“you’re not depressed, you’re distracted.” *

August 16, 2012 | filed under consider this, inspiring, moment of truth, rewritable words | 4 Comments 

while in haiti, i met a couple who recited this poem. the husband read it in its native spanish and the wife translated it into english. it’s beautiful.

You’re not depressed, you’re distracted. Distracted from the life that fills you, from the life that surrounds you: dolphins, forests, seas, mountains, rivers.

Don’t fall for what your brother fell for, who suffers for one person when there are 5,600 millions people in the world.

Besides, living alone isn’t so bad. I have a good time deciding what I want to do every time and it’s because of solitude that I know myself, a fundamental thing for living.

Don’t fall for what your father fell for, who feels old because he’s 70 years old and forgets that Moses guided the exodus at 80 and Rubistein played Chopin like nobody else, at 90. To mention just two familiar cases.

You’re not depressed, you’re distracted because you think you lost something, which is impossible because everything has been given to you. You didn’t make a single hair in your head, so you don’t own anything.

And life doesn’t take things from you, it liberates you from them. It makes you lighter so you can fly higher, so you can reach fullness. From the cradle to the tomb it’s a school so what you call problems are really just lessons. You didn’t lose anybody, those who died have just gone ahead, because that’s where we’re all going. Besides, the best of them, their love, stays in your heart. Who could say Jesus is dead? There’s no death, there’s moving. And on the other side, wonderful people wait for you: Gandhi, Michelangelo, Whitman, St. Augustine, Mother Theresa, your grandmother and my mother, who thought poverty was closer to love because money distracts us with many things and alienates us because it makes us suspicious.

Do only what you love and you’ll be happy, and he who does what he loves is fated for success, which will arrive when it should, because what must be will be and will come naturally. Don’t do anything under obligation or compromise but for love. Then there will be fullness and everything is possible in it. And effortless because it’s the natural force of life what moves you; what lifted me up when the plane that carried my wife and daughter crashed; what kept me alive when doctors gave me only 3 or 4 months to live. God put you in charge of a human being and it’s you. You must make yourself happy and set yourself free, it is only after this that you’ll be able to share real life with the rest. Remember Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you”.

Reconcile with yourself, stand in front of a mirror and think that the creature you’re looking at is a work of God and decide right now to be happy because happiness is an acquisition.

And happiness is not a right but a duty because if you’re not happy, you’re bringing down the whole neighborhood. A single, talentless, coward man had six millions Jewish brothers killed. There are so many things to celebrate and our time on earth is so short that suffering is a waste of time. We have to celebrate the snow of the winter and the flowers of the spring, chocolate from Perusa, French baguettes, Mexican tacos, Chilean wines, the seas and rivers, Brazilian soccer, One Thousand and One Nights, The Divine Comedy, Don Quixote, Pedro Páramo, Manzanero’s boleros and Whitman’s poetry, Mäiller, Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Velásquez, Picasso and Tamayo, among other wonders.

And if you have cancer or AIDS, only two things can happen and they’re both good: If it beats you, it sets you free from that annoying body: I’m hungry, I’m cold, I’m tired, I want to, I’m right, I have doubts… and if you beat it, you’ll be humbler, more grateful and therefore easily happy. Free from the enormous weight of guilt, responsibility and and vanity, willing to live each moment as profoundly as it must be lived.

You’re not depressed, you’re just not busy. Help the boy who needs you, that boy will be your son’s business partner. Help the elderly and the young ones will help you when you’re older. Besides, service is sure happiness, like enjoying nature and caring for it for those who’ll come. Give beyond measure and you’ll receive beyond measure.

Love until you become what is loved and even until you become love itself. And don’t let a few suicides and homicides confuse you, goodness is the majority but you can’t tell because it’s quiet. A bomb is louder than a stroke but for each bomb that destroys there are millions of strokes that feed life.

Very few things as beautiful as these words have been given to me, that they seem to come out not just from a kind soul but from a very human one. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and I hope we all put them in practice. Now, let’s live and complain less, don’t you think?

– Facundo Cabral

* original title: No Estas Deprimido, Estas Distraido

#notetoself: show your love.

April 7, 2012 | filed under #notetoself, challenge, consider this, moment of truth | 1 Comment 

don't hurt to anger, hurt, or pain. they steal your energy and keep you from love.

This is the sixth #notetoself letter, originally sent on March 13, 2012.

There is a great irony in my personality. I suppose it’s common amongst others that identify as writers, but knowing it’s not specific to me doesn’t make me any more comfortable with it than if it were only my problem.

I’m a horrible communicator.

Yup. Horrible.

However eloquently I may be able to string together written words, I’m much less gifted with the spoken word, especially when it comes to my most vulnerable relationships. Especially when I’m hurt. Especially when hurt and most other painful emotions are filtered through anger. The only thing I can communicate then is anger. The knives come out. They’re figurative, but the wounds from my words can be just as painful as a literal cut — and they can go deeper.

The result is frequent apologies. I’m sorry for days, but anything said too often begins to lose its power. The last thing you want to do is issue an impotent apology. I fear sincerity won’t be able to carry me for much longer.

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#notetoself: relax into the discomfort.

March 26, 2012 | filed under #notetoself, challenge, consider this, moment of truth | 4 Comments 

discomfort zone

This is the third #notetoself letter, originally sent on February 20, 2012.

Isla de Ometepe in Nicaragua is an island formed by two volcanoes with an isthmus between them. Many consider it to be a magical place, although I haven’t yet figured out exactly what makes it so, but suspect I will soon. It’s beautiful and there are more signs of nature than the 42,000 people that live here. I’m staying on a permaculture farm with all kinds of good stuff: random greens, herbs, coconut, banana, plantains, Moringa, Mayan breadnut, taro, jackfruit, neem, guava, cashew, cinnamon, mango and so much more.

When I first arrived, I was ecstatic. Everything about this place was cool– the outdoor showers overlooking Lago Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America, the squat toilets, the compost toilets, the outdoor dorms with amazing views of the sky (basically just a covered platform with a black tarp on one side acting as a wall), the hammock on the platform in a tree overlooking Volcan Concepcion, the solar-powered outdoor kitchen…

I slept horribly the first night. The only two options for mosquito nets was one that was a bit too small for the bed and one that was the appropriate size, but disgusting. It could’ve been from bat droppings, flies, mosquitoes, any number of things. To me, it didn’t matter; it was just really too disgusting for my comfort. The second night, I forgot to charge my cell phone during the hours of 10-3 when we can charge only if it’s sunny. Since the 6:45 meeting is a bit early for me still, I needed an alarm. Rather than asking someone to wake me up, I decided to sleep in the hammock up in the tree where you can see bright, vivid stars. It was windy and cold all night long. Not a good call, but I was still happy about the experience. The third night, an insect flew into my ear while I was sleeping at 2 am. Another lady here helped me drown it with saline solution, but then I was bothered by the fact that there was a dead insect in my ear. The next day was a fumbling exercise in Spanish and patience, spent going to the town clinic, waiting for it to open, hearing it was closed, deciding to go to another clinic and while waiting for the bus to take me to the other side of the island, discovering the town clinic was in fact open but not really equipped to adequately help me. The nurse looked at my ear with a dim light from her cell phone and flushed my ear with a syringe, ejecting a small, black mosquito. Still, something in my ear didn’t feel right, so she urged me on to the other clinic, where I found out that there was no insect but there was “hongo”. Fungus. I have an ear fungus.

After returning to the farm and preparing for bed that night, I wondered what the hell I was doing. I’m in the mountains. With no electricity. Sleeping outdoors. With a mosquito net that’s obviously not very effective. Freaking out about the plethora of bugs grossly outnumbering me. Really, what?

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#notetoself: release your attachments.

March 22, 2012 | filed under #notetoself, consider this, moment of truth, rewritable words | 4 Comments 

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it

This is the second #notetoself letter I sent during my trip, sent on February 13, 2012.

Buenas! I hope this letter finds you in good health and high spirits. I’m coasting on the joy of so many blessings in the past week, but also a bit weighed down by the reality of the lessons I’m still learning from my bag being stolen a little over a week ago in Costa Rica.

I’m now in Granada, Nicaragua, which on the surface is a quaint and charming colonial city with humongous houses and beautiful, colorful architecture. With the feel of a small town, the pace is comfortably slow and inviting. I can walk at 2 miles per hour here and not feel hurried. It’s a nice change of pace from Brooklyn and Manhattan.

But travel not even a mile outside the city center and experience the stark oppositional reality that this is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. Tiny, wooden shacks with tin roofs. Dirt roads. Normalized poverty. I’m accustomed to seeing…more. The standard of living in Nicaragua is lower and visitors like me are thought to be wealthy simply because we can travel, regardless of how budget that travel is or what was sacrificed to do so. Here, I’m faced with how much I have and how much I’m accustomed to having.

On Friday, what I presume to be the purpose of my bag being stolen hit me. Hard. Release your attachments.

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#notetoself: be resilient.

March 18, 2012 | filed under #notetoself, moment of truth | 1 Comment 

I’ve been traveling for seven weeks. Those who get my #notetoself emails are updated, but most others aren’t. I’ve been meaning to share these here for a while. This is the first #notetoself email (reformatted into letters!) I sent after one week of travel, on February 6, 2012. Please feel free to comment, share, etc.

I’ve only been in Costa Rica for one week, and have learned some pretty big lessons. Traveling is by far one of my favorite things to do because it throws you out of your comfort zone, leaving you with less armor to shield yourself with, which can, if you let it, result in purer knowledge of self.

You live. You learn. You adjust. You get over, under and through if you have to simply because…well, you have to.

At the time of my last writing, I was in Tamarindo. From there, I took a seven hour bus ride to the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose. I stayed the night, woke up and took a two and half hour bus ride to Cariari on my way to Tortuguero, a village on the northeast coast of the country. In Cariari, my backpack was stolen. My bag was one of the last things to be loaded, thus one of the first to be unloaded, while I was one of the last to exit the bus. By the time I got off, it was gone. Nearly everything I needed for my day-to-day living during the next two and half months: shoes, clothes, vitamins, medicines, toiletries, etc. Gone.

Too shocked for an immediate reaction, I wanted to cry, but couldn’t. After I realized this was no mistake and I wasn’t going to haphazardly see the thief with my bag so I could run them down and take it back (yes, I really thought of doing this…quite a number of times), I did cry. As I walked down the streets of a foreign city, wondering what to do next. Do I keep moving in the direction of Tortuguero? Nothing clean to put on the next day, or to wear to sleep. What to do?

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a good reminder about our beliefs.

February 27, 2012 | filed under #notetoself, consider this, inspiring, moment of truth | 2 Comments 

to the creatives…

January 6, 2012 | filed under #notetoself, inspiring, moment of truth, the visual | 2 Comments 

do the work. be courageous.

Source: Mreeuh Chang

on openness.

January 5, 2012 | filed under #notetoself, moment of truth, random, thoughts | Leave a Comment 

I have an admission.

The recent absence of my online presence isn’t exclusively related to being busy or mentally preoccupied. That’s part of it. Another part of it, actually, the biggest part of it, is the recurring struggle I’ve had with allowing myself to be open. I’m set on finding the balance between protecting myself and my life and being an open book. I’d like to share myself in a thoughtful, meaningful way, not recklessly over-share.

Posing this dilemma to a friend, he said, “But the work you do requires you to be honest. All creatives have to be.” It hit me, as it occasionally does at times before disappearing again, that there is something to this process, to this learning and sharing of mine. It isn’t haphazard or reckless; it’s necessary — for me and for whomever my words touch. I forget that my brand of creativity is more specific to how I think and applying understanding to grow. The art that resonates the most is that which is the most honest. My work will only resonate with others when I’m brave enough to open up and share my journey.

So, there it is. I struggle with being open. I struggle with maintaining clarity about my path. But I get it back. I’m here for a purpose and I unfailingly believe in purpose.

I’ll stop being scared. I’ll open up a bit. A few months back, I had a moment, ripe with reminders for myself. Epiphanies flooded me, and as they cascaded, I wrote them on my mirror. The picture above captured the result of that moment. It became a #notetoself I was happy to immortalize.

be honest with yourself about who you are,
what you need, what you feel, what you think, what you see.
honor yourself. honor your truth. honor your perspective.
honor who you are. honor who you’ve been. honor who you’re becoming.

vision is everything.

January 3, 2012 | filed under consider this, inspiring, moment of truth, rewritable words | 2 Comments 

“Before a painter puts a brush to his canvas he sees his picture mentally…
If you think of yourself in terms of a painting, what do you see?
Is the picture one you think worth painting?
You create yourself in the image you hold in your mind.”

– Thomas Dreier

For years, I’ve been meaning to set aside the time to create a cohesive vision of how I’d like my life to look. Every area: health and fitness, career, finances, emotional life, spiritual life, social life, romantic life, etc. Occasionally, I’ll remind myself that fuzzy targets don’t get hit and when it comes to understanding exactly what I want, there’s often quite a bit of fuzziness.

At the end of the month, I’ll be embarking upon one of the scariest and simultaneously most exciting adventures of my life: I’m taking off to Central America for two and half months. The why is multifold. The timing is just perfect. It’s winter and the only way I enjoy winter is with some sun and warmth; wearing socks indoors and sleeping with hoodies and heating pads isn’t my thing. Additionally, I’m not sure when else all the factors in my life will align perfectly to create another opportunity like this one.

Before I take this journey, I’ve begun to start critically examining my life. There are gaps that need to be closed and the first step is identifying where I am and where I’d like to go. The quote above is helping me maintain my motivation for actually completing this process. It’s my wish that it’s of assistance to you as well.

be inspired: stand up for what’s right.

November 19, 2011 | filed under consider this, inspiring, moment of truth, watch this | Leave a Comment 

Admittedly, I’ve been fairly removed from the Occupy Wall Street movement that’s been brewing for the past few months. Last night, I found out a retired Philadelphia Police Captain joined the protest and was arrested. Not generally a fan of this country’s “defense” systems, it’s cool to see a police officer with a true understanding of where he stands within this nation’s social hierarchy and being one with the people and not against.

Here’s a short video of an impromptu interview before he was arrested.

Read more about this here.

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