Surviving the Storm
It’s been a few months since I’ve publicly shared anything I’ve written. Mostly due to the fact that a vast majority of my writing in the New Year bleeds frustration. Most days, I want to flip over the elaborate place setting table of society and yell, “Bullshit!” Like that scene in the critically acclaimed film Half Baked when Julio quits his fast food job by pointing to his co-workers, “Fuck you, Fuck you, Fuck you, You’re cool, Fuck you…I’m out.” I mean seriously you guys, Mitch McConnell is SOOOOOO full of shit, I can smell the guy from California.
Yep, I know…that’s not entirely yogic. Because I’m supposed to be super together, right? I’m like spiritual and stuff. Sharing unfiltered anger and pessimism for the future really doesn’t suit my "brand."
So, I took a timeout.
But it’s Spring! I spent a couple weeks in yoga training with the awesome sauce Jason Crandell and a week of pure freakin’ magic with my yoga family on retreat in Costa Rica. That amount of yoga practice and love in community could probably cure cancer. Needless to say, I’m feeling a lot better. So like our prodigal comedy dad Dave Chapelle, I’m back and ready to share.
It all boils down to this…
I really love human beings. Like I really do. But sometimes, human beings are just the worst. We gape at monkeys throwing shit at each other in the zoo, without seeing the supreme irony: This is exactly what we humans do!
Human beings really like to throw shit. We end up feeling sad, alone and smelling like actual human shit. It’s gross.
I’m sure every generation feels like they’re living in wild times. But friends, WE ARE LIVING IN WILD TIMES!
I believe whole heartedly we must embrace our place. While it can be easy to lose faith in each other and reconcile ourselves to doom and gloom, we can also see that these are indeed exciting times to be alive. Let us now be, more than ever, acutely aware that what we do matters. Our actions matter. How we treat each matters. What we share, the language we use, the way we carry ourselves in the world, it matters.
Yet given the swirling tornado of bullshit that looms so large all around us. It’s easy to sink and with righteous fervor throw our own shit around too.
Don’t do it.
But don’t bury your head in the sand either. Put on a freakin’ poncho and some goggles and get out there. Remember though, when going into a shit storm, it’s important to have a strategy.
Here’s my humble advice:
- Embrace Radical Rationalism
Our society is run by peddlers of hyperbole and outrage. And we LOVE it. Humans are emotional, and American humans are hyper emotional.
We think we know it all but have very few facts. “Books? What are those?! I get the facts straight from INFOWARS and Buzzfeed.”
Many perspectives are far too narrow to glimpse even a semblance of the bigger picture. We don’t listen, we wait for our turn to talk…maybe, even that’s iffy these days. Preference is generally given to the loudest interrupter.
What if being moderate was cool?
What if we embraced people who said, “Huh, interesting, but have you thought of it this way?”
What if we romanticized data, charts and history the same way we fetishize scandal, violence, and The Bachelor.
What if being really smart was cool? And en vogue for educated people to not be smug assholes?
When you’re reading the news aka the Donald’s Twitter feed, that moment when your palms go from relaxed and ball into fists of fury, that’s about when you’ve lost the rational edge.
Take a step back. It’s terrifying, sure, but we knew this gig could only last so long, right?
2) Monitor your news intake
After the inauguration, I was essentially freebasing the news. Morning, noon, and night…I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t concentrate. And I was furious! It was all too much. I put myself in time out. Now I’m on a news diet so I can stay slim and sane. I intake twice a day. Once in the later morning and the other around 4 in the afternoon well before sleep.
ALSO DON’T GET YOUR NEWS FROM FACEBOOK! And don’t share ridiculous articles there either. I get the NYTimes did a terrible job of reporting during the election. And yes, the media seems biased at times. But that doesn’t mean Hillary Clinton murdered babies. So Stop, seriously, please stop.
Run, Hike, hit a punching bag. Work out your frustration and burn some calories in the process. It will inevitably make you feel so much better and you’ll be better looking. So, win-win.
4) BE STILL
Remember earlier when I referenced that sharing anger in my writing wasn’t exactly yogic. And there’s some truth to that. As I said, what we think, say, and do, it matters. Sharing unfiltered rage and irritation with the world is what Twitter’s for and it’s not why I’m here or what I want to share.
On the other hand, I’d argue that there’s nothing more yogic that letting your anger catch up to you, sitting down, shutting up and dealing with it.
I’m literally one of the most mellow people you will ever meet, but even I’m not all sunshine and rainbows. I get grumpy, selfish, irritated, impatient, and downright han-gry. It’s called being a real person. I have developed tools in my life through practice to learn from and transform my fleeting emotions.
The tools? Almost all of them require stillness.
Yes moving is great! See point 3! We can’t, however, outrun our demons forever. We have to face them. No distractions, no new-age music, no crystals, just you and your mind.
Practice being the observer of your own inner narrative. Meditate. Sit down with yourself. Be quiet and listen. It’s ok if you’re not automatically stoked with what you see, hear or feel. Give it time, and don’t give up.
The mind is designed to be jumpy and anxious and over reactive.
Give yourself time to settle.
The more you practice the more aware of yourself you become. You may even get to peek and see what’s behind the mind. Without your rage, your bliss, your fear, all your baggage, who are you?
You realize that you’re so much more than your emotional appetite.
And that translates to who you are out in the world.
When you feel yourself about to rear back and fling some shit on someone, you might pause.
You might recognize, oh wait, that’s not me.
5) Enjoy your life
Live boldly and “biggly.” Enjoy your friendships, your family, good wine, animals. Enjoy your yoga practice. Have fun, lighten up. GO OUTSIDE! BBQ, go to the beach. Stay inside and watch a really dope TV show. TV is soooo good these days. What’s that Oscar Wilde quote, “Life’s too important to be taken too seriously.” We have to fight the good fight and we must take care of each other. But really, what are we fighting for if we’re not having any fun?
All of this is trail and error. The end game is liberation. Freedom can’t be given to you by a government or a romantic partner. It’s not your parents fault. Find tools that untie your strings. Your attachment to all the stuff. Other people’s politics, yoga pants, money, your job, whatever story you tell yourself about others, whatever story you tell yourself about yourself. People, like me, tend to talk about all this stuff like, oh…it’s so easy.
You have got to show up. Over and over and over and over again. Be willing to mess up and come undone and try again.
My tools are yoga, meditation, community, reading, writing, the outdoors and prayer. Maybe yours are different. You’ve got to take the time to find a practice that resonates with you. A practice that shakes you to the core while building a solid foundation.
We can do this.
Good luck. I’m rooting for you.