#125 – Redefining the Ego

cat with ego looking into mirror and showing lion
Depiction showing ego as not always bad

Understanding the Ego: What Is It, Where Is It, and Does It Exist?

The ego is our sense of self-importance. It gives us our personal identity and serves as a compass for how we perceive and interact with the world. While the ego is an integral part of our psyche, misconceptions about it are common.

The ego is not a tangible entity but rather a psychological construct. It consists of the myriad of things that have entered our lives without our consent, including our religion, culture, and even political beliefs, to name a few.

Unlike a physical organ, the ego doesn’t have a specific location within the body. Instead, it resides in our consciousness and influences our thoughts and behaviors.

Does It Even Exist?

The existence of the ego is a subject of philosophical and psychological debate. Some argue that it’s a fundamental aspect of human nature, while others believe it’s a product of societal conditioning. Regardless, its impact on our lives is undeniable.

It’s common in many circles to view the ego as something terrible that needs to be eradicated. When anger or other negative emotions arise, the tendency is to blame the ego. But is this perspective justified? It may be our most challenging adversary, but it’s also our closest ally. It has been responsible for many of the world’s atrocities, but also its innovations. Our ego accompanies us, influencing our reactions in challenging situations. It can both hinder and motivate us.

For instance, it’s what got me up early this morning to go for a run, and it’s also the same voice that desperately wants to stay in bed. It acts as a shield that protects us but can also betray us by leading us into despair or guiding us to hope.

Embracing the Ego: Gateway to Life’s Experience

Instead of demonizing the ego, consider embracing it as the gateway to the experience of life. Without it, our existence would be incomplete. The ego is a complex and multifaceted aspect of our being, and understanding it can lead to greater self-awareness and personal growth.

In conclusion, the ego is an integral part of our identity and plays a significant role in our lives. By redefining our perception of the ego and acknowledging its complexity, we can better navigate the journey of self-understanding and personal development.

With love,

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# 124 – A Journey of Taste and Tragedy: Unveiling the Stories Behind Iconic Foods

On August 24th, 79 AD, the city of Pompeii, Italy was destroyed by the violent volcanic eruptions by Mount Vesuvius. 

The city of Herculaneum, which is about 11 miles from Pompeii is a popular tourist attraction and a place where nearly 300 bodies are preserved due to the ash that blanketed the city. 

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#123 – Keanu Reeves: Wisdom and Insights on Life, Love, and Presence

Stephen Colbert once asked Keanu Reeves, “What do you think happens when we die?” Keanu responded with, “I know that the ones who love us will miss us.” In this article, we delve into Keanu Reeves’ profound words and how they resonate with life, love, and presence.

There is a type of magnetism that world leaders, artists, successful entrepreneurs, and athletes embody. Many find themselves attracted to these figures because they embark on endeavors where they are able to tap into flow states of presence and mystify the masses with their craft.

These figures garner attention from the world and are adored. Some enjoy the limelight that comes with fame and prestige. I imagine the feeling akin to a heroin-like addiction where praise and attention become their own type of opioid.

There are a handful of people in the limelight that I look up to. Keanu Reeves is one such figure. If I ever get the opportunity to talk to him, I won’t be rushing for an autograph or a picture. I’ll just say thank you and here’s why.

Wisdom from Keanu Reeves

On Death

“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after-thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.”

It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of everyday life. It’s easy to forget that this trip will end soon. Knowing that I will not be here forever has quickly taken the weight of past baggage off of my saddles. It’s allowed me to gallop with more freedom. The destination doesn’t matter as much. I don’t take myself seriously because the idea of myself isn’t set in stone. It’s shaped by experiences, knowledge, and love that I’ve given and received from others.

On Tragedy

“So, in the end, I think we can all pretty well agree that even in the face of tragedy, a stellar person can thrive. No matter what’s going on in your life, you can overcome it! Life is worth living.”

There is no escape from life’s inevitable struggle with suffering. When my wife got ill, it turned our life upside down. We sold our home in an area that we both loved. At the height of my her illness, my mother passed away. Tragedy finds us all. However, in hindsight, I’ve always looked at every situation, be it good or bad, as an opportunity for growth. It’s allowed me to live more fearlessly. Life is the classroom, and the experiences are the teachers. I always carry this sentiment with me wherever I go.

On Presence

“Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget to take the time out to enjoy the beauty in life. It’s like we’re zombies. Look up and take your headphones out. Say hi to someone you see and maybe give a hug to someone who looks like they’re hurting.”

A few days ago I teared up looking at a young woman feeding and wiping her grandmother’s face because she had Parkinson’s. At that moment, my heart was filled with happiness.

On Kindness

“We are humans on a rock floating through space with a finite amount of time. So take that into account — how we treat ourselves, how we treat others and we are all in this together. Be excellent to each other!”

I know I’m insignificant. I hate to burst your bubble, but you are too, but it’s okay. We are trapped on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam as Carl Sagan once said. Knowing that everything we love will one day perish is a crazy predicament. It’s like we are all on the edge of a cliff and waiting to be pushed by some unknowable force, and none of us really know for certain where we’re gonna end up. For that reason, and that reason alone, it’s been my daily intention to be kind.

On Challenging Relationships

“Sometimes enemies are our best teachers; people can learn from their mistakes; destruction sometimes means rebirth.”

My biggest teachers in life have been those that I’ve had challenging relationships with. I don’t hold grudges and forgive faster than the speed of light because every single person is trying to find their tiny sanctuary of happiness. If wise, when others hurt us, we are able to shed our old skin and emerge only to transform into something new. Jiddu Krishnamurti put it beautifully when he said, “The fact is that life is like the river: endlessly moving on, ever seeking, exploring, pushing, overflowing its banks, penetrating every crevice with its water.”

On Substance

“I dream of a day where I walk down the street & hear people talk about morality, sustainability & philosophy instead of the Kardashians.”

There is lots of noise in the world. We are pulled into so many directions daily. We are asked to care about so many things that we don’t have control over. As I grow older, there is a dramatic shift on how I engage with the world around me. The words we we say matter and because they do, I’m careful what comes out because the things we think become our reality.

On Love

“If you don’t fight for your love, what kind of love do you have?”

Everything beautiful in life comes with sacrifice. The struggle is what makes love worthwhile.

On Vulnerability

“I wear my heart on my sleeve and that can hurt. To be vulnerable is an enriching way to live, but when it goes wrong it can be agonizing. But if you don’t open your heart to people, you end up being excluded from the rest of the world.”

When showing true vulnerability, I am able to cut through the brick walls people put up, and break them so I can see their true nature. Vulnerability adds richness to life. When I share my wounds with others, they may do the same, and when they do, we realize we are in this together.

I hope you found value in this post. Until next time.

With love,

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#122 – Two Monks and a Woman — A Story About Past Baggage and Why You Need to Let That S*** Go

There are many Buddhist Stories that teach great lessons, and this is a rendition of one of them.

It was a beautiful late spring day in the countryside. The plentiful cascading hills created comfort for our eyes. The sun was slowly setting and the subtle hues of red and yellow met with the sky.

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#121 – 5 Navy Seal Sayings That I’ve Adopted Into My Life. If You Value Unfiltered Honesty, Proceed.

“From the time you take your first breath, you become eligible to die. You also become eligible to find your greatness and become the one warrior” David Goggins

Ever since I first heard former Navy Seal, David Goggins on Joe Rogan’s podcast, I’ve been a fan of his philosophy. Without truly knowing, his experiences have led him down the path of an almost warrior-type monk-like figure. I will be referencing his words throughout this article.

“The Buddha famously said that life is suffering. I’m not a Buddhist, but I know what he meant and so do you. To exist in this world, we must contend with humiliation, broken dreams, sadness, and loss. That’s just nature. Each specific life comes with its own personalized portion of pain. It’s coming for you. You can’t stop it. And you know it.” – David Goggins

His book, Can’t Hurt Me has left a profound impact on me. His story is one of extreme hardship, struggle, and vulnerability. His philosophy is about taking total accountability for your life and being honest with yourself.

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#120 – Heyoka and the Power of Being Weird

Phil Jackson. This picture was taken from The Last Dance Documentary

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” ― Dr. Seuss

The Zen Master

Phil Jackson is arguably one of the most iconic and respected coaches in professional team sports. 

He not only led the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers to a combined 11 NBA championships, but he also won 2 chips as a contributing player for the 70′ and 73′ New York Knicks. 

His style of coaching was unorthodox, to say the least. He incorporated Eastern and Native American philosophies into his leadership repertoire. He’s been touted as the “Zen Master.”

Tai chi, meditation, lighting up sage to ward off evil energy, and having teams practice without the ball weren’t uncommon techniques under his coaching. 

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#119 – A Short Story on Empathy and Compassion

Meli and I on the road. Our destination has yet to be determined.

“Compassion is the basis of morality.”― Arthur Schopenhauer

What is Empathy

Empathy means to have the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. 

Although empathy is a beautiful feeling to convey, it has broken me. I would feel the pain of another, to such a degree that I would make it mine. 

This pain would manifest itself in anxiety, fear, and worry. 

I would live in this pain, even long after the pain wasn’t needed anymore. It was a type of self-deprecating torture of the mind.

Like many, my life has been wrapped around heartache and as someone who has been empathetic without trying, it has taken a toll on my soul. 

As with the years, wisdom grows. However, the turbulent waters only become calm if one is steadfast in understanding the self. 

A Story on Empathy

To take parlance from the Dali-lama, there is a story of a young man caught between a few boulders who is suffocating. A stranger sees that he’s in trouble, so he practices empathy and decides to lodge himself between a few boulders too, so he can suffocate as well. 

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#118 – Getting Lost Before Being Found, The Parable of the Prodigal Son, and What I Learned from Guy Ritchie

“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” -T.S Elliot

Gratitude comes to my mind when I think about my life. Like many, I want to make the most of this rare experience. 

In an episode of the Joe Rogan show, critically acclaimed director, Guy Ritchie, who’s well-known for movies like Snatch, The Gentlemen, and Sherlock Holmes, told the biblical story of the Prodigal Son in typical Guy Ritchie fashion. 

Whether it’s finding purpose in our lives or trying to find clarity in our experiences, the parable of the Prodigal Son may give us deeper insights into those unanswered questions that we ask ourselves. 

The Story

The parable begins with three characters. A father and his two sons. In the tale, the younger son demands his portion of his father’s inheritance. His plea is answered, and the father gives him his share of the estate. 

The younger son, being the wild, feral and unruly son he is, becomes a vagabond, travels to a different country, and indulges in every conceivable pleasure until he squanders all his inheritance. 

Down on his luck and in the midst of a famine, he becomes destitute and starts working as a pig farmer. He has a stark revelation when he realizes that the livestock he tends to is eating better than him. 

He travels back to his home country and begs his father to take him back. 

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#117 – Three Stoic Questions to Ask Yourself That Will Help You Find Your Purpose

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it.” — Benjamin Button

Finding purpose with image of time running out
Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

What’s my purpose? I’m sure it’s a question that’s crossed your mind at least once. It crosses my mind to this day. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

While on the search, I’ve done a lot. I worked in account management for a Fortune 100 company, and a Silicon Valley startup. I’ve done freelance work, where I’ve taught myself to make videos and how to write engaging content. I’ve started an eCommerce business creating delicious spices and cooking videos. I’ve even invited strangers to my house, rearranged my apartment like a restaurant, and cooked for them. 

If that’s not enough, I worked for Caviar, delivering meals on my bike when I lived in San Fransisco. It was fun, except when I had to dart across the city which boasts a lengthy seven miles to deliver Thai food at 1 a.m. Needless to say, I have buns of steel. I’ve had so many jobs, you’d think I was Jamaican

I don’t share this to boast. All this experience and I still am no closer to finding my purpose. 

What Is Your Purpose?

Maybe your purpose is seeking purpose and never finding it. Maybe you found your purpose already. If you did, you’re lucky. 

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#116 – Imprisoned by Our Phones – A Story About Technology and How to Use It Mindfully

Technology prison
Image by Ichigo121212 from Pixabay 

A Story About Technology

The cops pulled me over. I knew it was bad, although I didn’t know exactly what I did. It was dusk and the air was restless. The mood of that evening reminded me of the first episode of the Wonder Years when Kevin went for a walk, only to find Winnie in the forest after her brother had just died in Vietnam. Except with this story, there is no comforting end and no Percy Sledge to ease my woes.

Instead of coming to my driver’s side window and reading me my Miranda rights, the cop opened my back door, sat down as if a taxi passenger, and read them. An unusual practice I thought — but who am I to discern protocol at this point.

I was being taken to jail still not knowing what I did. I looked to my passenger side once more as a beckoning call for someone to save me. I could have sworn someone was next to me earlier.

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