Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Unreasonable Happiness

Hola mi Gente,
My default facial expression is a smile. I think it’s always been like that. Even photographs of me as an infant, you see that smile -- constantly. In fact, laughter -- often in the face of hardship -- is something I learned long ago. Even that day when a court was offering me 15 years to life as an opening bid, after freaking out, I went back to Rikers and laughed my ass off.

Island Life

The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.
 -- Carlos Castaneda

Imagine spending the better part of a year living on an island paradise living off low hanging fruit. For company, you have the most beautiful woman (or man). You go barefoot for so long, your shoes no longer fit. Sounds great, right? A dream, a fantasy come true. And it was!

Except for one thing...Wherever I went, there I was.

Let me start over. I have to say that I honestly have no regrets. In fact, if I had to do it all over again, I would make all the same mistakes again -- only sooner. I know this sounds like a cliché (and it is), but it is true. This comes from gratitude. Gratitude is a kind of spiritual dignity. Everything I ever did, everything I have experienced, has conspired to create the man you see before you today. And for some time now, I have been truly genuinely grateful for who I am. It’s not ego. I meet plenty of people who say they love themselves, but what if what you’re “loving” is fucked up? LOL That’s ego, not love.

Every pain, every hardship, every mistake -- all of it -- I would do it all over again, and I have no regrets. Pain is a great teacher. I think it was the poet, Gibran, who said, “Pain is the breaking of the shell of your understanding.” Today, I try to welcome the negative, the ugly, the positive, and beautiful equally. Our feelings are our children and why would we abandoned the angels with dirty faces and keep only the well-mannered, socially acceptable feelings?

Back to the beach. There you are in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. You’re on an island untainted by pollution and modern technology. White sands, aquamarine water, pale blue skies smeared with occasional tufts of white cotton candy clouds. There is nothing but the moment and the attentions of a lover or friend. Paradise, right? But what if your state of mind doesn’t see it that way? What if you're more concerned with ruminating on the past (memories) and chasing the future (fantasy) than you are in enjoying that island paradise?

What I’m trying to say is that people (the lover/ friend), places (the island), or things (possessions) are not the prerequisites for happiness. If you’re feeling fucked up right now, it wouldn’t matter where you were, no sooner that you become habituated and the novelty wears off, you will be back to feeling fucked up. The sand will be too hot, the humidity unbearable, for example. Happiness and joy is a state of being, not a place. Sure, it’s easier to think that you could do the happy dance faster if your ideal man or woman was feeding you grapes on some isolated island paradise, but that’s bullshit.

I know... 

If you want to be happy (and let’s face it, some of us don’t), then all you have to do is create it. I am a sun worshiper, for example, and my idea of retirement would be to run a used bookstore on some tropical island (mate optional). Still, I have lived on that island all these years and you can too. Let’s try a quick exercise. Try to envision your concept of what you think will make you happy. What is your fantasy of happiness? For example, if my island fantasy is to your liking, imagine yourself there. How would you act? How would you look, talk, and walk? What would your frame of mind be like? How would you feel inside?

Got it? Hold it in your mind. Get all the details down, from your smile to your manner of dress, attitude, etc. 

Now here’s my last question for you: what’s stopping you from living like that right now?

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization... 

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