I have a love & hate relationship with Resolutions, Lists and Manifestos.
I love writing them. I hate feeling their self-imposed weight on my shoulders. They reactivate my OCD and make me feel strangled by the would, should, could…but oops, Life always drops in unannounced.
So instead of resolutions, for a few years now, I’ve turned to Evolution. I sit back with a cup of tea and nostalgia in my hands every birthday, New Year’s Eve or pretty much any day my soul demands to be heard and I review myself for a brief hour (or three). I try to auscultate my heart’s murmurs and ask her things. She doesn’t answer right away, she takes her time.
And then I turn to Mind, who knows it all, a more predictable supercomputer that will immediately put together (on a cosmic spreadsheet with costs and benefits and losses) a few lessons (I think) I may have / should have learned by now — the hard and bloody ways I usually get my way.
Fully aware that wisdom is like water, paradoxical in its nature, just like we are 60% water + time + blood + agony, and that the I-Don’t-Know is often, the most powerful territory we can stand on, there is nonetheless, an exquisite pleasure in pinning down this evolution into numbers. We’re meaning-makers after all, so why shy away from pointing at it? Summarizing at least 21,000 aha moments into a few brief points is impossible. But hey, we’re possible!
So just give me a few minutes to fetch you a spicy cup of tea and galaxy.
1. The point of You is not Survival, it’s Aliveness.
It’s hard not to get swallowed by the the ordinary, it’s exhausting to fight it and it’s even more difficult to learn a new language, one that helps you retell the tired story of the world in your original voice.
It’s hard to rewire several hundred years of solitude and separation from nature, ourselves and our others, and to believe, truly believe, that the universe doesn’t plot against you but with you, that you’re not on your own, that someone, something — much greater than your self — has your back and that the very fact why you’re a misfit in the world’s equations is because you must surely fit elsewhere.
So if you can’t read the book you want, you gotta write it. If you can’t find your Wonderland, you have to build it. There is no other way. You are your way, your truth and your life. You’re not a victim, not even a survivor. You’re a creator.
As George Bernard Shaw, my badass wisdom grandpa put it:
2. Respect yourself. Loving yourself falls short sometimes.
Self-love has turned into a watery word and a pink-ribboned cliche. Self-respect is the new black. It basically means, man up and get a new pair of life cojones, because whatever you’re creating starts with yourself, which turns you into your most important asset and also, most dangerous liability.
Respect yourself enough to demand what you believe you deserve — whether this applies to money, attitude, dreams, desires, needs, people… This lesson didn’t click for me until recently, when I realized that I didn’t really get what I wanted, but what I deeply believed I deserved — and that was a scary and humiliating movie to watch. But I forced myself to sit through it and then I did some mind/heart surgery, and it still hurts and I’m still paying hospital bills.
The thing is, no-body and no-thing owns you. I’m not sure who founded you but you sure as hell are the CEO of your life. Don’t expect someone else to save you, set your boundaries for you, clean up your mess or magically fix your life. Not gonna happen. Nobody else can, even if someone wanted to. You are the only one who has the key and is the door to You.
So reorganize your headquarters, start taking charge of your life’s business and realign your heart’s compass so that what you deeply believe you deserve matches what you want and actively seek — and vice versa. It’s all one.
The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first. (Jim Morrison)
3. Love is not a four-lettered word (Goddammit!).
For a long time I thought it was, and not just four, but black or white, odd or even, hot or cold, wet or dry. But our hearts are polyglots. We speak 100 languages inside, but we can’t rationally understand 99.9 of them. And just like life, love is an art, and we haven’t really been taught how to love, have we? Most of us have never even had a glimpse of what a healthy and life-giving (not life-taking) love looks like.
It’s almost funny that in school we were forced to memorize the names of our presidents and both their wives and mistresses; forced to remember the exact dates of international mass murders and to respect and fear the murderers, or to learn every detail about how the 1% has decided at one point or another in history, to just steal, conquer and divide 99% of our natural resources and enslave our humanity, while we were / are still forced to watch and seduced into accepting — yet not even one course or two on love or life or nourishment? C’mon Humanity, you can do better than that.
Are we expected to just know that, as Rainer Maria Rilke put it,
For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.
Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true. (Viktor Frankl)
And oh my god, Amelia Earhart, this!
Please let us not interfere with the other’s work or play, nor let the world see our private joys or disagreements. In this connection I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself, now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinements of even an attractive cage.
New Article Idea: How to unlearn our made-in-Hollywood cocktail idea of love and replace it with what love
is might be… does-anybody-know?
4. Play harder. Work smarter. Be here. Don’t quiet your inner child.
I’ve been working for a few years now like an insane, anxiety-possessed, robot alien zombie — based on the false belief that life is hard, that you must kill yourself first in order to then (someday) live, that everything is in opposition and this is revolution, baby, that you should starve your heart to run a little faster. And this does get things done, but wrong, wrong, wrong!
In all this paradoxical death race for life, I think I’ve lost the wonder, Rango* — or part of it, at least. She’s walked out of my heart without a warning, quietly, softly, non-intrusive, tip-toeing like a summer wind — just as she’d first come in. And now my feet are cold and I can’t tell the tweeting from the bird.
So at the cost of this loss, I’ve learned that the journey is the destination, the medium is the message and your means determine your end. And that you have to stop and smell the flowers, get licked by all the dogs, and hug the people even when they stink. Open your windows, leave the doors unlocked.
Don’t wait until your deathbed to enjoy the life unlived and to regret the things unsaid — tomorrow or fifty years from now, nobody’s safe. Say them now. Do them now. Be them now. And who knows, maybe Now is how you live forever.
5. Let go of control. (Or, why you should stop being a neurotic, stressed-out little psycho.)
The need to control comes from insecurity about your own power and the feeble connection you sense you have with the rest of the universe, nature, people, circumstances… You don’t trust yourself, so, as a result, you can’t trust anyone, anything else. And this lack of trust is rooted in the belief that you are not enough.
Part of you knows that you are and is aware of all your potential, but it has been conditioned by years of inherited self-flagellation through family, culture, religion, society, media, friends, institutions (you name it) to believe the opposite. There is a repetitive collective attack on our hearts, trying to convince us that we’re not enough, that we need more of what is outside of us: things, people, sensations, situations, in order to be more complete and more ourselves.
But see, you are enough. You’ve always been. It’s mathematically impossible to be any more or less than enough, than right here and right now and just you. There’s a soft surrender in understanding that you don’t need anything — not money, fame, power, things, not even “love”… because you already ARE these things, feelings, people, sensations, pure life and potential — waiting to happen. Separating our selves from what we desire and/or think we “need” is an illusion.
What we want is an extension of what we already are in a dimension that is not yet materialized. Otherwise we wouldn’t desire it. When we desire something, we echo what we already see with the eyes of the heart. So if we can see it… it must already exist in some dimension. Wanting “it” is the necessary step to bring it into existence.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson, my free and dead-but-more-alive-than-me Life Coach, would like to add,
There is nothing capricious in nature and the implanting of a desire indicates that its gratification is in the constitution of the creature that feels it.
So when you live isolated from your desires — and from a place of needing rather than being, you stop trusting yourself. This generates insecurity and an overall distrust in the life around you, and as a result you try to force this life into happening the way you think it must, not one deviation, one heartbeat, not one comma…
To ease your fear of the dark, you sort of punch life in the stomach before it punches you and so you interrupt the natural flow and alignment of things, people, circumstances and events that the Universe would naturally deliver to you, if you just let it do its job.
If you want your mind to blow up a little further, with the wonder of this realization, give Alan Watts 3 magical minutes to explain it to you:
So, what are your top 5 evolutionary two steps forward, one step back advancements lately, Dear Human?
I’d love to hear. If not, at least have some tea with yourself and jot them down in your journal. It will give you a greater perspective of your own unique evolution and sense of purpose, and maybe add an extra shade of epic to your adventure with life.
As Anaïs Nin so beautifully put it,
We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.
*Rango: An Imaginary Alien I refer to, on occasion, when in need of extra attention or approval.