Go ahead and close your eyes. Yes, close them and take some breathes in and out. When you're breathing in you're energizing the body and when you breathe out you relax the body and with each breath relax more and more. Now as you're taking breathes what happens? For me what happens is it gives me a magnifying glass of all my thoughts. A girl and deep good friend in Australia once was laying on a pool deck some years ago by a pool, looking out at the sea and exclaimed "There's a lot going on in the world, but there's more happening in my mind." I don't think she's alone. We all have this I do believe. That's what happens to me the moment I close my eyes. There's all these thoughts happening in there. Okay now open your eyes and now seek to be focused. Get onto here for instance and try to write some words down. Can you do it? Likely you can't as your mind wants to be busy. It's struggling for satisfaction. It may persist saying "Perhaps if I get on this video channel and listen to someone else's video this will quench my satisfaction." or often it views the first part of focus as.. "step one... open the refrigerator". Yes I've been there too many times. Our mind is busy and also it wants to be busy. We want instant gratification. We want sex now! We want food now! We want money now! We never have enough and if we have enough we're clutching onto it and hoping some wind doesn't come that blows it all away. Meditation as it turns out isn't really about quieting the mind, but more so, seeing the mind and by seeing I mean wondering where thoughts come from.
The idea for this video started out at around two am on a Friday morning. I did this thing about five months ago where I found this book called "The Five AM Club" by Robin Sharma. I read it through cover to cover or screen to screen because it was really a clicking process rather than me flipping through the pages. In 48 hours it was finished. It was a binge read and then I was inspired to try it and I did it for 90 days straight. I found it was actually easier to get up at 4am most mornings and even one morning I found myself rising at 3am, which was a mistake I think, but at the end I did it. If there was a pencil and piece of paper and box drawn on that piece of paper where I could fill in a check mark I would've done so. There I was at ninety days, feeling accomplished and then my back went out. I think that coincided with a relationship breakup. It wasn't the reaction I was expecting, but as they say "everybody's painting a different picture" aren't they? Where one person might've viewed the sum of the equation as weakness, I saw it as transition, but in fact it was quite a lengthy transition. Most of the winter season I was supposed to be teaching skiing, but instead I grew to be just flexible enough to give massage to other backs, all the while wearing a back brace. I was very blessed to be working with some extremely talented therapists and so work was workable, the giving was full and the season of working another winter in Colorado passed with the majority of my time being spent either massaging, hanging out with cheery co-workers or playing music. I couldn't ski, but at least I could play guitar with my band mates, which was lovely! Music was made in the late hours usually, so I did say goodbye to that possibility of rising at 5am though. Was it a set back? "perspective my dear Watson" I'd have to say. Possibly, the creative edge was calling as supposed to the sharpened edges of my ski equipment? Only time will tell. Towards early spring I was getting back to my athletic self and was able to skin up mountains again. It felt good, but then the situation changed yet again and the world was put in time out. The meditations have been deep, the guitar has been a constant friend and creativity has been at an all time high.
Just recently I was privileged enough to work for the Aspen Skiing Company up in Snow-mass, and one of my coworkers would constantly reply "You live your dreams" to customers that would ask if they could ski a certain way or be a certain way. It was extremely catchy, and I came away wanting to use the phrase myself, and now I'm using it quite frequently with this kids camp that I'm working at over the summer. Yet, I feel there's a deeper lesson here—and one for adults. So often we're looking for our path, and our purpose, and what we're supposed to do in this life. What is the best way that we can help the world, and thus feel the most fulfilled. My good friend and mentor Cynthia Clark recently interviewed life coach Caryn McCurry in her podcast Life Is In Your Hands. In the episode Caryn goes on to explain that one of the main ways to discover your life's purpose and thus ease with success is to dig deep into what brought joy into your life as a child. I encourage everyone to follow this podcast as there is a lot of helpful tidbits, but this one point made a lot of sense to me. It tells us to dig in, and live our wild dreams.
There is the phrase that explains that failure is only good if you learn from your mistakes. To this I must disagree. Failure is good if you get up again. There is no way to not learn something from failure. We have this false illusion that we are in control. Therefore it can actually put you into a worse state if you follow the first way of looking at failure. I can see you sitting there pondering whether... "Did I learn from my mistake this time"? There then comes the battle with your ego and you regret that you did or didn't do something. I know what this is like as I've been there. Thankfully, there is no way not to learn something from failure. My good friend Paul recently opened my eyes to this even more. He has recently thrown in the towel on his business. Over the past few years he started his own company making creative marshmallows and crafting them after the wonderful experience of having S'mores when camping. His company was called Stuff'n Mallows. He told me that when he was interviewed by large companies, the first thing they wanted to know was how many times the entrepreneur had failed. This life is a process of getting up and climbing another mountain. I really go back to the bubble analogy. When I was a child I would sit there and examine bubbles. I would look at them and try to determine when they would pop. I would look into their creamy outline and see the colors swish around. What I noticed was that when the surface became perfectly clear that was the moment in which they popped. Only when they were void of color did this happen. I think in many ways this is a metaphor for life. We're always climbing another mountain in the motivation and delight of becoming a little more pure. Awakening happens when our bubble pops. Struggles will still occur, mountains will still have to be climbed, but our perspective on how we view the next path will not be centered around effort. In this form, the life process becomes effortless. Perhaps we're all bubbles. You could say that we're "slow dancing in a burning room" as John Mayer has told us. It puts a romantic edge to the process of life, but I'm going with bubbles today. So go examine a bubble for yourself. Let me know what you think. Color is the spice of life itself. It can tell so much about us. Sound is color, I feel. It's that realization that the presence of those difficulties and hoops and swings is what makes the juice worth the squeeze. I'm imagining watermelon juice, but you can choose lemon or orange if you so desire. The world is your oyster.
When I arrived in Japan the summer was turning late again. My Daihatsu Move was still waiting in a parking lot with its bright white finish as though I had never left. The ride from Osaka Airport was smooth. It occurred to me that the last time I had flown into Osaka Airport I had been in middle school and it had been the start of my first glimpse into Japan. I had become aware at that moment in 2011 that some giant wheel in a far off room had clicked left one notch to signal a new beginning when I again found myself landing in the peculiar yet familiar Osaka Airport. For anyone who has never flown into this airport before it is sure to be a surprise as the airport is completely surrounded by the sea. As the plane approaches one may have the exhilarating and perhaps uneasy sensation that the plane will be landing on water as at the last minute a small landing strip appears out of nowhere and in an instant the plane touches down on a solid tarmac. I was able to take a train to the residence where my car had been parked. It was sitting in the same place where I had left it as though it had known that I was coming back. I started up the engine and headed north. I don't think Daniel was in the area. He was the teacher that had opened his residence to me and many other teachers months before. I wanted to thank him and express my gratefulness for his hospitality. Sometimes moments cannot be fulfilled all at one time. With this thought and wonderment I pulled out of the parking lot and prepared for the next leap.
What I remember about Yamagata Prefecture the first time I drove into it was its striking resemblance to the appearance of its sister city of Boulder, Colorado in the USA. I knew Boulder well as it was where I went to college. It was while visiting Boulder three months previous to when I first peered into the valley of Yamagata that I first learned about Yamagata's relationship with Boulder. It was the late summer of 2011 when I drove my Daihatsu Move into the valley of Yamagata City. It had been a whirlwind of a summer. Just five months previous to that moment I had realized that my teaching time in Fukushima Prefecture was over. A nearby melted nuclear plant had sealed that fate. It had been triggered by a wave. It was a wave that took out one-third of the town where I had been teaching in the small coastal, countryside town of Naraha. Luckily, Naraha was a small little town and the third of the town that was removed that day was mostly farming fields. Some houses were lost and some lives were lost, but they were small in comparison to further north. I already wrote about this day. It's in one of those previous writings. So you can find it there. Life is so short and fragile, I learned that day.