Are you Fully Alive?

Why do you do what you do? Seriously. Have you fully examined your daily life recently? Are you giving your greatest gifts to the world? Or are you living in fear of failure, disappointment, rejection and the like?

I ask these questions of myself constantly. Since my return to the U.S., I feel they are all the more relevant. There is a collective energy in the U.S. that fuels a feeling of needing to be something or someone. While I cannot completely separate this energy from my own conditioned habits and tendencies, after spending a lot of time abroad the past 3 years, its clear to me that this environment is a significant challenge to one who decides to reject societal norms and attempt to live a life based on his or her own experience.

This begs the next question- what is a true experience? Some might say a purely sensual experience, receiving input from the outside and not modifying it.  Science holds this view to a degree. Something can be measured, tested, and repeatable results found. Therefore in the view of science, an apple on the table is the same for you and me and exists independently of both of us. It weighs so much, has a certain volume and a number of characteristics that can be measured.  From another standpoint however, that apple does not even exist without an observer.  When the so called ‘world’ or outside meets your senses, an often overlooked part of the process is that you also meet these sensations with your conceptions.  Conceptions being defined as the complex structure of thought and memory that has accumulated over your lifetime.   This meeting between sensation and conception occurs at the level of perception.  A simple example highlighting this is two people having a highly different reaction to an approaching dog. One perceives a cuddly creature they want to pet, the other perceives a dangerous animal to be weary of.  More subtle examples include varied perceptions of the aforementioned apple, or simply a response to a word or phrase in our language. This has all been a long-winded way to say that not only the environment we’re in, but also our deep-seeded conditioning and habits play a huge role as to how we perceive the world.

Many might think that to truly give their gifts, they need to be in an environment where they are helping the less-fortunate or sacrificing comforts of life to server a higher purpose. This is a great excuse to remain in the realm of not-changing anything. It doesn’t matter if you’re a corporate executive, a stay-at-home mom, a laborer, or a a million other labels we have for ourselves. How are you meeting the world? Are you deeply examining these hidden tendencies and habits?

What if you don’t know what your greatest gift is? It’s the same for each of us – Being Fully Alive. If you are fully alive in each moment, you are LOVE, and emanate love.  This does push the question up a level to “How does one actualize being fully alive” – and this is the very topic I want to unravel over time for myself and share this journey with my readers. 

After all, is there anything more important than this?

Reflections @ 6 Months

Thank you to everyone who wrote to me recently, I realize now that I projected an image of being quite pathetic a few days ago! I’m back in Kathmandu, looking at spending a week here as I wait for my India Visa to come through. I made the mistake of not beginning this process before my trek and am now faced with numerous days of queuing, waiting, queuing, waiting, and hopefully I’ll have a visa in my hand on Friday. Several people I met at the embassy had this turn into a multi-week saga. There are definitely worse places to be than Kathmandu. There is a great traveler vibe, an abundance of western comforts like book stores and coffee shops, perfect weather and cheap food. The major annoyances here are the tiger balm touts and excessive noise pollution. I didn’t do anything touristy on my first run through the city so I’m planning on seeing a few sights between coffee shop visits and blogging 🙂 I have not updated my blog since leaving Beijing over a month ago – sorry!

After my last post, I should clarify some things around my trip home. Its also time for everyone’s favorite post – my bi-monthly, “Reflections”. First, my decision to come home in December was actually made IMG_3904almost 2 months ago, during my travels in China. I reserved a flight using frequent flyer miles, knowing I would have the option to cancel the flight if I decided to stay on the road. I can’t quite recall my decision making process, but it was at this time where I began to feel a sense of momentum and speed to my travels that had gotten a little out of control. It was during this time that my plan to travel through Mongolia, back to Tibet and onward to Nepal and India became real, and the days ahead were no longer as free and open as I once envisioned. People since have asked or suggested – Why not just stop? Just sit still, change course and throw out all of the preconceptions? The irony is that this feeling was no different than one that nagged me the past couple of years at work. Its not that I didn’t want to go to the places I did – I very much did. Its more that there was an undercurrent of not being completely true to myself in some way or another.

  Its clear that there is something much more fundamental at work in one’s sense of freedom than outward appearances, physical location or commitment levels. Needless to say, I endeavored ahead. I saw and experienced an incredible amount in a few short months. I have not a single regret. But I am exhausted. I mentioned a few days ago that this feeling doesn’t go away no matter how much I rest. Its my body (and spirit I believe) telling me to go home and rest.

It’s not just for physical reasons that I am coming home. I’m considering my forthcoming time at home an opportunity, an exploration if you will. I significantly overestimated the amount of time I would have during travel for investigation of the more practical aspects of life. Examining career possibilities, networking with people from home and teaching myself Spanish were all on the list when I left. I laugh now, but in Japan I started a concept of using one day a week as a work day where I would sit in a hotel or coffee shop and do some of these things. The burdens of travel, the quality of Internet in 3rd world countries and the speed of my travels quickly made this an idea of the past. My notebooks are riddled with one liners and thought bubbles that require a 24 inch screen LCD, a comfy chair and Google to investigate more thoroughly. I find myself frequently wanting to reach out to call people, to discuss something, quickly to realize I’m nowhere near a phone or even if I am that its 4:37am in the Colorado. My business school professors would consider this a midyear review.

A midyear review in conjunction with setting ideas into action. This entire trip has been about ego deconstruction, self awareness and exploration of truth. Seeking to be a vessel of divine will, not a creature of whim and momentary desires. I’ve been able to sit with many different aspects of myself, digging deep into my habits and my conditioning. I’ve broken down a number of these to their roots, seen how certain fears and attachments to the past drive my actions and words. There are many, ohhhh so many, aspects of being that continue to ask for my patience and careful watch to reveal their true nature to me. The people and places of the world have been great gifts for me in this discovery process. But right now I want to experiment with the application of these gifts in my daily life in the place where I plan to spend a large part of my life – Colorado. The meaning of a retreat is to go away, reflect and to return. I mentioned in my 4 month reflections that long-term travel, the endless vagabond journey will never be my forte. I have collected many golden nuggets from this journey and my bag is getting a little heavy. Its time to bring them home and smelt them into something useful.

Why would I pick the coldest months of the year to return to Colorado? Well, steep turns in knee deep snow at Berthoud Pass comes to mind very quickly… 🙂

The truth is I’m just ready. I miss my family, my friends, the small daily joys of my existence in Boulder. And despite our countries share of problems and clear disregard for so many things – I’ve never missed her comforts and opportunities so much.