2016: WHY THE “WORST YEAR EVER” WAS THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE SO FAR
The first portion of this post will focus on the more tangible aspects of my year in review; the external.
The second will focus on the more abstract portions that I’ve been wrestling with in the depths of my consciousness; the internal.
I’ll begin by stating the obvious. The general consensus of 2016 is that it has been the worst year in recent memory. The highlights of the year include, but are not limited to: an insane amount of untimely beloved celebrity deaths, Brexit, Standing Rock, fake news, Trump, Harambe and the ongoing War in the eastern hemisphere.
I have no intention on writing in detail on any of these topics, but I did want to highlight the fact that without darkness there can be no light. This post will focus primarily on the light side of 2016, from the only topic I have the authority to write on, my own perspective.
Let’s begin with some quick esoteric information to get us started, shall we?
According to numerology, 2016 was destined to be a “bad” or completion year. Luckily after every ending comes a new beginning and I carry a strong belief that 2017 is destined to yield drastic change. 2017 bids us all to start something brand new, something that expresses our uniqueness, that uses our leadership abilities, that opens us to new perspectives. It is a time to think and act independently. It’s also a year to put our leadership abilities and unique talents to use in the greater world, to practice cooperating without losing individuality.
In short, some “bad” shit needs to happen before we can begin anew. What greater catalyst than adversity to push us out of our comfort zones in order to promote personal growth?
That was exactly how my 2016 started.
Just over one year ago from today, the plan that originally brought me to Mexico completely fell apart and I felt more lost than I have ever been in my life. My 3+ year relationship had ended, I had no job, no place that I felt like I could call my home and I was in a foreign country where I was in no way fluent in the language.
So… what did I do?
I took some time to myself and fell back on my life’s constants in order to get in the right mental space to move forward. Some of these included yoga, meditation, reading, writing, swimming in the ocean and of course… mindful consumption of alcohol. What can I say, old habits die hard.
Once I was in a better emotional mindset, I began devising a plan for the remaining 3 months left on my tourist Visa in Mexico. I hopped on a bus to Guadalajara where I found a work-exchange opportunity through HelpX at The Roof Backpackers Hostel where I could work a couple hours a day in exchange for a place to sleep, breakfast and use of all facilities. I used my spare time to do more research and begin some SEO consulting work. Surprisingly, the right clients came to me naturally and I gave them the best possible service I could offer.
One notable client being Discover Magic Places.
Two days after roughly 240 hours of silence and 100 hours of meditating, my next stop was The Sanctuary in Puerto Escondido. Little did I know at the time that I’d become the general manager of this incredible place and that it would become my home for the next six months. When it comes to describing my time at the Sanctuary, it can be best summed up by saying this: Managing, living in and experiencing the spiritual/vegan/yogi lifestyle all the while interacting with people from all over the world that chose to come there, each for their own reasons, was one of the greatest gifts and lessons I have received in this life.
Only a few days before leaving Mexico, I came across one of the final people I was destined to meet during my time there. This person facilitated a DMT ceremony for myself and one of my old Sanctuary co-workers, Cristina, and it was by far one of the most profound experiences I’ve ever had, if not THE most.
This was the reset button I have been searching for!
After leaving Mexico, my incredibly talented soul-friend and co-worker from The Sanctuary, Angelica, and I headed to Northern California to trim weed as the timing of the marijuana harvest season aligned with our departure of the Sanctuary. We met our friend and future trim-mate, Uma, in Sacramento only to find that the job we had lined up was being pushed back. Luckily Mount Shasta was close by, so we decided to go camping there until we got the call that work would be starting.
Luckily, this turned out to be one of the most incredibly magical detours of our lives. Feel free to read more about it on my previous blog post HERE if you haven’t already.
Once trimming began, it was clear that the days would be long and the work mostly tedious. The three of us were very fortunate to have such an incredible alchemy and the three months we spent together were some of the most inspirational and educational of our lives. The knowledge exchange, compassion shown and dream sharing between us will prove to be one of the greatest payments any of us could ever receive.
After we parted ways, I went back to New York to visit family and friends. Check out the blog post HERE for more on this trip.
Now in Puerto Rico, I have had the absolute pleasure of ending 2016 and ringing in 2017 with the person who has occupied my thoughts every day for the 5 months we were apart.
I’ve followed my heart almost every step of the way in 2016 and can say with confidence that it has paid off in ways I never could have imagined. Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learned to date is this: Be true to myself and follow my heart so that I may live a life abundant in love and never to give my power away to any person, organization or belief system ever again.
2016 was the year I officially took back my power and I’ve been reaping the benefits of a life well-lived ever since! As Varys from A Song of Ice and Fire, or better known HBO Series Game of Thrones, once explained to everyone’s favorite Imp, Tyron Lannister:
Do I have everything in my life figured out? Absolutely not! Have I made progress in the end goal of truly living a life where I make little distinction between my work and my play?
YES… without question! 2016 was the rebuilding year I was in desperate need of.
Sometimes its the thoughts that keep us up at night that force us out of our comfort zones and grow in ways we never though possible. Below is but a small portion of the internal workings of my mind that have supplied me with the firepower for some of my larger interior mental battles this year.
At the end of 2015, I came face to face with my own self and the stark realization that I did not like or appreciate the way I’ve been treating myself and others in my life. I needed drastic change to correct this… so I took it at every opportunity.
Living through 2016 has given birth to so many internal inquiries, conflicts and wonders. Nothing was as simple as it once was living a more typical, compliant, “normal” & “civilized” way of life. Though what my life lacked in simplicity, it made up for in personal expansion and adventure.
One of the most difficult tasks for me to wrap my arms around is the subject of the truth. Once an individual admits to his or her self that they in fact “know” nothing, it is liberating, yet opens the door to ever more complex quandaries.
To say I really truly believe in anything would be a lie. I TRULY believe in nothing because I know that I know nothing, at least not yet. What I THINK I know, is what I personally experience and integrate first hand. A child “believes” in Santa, the Tooth Fairy & the Easter Bunny if their parents choose to follow the status quo and pass these white lies on to their children. However, as long as the child believes this lie, it is as real as the gifts under the tree, the candy in their basket or the money under their pillow. Belief is a matter of perception and the more we explore this Earth and the incredible people that inhabit her, the better equipped we are to understanding it.
My new reality has me understanding how individuals who have lived most of their lives in the same town, whose only outlet to the rest of the world rests on their wall, connected to fiber optic wires that transmits a well-rehearsed script handed down to them from those who will profit greatly from the fear-based messages broadcasted, are the new weapons of mass destruction and disinformation of the 21st century. It is by carefully critiquing and consciously criticizing this widely accepted way of being that I use as a way to pave the path toward a new way of living for myself.
Those who wander the Earth in steadfast belief that they know all they need to know and have nothing new to learn are, in my personal opinion, one of the greatest dangers to the ever expanding collective consciousness of humanity. You need only look at the past few hundred years of history to see how we as a species, so rooted in our false belief systems, thought the Earth was the center of the solar system and also that it was flat, among many other false-truths.
For too long I’ve blindly accepted all that was presented to me and was rarely encouraged and often scolded when challenging what I was “taught”. Ex-U.S. Army chief of psychology and famed author M. Scott Peck proposed a hypothesis regarding this very conflict I faced in his masterpiece, and my favorite book of all time, The Road Less Traveled. It is his belief that humankind’s original sin was blindly following God’s orders not to eat from the tree of knowledge rather than inquiring as to WHY it was forbidden. In essence, his theory is that our original sin is laziness… something we embrace and celebrate in our society filled with instant gratification & numbing products to distract us from our true feelings.
I see laziness and complacency as two of the greatest hurdles in reaching the goal for peak human evolution.
And why not? We are, in fact, each the creator of our own lives. The choices we make and actions we take create the reality we live in.
It is also his belief that no one is born evil, but rather that people become evil when they attack others rather than face their own failures. One example of this would be Adolph Hitler’s failure as an artist. Imagine how history might have been vastly different if someone gave this guy a hug and bought a couple of his paintings?
It is nothing short of astounding to think how something as simple as our thoughts end up manifesting into our life’s destiny. What better way to take control of one’s own brainwaves than spending time in silence to focus on your breath and bodily sensations for ten hours a day for ten consecutive days.
Vipassana helped me reclaim a big part of my life that I lost after having a stroke that took nearly half my eyesight and temporarily… a good portion of my sanity.
I haven’t really come out of my cave with most people to share that I had a stroke for the simple fact that I don’t want to be seen as a victim. There aren’t many things I hate in this life, but at the top of that list is receiving pity. I hated the face people made when I told them about how I collapsed in an airport in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico back in 2014 because of a blood clot in the left hemisphere of my brain. Moreover, I hated how it affected my mental well-being for so long, thus leading to nearly a year of depression and roughly two months of near-insanity.
Though I was able to reclaim most of myself that I lost, I was still very much in search of guidance. The best advice I received while in silence came the evening of the 5th day when I went to the instructor, Tim Lanning, to inquire about recurring thoughts that were interrupting my practice. I explained to him how my mind kept drifting away as I was worrying about other people in my life who were making decisions that I saw as destructive. He took a moment to think on my inquiry and after a few seconds, reflected something to me that was so simple, yet so profound.
He said this:
An injured person cannot carry another injured person. They need to heal themselves first before they can assist in healing another. If you wish to see this change in others, it first must come from you.
His words, which have proven true time and time again this past year, still resonate in my heart today. I doubt they’ll ever leave.
Healing oneself inevitably leads to assisting others in search of their own personal rehabilitation. It begins with those we are close with; those who reach out to us when they sense a resolute resonance in the words we share when our hearts are cracked open and spilled out for all to behold. Once unimpeded, the mind can’t help but wonder the limits of the heart’s potential to heal.
What holds true for myself and my loved ones, I also believe the same for my country and the rest of the world. Once we step out of our bubbles to the reality of what’s happening around the globe, we see nothing short of a revolution on a global scale. The gap between the takers and leavers, the haves and have-nots has been growing exponentially in recent years. Most of us can feel it to some degree, but continue to press on in our lives because that’s what we’ve been so very well trained to do.
“Keep your head down and be grateful for all you have.” or everyone’s favorite British World War II slogan:
Since kindergarten we’ve been well trained to shut up, not to make too much noise and stick to the status quo. Why would we as a society come to accept this as the way we should be unless it was indoctrinated on us on a massive scale?
Turns out it was… over 100 years ago.
During the education reform of the early 20th century, lead by none other than John D. Rockefeller, Frederick T. Gates, director of charity of the Rockefeller Foundation wrote in The Country School of Tomorrow, Occasional Papers Number 1:
“In our dream we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand. The present educational conventions fade from our minds; and, unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or of science. We are not to raise up among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians. Nor will we cherish even the humbler ambition to raise up from among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, statesmen, of whom we now have ample supply.”
Now roughly a century after this was put into place we’re seeing rapid decline in collective intellect like we’ve never seen before. We are drowning in information and yet starving for knowledge. We are drilled with repetition and told WHAT to think but rarely HOW to think.
One of the heartiest worries I carry with me is the confidence that uninformed uneducated people hold in their steadfast belief systems. I fear those who feel they have nothing new to learn when the world and universe is filled with unanswered questions.
I’ve graduated high school, college and spent ten years in the workforce in one of the most fiercely competitive markets (New York City) and industries (Finance) in the world. I can honestly say that I have learned more in my past year and a half on the road than I have in any other equal time frame in my life.
I now understand very much what Mark Twain meant when he said…
Make no mistake, I am by no means conveying that all information learned from school, news, a career or any other source is not worth taking in. I’m rather saying that I’ve begun looking at all information presented to me as a “truth” with speculation, wonder and curiosity. Not doing so will without a doubt be destined to lead to negative consequences later in life.
I can think of no better example of this than the debacle of the 2016 American presidential election. Having someone weigh in with their opinion on the subject of politics by merely regurgitating the lies, half-truths and propaganda they’ve been spoon-fed by the once highly-regarded mainstream media can only be likened to asking someone for medical advice after they watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
Thought it may not ring true for you, me or many others, like it or not, Donald Trump is a reflection of the collective consciousness of America and is proving to be no less than the red pill being rammed down our throats.
I don’t like saying this, but I am “happy” that he won for the reasons in the video link below.
Fear-based economics and the celebration and profiteering off of war and violence has brought the world to its current state. What better mirror than Donald Trump to reflect to us what we have become and remind us that we are far from a Sane Society. Why wouldn’t he get elected? Doesn’t a large enough portion of our society blindly follow and worship reality TV stars simply for the fact that they are famous?
I believe that as a collective, we are considerately better than this. There was a time in my life where I was deep inside the Matrix and couldn’t see the forest from the trees.
I’ve been living the active change from this old way of being where I had devolved to the point where I became loathe to invite others to share an open and honest space with. I was but a slave to political correctness and a co-creator of my own mental prison that I would habitually retreat to on a daily basis.
Make no mistake, there is no worse prison than the one we fabricate in the depths our own minds. This was the dwelling I constructed for myself where indifference and doubt were the guards and fear was the warden.
The great trick is that the gates to this “prison” are never locked and we are free to leave whenever we choose to. Though of course it’s never that simple. What some see as bondage, others see as security.
It’s almost as if…
Throughout this past year, absolutely NOTHING has worked out exactly the way I had planned, but somehow it has always ended up much better. By living a life where I follow my heart and remove as much negativity as possible, accepting this reality has become easier at every turn.
I have been met with a ton of resistance on the path I have taken over the past couple of years, understandably so given the fact that nobody but myself has any idea about all the inner conflicts constantly waging war within the depths of my consciousness.
Through traveling I’ve discovered more about myself in the past year and a half than I have in my first 32 years of existence. I have come to find that many of us travel in order to find the missing pieces of our heart that are scattered throughout the globe. With every piece we find, we inevitably become more whole.
I deeply value my own personal evolution & involution and my choice to be a free-thinker that challenges any opinion, dogma or “fact” set before me. I prefer to be the engineer of my own life so that wherever it takes me, it will be a result of adhering to the will of my highest self.
Making choices out of love and facing fear head-on strips away the power that we allow fear to hold over us. I now “know” this because I have lived it. I was scared shitless but kept pushing forward until fear’s grip on me weakened to the point where it had no choice but to let go.
Among all the lessons I’ve learned this past year, none has been more valuable than finally learning to listen to my own internal guidance, gut feeling, intuition, higher self or sixth sense… whatever you choose to call it.
I’ve also unlearned a lesson from my life that I started out 2016 by following. Three little words which hold so much power that can be misinterpreted, misunderstood and misleading toward our greater goals in life.
Kill the ego
It’s a ridiculous statement really. If you are to keep yourself, the ego will never “die” because it is a part of you. I now allow my ego to be present with me as long as it passes through these two gatekeepers:
- Does it serve me?
- Does it serve me so that I can, in some way, serve the betterment of humanity and all other living things on the planet?
From the best of our current limited knowledge, humans have lived on earth for about 200,000 years, and in that time we have lived in a vast number of ways. What an incredible experiment that we are lucky enough to take place in as these highly-evolved lab rats who get to run in this never ending maze. Let our cheese be love-driven knowledge and may the mazes be ever more challenging to ensure the continuation of our evolution and involution through consciousness expansion.
Removing duality from my mindset and living a life guided by pure love is the ultimate goal in my time here in this incarnation.
By recognizing what wasn’t serving my highest truth in my life, I started to discover what does work. This in no way means my search is over. I’ve only just begun and cannot wait to see all that is within my conscious and subconscious minds materialize before me.
It’s amazing how when we change the way we think, act and see the world, the people we manifest to enter into our lives also changes.
In 2016 I fell deeply in love… with myself, with life and one of the most incredible women I have ever had the pleasure of being in the presence of.
Now that 2016 has been over for a short while, I find myself already learning new things in this year of new beginnings. The first lessons I have learned thus far is that the more I write, the more honest I become with myself and others. May this ring true for the rest of the year and all years to come.
To those of you who have made it to the end of my longest and most personal blog post yet, thank you. I encourage you to comment, like/share on social media or tag someone who you feel has something to gain from reading this.