the goal. Obstacles must be overcome in every story. Nothing is easy.

If a story is to be memorable and great, then the characters involved must be put to the test, must be challenged in some way. And eventually, as in all great stories, characters do overcome, but only after so much struggle, pain, and tremendous challenge.

They may even die in the process of accomplishing their goal. But it sure makes a damn good story to tell.

The greater the challenge to overcome, the greater the story.

No challenge = no story. Period.

What's the point?

And what if there was nothing to overcome? Nothing to thwart our paths to success? What would be the point of our lives then?

What if you could have the perfect body now without working for it, just by snapping your fingers?

What if you could find that elusive magic pill that helps you lose 50 pounds overnight, as seen in marketing blitzes and ad campaigns?

What if you could have all the money in the world without earning it, such as the get rich quick schemes that attract new people everyday to its claims.

What if you could have that elusive record deal easily, sell millions over and over again, without putting in much, if any, work? Have a gazillion fans and endless fame? There are millions of people waiting to be "discovered" who believe this story.

What if you could live the greatest life EVER without overcoming any of your personal challenges or lack of competence in any area?

What if you never had to deal with low self-confidence ever again?

And what if you never had to face your deepest, darkest fears? Ever again.

What would be the point?

There would be no point.

Your life would be over. Our lives on this planet would be finished.

the end...