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Why Did I Stop Writing?

I got an email a few days ago with the subject line “Why Did you stop writing?”

I thought maybe I had emailed this to myself, but on further inspection, it was from a friend who found my post on Highexistence and stumbled onto this blog. Like many people who find their way here, they express a shared frustration and loneliness – looking for that elusive “missing thing.”

I relate deeply to that and it’s why I started this blog. It’s also why I started meditating. Speaking of which, I’m currently on an 18 day streak, and after some 260 sessions, have started having somewhat regular Lucid dreams. Those are freaky as hell if you haven’t experienced them yet. I’ll try to write more about them soon.

Meanwhile, I need to answer the question “Why Did I stop writing.” I have been obsessing about it since I got that email. Earlier today, I went out to get some groceries after a busy morning of phone calls and work and it hit me. I’m afraid.

You read that right. I’m afraid. Scared. Terrified to continue to write on this blog. I’m scared because I don’t know where it might lead. I’ve no idea what doors it may open, and for some reason, that scares the hell out of me. I know that may sound silly, and that I should be embracing the journey and reveling in the notion of self-discovery and new opportunities. Except apparently, I’m scared shitless.

I haven’t felt this way in a long time – in fact, I can remember a similar feeling when I embarked on my journey to college 20+ years ago. I headed out into the unknown and was excited but terrified. I put myself into a situation where there was no turning back at a school some 1,500+ miles from him in a different part of the country – far from friends and family – and for the first time truly on my own.

And now, I am faced with more than a year of hard work – self-inspection and reflection, journaling and meditating daily. I’ve left behind high pressure and high paying jobs for an opportunity to work from home and to explore art, writing, and physical fitness.

doorAnd yet, despite that progress I’m scared to keep writing this blog because I don’t know what comes next. I feel as if I’m standing in front of a door with a halo of light around it – sure that what’s behind it is good and true and beautiful. And yet I hesitate to open it.

And now I know it’s because I’m afraid.

I attended an event in NYC earlier this week and met strangers who asked me what projects I had been working. I talked about this blog over and over again. Apologizing for it, making excuses for not writing enough, or for making it anonymous. All excuses.

I’m scared to keep writing this blog because I don’t know what comes next.

The real reason is that I’m afraid to see what comes next.

That random email I got may have shaken me out of it. Now that I can name what’s wrong and why I’m not writing I think I can make some progress. I don’t feel as afraid anymore. I still have some reservations and trepidation – my goal was never to become some sort of hippy dippy meditation guy, or some sort of personal coach. I simply wanted to connect with other who felt like I did – like a fucking zombie sleepwalking through life.

I think that’s what I’m starting to figure out. I’m dense. It takes me a few tries to get shit right. The first step is realizing you are asleep and a zombie in your own horror story. The second and harder part is actually waking the fuck up and doing something about it.

Writing was supposed to be my way through the darkness but instead, I got scared like a baby and just stopped writing and exploring. Actually, to be honest, that’s not exactly fair. I just haven’t shared it on this blog as I had planned. In addition to meditating and journaling, I started drawing and painting for the first time in forever. I spend the month of November writing a Nanowrimo novel. I opened up to my family and shared how I feel more than ever. I started writing a screenplay for a super funny idea I had.

So I am making progress. I’m not a zombie like I was a year or so ago – I’m partially awake and am slowly acquiring and learning how to use the different tools I need to wake the fuck up for real. Not being scared is one of those tools.

It feels good to be back and a little less afraid than before.

Here’s my question to you… what scares you?

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da

Obla-di Obla-da

Apologies for the lack of posts recently.

I have been very busy living life as an experiment as I’ve written about previously.

Meanwhile, I have gotten a few emails from readers asking what I’ve been up to and to ask why I haven’t posted lately.

One e-mail said “So, friend, keep going, keep writing, keep creating; we are truly the creative masters of our world and reality” which resonated deeply with me as I plod along on my journey.

Another e-mail reflected “I have found myself becoming more and more disconnected and inactive in all areas of life and rarely feel excited or inspired by anything.” I can relate. I do relate.

I am so grateful for these e-mails and for anyone who stumbles across this tiny spot on the interwebs and reaches out to connect.

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Keep out Experiment in Progress

Living Life as an Experiment

Are you “living life as an experiment?” I finished reading the amazing book Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron last week and loved it so much, I went back through it and wrote down several pages of notes. As I was reading through them this morning over coffee, one jumped out at me as I try to live life as an experiment…

LIVING YOUR LIFE AS AN EXPERIMENT – adopt an attitude of “I’m not sure what will help in this situation, but i’m going to experiment and try this.”

As I re-read my notes, I realized how powerful this idea has become for me. As it turns out, I spent years and years doing things that felt like life or death – certain jobs that made me crazy, with people that made me crazy, doing things that made me want to jump out the window. I made huge life decisions not with the mindset of experimentation but with almost a life or death feeling.

As it turns out, I’m very good at living inside my own head and getting totally lost in a task, to the point of forgetting to be present and mindful of my entire life experience. As I’ve grown older and started to focus on my experiences, I’ve started to realize that that while being in “flow” is good, being ignorant to the world around me is not – it’s quite literally been keeping me from having a mindful, present life.

I recently took a step backward and asked myself “Okay, I’m living life as an experiment, then what’s an experiment?”

According to Wikipedia: An experiment is an orderly procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, refuting, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Experiments provide insight into cause-and-effect by demonstrating what outcome occurs when a particular factor is manipulated.

I’ve started to realize that I’ve allowed myself to not have an explicit hypothesis for anything. I’ve allowed myself to assume there are good reasons for doing things. All those have been subconscious and I’ve allowed myself to live a life where I’m not asking the conscious questions, nor am I living life as an experiment. And if I am, I’m a sloppy excuse for a scientist!

When I read that quote from Living Beautifully, I think something clicked and I started to write down and consciously think about what experiments I’m currently running and have pledged to gain insights into my thinking – and gain control of my life.

My most recent career experiment was to try to define the sort of work I want to do, on my own terms and to put myself into a small company or start up to validate if I actually like the chaos and uncertainty it brings. In the past I had flirted from job to job looking at each new challenge as an opportunity to make more money or find a new challenge to keep me excited. Instead, now I’ve got a working hypothesis that I’m testing in real-time.

I am also running an experiment with this blog and site as I try to connect with others struggling with living a conscious, present life. The hypothesis is that there are a ton of people, just like me who are struggling to wake up, they know there is more out there, but it feels awkward and scary to consider a totally different way of living.

With both these experiments, I’ve felt myself slipping back into being asleep, and have had to remind myself that I’m in the middle of an experiment! It’s a weird, uncanny feeling to be honest, but I’m pretty sure I’m on to something. I’m documenting the results and adjusting my experiments on a regular basis.

I’m wondering, does this resonate with you, are you running any experiments? How are you living life as an experiment?

Accountability

A Meditation on Personal Accountability

A big part of the inspiration for this blog was this vague idea I had of personal accountability. It’s a phrase that I’ve struggled with in so many areas of my life. It’s so easy to say, it just rolls off the tongue. It’s like promising yourself you’ll only watch 1 more episode of Breaking Bad, or that this weekend you won’t drink. Then you wake up at 3am on Sunday, with an 16 empty cans of beer and hazy memories of Walter White. It happens, I know.

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The Meditation Diaries – Questions Volume 1

QuestionsIn a previous post, I mentioned a bunch of questions I had during my first 30 days of meditating. I had never committed to actually meditating before, and while I’m still new at it, I learned a lot about myself and about the practice and art of meditating.

If you have questions, please let me know your thoughts me at or post them below and let’s talk about them!

Without further adieu, here is Meditation Questions, Volume I

Am I meditating or am I just sitting here talking to myself?

I hadn’t thought much about this until I was listening to Sam Harris on a podcast talk about his early days of meditating. I had never thought about it this way – and started thinking about this a lot. I’m not sure how to answer the question because clearly, some (most?) of my time meditating was spent lost in thought, or sound asleep. As a novice, it’s good to simply remember to keep coming back to focus and to not give up. For me, the answer is both – sometimes I am literally just sitting there talking to myself. Other times, I can say happily that I was deeply meditating

Do I have to sit crosslegged on the ground?

I fought this for a few days and got tons of advice from friends and people on Reddit. Tilt this way or tilt that way, sit on a pillow, sit up straight, use a chair. You name it and I was told to try it. In the end, I made the decision to sit however the hell I want to, close my eyes and focus. That’s it. Simple. Maybe one day I will be ready for some sort of advanced meditation techniques, but for now all that matters is that I actually meditate. So the answer is for me, I sit how I want. That said, I can’t lay down while meditating because that’s called sleeping.

Why does my back hurt so much when I meditate and why can’t I just sit in my comfy chair?

I have no idea, see the question above. Some people are built for sitting cross legged on hard floors with a straight back. I am clearly, not. Yes, sit in your comfy chair, close your eyes and meditate. No points off.

Why is it so hard to stay focused?

You tell me! For me, I can’t stop thinking about the past and the future. I spend so much time living in the past and the future that I am hardly present in my life. It’s hard to stay focused because I’ve managed to not be focused on anything except multi-tasking for years. Thanks to my smartphone, the Internet, Youtube, Netflix and a pile of books, I am a poster boy for distraction. Meditating has helped a little, but even as I write this I’m checking my Twitter and email. What should have taken an hour is taking two because I can’t focus. The more I meditate, the calmer I get and the more I can focus. It’s like doing curls or sit-ups, I need to train my focus muscles.

Do I need incense?

No. Stop it. Same goes for crystals or goofy music.

Can I meditate while exercising?

I’m not entirely sure of the official answer to this one, but I did try to walk on the treadmill one day while staying completely focused on my breath, and then on my arms swinging. It was an interesting experience for sure. Not sure it counted as meditating, but I did 20 minutes of walking this way in any case. I’m going to say yes, you can meditate while exercising, but it’s an intermediate or advanced power move. I’m sticking to sitting for now.

What questions do you have about meditating? Have started the 30 day challenge? Let me know how it’s going by contacting me or leaving a comment below!