“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.
“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.
“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 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.
“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
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.
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.
The past is a story. It doesn’t exist anymore, yet the basis for a lot of mental issues is derived from stories of yesterday. We willingly and unconsciously conjure up these stories again and again.
Why do we do this?
Why do unfavorable circumstances hold so much precedence in our lives today?
In my personal experience, it has stemmed from childhood. I observed those close to me inflict venom on each other by using their past missteps against each other. It was as if they were spewing batons of mental weapons of mass destruction.
Petty arguments created avalanche-like mounds of force in the form of mental and physical abuse, with the aim of crushing one another. I was young, naive, and an observer when this battle of egos was taking place. However, I still had the capacity and know-how to understand that this wasn’t normal. How I was able to understand this as a child is beyond me because I was at an impressionable age as we all are when in our youth.
I could have easily fallen down the pit of addiction, victimization, and other mental health issues that plague more and more people today. However, immersing myself in philosophy, understanding human psychology, taking care of my body, being mindful of what I eat, and observing my mind have been impeccable tools for growth.
I talk about this openly because I want to help others find peace with their past. It has been an arduous and ongoing process, but one that I am grateful for because it’s teaching me how to understand myself better. This is a constant process. The self is like a plant. It needs constant nurturing if it’s going to grow.
I bring up my past story today because humans have an extraordinary ability to recall hurtful past events that have left psychological wounds but will still have a hard time finding their keys. Feelings that have caused mental anguish, leave a pathless wound. If not resolved, these wounds keep us lost and we keep re-counting them over and over again.
The past limits us from attaining our true potential. It inhibits us from seeing the beauty of the world. It causes us to ignore the fact that each day is a life gone, like a single petal falling from a rose.
I’ve been mindful and cognizant of how I let the past into my present. With day-to-day tasks, memory is a useful ally, but when those memories are obstructing my present perception, I am able to decipher the issue and get myself back into a place where I am enjoying the only moment we will ever have.
The commentaries below are ways that I have made peace with my past and the steps I’ve made towards moving forward. Also, it’s important to note that I am a work in progress. I come back to these lessons time and time again.
Self-improvement is an ongoing task. At the same time, it’s worthwhile because living a pleasant life full of joy is a responsibility we owe to ourselves.
I first heard about Morning Pages from Julia Cameron, an American teacher, author, artist, poet, playwright, novelist, filmmaker, pigeon fancier, composer, and journalist. Needless to say, she’s a BAD-ASS, a term I grew up with, used to describe someone that is amazing at what they do.
She was also married to Martin Scorsese, who happens to be the director of one of my all-time favorites movies, Goodfellas (RIP Ray Liotta).
Julia Cameron describes morning pages as spiritual windshield wipers. She said morning pages should be spelled mourning pages. It’s a farewell to life as it was, and an introduction to life as it needs to be.
Morning pages is a writing exercise to conduct first thing in the morning.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” ~ Mark Twain
When I first heard this beautiful quote my heart skipped a beat, goosebumps arose throughout my body and my eyes began to tear up. Twain tells us that even when the heel of a foot crushes the violet flower, it still permeates its sweet fragrance.
Learning how to forgive yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself in this lifetime. If you have experienced hurt and are able to forgive others and yourself, you soon come to realize that no one can take anything from you, rather in every interaction you give someone something to remember you by.
Before learning how to forgive yourself, you must understand why we forgive.
“There are no obstacles on the path, the obstacles are the path.” — Zen Proverb
One upon a time lived an old farmer who had worked on his crops for many years. He was considered wealthy because he had a horse to plow his land in a village where many didn’t.
One day, his only horse ran off. When the villagers heard this, they rushed to his home to express their sympathy. “What a terrible thing” they lamented. But all the farmer said was: “Maybe.”
The next week, his horse returned, leading with it an entire herd of about a dozen horses. The villagers rushed over, exclaiming at his good fortune: “now you are the wealthiest man in the province”, but all the farmer said was: “Maybe.”