Hola mi Gente,
So, allow me to clarify some things: my real age is 61: I am 61 years-old today. Yes, I can be a drama queen… but shit! I was born on a Monday in New York City… How much more dramatic can it get?!!
It’s been a very challenging year, with a lot of obstacles and disappointments. Yet… I know it’s horrible to brag, but I’m rawking this 61and life is good! I would tell you how I’m spending my day, but then I would have to kill you. LOL
If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.
— Tallulah Bankhead
I love this quote because it captures my general philosophy. I’ve lived a full life, been to places most people never even dream of, and along the way experienced extreme joy and pain, happiness and a lot of unnecessary suffering. But if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change one thing. Life is perfectly unfolding no matter how imperfectly I may perceive that fact.
I wouldn’t change one thing… mostly because I am genuinely happy today and all the shit that came before is responsible for my life, who I am, and where I’m at as well as where I’m headed. Most people wouldn’t understand what I mean by happiness and it’s hard to explain in words. I think it’s because many people seem to be very unhappy.
I’m not talking about mere contentment. I’m talking about an invincible joy at the very core of my being. Some people don’t get me: I’m not some blissful fool walking through life tip-toeing-through-the-fuckin-tulips. I went through a lot to get to where I am today. I have survived experiences most couldn’t even begin to wrap their mind around to get to this present moment. I get angry, happy, horny (a lot), sad, frustrated and all the petty bullshit we all go through. I experience all that as well. But all that shit? Can’t touch this — can’t come near what I have.
It’s yours too, you know. Life doesn’t suck, sometimes our perspectives suck. I can still remember the day when I was told that pain wasn’t all that unique. My response was to say that they didn’t understand my terminal uniqueness (no one did) because my situation was special. However, I started to come around as I awakened from the grip of an ego-centered life. If you feel you’re that unique, I will cede only one thing to you today: yes, there’s a possibility your life is difficult and full of pain and uncertainty, but someone somewhere has it worse. This fact doesn’t invalidate your pain, but it should help you put it in perspective. I’m the worst guy for your pity party and I make my own mother cry, so what chance do you stand? LOL
There’s a birthday gift for you in here today, but first you need to answer: here’s two perspectives, which one is right?
Perspective #1: My life really sucks right about now. My job is a burn-out job. I work for an organization that sends me every day to one of the most violent facilities in the notorious penal colony, Rikers Island. It sucks. In any case, I’ve been settling for less and not challenging a whole slew of skill sets — especially my writing. On the personal front, I don’t have a real girlfriend and I’m horrible at relationships. Actually, I really suck at relationships. I don’t even own a goldfish! I’m tired of this city; my friends are lazy and unmotivated. My life sucks! LIFE SUCKS! Woe is I!
Perspective #2: I possess skills and earn good money for work I’m extremely passionate about. I get to make a difference (regardless how small) in the world. I have the respect of colleagues and I am known for my work and my ethics. I get up in the morning and I feel a creative sense of direction and purpose in my life. For some time now, I have come to the gradual awareness that it’s all coming together and I’m at my peak intellectually, mature and open emotionally, and enjoying my sexuality in ways I never dreamed. Most importantly, my happiness isn’t contingent on any person, place, or thing. In short, today I possess an embarrassment of riches, living a life only a few ever realize.
Quick! Which of the above is true?
Actually? Neither one. Well, according to “me,” the second point of view is my reality, but even that is not even close to the embodied truth. The ultimate truth is like the clear blue sky. What is sometimes called “Big Sky Mind” in Zen. All that shit I listed above: they are like clouds that pass across the sky. Sometimes the clouds are dark and threatening and block the sky from my vision. Other times, the clouds are beautiful cumulus clouds creating cotton candy-like shapes in the sky. Sometimes, it rains and thunders, and still other times the sky is clear and blue. But the one thing that never changes is the sky itself. The sky stays the same. It never left or changed; I just perceive it that way.
For a long time I wasted a lot of time chasing clouds. I would go on at great length about cloud formations, predicting the rain, or bemoaning the absence of sunshine. All this cloud analyzing was nothing more than mental masturbation and a huge waste of time. Worse, it caused suffering.
The sky is there. It just is. It will be there tomorrow and forever and a day. Life simply is. Period.
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that If I was not happy in the moment, even in the midst of all the good or fucked up shit I go through, what made me think I’ll be happy somewhere else, or with someone else? I realized the only guarantee was that I would never be happy, no matter where I was, who I was with, or how much money or material possessions I amassed. Life will often send me some shit to fuck up my party and I’ll react without thinking. Why? Because at a fundamental level I was not happy. I was too busy running from or grasping to something, someone, or some particular form of cloud formation.
If you want to be happy, to experience some measure of joy in your life, then start now. Recognize that the clouds don’t change the sky, they only obstruct your perspective. Even if you are experiencing a tremendous amount of pain and suffering right now; even if you find yourself in the grips of fear and uncertainty, this sky is still there, just waiting for you to open your eyes. In other words, you can attain an invincible joy even in the midst of everything that’s happening right now. Learn this: as fucked up as you think right now is (and your perception is up for questioning), you can still grab the fruit. You can take a bite of life. Learn to do this. Otherwise get ready for more needless suffering.
That’s my birthday gift to you, my friends. This moment right now. This is it. Go for it…
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…