The Moth and Me

Occasionally the subways here in Korea capture some riders that don’t belong. In this particular case it happened to be a moth. Fluttering around, gravitating toward the lights, and occasionally bumping into the human passengers, it became clear very quickly that the moth was not wanted on this train. Startled human passengers swiped at him as he flew by, doing the only thing he knew how to do.  Eventually, he made his way down toward me. Understanding quite well how it feels to be an outsider in an unfamiliar place, out of sympathy I felt the need to preserve his life, for in a way he was just like me.

As he landed on the window behind me for a brief moment I cupped my hand, captured him, and placed him in a plastic baggy I had with me. Now I’m sure from his perspective, this seemed like the end – a massive swooshing sound, followed shortly after by a BOOM and darkness. Then all of a sudden, there was this invisible barrier between him and the outside world in which he was so used to being free. But how could he possibly understand the complexity of the situation he was in from his small perspective. I knew that if he flew around much longer he’d eventually be killed. Yet I only knew this because I am a human, and I understand human things. He is a moth, and so he only understands moth things.

Remembering what I know about insects and their attraction to light, I realized that he became more agitated and tried to fly away when I let light in. So instead, I decided to cup my hands around the baggy and let him rest in the darkness for the remainder of our ride together. Ten more minutes passed by until it was my time to get off the subway. I carried him with me for a short while until I found a place I deemed safe enough to let him fly again. At which point, I opened up my hands, the bag, and his world once again. For a moment he scuttled toward the entrance of the bag, then took flight, never to see me again. From his little perspective, he may never know what actually happened to him. He may never know that he evaded certain death on the whim of another creature, unfathomably more complex than he. For the way he sees the world is quite different the I do, and in his limited view there was nothing good about what happened to him. It may merely have seemed like a simple chain of random events, without any meaning at all. But you and I know the real story.

Now for a minute, imagine you are the moth. You flutter your way around in life, gravitating toward things you see as light (good, happy, enjoyable things). One day, unknowingly you flutter into someplace your not supposed to be. Yet, from your small perspective you can’t possible know what you’ve gotten yourself into. Without even knowing it you come inches from death, and continue on your way, fluttering around this place you don’t belong. Then, out of the blue, something terrible happens to you. Sadness and darkness surround you and it seems there’s no way out. After a while, you start to see little bits of light again but for some reason you can’t get there – there’s some invisible barrier blocking you from enjoying those things. More time passes by and suddenly, the barriers go down. As if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, you are back on your way again – fluttering about, free as can be. You see, the chain of events that led to your eventual freedom were orchestrated by an unfathomably more complex and intelligent being than you or me. How could we ever understand such a thing? And yet, the better question may be, do we really need to?

Image

The Maze

A story if I may…

The Maze

The entrance to the maze looked like nothing anyone could have ever described. All along the walls of its initial hallways there were so many brand new things… sounds turned into language… language birthed a self… and that self started out trying to define itself. But you see, that’s the problem. Because it knew instinctually that to define something is to devalue it. And that inherent appreciation for all the wonderful experiences this maze had brought before… elation amidst imagination filled days, deep sadness at the loss of a first toy, pet, and eventually friend. Then the maze takes a sharp curve downward. Everything seems to start moving faster only  to become more confusing. At this point, if that self was still trying to find definition, then wouldn’t that mean that it must have something it wants to be? But to want something is to value it above other things and the problem with that is it goes against what we instinctually know to be true – all things are beautiful in a certain way. That is to say we always knew that everything was meant to be beautiful. As the maze began to take a steeper incline upward, it brought with it experiences of failure and success. Ecstasy followed shortly after by despair. Things other people seemed to value began to confuse us – persuade us even – to believe in their values instead of the ones we knew to be true. Yet once we are persuaded the first time, it leads us down a path with no standard distance. That is to say no, we never really where or how long they will take to find out that those paths are not the way. And yet, that self puts all its energy into climbing the ever steepening incline. The further it tries to climb the steeper it gets until eventually, this poor ol’ self is crawling up it – as long as its energy will last. And when that energy runs out, it sees that giving up on this maze doesn’t really mean giving up all together. Curiously however, at this exact point a tremendous weight is lifted from it’s shoulders. All at once, hanging from this cliff that was once a maze, we realize that we never really needed to enter the maze in the first place. The more we look back on it the more it seems like we made it up all along. We realize that we never needed to ask the question of “Who am I?” in the first place. In fact, the real maze… the one we were perhaps supposed to take all along, was in the other direction. 

 

Is “Business” Inherently Good or Bad?

I often have thought that business is really just socializing with money. By that I mean that businesses form partnerships in much the same way people form relationships. There’s a courting phase in which both sides decide whether the other is worthy, and subsequently go trough phases of either increasing closeness or separation. So with that being said, I’d like to highlight a major difference between the two.

Living in Korea gives me a new perspective on business and economics. Seeing how things work here and comparing them to other countries I have been to provides a wide perspective on business as a whole. These past two years I learned about running my own small business. It was very similar to building a social network of friends, yet a bit more serious. I noticed, however, that the larger the company was, the less personal it became. This seems to be akin to the way getting famous can isolate you from your friends and or make it hard for people to get close to you. When a company gets larger, the stakes are larger too and therefore every decision has greater importance, requires more thought, and since most people are risk-averse, it makes them more cautious as well. The problem with cautiousness (with friends or business) is that it emphasizes the negative consequences over the positive.
Now, speaking of consequences, recently I read an article about how Petco has a room in the back of their stores where sick or unwanted animals are literally left to die. They are not even euthanized at times because that can get expensive when multiplied by the thousands and thousands of unwanted animals across the country. And so, they are often just left to starve. Now as horrible as this seems, business-wise this makes perfect sense. When it comes I business, you must meet or exceed the demand of your customers and minimize expenses so that you can continue prospering and paying your employees so they can feed their families. This makes letting animals die a perfectly acceptable thing. Yet, morally it seems so wrong. Inherently we know that animals share the same life force that we do and therefore don’t deserve this kind of treatment, much the same as the human race learned how terrible it is to enslave people and or euthanize them through our horrific collective past experience. But to go back to the point, this is business were talking about here. And business has no room in it for certain morals. The only morals that become business practices are those that are reinforced by profits and consumer opinions.

So the question I would like to raise with you today is, is business a good or a bad thing? It is the life blood to our advancing economies and therefore lives. But at the same time, it brings out the most ruthless side of humans and causes us to do things we would never do otherwise. Do you think the Petco store manager would let her family dog starve if she wanted to take a month long vacation to Europe? What would you do?

business good or bad?

Meditate Anywhere… In Slow Motion

The word meditation gets thrown around a lot these days. To some it is confusing, to others it is wonderful, and to most it means nothing at all. In the traditional sense of the word, meditation is the practice of clearing the mind. Sitting on a special pillow and burning incense is just one way some people help themselves to clear their mind. But the truth is, you can do it however you want. In the end, clearing your mind is just that… CLEARING your mind.

I think the reason for all the confusion surrounding the word is that most people don’t know how to clear their mind. The problem with this, however, is that it isn’t something you can know how to do. It is the neutral state of the mind, the nonthinking mind. So the error is believing that it was something to figure out. In reality, it requires giving up trying to figure it out to find it.

THE TAKEAWAY: Whenever the time feels right, go for a short walk. It could be around your neighborhood, work, or anywhere for that matter. The location of the walk is not important, but what you do is. While you walk, pretend that everything around you is happening in slow motion.  The birds flap their wings slowly, leaves fall at half the speed, and sounds seem to flow in and out like small waves washing on shore. The key is to give all your attention to EVERY little detail around you. Sometimes, your mind may come in and try to get you to start thinking again. Instead of getting angry with the thought, just let it happen. Then, whenever possible, slowly move your attention back to the things around you. At any given moment in our lives there are enough things around us to overwhlem the thinking mind. Even right now while I’m typing this, there are birds chirping outside, wind blowing, people talking, clocks ticking, and lights and shadows shifting all around me. By telling our mind to “watch these things in slow motion,” we trick it into giving all of its energy and attention to the things happening around us. Since all of our attention is used up, there is little left for the thinking mind. Through the practice of meditation, it will start to interrupt less, and more and more you may feel a sense of limitless calm. The more you familiarize yourself with that “calm,” the easier it will be to find your way back when you get a flat tire on the freeway or when you stub your toe. That “calm” is always there, always present. Meditation is just the practice of finding it.

Here is a video I made to help illustrate this blog. Enjoy.

Click to watch a video I made about how to meditate anywhere.

Click to watch a video I made about how to meditate anywhere.

 

That’s All….

What if I told you there was one thing and one thing alone that you would need for every moment the rest of your life. In fact, without this thing nothing you do or say will matter. Everything around you would cease to exist the way it does now. We all depend on it just as much as every other person in the world. And yet, those who have this thing seem to be the least appreciative of it. How could this be? Is it not counterintuitive to say the least?

What is this thing?

Air.

All day every day we are taking from the environment around us without ever really stopping to thank the environment. How rude of us? We aren’t bad people, how could we do such a thing? And yet, relentlessly it gives to us, without ever asking for anything in return. It seems no wonder we have so many environmental issues these days.  Well, today amidst a sunny afternoon walk, it came to me. I realized that the thing our “self” fears the most is seizing to exist. So in order to truly appreciate air we have to recognize that it is just as important to our self as our “ego” is. That is to say that our mind realizes it is equal in importance to air. Upon realizing this it becomes fearful and defensive and instinctually stops the thought. Without even realizing it, we’ve missed a chance to be thankful for a gift.

Most of us don’t even realize we are a bit afraid to admit that we are completely and utterly dependent upon something else, let alone someone else. The same can be said for love as can be air. In fact, the same can be said for everything as can be love and air. We are completely and utterly dependent upon thousands if not millions of things at any given moment in time: water, air, love, human contact, food, shelter, gravitational pull of the sun, warmth from the sun, galactic conditions necessary for sustaining a

solar system to house an atmospheric planet… etc. When was the last time you focused on how thankful you were for all of this? I can honestly say I neglect to do so about 99% of everyday. But during that 1% I always realize how important it is and over time I believe it will grow.

THE TAKEAWAY: I wrote this today to share a beautiful moment I had with you. That’s all.

That's All.

That’s All.

The Mute One and The Deaf One

I honestly can’t tell you how the idea for this blog came to me exactly. It feels like it came from my friend James because we were talking about some deep and interesting things last night, but in reality I can’t say. As soon as the idea came into my head, it felt right. So here it is:

The Mute one and the Deaf one:

For a moment, I’d like you to think about your thoughts. What are they really? Well, we can be sure that sometimes they’re words, sometimes they’re pictures, and sometimes they’re feelings. Well for the sake of this blog, lets think of them just as words. In order for there to be words, there must be a speaker. And in order for there to be one who speaks, there must also be one who listens. Right?

DeafMute

So pretend there are two people in your head, sitting next to each other in equal sized chairs. Only the Deaf one has the ability to talk. So all the “spoken” thoughts you have can be attributed to the deaf one. It does all the talking. The Mute one on the other hand, can’t talk at all. Listening is its greatest skill. As the Deaf one rambles on and on, the Mute one listens intently. So intently in fact that it always hears exactly what the deaf one means, as opposed to what it actually says. “I’m so unhappy right now! I just want this thing I have to do to go away. Ahhhhh!!!!” the Deaf one may say. In which case the Mutes one actually hears, “I am resisting the present situation right now because I’m afraid of uncertainty.” Upon hearing this, it knows that this turmoil could be put to rest if the Deaf one would only embrace uncertainty. For it also knows that only out of uncertainty can creativity thrive. It knows that every painting ever made started with a blank canvas. And yet, there is no way for the Mute one to help the Deaf one. Without the ability to speak, what can there be done?

And so this process goes on, for our entire lives. Then one day, the Deaf one notices the Mute one is there, and voices it, “Wait a minute, you’ve been here all along? You’ve been listening this whole entire time?!? Wow, you must have all the answers to my questions… Do you? Oh gosh I hope you do. I’ve been struggling for so long, everyday in fact. I just want to know the answers to my questions!!! Please can you help me? What do I need to do? Can you answer all my questions for me?” In response, the Mute one smiles from ear to ear, and simply says nothing.

A thick silence lingers, like after a heavy rain. And for the first time the Deaf one stops speaking and starts listening. Being Deaf, how could it ever have thought to listen to silence? But there, in that moment, it finally hears what the Mute one has been saying all along. As if telepathically, the Deaf one all at once understands the answer to all of its questions. The whole time, the one place it never looked was behind the question itself. The way to answer all the unanswerable questions is to never ask the question in the first place. For the first time, they sit in peace, together. Over time, they form a stronger bond, learning to communicate despite their disabilities. Soon they realize they are partners in this life and begin working together. When stress arises, they tackle it together. When negativity creeps in, they work to turn it into positive and therefore neutralize it. And when wonderful, beautiful things happen, together they revel in the silence.

THE TAKEAWAY: I wrote this blog this way to illustrate the relationships between the thoughts we have and how to make sense of them. Everyone thinks differently, but in essence, we all have had the experiences of these internal battles. Often we don’t even recognize that they are happening. And so we have no idea why we feel the way we do. It has been said that traveling can be a catalyst for understanding these battles. “In losing yourself, you find your self.” Well the “self” that you lose is the Deaf one. When we are traveling in a new place, we are in utter awe of everything we see. We can’t apply labels to everything and assume it is something we already know. Everything is so new we are speechless. And so we are forced to listen and observe. This is the “self” that is found. This is the Mute one. However, upon returning from that trip, we often lose sight of what we’ve found. We go back to our routines, complain, and find fault in ourselves and others. The Deaf one turns up the chatter and the more talking we do, the less room there is for listening. We get so caught up in what we’re doing that we forget about  being.

Remember, we are human beings, not human doings.
So be it.

Life is the Class, Love is the Lesson

Now this is going to sound kinda corny but I saw a bumper sticker this morning that inspired me to write about it. It read, “Life’s the class, love is the lesson.” Sitting there at that red light for two minutes I all of a sudden felt like waving to the person in their mirror to tell them I agreed. Mind you, I am usually not a big fan of bumper stickers. I often try my hardest NOT to read them actually. So by the time I had gathered the courage to actually get their attention, the light was green and we were moving again. Feeling like I had missed a clear signal from the Universe telling me to make that person’s day, I instead thought that I would write a little anecdote about it here: 

Now imagine you are in a classroom. Sitting there in a chair that’s a little uncomfortable, you look around at the walls and see art projects and pictures hanging everywhere. In the front of the classroom there’s a chalkboard virtually covered in chalk dust, yet with no distinguishable marks. On your desk in front of you is a notebook, and in that notebook everything you have ever thought about your “self” is written down. It contains every want you ever expressed, every personality trait you thought you had, everything you’ve ever gotten mad at yourself for… all of it. Now underneath that notebook is your desk. It has a wooden feel to it, and it’s almost as if has been there forever like the trees from which it came. As you look closer, you notice it is scratched up around the edges, clearly showing its age. Inside the desk are all the things you tried to hold onto in your life, all your attachments. Every teddy bear, dog, or gold watch you ever owned is in there. Even some of your friends, people you dated, and past bosses are in there. All the things you have ever worked hard to keep close to you are stored inside that desk.

**Knock Knock** “Uh oh, time to sit up straight! The Professor is here,” you hear someone say behind you as shhhhhh’s fill the air. Slowly the Professor prepares for class by carefully placing everything on the podium. The first thing out of the bag is a rubber chicken, the second, a soft red pillow in the shape of a heart, and the third, a rubber ball. After they are neatly positioned on the podium, the Professor speaks:

“As I’m suuurrreeeee you all remember Class, our last lesson was about humor, represented here by this rubber chicken.  And next week’s lesson is to be about play, as represented here by this ball. Now for today’s lesson, I brought this heart pillow. And rather than let you all keep guessing for an eternity, I’ll be gracious and just tell you exactly why I brought it today.” You begin to fixate on the pillow, admiring its texture, as the Professor drones on for a bit. The surface of the pillow has a soft yet welcoming sheen to it. It almost seems as if you could see your reflection in it if you really got up close. And then, just as your day dream seems to get interesting, the Professor tosses the heart shape pillow right at you. It bounces off your chest and onto the ground beside you. Then the Professor speaks again, “Did you hear anything I just said young one? Or were you distracted by the love pillow’s shiny surface? You see, today’s lesson is love. From a far, it will always appear shiny and inviting. But its true value is experienced when you embrace it. Here you go. Give it a squeeze. Can you see how it makes you want to hug it, tighter and tighter? It almost seems as if the harder you squeeze, the more love you feel. Right? Well, that’s the thing about love. All that love you feel for others is also inside you. In order for another to love you back, you must have love to first give them. Love is recognizing that that which is in you is also within them. That’s all for today’s lesson.” The Professor paused for a moment after finishing, as if something was missing. Then, instead gathered everything up again and exited through the rear of the classroom.

After the Professor is gone, you glance down at the notebook before you. For some reason looking back through its pages, those thoughts of “you” don’t seem to carry the same weight anymore. Those things inside your desk? Do they seem different too?

Love pillow

 

THE TAKEAWAY: So I wrote this sort of abstract anecdote as a way of taking a situation we are all familiar with and throwing in some philosophy. I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any thoughts you’d like to share please do!

We All Know Nothing is Perfect, but….

You have a project your supposed to do and you spend HOURS AND HOURS on it. You continue to revise, improve, fix, and slave over it. When its “done” you step away and all of a sudden realize 14 other things about it that still need to be fixed. Ever been in this situation? I sure have, and when ever I have been faced with it I usually settle down and remind myself, “Hey, nothings perfect.” Well, that is precisely the wisdom I would like to expand upon today.

If you have the desire to be perfect (or near it) in whatever you do, and you know that nothing is perfect, then why not be nothing? Maybe that seems strange to think about or for some reason it doesn’t click right away. But when you think about it, it is actually quite simple. If you’re anything like me, a bit of a perfectionist sometimes, then its likely that when you set out to accomplish a goal or task, you structure your action so that you can finish as close to “perfect” as possible. So in your mind, you believe that creating a perfect outcome will then project onto who you are. However, if I followed that logic, it would seem that because I am able to write these blogs about complex things, I must be perfect in how I execute them in my life. Well I hate to break it to you, that’s actually dead wrong.

Which leads me to the crux of this topic: That very discrepancy, between the things I write here and how I apply them in my life, is actually a manifestation of the “nothing” mindset. To reiterate, I saw that no matter how well I can put advice into words, I still make those very same mistakes, even after the fact. Earlier in my life, I wanted to be perfect at everything I did – and failed at it relentlessly. In essence, wanting to be perfect is equivalent to living in constant failure. So why not do the opposite? If you want to be ________ (read: nothing) then there is no failure. And if there is no failure then all that remains is success.

eye am nothing

 

THE TAKEAWAY: This may be hard to wrap your head around, and it obviously has been for me since it has taken me my entire life thus far to put into words, let alone practice. But it really is as simple as this: if we view thoughts as tools, then having the thought “I am nothing” can function as a way of creating the resulting mindset of permanent and constant success. Think about the person who runs a dog rehabilitation clinic in a small town and loves every minute of it. They probably don’t have the money to travel freely, drive nice cars, motivate masses of people, or experience success in the traditional sense of the word. And yet, because they realize they don’t have to be any of those things (in other words, nothing) they are free to see themselves in their current situation as successful. Success and failure are really one in the same. Steve Jobs will be viewed of by most as a success for his contributions to the technological world. And yet, he will be view by a lesser number of people as a failure for silent conversations at restaurants – iPhones in hand, or for not taking care of his family (he had a daughter out of wedlock with whom he spent very little time with), and the list could go on forever. So I ask that today, throw out your traditional thoughts about being successful. Stop trying to be something you’re not – in fact, stop trying to be something at all. Try being nothing for a change. After all, you really can’t fail? So what do you have to lose?

 

 

 

Your Life is a Reflection of You

Dear you,

As a young boy, I was extremely curious. Everything about the world around me facinated me because there seemed to be a reason for everything. There was a reason for the stop sign on the corner just the way there was a reason for the expiration date on the milk carton. For some reason or another, that made me so excited that I believe, even then, I set out to find all the reasons – the reason for everything.

Fittingly so, I learned to ask a lot of questions. I loved that behind every question, there was an answer too! How cool! All I had to do was connect the dots. And so I set out on my life’s adventure trying to connect all the dots. Well… a few days ago, I finally stopped trying; not out of exhaustion or frustration, but out of peace. That peace, is what I wanted to give you today.

Everything happens for a reason… right?

Not really.

Everything happens for many reasons. Which reason you see depends on you.

Every event in our lives thus far has had many many reasons for why it happened. I got into a car accident when I was 17 in which my younger brother and I could easily have died. I still remember the resistance of the steering wheel as it was spinning out of control. I can even remember trying to keep the car on a straight enough path to crash into the divider instead of rolling down the freeway. The car that hit us drove off. Why? Maybe the driver was taking his wife to the hospital and wasn’t thinking. Maybe he had just ended a 30 year marriage, couldn’t stand to deal with another traumatic thing, and so made the choice to drive off. Or, to pose another question, why did I survive? Maybe it’s so that I could meet my current girlfriend and one day have a child who is going to be the first president of the moon. Maybe its so that some child somewhere could see me playing basketball and decide to spend their life playing it too. Or maybe I survived so that the next day, when the man who hit us checked the newspaper, he would see that no one had actually died and he could go on living a life of service to others. One person survives, another serves…..

THE TAKEAWAY:

There are literally millions of reasons I survived – one of which you are reading right now. So which one is the real reason? Well, the answer is they all are. The only thing that is different is the person looking at the reason. We see whatever we want to see. And since wants come from inside of us, all we ever see is a reflection of what is already there. Although that may be scary or overwhelming at times, as long as that wisdom is inside you, you will always have all the answers you ever need. To those of you who read this, thank you for reading these blogs and listening to me. In doing so you have helped me to see into myself. You have helped me to see who I really am.

With great appreciation,

Chad

If we can only see what is already within us, the more you have inside of you the more you can see in others.

If we can only see what is already within us, the more you have inside of you the more you can see in others.