What do I design?
I was sitting Indian style on my sofa after taking the dogs on a long walk in the dark. I looked down at the blue socks I was wearing that my boyfriend gave me from the US Pro Cycling Tour. The bottom of the socks read Putting More People on Bikes More Often. These socks knew more of what they was doing and why. My own socks had more passion, more drive and more life than sadly to admit—myself lately.
I knew something was off. We all know when we’re not at our best. We don’t want to admit it, and most of the time it seems way too complicated to do anything about it.
I started to relate to this:
We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.
Luckily, I’m not one to stay in one place for too long. After hours of hashing it out with my closest ones, I started to voice what was really going on deep inside. And finally, after months, I started to write. Then, in the midst of becoming myself again, I was sent a message by my dear friend Casey Nolan with a link to the following video that you’ll want to watch now, and a few times more.
What makes you itch?
What sort of a situation would you like?
What do you want to do?
How would you really enjoy spending your life?
Forget the money.
If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing.
Which is stupid.
Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.
Travel. Move, move, move. I travel to move my body physically, to move my mind intellectually and spiritually, and to move my heart universally.
And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is. You can eventually become a master of it. The only way to become a master of something, is to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is.
My dreams and thoughts can build castles inside stories inside memories inside words, inside connections, places, spaces, and originalities. Ghost ideas, hidden inspiration.
Somebody is interested in everything. Anything you can be interested in, you’ll find others.
I design sharing. An artist of sharing. Not of photography, painting, acting, singing or dancing
(well, maybe dancing).
I am an artist, an artist of healing and history, healing history.
We are teaching our children… bringing up children to live the same sort of lives…
And therefore, it’s so important to consider this question…
What do I design?
I am a writer. And, I have never had so much power at mastering my craft and being totally with it. I design story.
Only the gold
Happiness is unbelievable. Everyone believes you if talk about how you are in desolation or feeling hopeless, if you’re miserable or depressed. It seems so natural, maybe because we all can relate to those moments. But, rarely do people believe you when you talk about your happiness—it seems unnatural.
I look around, here in Nepal, at the trees, the rhododendrons blooming, the sun warming the Himalayas, the honeybees buzzing around our breakfast. I see the stars at night; I hear the birds early in the morning—all of them, all those things, glistening with pure happiness. Just because they exist, they are happy. They have no reason to be unhappy. It seems as though only man is unhappy.
Ironically enough, man can be happy. Man can be happier than all the natural existence that surrounds him. Because man has one thing all those things don’t—a conscious. With a conscious, you get to make a choice: happiness or unhappiness. But somehow, most of us have let this freedom, this responsibility of being happy waste away. As we age, we start assuming that we need certain things to make us happy, certain possessions, certain philosophies. We often turn to religion to cure our unhappiness.
“So many religions are there because so many people are unhappy. A happy person needs no religion; a happy person needs no temple, no church—because for a happy person the whole universe is a temple, the whole existence is a church. The happy person has nothing like religious activity because his whole life is religious.” (Osho)
Happiness happens when you fit with your life. If you love the work that you are doing, if you love the way you are living, then you are meditative. Then nothing distracts you. We are distracted by so many unnatural motivations: money, prestige, power. We end up dragging ourselves into a life of unhappiness—instead of being a dancer, she’s working as a teller at a bank, instead of being a doctor, he became a businessman due to a parent’s pressure. These are just simple examples, and we all know someone who fits the part—if not ourselves. We end up choosing something from the outside, to bargain with something on the inside.
Try to understand why you are unhappy, if you feel that you are. And never lose sight of that. Be alert and aware of your own inner motives, about your inner destiny. No one can decide your destiny for you because they are not you. The way you have learned to live, the pattern at which the rest of the world follows, it seems to lead many people into a life of unhappiness. There is something wrong with this pattern. People predominantly look to money. I believe money should only be used as a means. If you are unhappy, money will not make you happy.
One thing is certain: you can never become anything other than yourself, and unless you become yourself you cannot be happy. It is very convenient to follow society. Instead, be an individual and pay for it. Life is possible only through challenges. Choose the hard way—to be an individual is one of the most difficult commitments in this world.
I wouldn’t be breathing here if it weren’t for my decision to choose a way that appeared very risky at the onset. People had their doubts, I had doubts. But I was willing to step off the beaten path; I was willing to choose happiness over unhappiness. It doesn’t matter anymore where in the world I am, as long as I love what I’m doing and who I am doing it with, as long as I know who I am, where I come from and where I am going… I choose happiness.
About my home
Traveling means leaving home. It’s a sacrifice we make as travelers. We leave the familiar, the easy and the comforting to explore the unknown. It is a risk but the more we move, the stronger we grow. The more we see, the more our minds open up to the view. It’s funny, really, how afraid some people are to travel this Earth–influenced and persuaded by the media, stereotypes, current events and misconceptions.
The more you travel, the more you realize that all humans around the world are so diverse, and so complex but ironically the same. You end up finding out, at the end of the day, we all want the same things.
When people ask, what is it like? I say, it feels like being a kid again. Basic, everyday tasks take on a heightened significance and entertainment can be stumbled upon in some of the most unadorned curiosities and novelties.
The cultures, the lessons, the people, the food, the cities, the parks, the roads, the languages, the views, the smells… Everything you experience has the ability to get you excited, to get your senses working, to change the way your think, and even, to remind you of back home. To remind you, why, why you’re doing what you’re doing. As travelers, we escape all the daily distractions of back home and we are without warning, faced with getting to know ourselves–whether we like it or not, and accompanied by, not even one drop of mercy. When you step outside your comfort zone, you can no longer hide behind yourself. You leave your ego by the wayside and unlying life rushes in.
Navigating oneself and exploring unaccustomed terrain involves great tests of character and limits, but out of all the intimidating challenges you may face on the road, the act of coming home can be one of the most difficult. Few will be able to relate to what you’ve just done and where you’ve been. When you do return you, “keep living your life in such a way that allows your dreams room to breathe. Because you never know when you’ll feel the urge to hit the road again,” Rolf Potts, Vagabonding.
The longer I am away from my home back in Nebraska, the more I appreciate its innocence and beauty. The more I recognize its fostering and nurturing it has provided me along the way. For many Americans and the rest of the world, Nebraska is a secret, guarded well by amusing stereotypes and what appears to most, a lack of excitement. If the world only knew, if Nebraskans only knew how well they have it. Some of the freshest air , safest drinking water, one of the happiest economies, four complete seasons of weather, lakes to wakeboard on, voluptuous dirt to roost a dirtbike on, a car ride to the Rockies, a plane ride to the ocean. It is almost the definition of living simply. There really is no place like Nebraska, and of course, no place like home.
Maybe it’s incredible because it’s called The Good Life or maybe it’s just because,
that’s where my heart is.
Everyone always asks, Do you believe in God?
Unfortunately, my answer usually differs among questioners. I’m not out to offend, but I also understand that by even posting my views on this subject, I will undoubtably create mixed feelings from people I know that do “believe” in God. Therefore, I ask only one thing before you read on, read with an open mind. I’m not declaring that one thing is right and the other is wrong. I cannot express the truth because I have no proof and, who I am to say what exists? What I can do though, is tell you how my curiosity with spirituality has never been so intrigued. I may be wrong… but I get the feeling, it has something to do with visiting a number of countries and cultures that all have different religions and philosophies about life.
Inspired by my insanely talented, insightful, down-to-earth, hairdresser Michelle from back home. Who might I add, has one of the sickest arm sleeves I’ve ever seen and a serious fashion sense to go with it. Because of her, and our eerie similar views on life, I took her suggestions and started reading some of Osho’s books. I couldn’t find the exact book I was looking for at The Lost Book Store here in Chiang Mai but what I did find is enough to keep me interested in this great storyteller and provocative spiritual teacher. I picked up “The Man Who Loved Seagulls” by Osho for a couple hundred baht. The objective of the compilation of stories from various world figures is aimed at injecting some essential life lessons into the heart and into the mind–focusing on experience rather than what you’ve been taught by someone else. There is a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that I reference a lot in my writing and in my life. “The good news is that the moment you decide that what you know is more important than what you have been taught to believe, you will have shifted gears in your quest for abundance. Success comes from within, not from without.” I apply this statement to practically everything, even my philosophy on health. Emerson’s words can be applied to the philosophy behind my writing. Back in September of 2009, I posted a short bit on my previous blog titled, “Dear the closed mind.” It ended with this, You have a problem with what I write; maybe that’s the point. To try and get you to think beyond what you’ve been taught, to think beyond yourself. This post might as well be about my philosophy on writing rather than the differences between trust and belief with God and, with yourself. Enough about me.
Osho says, life is about balance. Balance between opposites, “man and woman, yin and yang, day and night, birth and death, love and hate.” If one does not have the other–life cannot exist without both. Life is really only possible because of both. “Love survives fight but it cannot exist without it…If death does not exist life will simply disappear. It cannot exist without death; death gives it the background, death gives it color and richness, death gives it passion and intensity.” Death is a part of life. Accepting that makes it easier to achieve balance between the two. However, it is important to note, one will never achieve balance forever, “one has to achieve it again and again and again.”
Onto the tricky part, if the Bible says that God made man in his own image, why does it seem to me that it is the opposite. As I travel, it appears that man made God in his own image. Every country has its own image and concept of God. Osho helps answer my question with this, “Every country has its own concept because every country has its own need. In fact, every single person has a different concept of God because his own needs are there and they have to be fulfilled.” I have many friends, who as children said they believed in God. But, as we aged, several would soon admit they just couldn’t believe, it simply didn’t make sense to them, it was almost irrelevant. When I ask followers of God questions about their religion, I usually get a response that represents their belief in God as a fear–a religion that comes out of fear. I’ve said this to my mother for years, If God exists, God is a loving God and God might as well be reality, we might as well call God ‘the real’.
Now, there are two ways of functioning, of functioning in life. You can do something because you’ve done it before, you already know how to do it, you need not even be present, you can simply do it in a mechanical way. But, if you’ve never done something before, and you’re going to do it for the first time, “you have to be tremendously alert because now you don’t have any past experience. So you cannot rely on the memory, you have to rely on awareness.” Let me share a beautiful story from this book:
There were two friends of the king, and both were proved guilty of a crime. Since he loved them the king wanted to show them mercy, but he could not acquit them because even a king’s word cannot prevail over the law. So he gave this verdict: A rope was to be stretched over a deep chasm, and, one after another, the two were to walk across it. Whoever reached to the other side was to be granted his life. It was done as the king ordered, and the first of the friends got safely across. The other, still standing on the same spot, cried to him. “Tell me, friend, how did you manage to cross?” The first called back, “I don’t know anything but this: Whenever I felt myself toppling over to one side, I leaned to the other.”
Waiting around to follow others’ knowledge is similar to waiting in vain. Everyone wants to know, what’s the secret to life? How do you serve God? What’s the best method? Is there a technique to be learned? Remember what the first man conveyed, I cannot formulate it as knowledge. I can only indicate. So, how do you serve God? I believe that you serve God in the middle. “Don’t indulge too much and don’t renounce too much. Don’t be only in the world and don’t escape out of it.” There is a difference between belief and trust. There is something to be said for balance. The story of Walking the Tightrope, will show you.
photo by Michael A. Nyffeler, Balinese Kecak and Fire Dance ritual at Uluwatu Temple in Bali, Indonesia
Wallpaper on Bare street
As a child, I lived in a house on Bare Street. A house that for some ungodly reason did not explode from the pressure that was created as two broken families moved in together. A baby blue house that had white brick infused at its base with warm reds—blood from the previous stepchildren that must have lived there. Or so my young inventive mind thought. Six of us were entering into a world where the word, step, now defined our existence. I’m not sure if I fully understood that moving into a new home with new people meant that I had a new father, a new sister, and a new brother. It was quite unfortunate though, that house. Its design was eerie similar to the dollhouse I lugged around. Comparing the two must have molded my perception of the house being used as a playground.
All I really knew was that the territory was unfamiliar and it stunk. My stepfather had a mean voice and seemed to be not okay with any movement or sound I made. My new siblings made too much sound. Those two were loud and obnoxious. My sister on the other hand was much less concerned about our new life; she had more important teenage issues to worry about, such as JNCO jeans and the song, Strawberry Wine. There has got to be some sort of irony that has slipped through the cracks as my sister now harps on her own stepson, for wearing those baggy and awkward jeans.
We didn’t like each other. They had dark hair and we were blonde. They didn’t go fishing and camping like we did. They read books and watched TV. My stepbrother even ran around the house commentating fake sports broadcasts with the VHS recorder. Then came the day, that instigated all the other days. The four of us kids found an action that seemed to be more than just hot air—burping. Burping at the dinner table sent you straight to the other dining room in a wooden chair that faced the corner of the two walls. If a second child burped, he or she was sent to the middle of the stairs to sit until dinner had ceased. If a third, he or she was sent to the blue couch living room to stare at the wall. And, If a forth, dinner ended.
The objective at the dinner table turned rather strategic. It was important that you sat down and started eating right away; you didn’t want to starve to death. The key was to be the first child to burp. This meant you were sent to the other dining room. Any burps after that, resulted in the other not-so-amusing places. Yes, stationed at the other places you could make funny noises and whisper naughty words to each other across the hallways but the real deal was the first burp destination. Here, in the other dining room rested the 4000 B.C. phenomenon introduced by the Egyptians in the form of papyrus. One could argue the Chinese invented the stuff, as they glued rice paper onto their walls as early as 200 B.C. But, our phenomenon was definitely from the 70s. Those walls gave kids like us our first opportunity to claim we were suffering from anxiety. I believe the first child to stick their fingernail into the wallpaper and make an impression is locked away safe in our hearts. Because as time went on, the wallpaper, at eye level, for a child sitting in a wooden chair facing it, slowly disappeared. One by one, we worked to destroy that uneasy paper. At the time, we may have felt we were doing our parents a favor. As the designated other dining room, that was only to be used on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, the room was rarely viewed by the newly joined parents. Plus, the shadows from the curtains and window bought us kids some time.
It wouldn’t be until a holiday. A day where the sun just so happened not to shine, and we just so happened to all be under one roof at one time. Four kids who all disliked each other, sitting on one couch, staring up at two very upset adults. It was at that moment, we realized what we had done. As a team, we worked together day by day. We took risks; we went hungry, all with a collective purpose, all in it for one goal. If we could succeed at getting in trouble together then we had surely succeeded in having fun together. Needless to say, the wallpaper on Bare Street brought our family together. My parents didn’t replace the wallpaper until each of us entered high school. It stood against that wall, mutilated. If you kept a close eye on it, you would witness that each day less remained. That wallpaper represented something bigger than us as individuals or individual families. It represented us as a team—working together for one common goal.
Let’s talk advice
Spending the last year, living on my own by myself and single, has opened my eyes to so many things, along with opening my eyes to myself. There’s some great advice that I’ve been given that has helped me along the way. Why not share it; maybe it’ll make you rethink some things, too.
Behavior never lies. There are two rules in life, what you can control and what you can’t control; how you react to the uncontrollable determines the real outcome, control the controllable. You control what you think, what you say, and your actions/reactions. Pleasure lives in your strengths, growth lives in your weaknesses.
When it comes to success, many of us are just playing to survive. Your finest hour is not going to come from procrastination or indecision; your finest hour will come from growing a pair…
You can’t solve the problems of today with the same level of thinking that created them.
Everything you do, every decision you make and every thought you entertain has a direction which serves as an advance or retreat in the pursuit of your goals.
When it comes to relationships, personal and spiritual, do not make a commitment if you are not 100% committed to committing to it. There will never be a day that doesn’t require discipline, dedication, patience, forgiveness and love. When you’re not in a high maintenance relationship, you have all the natural, universal communication and love there is to offer. To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice your gift.
Time is an unrecoverable asset.
When it comes to education, constantly remind yourself why you’re learning. Ask yourself why. Why? Because you’re hungry for knowledge and you always will be. The more you know, the more you will want to know. It’s a good thing.
And lastly, you are fearless because fear does not exist.
Rejecting the principles
A simulacrum is an identical copy without an original. It is a term used in the isms, Postmodernism and Hyperrealism. Scholars believe the word is evident everywhere, a bold statement; with a collapse of absolute standards of value. Through a historical shift, our popular culture has left modernism and has altered itself into a hyper real where authenticity and simulation are experienced as without distinction. Knowledge is no longer viewed as an end in itself but “as a means to an end.” The decline of the university, the “implosion of meaning,” and an enthrallment for images, all examples of Postmodernism. What seems to be of most importance here is that there is of course, a consequence of the new receptivity, “the distinction between high and low culture seems less and less meaningful.” A revolt has been created by the Postmodernists against the idea of cultural elitism of modernism. Even Andy Warhol called it through pop art as he sees commercial art and real art as one in the same. I believe the real question lies within the following statement, “the old is dying and the new cannot be born,” is this reality? Perception is not reality.