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Screaming into the Void

Lying to Myself (or How this Blog is Total Bullshit)

Lying to yourself is nasty business. It’s one of those things that while you are doing it, you don’t know you are doing it. But you are. Then something happens and you recognize the lie. At first, you can’t believe that you have been lying to yourself. All that meditation! All those blog posts! A year of journaling. I just realized in a blaze of glory that I’m lying to myself.

All it took was a moment in time. I brief insight I had while reading a book. And there it was. I am lying to myself about just about everything. Lies. Damn Lies. Sort of like statistics. No, exactly like statistics.

Since I started this blog I’ve been doing things differently in my life. First and foremost, trying to wake the fuck up and stop living my life based on what I think I should be doing, and getting some clue about what it is that I truly want. I’ve read so many books and blog posts and talked to so many people about their own lives and tried to understand what waking up really looks like. I’ve watched movies, looking for clues and walked in nature, literally trying to get lost to try to find myself. I’m such an imposter it’s astounding.

I’ve asked myself questions about who I am. Who I want to be. What I want to be. And not for lack of trying, but I’ve made progress. Wait, is that the right turn of phrase? Anyway, As of right now, coach.me says I have meditated 369 times. I’ve journaled just about every day for 1.5 years. I’ve exercised. I’ve started drawing again. Recently started Tai chi. So yes, I have been doing things. And yet, still lying to myself all the while.

It’s all bullshit. It’s bullshit because at my core, I’ve discovered, errr, rediscovered something I’ve known all along. It’s hard to see the progress when the big insights you have are the ones you already know. It’s like I’m”The Incredible Man with No Memory.”  My superpower is being able to ignore reality and live in the past and future, but never in the present moment. It’s remarkable. And it leads to lies. Lie after lie after lie. I’m lying to myself.

I'm lying to myself

It’s because I feel so alone. 

I can’t help it. I don’t know what to do about it. I sometimes wish I had drugs that would magically make me feel happy. Do those exist? Can I get some?

The crazy fucking bit about this is that I’m not alone. Hardly. I have so many people who love me. You know how I know this? Because one of the meditations I do is being grateful. I even blogged about it here. I know they love me and I am ever so grateful for them all. But it doesn’t matter because it’s bullshit because despite being grateful, I still end up feeling alone. And scared.

This blog post may invalidate every all the other blog posts on this site, or maybe it will prove that they are true. Either way, I call bullshit. I call bullshit on myself. I’m putting calamine lotion on 3rd-degree burns. I’m hiking Everest in shorts and flip flops. I’m a lying liar.

I’ve lied to myself for so long I can’t even remember when it started. I allowed my life to be dragged down the river. No oars. I’m just going wherever it takes me. And while that sounds awfully romantic and “presenty” (not a word), it’s bullshit. Like my lies. I have no control of myself. I’m out of control. I can’t figure out what I’m supposed to be doing, or who I’m supposed to be.

So what next?

How about I stop lying to myself.

It’s a great idea, right? Trouble is, I have no idea how to stop doing it. Also, I don’t even recognize when I’m doing it in the first place. So that may make it tricky as hell. But I am going to try. I’ve been trying something new in my morning pages – telling the truth. I know, novel right? But instead of just free associating what happened yesterday or writing about what TV show I watched or what thing I thought, I’ve started to actually be honest with myself.

A few days ago I wrote down the following gem in my journal…  “Fuck I’m so unhappy.” Then I wrote about why I thought that was and it was all lies, but the effort was there at the start. So it’s something to build on I guess.

I feel so fucking goddamn guilty about feeling unhappy. I feel like I’m betraying everyone I love because they all think I’m so well-adjusted and happy. I’m super good at lying to other people too apparently. Either that or they see right through it and are all wondering when I’m going to crack. 50/50 I’m guessing.

I hate feeling guilty about not being happy. It’s a ton of pressure. Sometimes I just want to be able to be sad. Wow, re-reading all that makes it pretty clear that I should re-think the drugs thing. Yikes.

So let’s recap:

  1. This blog is bullshit because I lie to myself. It stands to reason that most or all blog posts on this blog are also bullshit and full of lies.
  2. My attempts to be honest with myself are headlines at best. Getting past the surface level of honest is proving difficult or impossible at this time. Please hang up and try again.
  3. I probably should be on drugs of some sort. Either prescribed or recreational.

I don’t know exactly how to end this post. I wrote it because I had to get it off my chest – and to acknowledge that I’ve been lying to myself. And to you also of course. Once I hit publish I can either go back to lying or decide to stop. I desperately want to make the right choice here. And that’s not a lie.

 

Impermanence

Impermanence

Recently, I was listening to a podcast by Tara Brach talking about the impermanence of life. This theme continues to come up, in songs, and books and it seems, everywhere. With my quickly evolving skill of “pay attention dumbass,” I started to pay attention. The song “Live Like You Were Dying” came on the radio. A book I’m reading called “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson repeatedly points out the changing nature of earth and the insignificance amount of time of humans have been wandering around upright.

Impermanence is at the core of our nature – it’s fundamentally human. No one is immune from our shared and ultimate fate and nothing any human being can do will be remembered more than a few generations. In the context of personal accountability, it is critical that we find ways of living in the present moment. Personally, I think that I finally understand that the journey is the destination and that any destination I choose can only disappoint me in the end – the destination isn’t the point. It’s the getting there part that matters. It’s a fucking head-spinner, I know.

“It all goes away. Eventually, everything goes away.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Meanwhile, I continually search for what to do about all this. Meditation is great, but the application of being present in a given moment is still a bit of a mystery to me. At a certain age (or maturity), the idea of impermanence becomes tangible and I’ve reached it. I can see through the fog a little bit and am asking myself what it is that I want to accomplish in life.

Impermanence is scary, right?

Right now I’m all about trying to answer the question “What is Your Art?” I’m in a death match with my resistance to figure out the answer, or even a hint of which direction to run in.

I just picked up a copy of the “War of Art” by Pressfield which is giving me some critical tools and knowledge about understanding “The Resistance” a bit better. Now that I know in part what’s blocking me (fear, as per usual), I can do something about it.

I’m not trying to become immortal or change the world, I’m just trying to live in the moment and understand myself a bit better because I know that sooner, rather than later I’ll be gone. My clock is ticking and so is yours so get to it.

Thoreau quote

No One is Coming to Save Me, or You.

Being lost is for losers. Isn’t it?

I certainly thought so.

Being lost is for people who are on the couch eating cheetos. For people in the unemployment line. For anyone who is addicted to drugs. For the mediocre, mindless masses.

I never thought of myself as a loser, but I certainly am lost.

Almost a year ago I wrote “Stop Bullshitting Yourself If You Want To Wake Up (From The True Matrix)” and revealed that despite “having it all,” I was terribly lost and unhappy. Despite having a high paying job and a wonderful family, something important was missing.

My life had gone off the rails and I had no idea what to do about it.

I wrote about all the “tricks” I tried like changing jobs, eating better and getting exercise. None of it worked. All the distractions and futile attempts just added up to more misery, sadness and loneliness.

In that original post, I wrote “I think waking up requires one main ingredient that I don’t see anyone talking about… personal accountability.” In the past few months, I have come to realize how nuanced and complicated the notion of personal accountability is, and how difficult it is to describe without confusing it with issues such as commitments, projects, personal relationships and ego.

Personal accountability is one of things things that is 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.

When I take a moment and bother to think about my own personal accountability, I think that maybe it is selfish to put myself first – and then I spin around and think that only by putting myself first can I find the right path. Whatever that horribly written sentence means. What I’m trying to say is that whether it has to do with my career and providing for my family, or sex, relationships, travel or even food, it’s all connected. Life had become rapidly becoming a game of “this or that”, a series of choices that feel increasing selfish, or the opposite – of being a martyr. I want to live a life of abundance, of saying “and” and not “or.”

Since I wrote that post, I’ve slowly started to realize that I was not going to find answers to anything from outside myself. At the same time, it was becoming clear to me that I had no idea how to fix myself. Most of the time my mind would race and I’d defer to sitting in front of the TV or reading a book. Just one more handful of chips. You know what I mean.

I started to wonder about being lost. I asked myself “Once you are lost, can you get more lost?”

It seems unlikely but for me, it seemed to be true. The harder I tried to find myself, the more lost I seemed to get. It’s a bit like being lost in the woods, thinking you’ve found the trail, then realizing you are still totally lost. Wrong trail syndrome I guess. Is that a thing? If not, I get dibs on the t-shirt and trademark.

Shortly after I wrote that post, I started to meditate on a regular basis. I started with several guided podcasts I had downloaded and committed to giving it a try. It was awkward at first. And weird. I felt so stupid sitting there by myself in the dark. After a few weeks (or was it months?) I started to notice a small voice inside my head. It was whispering to me. And when I finally decided to try to listen, I didn’t much want to hear what it was saying.

“No one is coming to save you” the whispers said.

I didn’t understand at first. Why would I be thinking I needed saving? But in talking with my coach, and after deep (and extended) introspection, I started to realized that I was desperately hoping that someone, or something would come along and save me. Despite a strong outer appearance, my inner voice had turned out to be some sort of damsel in distress. Seriously? Unreal, right?

My father got sick when I was about 10, and it’s only becoming clear now, some three decades years later how deeply that impacted me. I now realize that at some subconscious level, I have been waiting for him to come get me, hold me, tell me everything will be OK. Even writing that last sentence gives me some sort of deep seated, soul-touching feeling. And it feels real, and true. And wow, that’s messed up.

My resistance to this realization was extremely strong at first. It’s still there, I can hear it resisting even as I type this sentence. I told myself that this was total bullshit. I tried to convince myself it wasn’t true. That I am not a meek person. That I’m someone who is aggressive and focused and makes things happen. The harder I fought, the more insistent the whispers became.

But… sometimes the truth is just the truth. And that tiny voice was right. I needed to really listen this time.

The truth is out there. Actually, it’s right here dummy, in front of your face.

I can remember the exact moment I accepted it as truth. I was on a walk with my dog thinking about life and I got really angry and got very honest with myself. I lashed out (not at the dog, he’s fine) but at some grass. And I threw a rock as hard as I could into the woods. I screamed out loud. And then as I calmed down, the voice in my head became clear. And insistent. And strong. And at that moment, I finally saw the truth. No one was coming to save me. Until that very moment I had spent my entire life waiting to be saved. That was hard to accept. I am still fighting it deep down.

The answer to my question about being accountable to myself starts with realizing that the only one who can save me, is me. And getting clear on what it’s going to take as been consuming me. It’s terrifying.

I pushed myself to start to try to understand what decisions I’ve made in my life because of this need to be saved. I realized that many of those decisions have been subconsciously driven by the idea that one day, Superman (or woman) will come along and save me. It makes me feel like a child thinking about it now, like a scared little boy. The idea that I needed someone, or something to come and take away my pain was emasculating and hard to accept.

It’s a bitter, nasty pill. And even worse, I started to fully realize that this idea of being saved was running my life. It had major implications in my decision making. Even as I sit here writing this post I think that there is a part of me that still believes some outside force will take away my pain and give me what it is I seek. But it isn’t true. It was never true. It’s a fake reality, a matrix. The matrix! A virtual reality that can’t exist in the real world. It’s the reality that people who are asleep think is true. People who are awake, are not fooled by this dream, they know that being conscious, making clear decisions and being present is the only way to truly live. They know that no one is coming to save them.

I know this because for the past few months I’ve been slowly but surely waking to this truth bit by bit. I blew up my career in series of increasingly rash but right decisions. I left a high paying consulting gig and joined a small agency for half my salary. It was a disaster. From there, I joined an even smaller startup which 3 months later ran out of money. I recently landed at an amazing, stable company working from home. So far so good. But that’s not the point.

The point is, I’ve taken steps to wake up and to be accountable to myself and to the life I want. I wake up at 5:30 every morning and meditate, write, and exercise – all before 8 am. I think. I give myself space. These adjustments have given me perspective, and time to breathe. I took the long route to get to here. But now, the challenge is to relax and to live.To create more than I consume. To drink in each moment and each day.

I realize I’m still mid-journey and am not exactly ready to impart wisdom, or lessons at this point – I’m just trying to breathe, and live each day to it’s fullest. I’m facing my fears head on, and trying to be honest with myself. I’m not perfect, not even close. I fuck up. I slip back into old patterns. I get lost in thoughts. I get scared I’m doing the wrong thing.

But now, the voices are kind and encouraging. I am able to forgive myself almost immediately and move on. Being able to accept my faults and embrace my humanity is allowing me to start to become my true self. I sort of like that guy. I’m rooting for him to save himself. I think he’s on his way to a great life.

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.

(more…)

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!