Why Not You?

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My daughter, Kelsi, and I spent some time at dinner looking up famous authors and their net worth. We started with some of our favorites:

  • Elizabeth Gilbert — $25 Million
  • Veronica Roth — $30 Million
  • Nick Hornby — $22 Million
  • John Green — $5 Million
  • Nicholas Sparks — $30 Million

Then we decided to look up the net worth of some of the richest authors we knew of:

  • J.K. Rowling — $1 Billion
  • Paulo Coelho — $500 Million
  • James Patterson — $430 Million
  • Stephen King — $400 Million
  • John Grisham — $275 Million
  • Stephanie Meyer — $125 Million

I suggested to Kelsi these authors are no different than her or me. They took ideas in their heads and put them into a story. People bought their stories, loved them, then their stories were made into movies.

It all started with some simple idea that floated around in their heads until they wrote them down. Oh sure, they had to catch a break and have their first book fall on the right agent’s desk; but if they never finished their first book where would they be?

Along those lines, Kelsi said a quote that stood out to her in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert was: “Done is better than good.”  So we talked about getting our first books out of the way and moving on to what our Muse has for us next. Then I asked Kelsi:

“Why Not You?”

She has five chapters of her story, Finding Me, online with more than 2,300 views and a ton of positive comments. The first chapter alone generated over 1,500 views in just the first couple days.

As Kelsi continues to work on her first book (of many) and as I continue to work on mine, it’s important to remember that every author I mentioned earlier started with a first book. Which reminds me of another favorite quote from Elizabeth Gilbert:

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner–continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you–is a fine art, in and of itself.”

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Do you have any “fine jewels that are hidden within you” to share with the world? Could you be one of the success stories I mention in a future post?

 

Why Not You?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

 

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Every Person We Meet Holds Within Them a Lost Piece of Ourselves

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Every single person we meet seems to hold within them a lost piece of ourselves.

I came across this idea a while ago and some days it really intrigues me and other days it really frustrates me. Let me say it again:

Every single person we meet holds within them a lost piece of ourselves.

Some people give you this lost piece of yourself freely without you even having to ask. These are the friendships that blossom from the start and grow deeper and broader with each encounter. These are the friends bold and brave enough to speak truth into your life. These are the loved ones who know your faults but keep reminding you of your greatness. These are the genuine ones, the real ones, the easy ones.

The reason they are easy is because the key that unlocks that lost piece of yourself you have been missing is LOVE. For your close friends and loved ones, it’s natural and easy. The love flows freely both directions and you help one another unlock lost pieces effortlessly.

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For others, it feels like we have to hire a professional locksmith in order to get to that lost piece of ourselves they hold locked inside. But the mistake we sometimes make is we write someone off too soon. We forget that LOVE is the key to unlocking that lost piece of ourselves.

How many times in your life have you cast someone aside initially only to discover later that you really love and appreciate them? It’s so easy to mentally discard people from our lives.

Maybe they think or believe differently than us.

Maybe they are too liberal or too conservative.

Maybe they cheer for an opposing team.

Maybe they are related to your ex (or maybe they are your ex).

Maybe they cut us off on the highway, stole our parking spot, or forgot to shut their high beams off.

Maybe they are refereeing our child’s game or coaching the other team.

Maybe they subscribe to a different religion or no religion at all.

I want to tell you an important secret: No matter who that other person is, they hold within them a lost piece of yourself. You see, your opinion of them—and your reactions to them—are nothing more than your own projections of yourself.

I have struggled to learn this lesson time after time. I continually forget that my annoyances with the “other” are really undiscovered annoyances with myself. This is a tough pill to swallow when there’s someone I vehemently oppose or despise.

Relationships give us the greatest joy on earth and can cause the deepest sorrow we have ever experienced. There’s no greater example of this than going through a divorce or a serious breakup. Almost every ounce of our energy gets thrust into debasing the other person. We feel so violated and so distraught because the other person held within them the lost piece of ourselves, shared it with us for a while, and then we believe they withheld it again. They then turn into a bastard or a bitch because they knowingly withhold what they once gave freely. It’s their fault! All theirs! We tend to forget we’re also the bastard or bitch that withhold from them as well.

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We also forget that LOVE is the key to unlocking that lost piece of ourselves—not hatred and dissonance.

How would your interactions change with friends, coworkers, family, strangers, acquaintances, and loved ones if you truly grasped this idea?

Every single person we meet holds within them a lost piece of ourselves—LOVE is the key that unlocks it.

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

They Hurt Me!

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We all have our reasons to not like certain people.

They wronged us.

They hurt us.

They are prejudiced, rude, bigoted, selfish, evil, etc.  The list could go on forever and ever.  We see the “other”–the outside–as a reason not to Love.

We are so crafty at this.  Just the thought of merely suggesting that maybe it starts with you has you already forming an argument in your head justifying your actions.

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Let me offer an alternative.

You are Love. You came into existence as a being of Love.  You know no different.  You were Love, you were Life, and you were connected to everything else in the Universe as Love and Life. Along the way you began to believe the lies your loved ones told you about the world.  You began to believe you were not Love and not Life.  You believed that you were somehow separate or lacking in some way.

Your loved ones didn’t lie to you on purpose.  They simply believed the lies their loved ones taught them.  And so it goes.  We are a species with an identity crisis.  We have forgotten who we are.  We have forgotten that we are all Love, we are all Life, and we are all connected.

You may say I’m crazy but humor me and follow this through…..

Pick a person you really don’t care for very much, someone who has upset you recently.  Now consider all the thoughts or words you used against that person telling them all the ways they are wrong:

“They shouldn’t have done that!”

“They should know better!”

“They hurt me on purpose!”

“They are so controlling, manipulative, and disgraceful!”

Every thought or word you have about the other person that is not Love or Life or Unity or Source is a lie you are choosing to believe.

Let’s forget about the other person for a minute and pretend there’s only you.  You are Love.  You are Life. You are Perfection; you always have been and always will be.  If you could just grasp that, all your problems would simply disappear.  You see, the problem is not outside of you.  The problem–until you choose to realize it–is inside your head.  The thoughts you choose to believe as true separate you from Love, Life, Reality.

You have glimpses……..

You believe it for a split second………

You are Love, you are Life, you are Perfect………

It’s beautiful, it’s pure Heaven for just as long as you can stand it until the next untrue thought enters your mind and you choose to believe it.

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Your problem is not external.  Your problem is internal.  You think an untrue thought and then you believe it.  Instead of questioning whether the thought is true or not, you believe it and then ride the wave of your own personal hell.

How do you go about knowing if a thought is true or not? First, you have to know deep in your bones that you are Love and that you are Life.  Then, when you fully grasp you are Love, you hold the thought up to the light of your Love and see if it’s true.

You lack nothing.  In this very moment you are Perfect.  Any thought that doesn’t reflect that is an untrue thought and is sure to create suffering for you if you choose to believe it.

When you fully grasp just how amazing you are, you will see what I mean that it’s all internal.  Let’s suppose you’re a waitress and a rude customer just called you a very bad name because his order was different than what he wanted.  Your response has nothing to do with the angry customer.  Your response has everything to do with your own personal thoughts.  You will no doubt have thoughts–that’s the beauty of living in this world, we’ll always have plenty of chances to question our thoughts.

You may start to defend yourself to this rude customer.  You may not believe you are Love and you are Perfect so you start to grab hold of the lies that are now turning into an avalanche of thoughts inside your head.  If you’re unaware, you will blame this rude customer for all your terrible thoughts and for ruining your night.  You will obsess about all the things you want to say to him and your internal dialogue with him goes on for hours or maybe even days.

“How dare he……”

Let’s consider another approach.  You are Love.  You are Perfect.  His order gets messed up, he’s rude, he says mean things to you.  You walk away and the thoughts come pouring in just the same.  Any thought that is not true causes you great delight.  You even laugh out loud because one of your thoughts tries to convince you that you’re less than Perfection.  Instead of being mad at the rude customer, you have empathy for him.

“Poor guy.  He must be confused.  He must not know I am Love, I am Life, and I am Perfect.  He’s believing thoughts that are untrue and he’s suffering because of it.  I wonder if I could help him see that he is Perfection, too?”

We all have our reasons to not like certain people.

They wronged us.

They hurt us.

You see, the problem is not outside of you.  The problem–until you choose to realize it–is inside your head.

Is it possible for you to truly grasp just how amazing you are?

 

Peace my friends!

 

~Travis

 

Advice for My Dear Friend

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I have a great friend who recently retired and while messaging she mentioned she’s struggling with commitments.  She said, “I can’t seem to make them.  When asked to join bible study, weekly classes, or take on a part time job I just can’t do it.  Perhaps it’s because I was so committed to my job (for over thirty years).  I love grabbing life at the moment and shaking it for all its worth.”

The following is my personal response to my dear friend.

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Dear Susie,

(Name changed to protect this rock star’s identity)

Let me be the first to tell you there’s nothing wrong with you!  You just finished a long and rewarding career that anyone should be proud of.  You have given of yourself for the betterment of others.  People looked to you to get the job done because you were reliable.  But more than that–you cared.  You cared deeply for the people you worked with.  They looked up to you–as they wisely should have–because they knew you would be there to take care of them.

Maybe some of these people took you for granted but they’re getting a clear dose of reality now that you’re gone.  I know I speak for many people when I say you are truly missed!!  Your presence is one that cannot be denied.  When you walk into the room, you bring a zest for life and a deep knowing.  Your presence is truly undeniable!

So now that I have reminded you of what you already know about yourself, I would like to touch on the commitments you referred to.  There are several good things you mentioned that you could commit to; bible study, weekly classes, or part time job.  All are very good things you could add to your life and they may even add some enrichment.

But the question I have is where does the urge to completely fill our calendars come from?  Why are we so inclined to feel like we need to be doing something all the time?

I am no expert on such things.  I will, however, attempt to shine light on our humanness and will try to answer the question of what you should do with your time.

Life gives us an infinite amount of choices from which we can choose.  Is there any choice we can make that is wrong?  Let’s look at nature and see: take for instance the wave crashing onto the beach.  Do we look at the wave and say “You’re doing it all wrong! That was a terrible choice for a wave to make!”  Or how about the clouds?  Have you ever seen a cloud in the sky that was grossly in error for its choice of shape?  What about the banana or apple?  Do we scold them for their poor choices of becoming bananas and apples?  Have you ever looked at your newborn grand-baby and been disgusted by their choice of eye color?

I realize I am making some large exaggerations but for very good reason.  Your life will unfold in perfect timing and with such crystal clear purpose as soon as you realize one thing: What you are doing this very second is what you are supposed to be doing.  In a world of infinite possibilities, whatever you choose to do needs to be with this attitude; “I’m going to try this for awhile.”  Then, upon making that choice to have that experience you may decide instantly that you want to have another experience.  That’s perfectly acceptable!  Do we criticize the cloud for joining another cloud and giving us rain?  Do we fault the grape for being the wrong variety to mix into our Cabernet Sauvignon?

I believe you answered your own question to me without even realizing it. You said you want to “grab life by the moment and shake it for all its worth,” which I wholeheartedly applaud!  To me, it seems you don’t want to join a bible study, weekly class, or take on a part time job.  That’s perfect, don’t!  In a world of infinite possibilities, what do you want to do?  Do you want to go fishing, play with your grand-baby, share a bottle of wine with a friend, or drive your dad around in your fancy new car?  There is literally no wrong choice you can make.  Which brings me to another question:

Are there people in your life that suggest you need to be in a bible study, weekly class, or take on a part time job?  If so, are these well-meaning people a source of guilt for you?  Remember, no one can make you feel guilty without your permission.  You no longer have to explain yourself to anyone since only you can experience life for you.  Your well-meaning friends and family can’t experience the life you choose anymore than you can experience the life of a racoon.

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I came across a quote earlier that reminded me of your situation: “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”  So I must ask you; what sets your soul on fire? If you’re worried about making commitments then only make one and let everyone know what it is.  Commit to making the best choice for yourself in every situation.  Some weeks that may involve a bible study or a weekend retreat but you will unapologetically commit to living your life one day at a time, moment by moment.

One of my favorite philosophers, Alan Watts, once said, “Paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point.  It hurries on and on, and misses everything.  Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world.”

So we are given this life of infinite possibilities and we stress about what we should do with it.  What if the answer can never be found in the “doing?”  What if the only real answer is in the “being?”  We are called a human being not a human doing, but somewhere along the way we forget that.

As we go through school growing up we are told the world is a certain way, so we believe it.  We are told we are supposed to either go to college or get a job, so we believe it.  We are told we need to buy a house and save for the future, so we believe it.  We are told we need to get married and have a family, so we believe it.  We are always striving for the next thing we are supposed to be doing, all the while, forgetting the importance of being in the present moment.

What if we’ve been lied to?  What if being nothing more than a cog in the giant economical wheel is not what our souls yearn for?  What if your worth has nothing to do with the choices you’ve made but instead has everything to do with the person you are?  And in your case, you’re a pretty amazing person!

Here’s my final plea for you, my friend; ruthlessly and unapologetically commit to only what makes your heart explode with joy.  Life is short and none of us are getting out alive, but oh how beautiful living can be while we’re here!  The world needs more people like you who “grab life by the moment and shake it for all its worth” so please don’t stop being you!

In a world of infinite possibilities, I suggest you be your bad-ass self every single day, for your sake, for the world’s sake!

Peace my Friend!!

~Travis

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I DON’T KNOW

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I don’t know.

Three simple words.

Three simple words with many different implications.  At first glimpse, someone who says “I don’t know” too often appears to be ignorant or unable to commit to a position.  Maybe their “I don’t know” carries a lack of experience with it.  In a culture where it seems every scientific discovery has been found, “I don’t know” almost has a lazy feel to it.

The last time you asked someone a sincere question with a deep desire to know them better and they replied with an “I don’t know,” what was your response?  Did you want to grab hold of them and shake their knowing out of them the way you shake a coconut out of its tree?  Did you find yourself wanting to answer their “I don’t know” the same way you would answer a fill-in-the-blank question on a history exam?  The right answer is out there–you most certainly know it–so why can’t they know it?  You just want them to think; to apply themselves and work out their knowing muscle the way a bodybuilder sculpts their body with weights and resistance.

Isn’t it interesting that with loved ones we always know what’s best for them when they say, “I don’t know?”

I don’t know.

Three simple words.

In The Second Book of the Tao, Stephen Mitchell says on page 94:

You can’t talk about the ocean

with a frog who lives in a well:

he is bounded by the space he inhabits.

You can’t talk about ice

with an insect who was born in June:

he is bounded by a single season.

You can’t talk about the (Unknown)

with a person who thinks he knows something:

he is bounded by his own beliefs.

The (Unknown) is vast and fathomless.

You can understand only by stepping

beyond the limits of yourself.

(the word Tao changed to Unknown for clarity)

I’m certain you have encountered someone who knows what is best for you during the “I don’t know” period of your life.  Everybody is willing to shove their agenda down your throat when you “don’t know.”  Talking to someone who is bounded by his own beliefs adds more confusion instead of bringing clarity.  Dealing with these people who “know” can be exhausting and counterproductive.  Be cautious of the person in your life who always claims to “know” what is best for you.

When I was younger and more full of myself, I was certain I avoided the “I don’t know” mentality.  Whether it was the big issues of religion, politics, morality, poverty, or race; I thought my views were solid as concrete and steady as steel.  There’s an interesting transformation that happens as one progresses through their twenties and thirties.  No matter how secure you are in your beliefs and knowing, life always has a way of disrupting your certainty.

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I don’t know why heartbreak visits your front door.

I don’t know why your dreams turn to nightmares.

I don’t know why you weren’t protected as a child.

I don’t know why your innocence was robbed from you.

I don’t know the secrets to our existence and our origins.

I don’t know why your relationships have imploded.

I don’t know why your business failed and left your family vulnerable.

I don’t know why evil seems to come in waves while goodness arrives in whispers.

I don’t know what tomorrow may bring–for me, for you, for my loved ones.

I don’t know the vast and fathomless Unknown from where I came.

I don’t know the vast and fathomless Unknown for where I will return.

I don’t know why my failures turned out to be blessings.

I don’t know what causes a father to turn away from his family.

I don’t know why a mother would reject or abandon her children.

I don’t know why I love you this very moment.

I don’t know where hatred and discrimination come from.

I don’t know why some wounds never heal while others vanish within hours.

I don’t know why the past bleeds into the present without our permission.

I don’t know why cheaters win and bullies flourish.

I don’t know the fastest way to healing, the shortest distance to peace, or the simplest route to joy.

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It may sound counter-intuitive, but as I began to question everything I thought I knew; I realized that I knew very little!  It’s a very humbling place to arrive at.  Just as Stephen Mitchell said, “You can understand only by stepping beyond the limits of yourself,” I had to be willing to admit I may not know–and that my loved ones who were so certain may not know either.  I opened myself to infinite possibilities and have arrived at an amazing destination–I don’t know. What at first felt to me as a sign of weakness or ignorance to not know has since turned into the fertile soil where my ideas are allowed to grow.

With pressure from friends and family to participate in groupthink (I encourage you to look up groupthink on wikipedia after finishing this blog), I have graciously and deliberately chosen to step back and say I don’t know.

I don’t know.

Three simple words.

“I don’t know” can be lonely because our culture demands certainty while our ego fights for our rightness.  Certainty is like that belt you wear that’s too tight or the straitjacket that’s impossible to escape; whereas “I don’t know” is open, free, and malleable.

You know what I have come to truly love about “I don’t know?”  People are always eager to share with me what they do know.  People open up to me about the most bizarre and amazing things and it’s not because I’m some guru who has all of life’s answers.

“I don’t know” is also where my source of creativity originates.  “I don’t know” is the humble invitation I give to my Muse.  “I don’t know” is moving the pen across the page and inviting the beautiful Muse to sit and stay awhile. She just needs to know she’s invited and that I care for her as much as she cares for me.  She doesn’t like to be used or taken advantage of any more than I do.  She wants to be in a partnership.  She wants me to woo her and in return she will woo me with the words she whispers to me.  She wants to dance with me and feel my hand on the small of her back.  She longs for me to give her goosebumps then she’ll reciprocate by giving me goosebumps through the words I string together on the page.  “I don’t know” is the space where she desires to meet me for a very sensual and intimate exchange.

So where are you at on the “I don’t know” scale? Do you arrogantly hold on to your certainty as a possession? Do you ignorantly subscribe to groupthink and willingly lose your individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking? Are you open to the possibility that your worldview may be wrong?

I don’t know.

Three simple words.

With all there is to be confused by in this universe, with the Unknown being vast and fathomless, and with my long-winded argument to accept the “I don’t know;” there is one thing I am still certain about.  There is one certainty that transcends all worldviews, all politics, all religions, and all family dynamics.  So what is my one certainty in a life full of “I don’t know?”

One simple word.

Love!

Peace my friends!

~Travis

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To All the Little Girls

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  • There once was a little girl who didn’t understand all the rules.
  • The little girl has no idea why mommy and daddy fight so much.
  • The little girl doesn’t comprehend why her family goes to the church they do.
  • The little girl can’t understand why people touch her when she doesn’t want them to.
  • The little girl wants her daddy to hold her and love her.
  • The little girl hates boys because boys have cooties and are disgusting.
  • The little girl loves her best friend and wants to see her all the time.
  • The little girl loves her animals and wishes she could save them all.
  • The little girl just wants to be all grown up like mommy if she only knew how.
  • The little girl doesn’t understand why grandma fell asleep and had to be buried with all the other grandmas that fell asleep.
  • The little girl hates getting spanked for only doing what she thought was right.
  • The little girl is scared to death when she has to move from house to house.
  • The little girl sees mommy and daddy as superheroes.
  • The little girl can’t understand why her daddy doesn’t come visit her more often.
  • The little girl gets old enough to like the attention from little boys.
  • The little girl wants to be liked by the cool kids so she tries to impress them.
  • The little girl feels changes in her body and doesn’t understand why.
  • The little girl senses older people looking at her differently and it makes her uncomfortable.
  • The little girl wishes her family was like her friend’s family.
  • The little girl feels all kinds of special on her sweet sixteenth birthday.
  • The little girl now has one little boy that she calls hers.
  • The little girl lets her boyfriend explore her maturing body because that’s what all the other little girls do.
  • The little girl feels jealous when her boyfriend flirts with other girls.
  • The little girl thinks life is over when her little boy breaks her heart.
  • The little girl realizes she missed her friends while she was sidetracked by her little boy.
  • The little girl learns there are some sports she’s good at and some activities she’d rather not do.
  • The little girl gets some attention from a new little boy and notices her pain has subsided.
  • The little girl nervously goes all the way with this new little boy and she’s bittersweet because she realizes she’s no longer that same little girl.
  • The little girl proudly wears her cap and gown across the stage for graduation.
  • The little girl still has no idea what her life is for but makes plans anyway because that’s what the adults do.
  • The little girl goes to college and things fall apart with the other little boy.
  • The little girl learns that everything her parents taught her about the world may not be accurate.
  • The little girl is convinced she’ll find herself if she stares into the bottom of enough empty wine glasses.
  • The little girl experiments with many things her religious grandparents would blush at.
  • The little girl realizes she needs to grow up and start taking life more seriously.
  • The little girl discovers a worldview and assumes all her confusion about life is now answered.
  • The little girl meets “The One” and her life is quickly full of wedding plans.
  • The little girl walks down the aisle and has never felt more special in her life.
  • The little girl feels secure and happy for quite some time.
  • The little girl soon realizes life still isn’t perfect and something tells her it’s her husband’s fault.
  • The little girl calculates what’s missing in her life and she’s soon pregnant.
  • The little girl watches Oprah and Ellen and discovers a world exists she wasn’t aware of.
  • The little girl has a new sense of purpose now that she’s responsible for her own little one.
  • The little girl loses herself in laundry, meals, and soccer games so much that weeks turn into years.
  • The little girl has a parent get cancer and death stares her in the eye.
  • The little girl pleads with her higher power to keep her loved ones safe.
  • The little girl is flooded with memories from her childhood that rocks every fabric of her being.
  • The little girl becomes unsatisfied with the way her husband responds to her.
  • The little girl goes to therapy because she feels grown women shouldn’t feel this way.
  • The little girl wishes she could just go back to being that little girl before all the pain and wounds set in.
  • The little girl slowly learns healthy steps to enrich her life.
  • The little girl grieves the loss of many loved ones and lost relationships.
  • The little girl celebrates life with her children’s weddings and arrival of grandkids.
  • The little girl still feels inadequate when the cool grandparents don’t accept her.
  • The little girl feels betrayed by her children when they move her into a nursing home.
  • The little girl accepts her life she’s been given and learns to live peacefully even though surrounded by death.
  • The little girl is finally satisfied that without being handed any rules, she did her best at figuring out life as she went.
  • The little girl says goodbye to her family and goes back into the unknown from whence she came.
  • The little girl enjoyed her experience so much that she decides to try it all again but as a little boy this time.
  • There once was a little boy who didn’t understand all the rules………….

We all have a little girl or a little boy that accompanies each of us on our journey. Treat them well.

Peace my friends!

~Travis

PS, if you enjoyed this story, feel free to give it a share. 🙂

Speaking Up, Steve Jobs, and My Role

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There have been so many crazy—crazy in a good way—thoughts running through my mind lately.  It seems impossible to categorize them all. I’ve been having so many conversations with people about different topics; and yet, all these topics center on one subject. Whether I’m talking about food and diet, farming, television, politics, my corporate job, or church and religion; the topic undoubtedly comes back to frustration with the way America has progressed.

All you have to do is scroll through Facebook for five minutes and you’ll see countless posts about how America is progressing in a way that neither side is happy about.  Have you been a part of progression and felt deep in your gut it wasn’t really progress?

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Maybe you felt like you should say something but nobody else spoke up so you kept your mouth shut. That reminds me of when I was in school. I was hyper-sensitive about being the only kid that didn’t understand the assignment so instead of raising my hand and asking the teacher to explain it again, I would sit in silence and look around at my peers like I knew exactly what was expected. It wasn’t until my late 20s and 30s that I realized what made the smart kids smart. They asked questions. They were engaged in the topic. They immersed themselves in the process of learning. So what if the rest of the class thought they were stupid, they wanted to get it right and they knew several other kids would benefit from their questions. By admitting they didn’t have all the answers they were moldable and able to learn from their teachers.

I began to wonder about the way we learn as adults and I realized many of us still have that same fear of raising our hands or opening our mouths. When injustice is witnessed we keep our mouths shut because we don’t want to be the one that spoke up. When our kids demand cereal or cookies and milk for breakfast we oblige them because that’s the way we were raised. “It’s obviously good for them because it says there are lots of vitamins and minerals right on the front of the box. And kids need calcium so they have to drink plenty of milk to grow up big and strong.” If our kids demanded cocaine and a shot of whiskey before running out the door to catch the bus we might be concerned; but why are we not concerned when the cereal, cookies, and milk have the exact same effects on their brains as the cocaine and whiskey would?

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Been

Lied

To?

It’s understandable to assume we are making our own minds up about decisions that we make. We feel confident in our ability to choose what shirt to wear and what socks to put on. These are decisions that we make and nobody controls that. We plan ahead when we grocery shop and have discussions as a family about what meals we can expect to prepare throughout the upcoming week. “The kids have games Tuesday and Friday night so we need to have some easy-prep meals those nights.” We run through fast-food because it seems more convenient in the moment completely ignoring the long term effects these food-like substances are having on our brains and bodies.

We sit in big houses mostly empty, communicate with our loved ones from separate rooms via text, and smile at the comfortable stranger while passing in the hallway. We say we love each other because that’s what families do when in reality our actions prove otherwise. I remember a time when our family got together with other families all the time. Our social lives were lived in community having ongoing relationships with different people almost every night of the week. A lot of that has been lost in the busyness and chaos of our current situation.

When you grow up, you tend to get told the world is the way that it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world and try not to bash into the walls too much. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: And that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that are no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is just there and you’re just going to live in it versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it, and once you learn that you’ll never be the same again.

The words you read above were quoted from the movie Jobs—a portrayal of the life of Steven Paul Jobs. I must admit, even though I use an iPhone and my children have nearly every gadget Apple has invented in their lifetime, I didn’t know much about Steve Jobs. I heard about his Type A personality and his passion to change the world and compete against the giants of IBM and Microsoft. A friend of mine who read his biography told me about some of the crazier things Jobs did that made him infamous.

The quote above struck me because most of my life I felt as though I was told what to think. “Input, Output, what goes in is what comes out. Input, Output, that is what it’s all about” All these years later I still hear the words from Psalty the Singing Songbook. Eventually I learned that if you’re in the business of training parrots then the Input, Output method works marvelous; but in the case of raising children we owe it to them to teach them how to think instead of what to think.

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Imagine what our children could accomplish if they were told life has no limits and truly grasped that concept!?! Half the battle of growing up was simply figuring out how to assimilate with the world around us. Once we figured out how to assimilate it felt too exhausting to tackle the bigger questions of why things were the way they were. Just passing my Social Studies test and finishing my Science lab were stressful enough. The history behind the world’s currencies, the motives for world dominance through geographical pillaging, the creation of thousands of religions, the reasons behind our current calendar; these were all issues I never knew existed. I simply assumed life was always like this. Once I wrapped my mind around the fact that humans created the world we are currently living in astounded me. Every single decision for the way the world is run today was made by a human who said it should be done that way.

Sometimes an error humans make is assuming their findings about truth and wisdom is true for everyone. Instead of unity, this grave mistake does nothing but divide. If you discover truth for yourself and want to share it with the world, that’s wonderful. Some people might hear of your truth and agree with you. But don’t impose your truth on the rest of the world as the only version of truth. Even someone that experienced the exact same truths as you might interpret them differently and find different meanings as a result of the same truths. When you attempt to force your truth on others, the original truth that was intended for your growth becomes distorted. When you force your truth onto others, you have closed yourself off from learning more truth. You hold tightly to your truth as a possession. Instead of an orientation of truth as being, you choose an orientation of having. Being is limitless and ever-flowing. Having is limited and numbered. An orientation of having leads to wars, church splits, divorces, and all kinds of human suffering.

No matter what your position in life, there will always be people who desire nothing more than to tell you what to thinkThere’s a certain assurance that comes with numbers. By that I mean the more people we can get to think like us, the more right we feel about our position. We naturally attempt to align ourselves with people that agree with us.  But Steve Jobs salutes the ones who dare to be different:

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, about the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.


My Role

My role on this earth has eluded me for years. I have heard whispers. I have seen glimpses. I have felt breezes on rare occasions. It didn’t elude me because it wasn’t reaching out to me. It eluded me because I was deaf to its rise. I was blind to its waving hands. And I was numb to its ferocious winds. For years I was buried in my own drama. I couldn’t possibly begin to help someone else when I was incapable of helping myself. Little did I know, by putting my health first, by focusing on the here and now, I have an impact on others.

My day-to-day routine is anchored in my ability to be aware. My relationships are affected by my presence—with them and with myself.

My role on this earth has eluded me because for so long I felt I wasn’t worthy of speaking my message. It eluded me because I allowed my mind to be drug along as if in a wild river without even a passing thought about the present moment. I was always living either in some far-off distant future; or I was stuck in some drama of the past. Little did I know the power of the present moment! Little did I know that a great life is accumulated by ferociously staying present in the NOW! The only real peace in life is found in the now! By being present, by being aware, by being who I am; in this very moment, I create peace, joy, and contentment.

I have discovered my role on this earth is to learn and write what I have learned. As a writer, I will devote the time I have left on this earth to learning and writing. As long as I never forget my role — learning and writing about what I learned — then I can count on many fulfilled years in my future.

I need not worry about my brand, i.e. not worry about the topic, I need not worry about the audience, I need not worry about praise, publicity, or publication. I do need to focus. I need to focus every minute on showing up. I need to show up every second in the moment. Live in the now! By living in the now, I write from a place that all wisdom is stored. Whenever true beauty is shared with the world, it originated from the Now. When I read words that penetrate straight to my soul, those words were born in the Now. The present moment holds all beauty and wisdom in her hands. As a saint doles out food to the hungry, the Now awaits with full hands to distribute wisdom to those the seek her.

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In this moment life is exactly as it should be. I lack nothing. I want for nothing. I have a better life than countless kings throughout history who could have used their power and riches to have anything they wanted. I am truly blessed and truly thankful! Why the universe chose to bestow life upon me is a mystery but I won’t leave here disappointed! I will learn and write, learn and write, learn and write.

The first half of my life was spent learning. Learning how to be in this world, learning how to survive in this world, learning proper etiquette and how to navigate. Now, as I am nearly halfway through my journey on this large rock, I am prepared to share what I have learned.

Peace my friends!

~Travis