Envision an Unwritten Future

When I was younger, I thought that my future held my circle of friends; we seemed inseparable. When I owned a house, I put my heart and soul into its maintenance, sweating and struggling to hold onto it because I was so sure that it was in my future.

I thought the same thing about my job, that my future held a high-paying career as a computer programmer, or a security consultant. At one point I was certain that my future held a position in the military. I was sure it held my ex-girlfriend.

But I was wrong, about all of it.

I learned that by telling ourselves day in and day out that we know what the future holds, that it must hold this thing or that person just because we always thought that it would, we lock ourselves into self-limiting and self-destructive patterns.

We hold onto these expectations because it’s safer that way, because our primal instinct wants to feel secure, because it wants to know that we’ve been somewhere and that we’ve done something and that all of this must mean we’re going somewhere, with someone, or with a specific group of someones.

We want to see ourselves making tangible progress, moving laterally from one direction to another, swimming toward a specific destination and making specific, measurable progress. We don’t want to think three-dimensionally, to look down into a dark abyss and imagine sinking to a undefinable place that holds so much unknown, to a place that has no certain depth and no measurable end, a place where anything can happen.

We don’t want to imagine that, but that’s exactly what the future holds, a dark unknown. We have no light to shine on the future. We have no map to lead us through. There is no rulebook that determines what happens and what doesn’t, who lives and who dies, who comes, and who goes. Life isn’t a two-dimensional surface with birth and death clearly marked on either end. It’s dynamic. It’s unpredictable. It’s raw.

You are not who you were yesterday and tomorrow, you won’t be who you are right now. But who you are right now is real. It’s tangible, and the only thing holding you back from blossoming is what you take with you into tomorrow, and what you expect to find when you get there. Your vision of the future is flawed. It’s a mirage. It’s an island that you’re swimming toward that doesn’t even exist.

Stop swimming.

Every heartbeat is a heartbeat you’ve never experienced. Every breath is a breath you’ve never taken.

Envision a future that is so unwritten, a future that is so strange that you have trouble holding it in your imagination. Envision a future so blank, so pure and unencumbered by the past or the present, so savage and wild and deep that it remains unrestrained by preconceptions of yesterday and unchained from expectations of today.

Envision a future that is so impossibly unimaginable that it creates an abyss of nothingness, and then, allow yourself to float into that unknown, leaving behind everything to embrace a future you that is flawless and free.

Notes: How do you show yourself kindness?

Sui Solitaire recently released Kindness Sprouts, a collaborative ebook of kindness and self-care. (She's generously giving all proceeds directly to charity.)

Sui invited me to contribute to the project and asked me to answer the following question, How do you show yourself kindness? This was my response:

I show myself kindness by having the courage to eliminate things from my life that are causing me distress and dissatisfaction. I spent many years feeling caged by my job and caged by my lifestyle. I pushed off doing what I knew needed to be done and sacrificed my own happiness, and for what? For the satisfaction and comfort of everyone else? To conform to what others thought was the best thing for me?

I began showing myself kindness when I started listening to and caring about what my heart and soul were telling me. I began showing myself kindness when I found the courage to be brave and challenge what others expected of me.

When I gained the confidence to believe in my own dreams and stand up to the expectations of others, I discovered that I also needed to learn how to stand up to my own self-imposed expectations. I love technology and I spend many hours of the day working at the computer. When I find myself getting agitated with how much time I've spent in front of the screen, I don't let myself justify the discomfort by saying “that's just what I do.” Instead of being unkind to myself, I walk outside, put my hand on the trunk of a big tree, look up at its outstretched arms, and allow myself to reconnect with mother nature; I allow myself to really feel one with the universe. I'm immediately reminded that being kind to myself is being kind to the world.

Interestingly, ever since writing this for Sui's project I've been going out of my way each morning to spend time in the forest. I drive about twenty minutes to the local state forest and just walk, usually for at least an hour, with my phone turned off and my mind open. My day feels more complete when I start it walking in the forest.

Create to Share

Have you ever seen a baby get excited about a new toy and then almost immediately turn around and hold it up with bright eyes and a big smile, pleading with you to share in the excitement? The baby has no expectations, only a desire to share.

When we share without expectation, we're sharing love. When we create without expectation, we're creating with love. But if we put a condition on sharing the things that we create -- I'll share this if you give me that -- then we disconnect from the ultimate reason that we possess the power to create: to share love.

That doesn't mean we can't receive something in return for what we create. Receiving in return for creating isn't the same as creating with the intention of receiving. The latter is based in scarcity, the former in abundance.

Like the baby pleading to share in the joy of discovery, we instinctively want to share what we love. When we do something because we love it, the act of doing it becomes enough. When we create with the intention of sharing, everything we receive in return becomes a gift.

33 Moments of Introspection

Pine Trees in Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest

"What if I had a clone? What if my clone wasn't complete and he needed some kind of information that would help him better understand who it means to be me?"

It was an odd thought, but I went with it anyway. I was sitting in an office, peering into the darkness that enveloped the city of Boston. The shapes of buildings were outlined with tiny lights and red, green, and white colors flowed on the streets below.

"What would I tell a clone to help him better understand me?" I began jotting down specific points that came to mind and stopped when I reached thirty-three.

"Was this me? Did this list convey the essence of what it's like to live in my head?"

Over the course of the next few days, I went back to that list and spent time pondering each point. I jotted down stories, described examples, and otherwise tried to define what each thing meant to me.

Now I'm sharing that list here with you in the hopes that you will glean something useful from it. Continue reading

Managing Trust and Expectation

I've learned to trust only myself and to expect only one thing from everything else: failure. The one thing we can all count on is our own demise. We will all die. Nothing you see and no one you know will last forever. I don't place faith in fallible things, including and especially other humans. Doing so would be not only a huge waste of time, but comparable to playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun... and taking the first turn.

I maintain a very pessimistic outlook on the world and its future, while at the same time being very optimistic about myself and my future. I have the capability of controlling myself and my future, but what kind of control do I have over the world and its future? How could anyone say they have control over the choices of billions of people?

The helpful side of me wants to educate and warn others of how they are being herded like cattle by those with the power to control the things we put our trust in: the media, money, our jobs, our health, and the machines that make everything run. But why? What's the point? I can help others and I can even try to help the whole world, but what good is my help to them if I haven't taken care of myself? I'm not talking about being selfish. Selfishness is the act of being concerned with your own interests and the advantage excluding others gives you, not the act of helping yourself so you're more capable of helping others.

Human beings are very imperfect and fallible creatures. That's why nearly every human being strives for perfection in one way or another. Constantly reminding myself that no single person has ever been, nor will ever be perfect is a very eye-opening experience. When I have zero expectation for myself, for others, or for the world, I begin to realize that the only thing that really matters is who I am in this moment and how prepared I am for the next.

Time will continue moving forward. This moment will not. Don't expect it to.

Less is More

I spent Saturday and Sunday working at my parents house, doing yard work and helping my dad tile the front porch. The weather was beautiful and it was so nice spending time outside for a change. I've always loved the outdoors however my current occupation does not allow for much outdoor activity. As a "computer guy", all of my work is done inside. Electronics and nature simply don't mix. Sure, I can use my laptop outside (which is where I'm writing this post right now) but the reality of it is, I cannot run my whole career sitting outside on my laptop. But, some people do.

I've heard stories of computer programmers who make a living accepting contract work over the Internet. They'll sit on a beach somewhere, with their laptop, programming and sipping fruity drinks. Then there are those who make a living running an online business that doesn't require anything except their laptop and a few hours of their time.

But maybe it has nothing to do with using my computer outside. Maybe I'm just sick of using computers themselves. Maybe I've been using them my entire life and have just come to accept that since it's what I know best, its what I'm meant to do. If that were so, why do I feel so undecided? Why am I not sure of what I want to do? That is so unlike me.

I'm a person of assurance. I don't do things because I think it's what I'm supposed to do, I do them because I know they're what I'm supposed to do. I understand that no one person can be sure of everything and that life is full of surprises and unexpected events. We must go with the flow. Never the less, when I feel myself losing control over something, I tend to hesitate and question myself -- question whether I'm doing the right thing. This is not a position I enjoy being in and it makes concentrating on anything difficult.

So every time I gain a new insight, I reanalyze my life. I do a systems check to make sure everything I'm doing still makes sense. I check to make sure what I'm doing is still in line with my goals. But how can I do this if I'm expecting and depending on the results of this and that? I have always followed the motto "if you want something done right, do it yourself" and I live my life that way. Life will always contain the unexpected. In life, as in programming, more variables equal an increased possibility for the loss of control.

My solution to this is to live life expecting nothing. Without expectation there will be no disappointment. Attachment creates waste and drains life. Ownership creates unnecessary work. Expect less. Own less. Attach to less. My Dad has always said "Less is more". I've never understood this more fully than I do now.

Completed: 16.6% of my Life

If there's anything I've learned the older I've become, it's to never claim to know what the you of the future (even 1 year in the future) will say, do, think, or believe. I didn't expect or anticipate a single thing that's happen to me in the past two years and I have no idea, and refuse to make any assumptions of, where I will be in three, six, or even twelve months from now.

It's liberating to let go of all expectation and to live life as it comes at you—with a plan yes, but one that is pliable; one that you will allow to adjust and change on the fly.

It makes you feel invincible, as if each and every day is an entire lifetime, and that you have nothing to worry about besides what happens today.

What is age anyway? It's a number which we have created to define time—to catalog our existence on Earth. For that matter, if I lived on any other planet in this solar system, my age would not be 25 today.

My Age

If my age can fluctuate so much just by the planet I reside on, then what age would I be living on other planets in other solar systems? The bottom line is, we create and define age. It's a measurement of time which has been globally accepted (I won't say universally accepted, because I highly doubt other universe's have agreed to anything). I talked more about time in a previous post, Timeless Living.

The human mind is a very powerful thing—so powerful in fact that I believe we assist nature in making us old by reminding ourselves of our age. We have this preconceived idea of how old we're expected to live—how many people truly believe, and I mean as much as they believe they will die without air, that they will live to 150 years old?

I don't tell myself I've turned 25. I tell myself I have turned 16.6. I cannot escape the usage of date and time during my day-to-day living and I cannot change what everyone has agreed upon as a measurement of time. So instead I've decided to change what I believe my age is: I'm only 16.6% through my life. When I die, and reach 100% of my worldly existence, I will be 150 years old.