What Makes A Simple Life?

What do you put inside your precious 24 hours?

Who do you spend a portion of those hours with? Do they bring joy and beauty into your world– or pain and sorrow?

Are you actually present with the special people you place in your world- or is your mind elsewhere? Are you listening to the person who stands before you– or are you recalling a dramatic conversation at work, reviewing your to do list for tomorrow or simply wishing it were next month when your madness should subside?

You understand that your world is overwhelming. This world you’ve designed and crafted over the years. What have you filled it with? Are the activities fulfilling? Are the people inspiring? Is your work meaningful– does it have impact?

Or are the people you see every day draining? Do they place their petty dramas in your lap and steal the precious moments you have and waste them on meaningless thoughts and empty actions? Do the people who really deserve your time and attention get pushed away because of the life-sucking zombies you allowed into your world?

Or does your work take all of your energy? Does your work render you useless to others, devoid of energy, zeal and love?

Is this the struggle you envisioned when you entered adulthood? Did you see fighting to merely get through the day as your battle for making a mark in this world? Did you mean to place the best part of YOU out into the abyss for others to use, steal and manipulate for their own gain?

Or did you envision something different for your life? Did you see your struggle as a fight between the beauty you see in the world and keeping the danger at bay? Did you see yourself standing against the world to live a life in YOUR vision- not the narrative manufactured to sustain a consumption-based capitalistic economy?

Did you see yourself fighting to make a difference in this world? To create art that shifted perceptions, changed lives and touched this world in a way that is needed- is necessary? Did you see yourself with all the beauty and talent you were giving making something so delicate, so intricate, so touching that people would never be the same having crossed your path?

Did you see your life as not a STRUGGLE, but a SYMPHONY?

Can you not return to that vision? Can you not eliminate the elements of your world that are complicated and return to a simple life again?

You can leave the world of the Zombie and allow your beauty and vision to dictate your life. It can be done, it must be done.

Or the simple life you envision, the simple life you deserve, the simple life you need to survive in this world will never be yours.

Define your simplicities. Say NO to the people who complicate your life. Eliminate the drama. Remove the meaningless interactions.

Claim your life again. Step into your power and make this world yours. Fight to make art that matters- to make a life that has meaning.

This world needs more warriors who are willing to embrace a Simple Life and destroy the narrative that is creating a society of Zombies.

Live Simply.

Love of the Soul

Every so often, you find that person.

The person who is worth the risk. The person that brings a fiery Love and passion into your life that you had only heard of before you met. The person who justifies actions you would have thought insanity before they entered your world.

Some of us have experienced such a Love. Others thought they had found it, but were ill-equipped to embrace the depth of such a Love.

Others merely lack the capacity to understand what Love is at all.

There is a journey in Love. The journey is not easy nor is it practical. Hell, sometimes its not even logical. But a Love that touches your Soul will show you a world you didn’t know existed– and will show you a side of yourself that you only hoped existed.

A little Love strolls through the streets of Paris.

The Love of the Soul will pull up the emotions that turn you into a weeping child or a passionate goddess. The Love of the Soul will place you before a cliff and ask you to leap– without a parachute or a safety net.

The Love of the Soul will push you to the edge. You’ll close your eyes and take that step– knowing that sometimes, the free-fall is the most exhilarating part of the journey. It’s the unknown beauty that exists as you spread your arms, lean into nothingness and just soar through the air.

You might crash. It might hurt. You may break. But the Love of the Soul knows no other way. Such a Love will place you on that perpetual boundary of exhilaration and fear. And if you do break, if the Love of the Soul takes you a place of pain and sorrow- the depth of this pain will reflect the depth that this Love touched your Soul.

But hopefully, at the end of your life, a glance back at the journey through the Love of the soul will reveal the depth at which you lived your life. No matter the duration of this Love- whether it lasted a lifetime or simply a spot on the timeline of your life- the fact that it existed at all and that you allowed yourself to embark on such a journey makes your life a beautiful endeavor.

For truly, to never know a love of the soul might be one of the saddest and most tragic side effects of modernity. To be so caught up in the surface dramas– the empty Facebook narratives of others, that you miss the love before you– or walk away from it in disgust and anger– is truly one of the worst side effects of the current state of our society.

May you all know the Love of the Soul at some point in your lives.

May you all recognize Love when it stands before you and invites you in for tea.

May you all understand its beauty when it exists in your life.

And if such a love existed in your life and was later taken away, may you find solace in the grace and beauty that it existed at all– and that you were blessed enough to experience the Love of the Soul.

Shifting Gears Towards Simplicity

What exactly is a simple life?

Excellent question– with no true definitive answer. Everyone’s definition of simple is different and completely subjective.

Over the past few years, I’ve made strong connections with people all over the world based on a lifestyle anchored in simplicity.

My perspective of simplicity:

A life without internal chaos.

A life without drama.

A life with time.

A life with the space for exploration and the freedom for introspection.

Now I’m tasked with making my simple life work in a world of chaotic races through the concrete jungle. I now have to employ all my internal philosophies, powers of observation and Taoistic beliefs towards maintaining a simple life in the place where I now live.

As I walk this edge of simple living versus chaotic existence, I will take you along for the journey. I will explore my internal conflicts and the external realities I see everyday. I will pose questions of lifestyle, spirituality and manifestation as they cross my paths in this world.

For many of us straddle these worlds I’m touching upon. Many of us already live a simple life– but function within an external world of madness. Many of us yearn for a simple life and fear the chaotic world we’ve created.

A world created out of necessity, out of adherence and out of social acceptance. A world created out of the fear of scarcity– of not having enough or of not fitting in with our peers.

A world created out of the fear of being alone.

Many of us are now faced with life-altering decisions about how to move forward and closer align ourselves with our authentic self — and in doing so, moving towards a simpler life.

None of this reality is easy.

Embracing a simple life is not something that anchors our economy or fuels our social discourse. Our politicians don’t want you to live a simple life and our financial institutions fear the day when the consumer ceases to be the anchor of our economy.

Living with less is not a topic that’s embraced at happy hour or tossed about at the water cooler.

But secretly, many people want to have this discussion. They NEED to have this discussion. Many people want to return to a simpler time. A life with TIME to spend with their loved ones and BE PRESENT. A time when we are not on call 24/7 from a plastic device that rests in our pockets. Many of us yearn to unplug from the digital world completely now and then– and not fear the repercussions that such a disconnect could create.

Our society is longing to be reconnected with the Simple.

 

A Simple life.

A Simple love.

A Simple existence.

 

I’m An Anomaly

What does a Storytelling Traveler write about when the traveling stops? This has been my struggle for the past six months. And I still don’t have an answer.

The East Coast- where I’m currently residing- has many challenges for me. This region of the world is so far engrained in the rat race that I feel that energy to my core. So much so, that rather than settle in the city, as I’d planned, I’m living in a Barn in the countryside. And it’s keeping me sane.

My Barn- and soon to be artist's studio- w/a traditional darkroom!

But the more challenging aspect of this shift in my life is the loss of words. I’m not sure if I just have less to say or if I’m just trying to adjust to this radical shift and location that doesn’t agree with me but the words don’t come to me now. I know one major problem is that many of the lifestyles I encounter here are in direct conflict with much of what I’ve written on this blog.

And when the words do find their way into my brain and the muse says, OK- let’s get these words out- the inner sensors start to filter everything that comes out.

It sounds like this:

Will this essay offend so-and-so who is part of my business/personal/recreational life?

Will so-and-so read this and make a verbal/personal attack on me and the people I love?

Will this editor or that creative director read this and think I’m a nut-job and not hire me?

Will my online community read this and think I’ve sold out or have crawled in bed with the evil consumption over-lords of the world?

Does this essay still align with the person I was last year and the person I am becoming now?

And the inner-gnomes go on and on and on.

Until the words that come out are piles of vanilla shit that really have no purpose than for me to try and hit the publish button on my almost 3 year old blog. And the words are so awful, I don’t even bother taking them out of my free-writing program into the editing phase.

I just let them rot and die on my computer.

And this makes me sad. It makes me question my choices and my own mental state that I can not focus and create good work in this environment. Correction- I can create excellent commercial work in this environment and always have when I’m on the East Coast. But powerful, personal, creative work, meaningful art? That’s another story.

I wonder if I have the mental strength to by-pass the creative blocks that this region of the world presents for me. I ponder this all the time. And now that the whirlwind of my personal life has died down and I’ve dealt with the emotions of losing my dog, moving to a new city, rebuilding a business that I thought was a past chapter in my life and this radical lifestyle change, I’m hoping I can make the shift into creative soul living on the East Coast.

One of the more fascinating aspects of this relocation is trying to explain my life to people. The social situations I find myself in are predominately professional settings and in some cases, with senior executives of large firms. They always ask where I moved from and my answer still has no clear definition. Sometimes I choose the easy route and say South Carolina- technically, it’s true.

But what about those 2 years of living nomadically all over the world? What about those lovely years of travel, exploration, struggle and art? What about the RV in Arizona and the Grand Canyon on my driver’s license? What about the summer in Europe and the winters in the desert? What about the months in Alma, Colorado when me and my dog nearly froze our asses off in the highest town in the country? What about the first Walkabout and the meandering through the West on trains, planes and automobiles?

What about all that I have been and all that I’ve seen the past two years since this blog started? When I tell someone a glossed over version of my past few years, I think a little part of me dies. I think I’m actually denying who I am and the creative person I’ve become because I’m afraid of the perceptions of strangers. Maybe that’s why the words have stopped- I’ve diminished their meaning because I’ve entered a world where people don’t understand a life like mine.

Another fascinating aspects of this transition is the internal comparison that happens, almost constantly, as I travel through my days here. My days are filled with meeting amazing new people who have accomplished quite a bit at the same age as me, or even younger. Our conversations are filled with topics like business development, investments and children. Now, I love some biz dev topics, but the rest of it is so foreign to me. My life is so different that at times, I look at all that I don’t have and didn’t build and think that I’m inadequate or don’t belong in this conversation.

I’m an anomaly.

Yep. That's me.

Yet, when our conversations drift towards art, exploration and travel, I can’t stop telling stories. I know people see my life as this thing they can hardly comprehend and a thing of beauty- when I actually tell them about it.

I feel as though I’m living two lives right now. I’m clinging to the person I became through my traveling and writing and experiencing the world. This person will always choose experience over stability, adventure over savings and beauty over routine. This person has always been a part of me- she just got to take the reins the past two years and have her way. This person is a minimalist, needs constant unknown environments and doses of external chaos and challenge to stay sane.

The other me, the me that is trying to wrestle the reigns back from the free-spirit, is the one who understands the role of stability in an adult’s life. She knows that the bills have to be paid, food needs to be on the table and since we’re not a nomad anymore, this has to happen with regularity and predictability. She also knows that with the right focus and stability, the artist is more than capable of making a living with her talents and skills. So she’s playing the professional game. And doing it well, I might add.

And at the end of a long week, when I get into my 17 year old pickup truck- whom I pat on the dashboard and gently ask her to get me through this period of transition until I move to the city or get a daily driver- I have to laugh at myself. I’m truly straddling two completely different worlds and I don’t want to let go of either. I have no desire to work 60+ hours a week, drive a fancy car and live in my inbox. Yet, I no longer want to live perpetually out of my suitcase wondering where the next bed will come from and wear the same shoes everyday.

So, what do I want?

I’d like a little balance please. Just a little. I want to navigate these new waters of a settled life with my grace and sanity intact. I want to feel at peace with my decisions to not participate in the mass consumption game that most of the folks in this part of the world participate in. I want the words to come freely and the art to flow without fear.

I want to proudly say that I’m not from anywhere. Or maybe that I’m from everywhere.

Seeking balance at the VMFA's Asian Art exhibit.

What Do You Manifest

Open your eyes and take a look at the world around you.

Your world.

McLeod Ganj, India

The people you wake up to every morning, the people you surround yourself with as you travel through your day. Open your ears and hear the words.

Your words.

The phrases that come from your mouth and the language that you speak as you travel through your day. Are your words filled with hope and optimism, or are they tainted with fear, hate and malice?

Open your heart for one brief moment and what do you see? Is it shriveled and limp, like the Grinch, beaten down by life or discarded by your actions as an irrelevant organ that simply keeps your blood flowing?

Or is your heart large and vast, encompassing the world around you and radiating the beauty- and sometimes the sorrow- you see as you walk through this world with your eyes and ears open?

Kathmandu, Nepal

Do you spend your days devising ways to make others miserable- to play games with their lives and their emotion- for your pleasure, your entertainment- or worse- for your revenge? Or do you spend your days contemplating the ways in which to make the world a slightly better place as you pass through it? A slightly better place through your actions, through your thoughts, through the help you lend a friend or through the love and guidance you give your child.

Are your days filled with negative thoughts, angry actions and hateful words?  Do you then wonder why the world is always against you, why you have to struggle so hard or why you feel alone in this world?

India

Have you ever once- just once- stopped to look at the energy and the actions you place into this world? Do you ever- just for a second- look at yourself with the judgment and scrutiny you so willfully place on others? Or do you fear at your core the truths you might uncover?

We truly do manifest our fates in this world, whether we realize it or not. Yes, life is challenging and filled with hateful actions, trying situations and sorrowful partings. This life- this one life- is filled with the whole gamut of human and societal narratives. We live, we fall in love, we marry, we divorce, we give birth, we learn, we evolve and eventually we say goodbye to those we love forever. But in that vast span of years, while traveling down all those joyous paths and those tumultuous trails– we bring into our world a reflection of the soul that lies within.

Sangihe, Indonesia

We bring in beauty, love, hope and joy when our souls are open, accepting and in tune with a greater spirit than our own.

We bring in hate, malice, anger and despair when our souls are abandoned, ignored and out of synch with a power greater than our own.

The Dalai Lama's Temple in Dharamsala, India

So, I’m asking you this– what are you manifesting? Look at the past few days — what have you placed into this world? Has it nurtured your soul or simply spread your misery to others? Have you touched someone’s life with your beauty, attention and an accepting heart?  Or have you used your words and actions to cut someone down, to deliver false judgment and spread more negativity in a world already drowning in an ocean of hate?

Is this life a game for your manipulation and power struggles or is it a beautiful journey that brings you to challenging moments and equally magnificent heights?

Tibetan Children's Village

Move through this world manifesting that which you wish to live within. And if you wish to live within a world of hate and anger- check your premise. For it will be long and lonely life for you and at the end of your years, the answer to why you are alone will be painfully obvious- and a tragic reality to accept.