My Experience of My Life Unfolding
In this moment, here is an expression of the qualities that were important to my life unfolding that way it has.
1. Selfing. There is a Buddhist teaching that illuminates a balance point between being selfish and selfless that I came to love. On the one hand, if we are not selfish we cannot learn to love and forgive ourselves. On the other hand if we are completely selfless, and give ourselves up to others, we retain no "self" identity that can offer an unique expression of our contribution to the evolution of expanding intelligence. The practice is to find the balance point where you are serving yourself and those around you in any given moment. "Selfing."
2. Follow/Indulge your curiosity. Ask a lot of questions. Get interested in what goes on with others. Engage with the great unity of the web of life. Bask in the warmth of intimate connections. Experience the quiet peace at the end of a breath. Dance in the fire of creative moments. Engage with love in all its forms.
3. Animating force. I do believe there is a force larger than ourselves that we humans engage with in this life and on this planet. In a sense, co-creating with us. For me it is not a white haired dude sitting on a throne. I instead experience this force flowing though me, available to me and reminding me in my better moments that I am a part of something much larger than just myself.
Based on many experiences, I have come to accept this presence helps us play a part in creating more complexity and compassion in the Kosmos. And what a dance it is where I contribute something as an individual and as part of a collective. The human experiment is just the latest of its projects. It is unpredictable, creative and fails quite often. You can call this spirit or the sum total of the 8 billion individuals being and doing what they are in each moment. It is a powerful, mysterious, presence in every moment that I have experienced when I have turned my attention to it. When I am in the flow of it, my best creations have come forth and I act towards others as my better angel.
When I have reflected on how change happens, as I have mentioned before, one of the narratives that it is the world that comes closest to my experience is “co-creation.” This story on the face of it points to a larger field of “spirit” that encompasses all things in the Kosmos. Star Wars called it “the force” but whatever you call it is not anything that approximates human form. Its presence in my experience is indescribable in human words. It is more of a experience you have than anything else.
4. Standing for something. For some reason I had this strong sense in my life of wanting justice. I hated bullies (even when they were me) and authoritarian thinking of all types. However, when you do make a stand you want to make sure its for the right reasons.
What I mean by that is that it was far too easy for me to confuse standing up for something with self-righteousness. The question that eventually informed me about this was,.. IF I was going to put my life on the line, was I doing it for the right reasons. In my experience with the Viet Nam draft for example, I had to decide if I was willing to put my life on the line and take another's life for the stated goals of that unholy war. The answer on that one was NO... I will not participate.
I suspect that going forward, those of you who come after me are going to be more challenged than my generation was, as we transition from where we are now to whatever is next. Human culture has gone through 6-7 of these transitions, and there is no guarantee that things will get better in the short term.
In the long term however, intelligence has always expanded to more complex and compassionate forms, but that may be of little solace, as you get swept along by the revolutionary waves of radical change. Sometimes it’s extremely difficult to identify what to do as it is happening. That’s why I found it was so important for me in the quiet time before the CRISIS was upon me to get grounded in what was important. What stories did I want to live into? What did I want to stand for. If I did that, when the crisis arrived I did what was right for me without thinking.
Patterns of Unfolding
My life has played out in pulses of activity that were easy to see as I looked back. Work, family, friends, places I lived, and what I engaged with. Much of it when I got out in the world was shaped by the work I was doing. Back and forth between San Francisco and Hollywood, I would move creating many lives around some new endeavor. I have often admired people (like my siblings) that picked one place and stayed for a longer time. Networks, friends are different because of it. The life I chose was more vagabond in nature, with circles of friends at each stop. There was a certain loneliness in this for me in between chapters, but the curiosity that pushed me to know more and create more often won out over stability.
My adult life unfolded in roughly seven to twelve year cycles. Not sure there was any reason for this, but it happened often enough to notice. Each time the transition came I was asked to stretch out of my comfort zone to the next version of myself. Sometimes these transitions were difficult, but each time I ended up discovering/stabilizing a new pattern of living that included more.
My guiding light was to always to follow my curiosity. This was not a brave choice as some have suggested about my eclectic journey, but really a necessity. I found that if I really didn’t feel curious about something, I wasn’t very good at engaging with it. Sometimes that engagement brought big success, money, notoriety etc. and other times these efforts took me into quiet backwaters for seemingly no apparent reason other than to regroup.
Either way the test was always… "Could I bring something to the conversation that was unique?" Something that in some small way that would improve it. I found that when I made it through those unstable transitions there was always something new and interesting on the other side. Of course the ultimate expression of this is when each of us transitions from this world in death to whatever is next. Truly from flesh into light/energy in its multitude of forms and states.
All that being said, in this life we do inhabit these bodies. Considering the myriad of systems… bones, muscles, blood, brain impulses, energy networks etc., that have to function well, it’s always seemed like a miracle to me that we actually walk around in this world at all. Whatever you believe about us being something more than that, the fact remains, when we enter these bodies in this life, we step into generations of DNA passed down from our ancestors that forms a unique energy signature that we identify with as part of who we are.
For whatever reason, my family on both my Fathers and Mothers sides, suffered from depression and anxiety. I wasn’t aware of the details of this until much later in my life when I finally turned to deal with mine. At that point, I was tired of feeling inadequate and fearful. On the outside, I compensated by puffing myself up into this bigger than life guy, seemingly so assured, creative, dynamic etc. And that was true to a point. I could not have done all the things that I have without some juice driving it.
But one of the things that I had to constantly deal with is what we call “monkey mind.” This was the internal chatter that would go on in my brain about every little detail of my life. The positive side of this is that I could hold tremendous amounts of information and stories and weave them together into some pattern that made sense to people. Folks often commented in my professional life that I could see the whole picture and the individual details that it required to bring it forth into the world.
The down side of this "ability" was the curse of being able to recall stories because they included events that carried some kind of pain and suffering with it. Over the years it was just amazing to me that when I was in the middle of doing something else, a scene from years ago that had some conflict attached to it would surface. Usually these were minor moments that seemed like no big deal in the overall scheme of things, but there they were like I was watching them on television.
In the mid-nineties this all came to a head as I mentioned before. I went down a dark rabbit hole where I needed a lot of professional help. It was my first experience taking medications, as I attempted to find better ways to manage this active brain of mine. These dark periods would sometimes come seemingly out of nowhere. When I had the big one in question in the mid-nineties I was at the top of my career at Disney, living in my big house right under the Hollywood sign, had a fabulous group of friends and creative collaborators... living the dream so to speak. And yet, this dark cloud appeared that came close to paralyzing me. At work I was running a big interactive entertainment team. I was terrified someone would come into my office to ask a question or request I do something and see me in this state. This is a story for later, but I got really good at faking it.
This monkey mind issue continues to this day. When I sometimes say I am tired of life, it is because I long for some peace from the chatter. So, it is a double edged sword, as most things in life are. The creative tension between feeling well and happy and the drive to create something of meaning are present in the same moment. Before we get into the stories, I just wanted to note this theme because it shaped and influenced them all.
So, obviously I am not suggesting you follow my example. Each of us has to find meaning in our own way. What mattered to me at particular points in my timeline was often very different from other times. What is included in this exit interview are my best remembrances of the life that I have discovered was richly blessed even in the most challenging moments. They are the stories and the experiences that influenced what I am leaving you to give you some sense of the times in which I lived. I hope these stories are helpful to your journey in some way.