Everyone thinks of honey bees as amazing social insects capable of creating delicious food stores that humans and other animals enjoy consuming. Their interactions and ability to communicate with other members of their colony has been the source of much study and mystery, with more incredible discoveries being observed on a regular basis. With so many specialized behaviors that honeybees posses, it makes me wonder why we don’t learn more about ourselves from this amazing insect. Yes, the obvious desirable aspects of honeybee life are easy to aspire to… we should work together peacefully for a common goal, if we all pitch in and do our part… those are just a given. But what about the different jobs a honey bees does during its life cycle? The unique roles that are in alignment with their age and current physical status? What can we learn as humans about our personal growth as we watch this amazing, beautiful, beneficial, and necessary creature?
Many times in our own lives we are presented with choices to make regarding career, mates, schools, and for some reason, they are always referred to as singular. We can’t or shouldn’t make more than one choice, because we should pick something and totally stick with it. In fact, until watching a TED talk by Emilie Wapnick, I didn’t realize my tendency to want to do many different things was actually a good thing, and it had a term all of its own… a “multipotentialite.” Yet worker honeybees are all multipotentialites, each doing a job that perfectly suits them until the time comes to move onto something else… wouldn’t it be great if we could all do the same? Well come to think of it, why can’t we?
Female honeybees, which are known as “worker” bees, begin life as a fertilized egg laid in a myriad of cells created for the purpose of rearing new bees. As the name implies, they do all the work in the colony while male bees are produced from unfertilized eggs and do nothing but eat and have sex. This is always a great way to start any bee talk and a useful tool to see if your audience is paying attention. Aside from the comedic references, this is an important aspect to note since 21 days later and with great metamorphoses (egg, larva, pupa, etc.), an adult female bee emerges from a cell. With her body still soft and moist from being cooped up inside a tiny enclosure, she enjoys her first meal by consuming the cap of the cell she emerged from, and then cleans herself off. She’s unable to sting and defend herself with her parts being very new, so her first job is cleaning up the colony… she is known as a “house” bee and let’s get all anthropomorphic and call her “Gwen.”
Gwen has lots of work to do as a house bee… she will clean the colony by removing dirt and debris, sometimes even paint from the insides of man made hives. Bees that die inside the colony will be removed by Gwen and tossed out the entrance since they can rot and spread disease. No one likes cleaning the house all day it seems, and so Gwen will tire of her role and decide after about two days that she’d like to do something a little more challenging… of course this is something we often feel as humans. Sometimes we no longer feel joy in our jobs or careers and so we seek out something else to do… sometimes that change requiring a ton of courage in the process. For Gwen the change is part of her life and she will take on the role of what some like to call a “nurse bee.”
As a nurse bee Gwen will see to it that all developing bees are well fed and taken care of. She will gather pollen and honey that’s been stored in cells, add some of her saliva containing enzymes and even bacteria, and use it to make nutritious “bee bread.” She will feed this bread to the larvae that just hatched from eggs the queen laid about three days prior. As Gwen becomes more experienced as a nurse bee, she might actually experience a kind of promotion. It has been observed that older nurse bees are the ones that take care of developing queens when a replacement is needed, feeding them “royal jelly.” This magical food is what actually turns a developing worker bee into a queen… nothing else is different other than this specialized diet.
As Gwen continues to age and is about into her second week of being an adult honey bee, she will grow weary of taking care of so many and decide to change it up a bit. She will start producing wax flakes from her abdomen and chewing them to form honey comb. She will decide that perhaps making honey is her thing and she will construct comb for the purposes of storing nectar that foraging bees bring in from the field. This nectar has been mixed in-flight with enzymes, and will form into honey when the moisture is removed and it has the opportunity to “ripen.” Gwen will sit over exposed honeycomb and flap her wings to evaporate the water from the honey until it’s ready to be capped and stored. This is a huge career change but hey it’s a job and she enjoys it for about five days. At this point Gwen has a wonderful knowledge of hive life and she’s feeling like she knows her stuff… and perhaps it’s time to change it up a little once again.
Still considered a “house” bee, Gwen has decided security and environmental controls are her thing and she will begin guarding the entrance of the colony. Her stinger is ready for battle and every single bee returning from the field will get a little “sniff” to make sure they belong. Every honeybee carries a unique biochemical ID card to make sure they’re allowed to gain access to the colony, and Gwen is ready to kick ass in case other honeybees are looking to steal honey… because yeah that’s a thing. When she’s not defending the colony she might decide that it needs a little bit of air conditioning and will use the trick she learned from evaporating moisture from honey, and do the same with water to cool down the colony. By flapping her wings over water droplets intentionally brought in by other bees and causing evaporation, she can lower the internal temperature of the colony. All honey bee colonies must be kept at a temperature between 91 and 97 degrees fahrenheit for bees to develop properly… and that means sometimes being an air conditioner bee.
Well it’s been three weeks now and Gwen is tired of big city colony life. Like many of us, she wants to spread her wings and fly and explore what else life has to offer. She will take short trips around the outside of the colony, getting used to flying and orienting herself with the exact location of the colony with an error range of about three feet. Her internal GPS is thought to use the geomagnetic field of the planet combined with visual data, to get back to the same place every time, despite sometimes traveling up to twelve miles away! She will spend a day or two getting to know the neighborhood before doing her very last job… a foraging or “field” bee.
With her past behind her, Gwen sets off on her last and greatest adventure of all! She will spend about three more weeks flying all over town collecting nectar, pollen, water droplets, and plant resins… the later to make a glue / sealant called “propolis.” This is also the most dangerous job in her career path because Gwen will be away from the colony and her greatest source of protection… she will be extremely vulnerable to predators, pesticides, and even weather. It is very possible Gwen won’t return home, but she’s had a wonderful life and she’s taking it by the horns. Gwen will also navigate using the Sun, and will go back to the colony to let the other foragers know where food sources are in relation to it. She will perform the famously known “dances” which are fascinating to watch by the way, and can actually be read by humans. I’m honored to say I have done so myself within the glass hives of the University of Miami, during a brief internship when I was a teen.
If Gwen doesn’t get killed by predators or pesticides and makes it to her final days, her wings will become frayed and torn, and she will be unable to fly. She will be about 45 days old when she will decide that she’s had a full life and doesn’t want to endanger the colony by dying inside of it. She will exit the colony and fall to the ground, crawling away from the family of sisters that brought her into the world and saw her out of it. She will have looked back at a truly exciting life filled with many jobs, adventures, and knowledge… a day that we will all experience within our lifetimes. And hopefully just like Gwen, we can look back knowing we made the best of it, and lived life to the absolute fullest… because it’s never too late to reinvent ourselves.
In one month, almost to the day, it will be four years since I traveled to Orlando Florida with my amazing friend Kim, to partake in something we had only learned about the year prior. It had been an interesting journey for the two of us, rapidly growing and learning about “Law Of Attraction”, or how some have come to know it, “The Secret.” We had high hopes and even higher expectations. I was certain I was going to get picked to be in the infamous “Hot Seat” and get my opportunity to speak with Abraham, my only concern being the actual question… because I had none really. Finally the time came when I would notice a strange energy about the room, and an awareness in Abraham’s words… did they have some special meaning encoded within them? So with my question in mind, I raised my hand and was chosen to speak with “infinite intelligence.” This was an amazing experience, one that I will never forget, but did it change my life in anyway?
I have been blessed to have heard some amazing spiritual leaders speak in person, Eckhart Tolle, The Dalai Lama, a number of pastors that seemed totally tapped into some loving force… but seldom do you get to chat with one in person, while a thousand or so people watched. I had fully expected my interaction with Abraham to be life changing, but in what way? Would I suddenly manifest great wealth and a beautiful home? Would I win the lottery? Would I suddenly become enlightened in a way only few have known? Well to answer simply, yes…. and also no. I think my biggest surprise with deep diving into LOA (Law Of Attraction), was that while I was truly manifesting amazing things into my life, they happened in ways that were completely unexpected, and sometimes downright magical. At times it almost felt as though things were manifesting too quickly, and I wanted it to slow down. While at other moments I felt completely stuck, like I must be missing something, like I was almost there.
I got my huge lightbulb moment about LOA about a year after seeing Abraham in person. I had actually stopped listening to them at one point completely, ignoring my great desire to hear the many YouTube videos of their sessions that are available free of charge. It wasn’t that I was turned off or angered by them, on the contrary it was because I truly believed I was learning from them. And perhaps if I was vibrating as “student” and not in the sense of applying this knowledge, maybe that meant I wasn’t vibrating as “ready.” So I said to myself “This isn’t rocket science.” and I went on my merry way of applying what I had learned, instead of just listening to more and more examples of what to do. I actually felt this really moved me into the right direction, until the moment when I kind of felt like I needed more instruction, because obviously I wasn’t doing something just right enough. So I started listening again and that’s when it happened.
I was taking a break from the office on a beautiful sunny day, and found myself walking on a tree lined pathway not far away. The sky was so blue, the air was clean and the heat wasn’t oppressive as is often the case in Miami. I was listening to a track on YouTube and Abraham was talking about using day dreaming as a tool for getting yourself where you needed to be vibrationally. Since I was born a day dreamer, this was an easy task, but there’s something that most people do, including myself, that ruins what they called “A perfectly good day dream.” In addition to not feeling sad during your day dream because you don’t have what you want (because that just emphasizes and vibrates lack), many people also try to figure out how they’re going to accomplish what it is they’re actually dreaming about. And there lies the problem… or as Abraham put it “Why ruin a perfectly good day dream by trying to figure out how you’re going to get there… that just adds clutter and resistance.” And the light bulb suddenly went off. While Law Of Attraction is so much more than just day dreaming about what you desire, perhaps this was the one tool that would help me move to where I needed to be vibrationally. I felt so close as it was… maybe this would bring me past the finish line.
At first, I didn’t notice anything huge manifesting in my life, although there were some small things here and there that seemed to be working for me… after all, I already considered myself to be a very blessed individual. However, it did seem like my perspective had in fact changed somewhat… I just felt really good most of the time, and although I was far from being where I wanted, I was feeling pretty enthusiastic. I seemed to always have this sense that “Everything is always working out for me.” When my partner and I vacationed before the Spring, things really started to change… in the most peculiar of ways. The cruise we had planned was upgraded to a beautiful suite, something we had never experienced, and then because of a leaky pipe the first day, we were offered a %10 percent voucher for a future cruise, which turned into %15 percent when we received it. The entire trip was incredibly memorable, and as the months went by, more and more events began to occur with incredible solutions that followed. My car was on its last leg about to die, but the dealer gave me almost $7,000 for it when I thought it would barely fetch $2,000… engine light on, no A/C, etc. Indeed it seemed like everything was truly going my way… and it didn’t stop there. Unexpected sources of abundance seemed to just flow to me, despite fearing bankruptcy only months earlier.
“Why ruin a perfectly good day dream by trying to figure out how you’re going to get there… that just adds clutter and resistance.”
So here we are, four years after the Hot Seat and five since I started being aware of Law Of Attraction, and my life has totally and completely changed. I’m in a place now in my life where I’m not only incredibly happy, but the sky is truly the limit. I started to love my job again and won three awards, I feel like I’m in the relationship I was always meant to be in, and I’m incredibly excited of what and how the Universe will surprise me with next, because I’m not afraid of the unknown. While at the gym late last year, I received an incredibly strong “impulse” to start my own social media platform about spirituality (think Facebook only with nice people), and that project manifested itself almost “automagically” as we say in the IT world. Digitalsoulspace.org is a reality, and I believe we’re already starting to make a difference in people’s lives, if only because we are here and waiting for them when they need us. This is a very exciting time to be me and I’m loving it, so yeah…. The Hot Seat… it’s a good thing. I’m excited about the future, I no longer fear it, and that in itself is worth the price of admission. 🙂
Click HERE to listen to Mike’s experience with Abraham Hicks
Mike Robert is the science loving owner and creator of the The Geek With Muscles Blog and Podcast, Digital Soulspace, an independent online spiritual community, aquarist, a life long volunteer, social / community activist, body building enthusiast, naturalist, animal lover, conservationist, videographer, former actor and beekeeper, and an IT Professional of over 35 years. When he’s not doing any of the previously mentioned activities, he’s at Michael’s shopping for new ideas and hobbies for which he has absolutely zero time for.
I was walking my dog the other morning, and by chance, ran into my friend Alex while he was also walking his dog. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Alex, and his little Yorkie was doing what little dogs do… barking at my two dogs with a combined weight of 140lbs. Alex’s Yorkie is the second dog he’s had in the 16 plus years since I first met him, right after our neighboring condominiums had just completed construction. We seldom get to spend the time we’d like with each other, and as countless times before, made a commitment to visit with one another soon. Although this promise seemed somewhat different this time… it had much more energy and sincerity behind it. Before we parted our ways and pulled our very curious dogs away from each other, I told Alex that if COVID has taught us anything, it’s that we need to stay in touch. Heading back home I realized that while there was much truth in my statement, the larger awareness came with my 50th birthday seven months ago, and wondering where the time had gone. Suddenly career opportunities have turned into retirement seminars and workshops, and the friends that used to date like they were renting cars, are now grandparents. The awareness of my age is everywhere, and I’m trying to make some sense of it.
I think one of the first things that’s really starting to kick in at 50, is how cool my life has been. While I had my own version of a mid-life crisis, it didn’t seem to last all that long. Yeah, it was very real and significant to me, and I felt like I was seriously running out of time, but it also seemed to end as fast as it started. Just yesterday I was thinking of starting my acting career up again, and how I would feel totally comfortable being 80, and accepting an academy award… it was like suddenly it was time for Life 2.0. This concept of “re-booting” my reality isn’t new to me, I’ve felt it before and not that long ago, however this time it feels completely different. There’s much more momentum in these daydreams than ever before, and how cool is it that I can even make a statement like that? How totally cool is it that I’ve been on movie sets, I know what it’s like to audition for film and television, I know what it’s like to have an agent…. fuck that’s totally cool!! And while acting has been a really wonderful and educational experience for me, it’s just one of many that I feel incredibly blessed to have lived. Why stop now? I’m gonna age regardless of what happens, so I might as well be doing something fun while the time goes by.
“…the only thing I’m absolutely certain about, is that I don’t have all the answers.”
Mike Robert – A totally cool dude.
I’ve noticed recently that turning 50 has made me appreciate art in ways that I haven’t ever before. All kinds of art, from poetry to painting, to sculpture to videography… I’m so much more aware of the effort and process involved in creating, even though I’ve personally tried them all. It just seems like there’s this heightened sense of the pureness in one’s art, and I’m totally digging it. It’s like discovering that fries dipped in a Wendy’s Frosty are pretty damn amazing, and all your friends are like “you just figured this out?” This past June I volunteered to videotape a poetry reading, and I was pretty amazed during the editing process, how much I enjoyed the material itself… the poems, the soul of the work, and the perspective of the author. Today, just hours ago, I had another poetry experience while listening to NPR in the car. I was totally into it and felt the once familiar sensation of visiting San Francisco, and being immersed in a city that seemed to appreciate all aspects of creating. Listening to the show was inspirational, and the reason I decided to finish this blog post I started earlier in the week. Because you know, like the poet I was listening to, I’m also a writer and couldn’t resist to feel like one once again. How cool is that? I’m a writer!
The biggest change in my awareness has to be what I already alluded to in the beginning of this post…. the importance of friends and family, and acknowledging the contributions they have made to my life. I have always been a people person, but it’s so completely different now. I find myself thinking about how blessed I am to have had a singular conversation with a person at one point in time, and how much that interaction meant to me. It doesn’t matter if they were a close friend, a mere acquaintance or someone I barely knew, I just find it so important to tell them that I appreciate the awareness of them in my life. Of course for people that I have regular communication with, I have had to hold back for fear of smothering them… at times I just want to shout out loud “Thank you for being in my life!!!” And that would be completely awkward to say the least. Still, the desire to acknowledge others continues to grow within me, and I am finding creative ways to let people know they are amazing, or that I love them, in one way or another. However, this newfound appreciation for elevated communication also seems to include speaking my truth, so I’m not opposed to telling others “fuck off, you’re an asshole” when it’s absolutely deserved.
Spirituality plays a huge part of my 50 awareness, as I’ve become increasingly comfortable about letting other’s know that I am an intuitive. Yeah, I’m basically a psychic and I’m not ashamed to discuss or talk about it any longer… and I’m pretty darn good at it too. Through my adult life I’ve been blessed to have attended talks hosted by spiritual leaders, and mostly by chance. Very little planning if any went into these chance occurrences, many of them were as simple as answering an invite, as if to see a movie. I’ve been blessed to have seen the Dalai Llama, Eckart Tolle and even shared the stage with Abraham Hicks. In fact my entire life seems like it’s been one spiritual journey after another… I explored being a Mormon as a pre-teen, and then chose to Baptized as a Southern Baptist when I was 14. I started reading Angel Cards over 20 years ago, and now consider myself a mixture of almost every religion, but identify mostly as Neo Pagan. So going to Church for me is a visit to the Florida Everglades, and I’m incredibly aware and sensitive to lunar and solar cycles. I have never felt more connected to the Universe than I do today, and at times my world is a never ending conversation with energies through signs and interactions with fellow intuitive peoples. Each and every day is a new experience and I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride. People often come to me with lots of questions, but the only thing I’m absolutely certain about, is that I don’t have all the answers.
I guess turning 50 was a pretty fabulous thing, I’m suddenly thinking about what to do with the next phase of my life, and that’s pretty exciting. I can’t believe that I’ve managed to amass so many different and unique experiences up until now, and I’m confident that I will enjoy what’s to come with even greater enthusiasm. I’m living more in “the now” than ever before, so I’m finding delight in little things like the way the sun hits the branches of Oak Trees as I’m walking the dogs in the morning. The smile of a stranger walking by brings joy to my day, and I’m looking for increasingly more things to appreciate on a daily basis. I’m also still working on the aspects of myself I’m not too proud of, so the good news is, arrogance hasn’t found its way into my heart… I hope it never does. My life long struggle against depression is still very real, and I hope these words give me strength when I need them, knowing someday I most certainly will. In the mean time I’m just trying to live my best life, help others when possible, and looking forward to the days and the weeks ahead. As my former boss and now dear friend once said to me, “Happiness is a choice…” and that has never resonated more with me than it does today. I know it sounds cliché, and I may have referenced it before, but it’s the honest truth and yet another aspect of growth that I’m enjoying immensely.
Note: The beginning of this post was written while being treated in the hospital for COVID-19 and subsequently finished back at home.
I’ve never been in a hospital longer than an emergency room visit or outpatient procedure, so my current hospitalization while writing this post is a completely unique experience for me. I’m definitely not used to the isolation, the unanswered questions, the not knowing when I’ll be allowed to go back home. Although the level of care I’m receiving is outstanding, insecurities and uncertainties are doing their best to invade my psyche and chip away at my sense of positivity, something that so many identify with my personality and who I am as a person. I decided to share these feelings and my experience with COVID-19, since at the moment I have plenty of time on my hands while sitting in my hospital bed, and the days and nights are bleeding into one another like some amorphous expression of consciousnesses. Left alone to my thoughts, maybe there’s something constructive I can do with this journey, maybe someone can benefit from my story. With over seven million infections to date in our country, maybe someone out there will get the boost they need knowing there’s someone else out there that feels exactly the way they do.
My partner Eric and I always took great pride in doing the right thing during this pandemic, following instructions regarding masks, social distancing and not hanging out at large events. We didn’t want to be part of the problem and it was working. While part of the nation decided it would refuse to wear masks as some ultimate display of loyalty towards our president and a symbolic gesture of freedom, Eric and I wanted to make sure we were saving lives and helping to prevent the spread of this disease. Especially since my mother was gravely ill with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis when COVID-19 first made headlines, and infection would surely mean a death sentence for her. So we followed the rules and did our thing, finding tiny ways to make life employable while the world seemed to be shutting down and shifting into what seemed at times, utter chaos. We were trying to be the good guys for sure, and it seemed to be working.
On September 26th, Eric received the news that a co-worker of his had tested positive for the virus, and although initially concerned, I wasn’t super worried because everyone at his job was great about social distancing and following COVID-19 protocols. Eric would of course need to get tested the next day, and he proceeded to do so on Thursday. Out of an abundance of caution, his work site closed up shop until they had more answers. Since Eric works in the financial sector with a steady stream of customers throughout the day, they didn’t want to run the risk of further exposure to others. The process of initially locating a rapid testing site was a bit confusing, as there are are many locations, some of which are commercial, and everyone offers different kinds of tests. Eric settled on a MDNow location for his initial test, and then drove to a public testing site for rapid results screening. While there, Eric decided he just might as well do all the tests they offered just to be sure about his results. Not too long afterwards, Eric received notification that his rapid test was negative and we were very happy with the news, almost celebratory even. A nice take out meal would be in order to enjoy the evening together and take in the sense of relief.
While Eric and I were enjoying our dinner in our cozy living room, he received a call from the MDNow clinic, the caller id displaying part of the full name, MDNowUrgent, almost as if to warn about the impending news. Eric nervously answered the phone and after his information was verified, Eric discovered his rapid test was actually a false negative, and that he was actually positive with COVID-19. The surreal nature of the moment wasn’t lost to me, but it was somewhat anticlimactic at the same time. We knew so many people could test positive without serious symptoms, and only time would tell what course the disease would take with Eric. We at least had statistics on our side, and that offered some uneasy comfort to us both. I would also have to get tested, but again the level of concern wasn’t huge, just guarded as it were. Even when Eric started to feel run-down later that evening, we were wondering if his symptoms were actually from COVID-19, or possibly an overreaction to the news we received.
The next morning it was clear Eric wasn’t getting any better and his health obviously started to decline. I went to get tested myself at MDNow, and decided to make some chicken soup in anticipation of Eric’s ordeal. I have never made home made chicken soup in my life, but I took on a kind of instant pride of being Eric’s caretaker, and I was going to heal him the old fashioned way… with lots of love and lots of spoiling. I channeled my mother’s spirit for the ingredients to her soup recipe, and even heard “you forgot flat leaf parsley” while thinking of what the ingredients might be. Everything seemed to be falling into place, and I figured this would end up being just a nasty bug for Eric. I was in the zone for sure and we were gonna make it through this will little effort, if any.
Eric symptoms gradually got worse and he was miserable. I was waking him up on a regular basis, reminding him to take in fluids and serving him broth from what ended up being the most delicious organic chicken soup, if I must say so myself. Eric basically slept all day and I was happily playing nurse and loving the opportunity to help him during his time of need. I’m a giver and a caretaker at heart, so this experience was pushing all the right emotional buttons, reminding me of my mom and how she’d take care of me while I was sick as a child… and even not so too long ago after surgery in 2013. My COVID19 test came had come back negative, and although it surprised me, I figured this was the Universe letting me know I’d be taking care of Eric for the long haul, and that’s how it would simply play out. So far, so good, balance and harmony at work in the energetic fabric of time and space.
The following Monday I started not feeling so great and Eric seemed like he was starting to recover, the worse of his symptoms lasting only several days at best. I decided it was in everyone’s best interest to get tested again, so I made an appointment at a public testing facility. Initially my symptoms were mostly feeling like I was coming down with a nasty cold, similar to what Eric felt, and I was also feeling tingling in the gums, a sensation that always precedes some kind of illness with me. I think driving up at the public testing site was the first out of many of times, that I would notice an awareness in some people that they were doing something very important, and took pride in knowing they were possibly saving lives. Their energy and courtesy instantly made me feel great, and went through the several lines in my car with ease.
As the day went by I began to feel increasingly under the weather. My sense of taste began to diminish, and then disappeared entirely. I felt like I had a fever but my temperature was low, actually below normal. I didn’t feel like eating, and even drinking water or juice was a pain. I began to lose interest in basically everything, but what I also noticed was really starting to concern me. Everyone in my family knew Eric and was sick and they were constantly reaching out to me to find out how he was feeling. Of course this sense of family and caring being extended to my partner meant the world to me, not too many gay men can claim they’ve experienced that. However, I could tell that my family didn’t think I was sick at all, and that my recent negative test was proof of that, and most likely I was literally “making up” the symptoms subconsciously. It was subtle at first but then I noticed my sister texting things like “So you’ll live in other words…” and that really felt horrible as my symptoms progressed. I was being asked over and over by my siblings “Do you have a fever?” and when my answer was no, this just reinforced their hypothesis that my condition was “sympathetic” at best to Eric’s diagnosis.
Nighttime had become extremely difficult and on one instance I found myself shivering as if I was dying of fever. At times the shaking was so intense, it felt like a seizure, and I was wondering to myself “When do I call 911?” With no fever still, I was feeling extremely concerned, thinking that perhaps I even had sepsis from cutting myself while shaving. These increasingly bizarre thoughts and insecurities would be common place as I would soon learn during my infection. Through the recommendation of a co-worker the next day, I decided to use a tele-health service offered by our local hospital, and that changed everything. I didn’t feel like some little kid who’s family thought he just wanted attention, no…. I was sick and this was textbook COVID-19. The doctor validated my concerns about my testing scenario and said I would probably test positive later that day, but some people take much longer to convert. She also said the fever would come and now was the time to prepare my body by taking in fluids, vitamins and resting… much in the same way I did for Eric when he resembled a bedded zombie.
As the days continued to progress, and I was on about day five of my symptoms, Eric began to show great strides in his own recovery. He was full-on taking care of the dogs and I had become the zombie. I started to experience nausea and had started throwing up what little food or liquids I could handle. My fever hovered around 100.1, something that my prompted my sister to respond with “Is that even considered a fever?” Her Trump leanings are sometimes very evident, and it was sad that even during this time and seeing what was happening to me, her skepticism, however small, was making little trips to the surface for air. I had now tested positive for COVID-19, but the general attitude in the family was that it would be a four day sickness, something that didn’t gel with the general feeling of foreboding I had in my gut. By the weekend my cough worsened and there was blood in my sputum. I was in great pain that shot through my body, and the pulse-oximeter I purchased was showing my blood oxygen levels in the low 90’s. Something wasn’t headed in the right direction.
I think it was Saturday when my friend from work texted me to see how I was doing. Karla found out I was sick through the grapevine… we are a very tight knit department, so when I tested positive the news spread rapidly, not to mention I had visited our office only days before Eric’s test results. Since March, most of the department has worked from home as a safety precaution, however I needed to get my laptop upgraded and that meant dropping it off to a technician in our building. My positive test meant sending anyone I interacted with home (verified through security video footage) and conducting some very thorough sterilization procedures. As I was texting with Karla, I told her about the blood in my sputum and she immediately responded with “No!!! Call your doctor. Coughing blood is not normal.”
Thankfully I decided to take Karla’s advice and contacted my primary care doctor first thing Monday morning. The blood in my sputum had increased, and my O2 level wasn’t the best, hovering around 91 and 92 percent saturation. They scheduled an appointment for Tuesday morning and I was good with waiting one more day, even though the coughing was getting so much worse, sometimes extending into fits which made me like I was going to pass out. Needless to say I was looking forward to getting some much needed attention for my symptoms, COVID-19 has this way of making you feel very disconnected and of course the added confusion I was experiencing wasn’t helping much either. I was really in a scary place, feeling as though my health was in a rapid decline, and also feeling like few in my family were taking me seriously. Talk about feeling completely alone and not having all your faculties together.
The morning of my video appointment with my primary care was tough. I was coughing up more blood in my sputum, a nice bright red which meant it was pretty fresh, and I was feeling like total shit. When I finally connected with my doctor, it didn’t take him long to tell me I needed to visit the emergency room, that he was concerned I could have a pulmonary embolism. Holy shit, those were some tough words to hear, I knew I was getting worse, but I didn’t realize it was that bad. My doctor told me he would forward orders for a CT Scan and chest x-ray, and I needed to go as soon as possible. I got up from the computer and I walked over to Eric, still trying to process everything the doctor told me. When I explained to him that I could have an embolism, the look of fear quickly washed over his face. I wanted to take a shower but he recommended we leave right then, and so we did.
Walking into an emergency room with full blown COVID-19 is a very strange experience. You’re not only feeling extremely ill, but you feel as though everyone is staring at you, like they know already you’re carrying a contagious disease which has killed over a million people. As I walked through the automatic doors of Baptist Hospital’s emergency room, a triage nurse was stationed right there to make sure people like me didn’t walk around everywhere looking for assistance. I immediately told her I was COVID positive, and that my doctor sent me here for diagnostic testing. I was somewhat comforted by her response to me, clearly she had dealt with others in the same situation, and as such, was very calm, relaxed and extremely professional. I was directed to have a seat in the very large waiting area, where chairs were widely spaced… what seemed like at least ten feet apart.
I don’t think I sat there for more than a few minutes before I was put into a wheel chair and taken to a bed within the ER. Interestingly enough, my memory of what happened next is sort of fragmented, which makes complete sense because my oxygen saturation levels were quickly declining. I know I was almost immediately put into a gown and placed on oxygen. They placed electrodes on my chest and then not long afterwards, I started into a coughing fit. My perception of the following events is somewhat different than Eric’s. While I was coughing and gasping for air, it seemed like an eternity before someone showed up… turns out not being able to breathe makes time move pretty slow. On the other hand, Eric was super impressed with not only how fast they came to assist me, but that the decision was made almost instantly to move me to a negative pressure room where I would be given a breathing treatment of albuterol. It goes without saying that this would be one of the many times during my stay at Baptist Hospital, that I would be blown away by their preparedness to handle COVID-19 patients even though it was a relatively new disease.
Albuterol is a drug that opens your airways, my mom used to take it daily to treat her pulmonary fibrosis. It’s administered in an ultra-fine mist that you breathe in… and also exhale the excess. Because the mist is so fine and it’s been in your lungs with your new best friend Mr. 19, it can infect others in the room as it floats around. A negative pressure room is basically a designated room in the ER with a door, and a large floor to ceiling machine with white duct work. It has a very bio-hazard look to it, and it’s loud while it sucks out all the air from the area along with any contaminated albuterol mist from my lungs. Once the treatment begins, everyone has to leave the room as a safety precaution, and that alone is pretty unnerving. I think maybe it had been 30 minutes since I walked through the doors of the ER and I was already in this strange looking area, all by myself, getting a treatment so I could actually breathe.
After I had finished with the albuterol, I would be wheeled back into my original room in the ER feeling much more alert than before. It’s amazing what a little O2 can do for your brain. A nurse walked in an introduced herself, she was so very kind and funny, even telling me some pretty cool factoids about her scrubs to lift my spirits. Being a former docent at a zoo, I loved this kind of information and it really put my mind at ease. Turns out her scrubs, glossy pink in color, were made from the same material as air bags so they would be more anti-microbial than the traditional cloth ones we’re used to seeing. Of course, the scrubs weren’t the only thing different about people that came to interact with me. They also wore black rubber masks with purple respirators… like a gas mask that didn’t cover the eyes. Speaking of eyes, they wore protection that looked much like the goggles you wore in chemistry class in high school. Clearly the safety of the staff tending to me was also a huge priority for the hospital. The only problem was that almost everyone looked the same to me, and it was hard to tell the difference between the many amazing nurses that took care of me during my stay, so I started notating their names on my phone.
A couple of hours had passed since I arrived at the emergency room and by then I had a chest x-ray, CT-Scan and lots of labs including a blood gas. The gentlemen that performed the test was an expert, and I honestly didn’t feel a thing despite a needle being stuck deep into my wrist with a needle. He had given me some lidocaine first, which really helped make the procedure completely painless. Not too long afterwards I was given a small lunch, told I was being admitted and that my room was nearly ready and waiting for me. I was really blown away at the speed which everything seemed to be happening, and I sensed this was partly due to my diagnosis and condition. I would be brought to the COVID-19 area of this hospital… called 4 Tower, something I was familiar with since I volunteered there for a couple of years as a teenager. Before I knew it I was being wheeled into my room, a little scared and wondering how long I would be there. It was then that a nurse looked at me and said “Oh look, it’s my new patient!”
You’re not allowed to have visitors when you have COVID-19, the only people you see are heavily masked, gloved and covered up with fancy scrubs. It’s hard sometimes to understand their words because of the personal protective equipment (PPE) they’re wearing, but I noticed something almost immediately… these layers of rubber and synthetic materials didn’t affect their desire, disposition or level of care I received. This made all the difference since I would have felt like a lab rat with all the needles, hoses, injections, IV bags and machines around me. There was so much I didn’t know or understand… I felt instantly cut off from my friends and family, feeling almost as if I was there against my will. I started thinking of the show Orange Is The New Black and suddenly felt the need to hold back tears. I didn’t want to lose it and cry, these people were here to help me and I needed to focus on the intention, not the perception of the information my senses were picking up. I would later call this feeling of fear and confusion “COVID on the brain. “
I slept a lot the first day I was in the hospital, the cozy and comforting kind of naps you associate with your couch and rainy days. I was exhausted from what I had been going through at home, and my body totally needed the rest. As I began to wake up I coughed a little, and then some more… and then more after that. I had entered a full blown coughing fit and it hurt like hell. I could barely catch a breath between coughs, so I picked up my hospital bed control thingy to call the nurses station. It’s the weirdest sensation knowing all you have to do is press that button, but the instruction to cough is queued up in your head multiple times. It’s like you have to wait for those commands to be processed until your finger finally presses the button… and then you wait for someone to respond. Fortunately a nurse answered quickly and I had to summon the strength to get the words “I can’t stop coughing!” out of my mouth. When the nurse arrived to my room, she saw the situation I was in and immediately ordered more cough medicine with codeine in it. Relief came eventually, but not fast enough… I started to develop anxiety just thinking about the next coughing fit, which of course would come.
Nighttime came and the loneliness really starts to set in. There’s some comfort when dinner arrives, Baptist Hospital is known for their great food and they lived up to their reputation. Eric called me via FaceTime and it was great to see him, but it also saddened me. I could see how scared he was and I didn’t want him to be afraid. I wanted to be there to comfort him and I couldn’t be. He had left the emergency room after I was taken for my CT-Scan… we have three dogs at home that needed walking and he wasn’t allowed to come up to my room… so he drove home, called his parents on the way… and cried. Eric laughed about it during our FaceTime chat, but I could tell he was still very concerned about my well being… and so was I.
“These strangers also got sick with COVID-19 and decided to use their experience to possibly save the life of another… my life.”
Sleeping in a hospital is never easy. I had done it before while staying with my mom and even once my dad. However as a patient it’s completely different and I would soon learn that you’re basically woken every couple of hours to make sure you’re alive, to draw blood, take your blood pressure or inject you with something. If a human doesn’t wake up you, a machine will, as it complains in a digital fashion with a variety of beeps. Having slept most of the day, I found it really difficult to sleep at night. I was anxious and started to feel agitated about everything from the phone that was tucked by my side, to the oxygen tube running up my nose, and even the noises coming from other rooms. I didn’t know it then, but I would soon discover that much of my emotions were being heightened by the steroid dexamthasone I was being administered on a daily basis. It also would make it nearly impossible for me to sleep during most of my stay.
The next few days would bring about a variety of revelations, one of which was kind of a surprise to me. No one really tells you how long they’re going to keep you in the hospital when you have COVID-19, and being that insurance companies are involved, I thought this would be kept to an absolutely minimum. I was pretty taken back when I think on the third day I asked how long I would be there, and was basically told they couldn’t even think about that until my oxygen saturation improved. I was on three liters of oxygen at the time, and often couldn’t maintain a saturation above 92/93 percent. That news pretty much solidified for me that I was in pretty bad shape, and had I not gone to the hospital when I did, I would have not survived. This was made even more evident when I was told that donor plasma was being ordered for me, and I was being given one of the same experimental medications the President was being treated with, remdesivir. Basically they weren’t taking any chances with me… I wasn’t a mild case, I needed all the help I could get.
One thing I was totally not prepared for, would change me in ways I’m still trying to figure out. I experienced an immense outpouring of love and support from friends, family, co-workers, FaceBook friends and people I have never met. My phone was blowing up with text messages and emails from so many individuals, some of which I have always respected and admired, but had no clue the feeling was mutual. Part of my duties at work involved Zoom video support of a local LGBTQ Advisory Board, and I was touched deeply when their Program Director and Chairwoman were texting me daily. Then to top if off, my extremely loving co-worker Ana tells me the entire board said a prayer together for me… heart chakra explosion… tears… just amazing. If that weren’t enough, the online spiritual groups I belong to just went all out with announcements, prayers, energy healings… you name it. Just when I thought I couldn’t handle anymore expressions of love, care packages began to arrive from my sister and several very dear friends of mine, crowding my small hospital room. If you’ve listened to my podcast, you might have heard my co-worker Pauline speak about her experience as an African-American woman in information technology. However, during this entire ordeal, she was like a mom to me, calling twice a day to ask how I was feeling. I can’t describe how much this meant, and I will never forget this expression of love and kindness.
Even with all this love being directed at me, the days began to gradually bleed into one another, day and night having no real meaning. I became so used to the routine of getting blood drawn at 4 AM, getting my anti-coagulant injection in the stomach, and having my blood pressure taken every three hours, that I could literally sleep my way through it. The exception was one late evening, when my donor plasma arrived shortly before midnight. They have to check up on you constantly while it’s being transfused, going as far as to sit outside your door the first 30 minutes to make sure you’re not having an allergic reaction. Once again the commitment to care I received was absolutely incredible, and the nurse performing this procedure was not only amazing, she was making me laugh. The floor was extremely busy that night and there was lots going on, but she chatted with me about how her evening was going and what she needed to do with the plasma. I actually felt like my care was more of a partnership at that point, she wasn’t just treating a sick patient, she was involving me and it was awesome.
While the plasma slowly emptied from the bag and into my body, I couldn’t help but to look up at in and get lost in what was happening. I looked at the clear brownish liquid and took a moment to thank the person or persons it came from. Here I was, sick in the hospital receiving treatment to save my life, and it was in the form of a complete desire to help others and nothing more. These strangers also got sick with COVID-19 and decided to use their experience to possibly save the life of another… my life. As I’m thinking about this completely selfless act, another thought enters my mind, the awareness of people that won’t perform the simple task of wearing a mask which could also save a life… or even end one should they decide not to. No needles in the arm, no traveling to a location to have someone collect your blood… just a simple piece of fabric over your face, that could have the same end result as this huge bag of plasma. These thoughts continued to ruminate in my head… amazing people donating their time and life supporting fluids, compared to those that make the choice to possibly infect others in order to show allegiance to some political party or ideology. Seriously how did this extreme duality even come about in the first place? Was our society always this way? Or has it manifested itself through current leadership? Whatever the answer is, I was completely terrified by this realization. Finally the large bag of plasma finally emptied around 2:30 in the morning, which happened to be my nurses’ lunch break. She stopped eating her meal and came in to ask me how I was doing and silenced the IV machine which was loudly complaining. After disconnecting the empty vinyl pouch from my line, she said goodnight to me and I drifted off to sleep wondering why some people could be so kind and caring, and others could be so careless and cruel.
Examples of kindness continued to make themselves known as each day went by and I started to fight the urge to fall into a depression. The staff of Baptist Hospital kept me going each day, their dedication giving me the will to deal with yet another day of crappy cable television, coughing fits and mostly sleepless nights. One nurse in particular, treated me as though I was her son during her shift. Her motherly energy radiated outward, and this reminded me of my own mother whom I lost only several months earlier. Here was someone up in the middle of the night instead of at home, covered in bulky PPE equipment, taking care of a complete stranger with a contagious and potentially deadly disease, and she did it with a level of compassion and understanding that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. To top if off, she was an older African American woman, and had no doubt experienced the exact opposite from white men like me during the course of her lifetime. This awareness of her humanity moved me tremendously, and I was saddened to see her go in the morning when her shift ended.
It was day five of my stay that I was told that I would be doing a six minute ‘O2 Walk” through the hallways of the floor. This would be done without the aid of oxygen and would help determine not only if I was going to go home soon, but if I would qualify for portable O2 at home. Memories of my mom and her oxygen machine flooded my head, and I become somewhat emotionally distressed at the prospect of having my own unit, as if somehow our fates would be the same. Not too long afterwards, a nurse entered my room with my very own airbag scrub outfit, and I got to see how it was to actually wear something that looked so uncomfortable. Turns out, they weren’t all that bad… at least for the six minutes that I was walking. The verdict was that my oxygen stayed between 92 and 94 while I was walking, and that wasn’t bad at all for someone being treated for a nasty case of COVID-19 pneumonia. I became very excited when the nurse mentioned the possibility of me actually going home the next day, which would end up being the sixth and final day of my hospitalization.
“COVID-19 was a blessing of sorts to me, the perspectives I have gained have been truly life changing, and I want to make sure I don’t lose site of them.”
The day finally came when I would be discharged and sent back home. As Eric was driving me back to our condo, I couldn’t believe it had been six days since I was admitted. It all seemed like a blur, like it was just one of those dreams you have that seem to last all night and make you extremely restless. I was so happy to be going home, but at the same time, felt somewhat disconnected. I don’t know how to describe it really… perhaps part of it had to do with the various steroids and other medications that were in my system. Our dogs didn’t even seem that excited I was home, almost less excitement than usual. I took a much needed nap back in the guestroom where I continue to sleep, over a month since being tested positive. Even though Eric was the source of my infection, I didn’t want to risk re-infecting him, something that was recommended to me by the various doctors that treated me and continue to do so. Hopefully by Tuesday of next week I will be cleared to be a part of the general population, and Eric and I can enjoy dinners outdoors on Lincoln Road once again.
The strangest and most spectacular thing happened to me the next morning, something that I wasn’t even expecting. I woke up for the first time at home in almost a week, and everything was completely different. Every single aspect of my awareness was a blessing… the sun coming in through the window, the person talking about wood carving on public television, greeting Eric after he woke up, a glass of milk… it all seemed to radiate like magic. Every single moment… every second of every minute, was something to be celebrated. I was alive and that was everything. I felt as though I knew why we were all here, what our purpose was, and I fully understood it. It wasn’t complicated at all, it was to enjoy the very essence of being on this planet and to live it to the fullest. It was almost as though I wondered why everyone wasn’t celebrating all the time. This feeling didn’t go away rapidly either, it stayed for hours and hours until gradually subsiding. It was truly a spiritual experience, and I journaled about it in great detail so I would be able to hang onto this sense of appreciation for as long as possible, for the rest of my life even. I never wanted to forget this feeling of gratitude and appreciation, not just for my life, but for everyone else around me and their contributions to my life.
While my awareness of my continued blessings seem to lift me to cloud nine, and familiar kind of anger creeped back in. Just as I did while hospitalized, I became hyper aware of those persons on this planet trying to do good, and those who blatantly refuse in order to prove a point. It was a stark contrast to the people I had seen in the hospital, everyone trying with great effort to treat those infected with COVID-19, while a quick look out my window at home revealed those who couldn’t care less. And there was lots of them. I wanted scream at people without masks from my balcony, and let them know this wasn’t fake, it was completely real. In fact, my first FaceBook post, while overwhelmingly filled with positive, loving and much appreciated feedback, yielded a response from someone that said they were glad I was better, from “whatever it was I had.” This stung big time… there’s nothing worse than someone trying to take away ownership of your pain, and on top of that, making it about themselves. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. Twitter offered much of the same in even greater frequency, people with a completely warped sense of reality, countering my attempts to raise awareness. At first I thought about blocking them or taking my post down, but then I realized it’s important that others see how dangerous an unchecked political ideology can be. Science goes out the window, and the words of a bankrupt reality star become gospel. Scary times we live in.
So this is me now. I am almost fully recovered, still coughing but that will remain for some time I’m told. I monitor my oxygen saturation levels on a daily basis, and I do lung exercises to help improve my breathing. Every now and then I get out of breath, and I have to use a rescue inhaler. I also have an extremely low tolerance for anyone that doesn’t want to make this world a better place. Simple as that. If you don’t want to help others, uplift them, make them feel great about themselves, lend a hand when they need it, go the extra mile for your fellow human… then I don’t want to know you. It’s not my job to make you feel better about yourself, because clearly you are one miserable person. If you can’t wear a mask because you think it violates your rights, then you must think you have a right to needlessly endanger and possibly kill others. If you are assaulted by another person you go to jail, microbial assault is no different. The human thing to do is to prevent this from spreading, not to encourage others to cause harm through your words and actions. I just don’t have the time to deal with people like this, because the energy it takes to do so must be directed at the good human beings of this world that truly need our help. That’s where my resources are going from now on, supporting those that support others. COVID-19 was a blessing of sorts to me, the perspectives I have gained have been truly life changing, and I want to make sure I don’t lose site of them. With everything going on right now in our country, things may seem like a total shit show, but there are still good and wonderful souls out there, trying to making a difference and succeeding… just like they did for me.
I’m so tired as of late. There are so many things that need fixing on this planet, and I tend to be a fixer kind of person. This used to even manifest in my relationships… I would meet someone and if they were troubled in some way, holy crap I would catch myself falling for them almost immediately. Their good looks coupled with a hard luck story was too much for me to resist. Luckily I identified that predisposition at a very young age, so I was able to diagnose what was behind that almost magical attraction later on. Still the innate urge to be an activist, to fix a neighborhood, address a community issue, campaign for the individual that will bring about change for the greater good and of course advocating and being a voice for others weighs heavily on me. More than ever. Not being able to somehow throttle these urges when we’re more connected via technology than ever, rapidly leads me to exhaustion. With every waking moment I could be helping dogs in China, kids in Syria, Koalas in Australia, Wolves in North America… and the list goes on. I need to somehow learn how to focus my attention on something that’s important to me, and limit how much energy I expend on them. I’m not bragging about this as if it’s a badge of honor, it’s quite the opposite. It’s almost a curse of sorts.
I know where this all happened. This is all the fault of Dr. Seuss and his creation, The Lorax. I still remember the first time I ever watched the animated film in what I believe was the first grade. I remember the film projector in the classroom having issues in the very beginning, and how happy I was when my teacher got it working. This story of a creature being a voice for something that couldn’t speak, shaped me from that day forward. “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.” would be a phrase I would never forget. The only problem is now I am trying to speak for everything and everyone and while I take short breaks, I always find myself back where I started. Of course Dr. Seuss is only one part of the problem, the other is having the ability to know about so many things in such a short amount of time… yeah we call that Social Media.
If you’ve ever put yourself into the place of appreciating what a wonderful planet we live on, and how wonderful people are, you know how great that feels. You see so much light in everything and even the people you see on the street seem like they’re smiling more that usual. However spending only a couple of minutes on social media and you’ll see people talking about things which horrify you… and they might be boasting about it. I remember how gut wrenching it felt when I realized an online friend of mine was pretty much a racist, or when I was seeing family members spread stories filled with misinformation and downright lies. How could this be possible? How could so many people… special people… people you love and admire, have such skewed views of the world? They obviously need fixing too and it just so happens I’m great at that. Fuck, here we go again. Yet before social media, I never knew they needed to be fixed. They were only comfortable in displaying this side because they had found other racists to back them up and share racist ideas with…. so they were happy and felt safe sharing their true nature. Perfect, perhaps I can work with them and help them understand what’s wrong… Lord help me.
So what if, as this post title suggests, I just try to take the path of least resistance? What if I just let the world go to hell in a hand basket and sit back and enjoy everything I’ve been blessed with? I’m a huge fan of Law of Attraction, and my day to day life is shaped around trying to be in the place of allowing good things, people and experiences to come to me. The expression, “what you resist will persist”, probably came from someone that observed the Law Of Attraction working, and perhaps even consciously knew of the concept. After all, we all know of a friend or family member that’s always walking around saying “nothing ever works for me” and guess what, nothing ever does. And no one is really surprised. They’re acknowledging the presence of Law Of Attraction without mentioning it by name. So technically, if I resist all these things that are upsetting me, there will actually be more of it in my awareness. That’s just not a statement in spiritual practice, it’s mathematical. If I’m working to save the trees, then I see a lot of trees, and a lot of tree destruction to go along with it. Still, ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away.
” I need to find some kind of sweet spot, somewhere I can make a difference and not feel exhausted, but also not feel like I’m just being a disconnected individual with a very myopic view of the planet. “
Law Of Attraction goes on to say, that if I’m thinking about the positive aspects of the world, I will attract other people that also feel the same way. Then all of us happy thinking people will attract cooperative components that will help us work together, almost effortlessly, in bringing about the world that we’re thinking about so positively. In other words we become the change we’re looking for, and like a magnet, attract people and situations that will help us spread this attitude… thus effecting change. And that’s amazing, because I can enjoy my blessings, sip my margarita on my cruise, and me enjoying life is going to help kids in Syria… and save trees. And believe it or not, I sometimes go to that ideological place when taking a break from my activism and fixing people. But then something creeps into my awareness… something called “spiritual bypass.” Why oh why did I need to learn about this? Dr. Ding, this part is completely your fault. 😉
The concept of spiritual bypass is super easy. It’s when you give up on trying to change or work on something… anything… a condition on the globe or even something within yourself, and use religion or spirituality as an excuse to ignore it. This can seem pretty benign at times, or even comforting. People use phrases like “It’s God’s will…” and that pretty much wraps up any feelings and or emotions for the faithful, or so it would seem, because a deity ordained it as some part of a bigger plan. No use in fighting city hall, or God in this case, it’s all good. Time to move on folks, there’s nothing you can do about it. Or, in extreme cases, spiritual bypass can be used as way of explaining some pretty horrible experiences, which is probably where it’s most dangerous. Some religions blame bad things on the devil, while others, especially in New Age circles might refer to “soul contracts” as a way of explaining why you were raped by your uncle. Yeah no shit, this is really a way of thinking in certain circles. Kind of makes it hard to express anger when you both made this deal before being born doesn’t it? Yeah so I can’t spiritual bypass my way out of wanting to help people… that would be completely contrary to who I am.
So here’s my dilemma… I can’t save the world, it’s making me so tired trying, I love Law Of Attraction, but I want to be involved and actively participate in making the world a better place. Because I’m a multipotenialite and have so many varied interests, I care about a lot of different causes. I need to find some kind of sweet spot, somewhere I can make a difference and not feel exhausted, but also not feel like I’m just being a disconnected individual with a very myopic view of the planet. Abraham Hicks often speaks of a cork floating on the surface of the ocean, and that’s the sweet spot I’m supposedly looking for. You can view the problems of the planet from there, but you’re not getting wrapped up in the problems and “sucked down” into them. But how is it possible to be involved in an issue and not get wrapped up in it? I don’t want to spiritual bypass my way through life, I want real world solutions and answers. And yet the more I practice Law Of Attraction, the better my life seems to get. And the better my life gets, the more I want to help others get their lives together and share my blessings. What a fucking mess. And please, I can hear some people saying “get off the cross, someone needs the wood.” Again I have to say I’m not trying to boast or brag about the type of person I am, because I know plenty of people just like me, and they’re much more successful at getting things done… and much much more deserving of praise. What I’m trying to do here is balance a spiritual / Universal premise, with a logistical, interpersonal, socioeconomic, environmental nightmare.
It’s amazing what can happen to a society when you threaten their concept of the afterlife. Humans are so terrified of death and the unknown, especially the finality of it, that many turn to a faith which insures their continuance of life. Even if historically and that faith tortured, raped, murdered, and continues to do so. Many if not most of these incidents aren’t even isolated, they are widespread and extremely well documented. Yet organized religion has this fail-safe that I find fascinating and I have spoken of so many times before… “follow blindly and dare not question your creator.”
Organized religion is a form of government that extends well beyond geographical boundaries which makes it extremely powerful. It’s the governance of a persons very essence, their immortal soul. Just like a political body, it’s extremely competitive, with each group stating their version is the best, and similarly, a source of war, confrontation and death. Those whom do not participate are easily and successfully labeled as outcasts. Even in our modern society, atheists are often looked upon as odd or somehow felt sorry for. Those that wish to acknowledge the forces of nature and balance for their spiritual fulfillment, are usually considered “witches” or worshippers of the devil. “Opting out” of organized religion is not something that’s well received among the masses, surely there must be something untrustworthy of an individual that doesn’t consider their status after he or she perishes from this Earth.
If you’ve ever doubted the power of organized religion, the huge sums of money and wealth behind it, look no further than your local television and Joel Olsteen at work. With a smile that looks like the work of a cosmetic surgeon, he peddles hope, books, videos and of course faith to thousands upon thousands in his stadium sized “church.” His wealth is clearly visible to others, and instead of attempting to hide it as traditional religion often does, Olsteen uses it to propagate his notion that through God and Jesus, “you can too.” When in reality, a positive outlook and eagerness to work, will often result in the same level of success.
While it may sound like I’m an atheist or discouraging participation in religion I’m not. I actually follow a multitude of faiths, as so many aspects of light and how it’s perceived by others fascinate me. There’s way too many examples of kindness and humility in the religions of our planet to acknowledge just one following. What I wish is that more people would be aware about the history and purpose of religion, and act in a way to shift it in the right direction if possible. I wish more people would remember the words of their prophets and deities and act on them, instead of listening to the institutions attempting to represent them, often with ulterior motives.
“Remember the source of your faith is available to you without a building or a dot com, it exists completely and wholly within.”
Organized religion reminds me of coveted ocean front real estate that someone realized people would pay for. Instead of turning it into a park where everyone can enjoy it freely and without cost, they built a hotel on it and charged for the opportunity to engage it. The ocean doesn’t change, it stays the same, but your experience with it is now determined by those that operate the hotel. Your view, the amenities, all arranged by the price you’re willing to pay. Make no mistake that many organized religions operate in the same fashion, monetizing a faith that existed thousands of years before them, in order to profit from the benefits. In the case of cults, they often just make something new up, creating a market where it never existed before.
Remember the source of your faith is available to you without a building or a dot com, it exists completely and wholly within. Find comfort in your own personal connection, don’t feed the monster trying to exploit it for its own financial gain. If asking questions and searching for answers is frowned upon, that’s a good indicator your desire to learn the “why?” is perceived as a threat, and you should probably move on. Your desire to learn should always bring you closer to your faith, not trigger retribution or separate you from it.
Time is truly perceived in the eye of the beholder. When I was just a young kid and my world consisted of cartoons and playing outside after school, the concept of a decade was unknown to me. It was impossible to understand this unit of time since I hadn’t even existed on the planet for ten years, let alone be fully aware for even half that amount. By the time you reach drinking age, you feel like you know everything there is to know and people in their 30’s are considered old. Holidays like Christmas and New Years become reasons to party and it becomes perfectly acceptable to stay awake the entire night, engaging in behavior you might learn to regret later in life, and of course bragging about it until then. You look forward to the newness of the upcoming year with optimism, excitement and wonder, speculating what it might bring. Then, suddenly, often with little notice or warning, things begin to change. Staying up past 9:30 becomes more of a chore than a luxury, and your view of things, now with a much more larger, detailed and complex data set, begins to change. You start to notice patterns, cycles and the concept of a decade, once this huge block of unperceivable time, becomes shorter, familiar and forms into a much greater perspective of life. Next year I’ll turn 49, and while many complement me on still looking like I’m in my 30’s, I sure as hell don’t feel like it, and the way I view life has changed even more.
I’ll always remember, as I suppose most will, how horrible and anxious I felt the first time I stopped seeing someone I was interested in. As a young closeted gay man, I latched onto the first guy that reciprocated sexual attraction, especially since you didn’t know when you might run into one again. The world was completely different, and meeting other gay men was often risky at best. There was a very real possibility of being physically harmed should your suspicions have been inaccurate, and they ended up being straight and not very understanding of your dilemma. Breaking up, or the gay equivalent, was a horrible process and it seemed like life was over. Now, with a much better frame of reference, you realize that sometimes things just don’t work out, even at times for the better. While at times you may be in the worse emotional state of your life, eventually you will heal and things will improve. You learn that being alone isn’t so bad after all, and when you do have that special someone in your life, you learn to appreciate the time you have together so much more…knowing that life is completely unpredictable, and sometimes that’s a good thing.
I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my 40’s, was just only realized this past year or so, and that’s to live in the present. I got around to reading the book The Power Of Now by Eckart Tolle, and then a friend offered to take me to one of his speaking engagements here in Miami. I started to look at life much differently and began to appreciate the “nowness” of what is. And while I still look into the future and hope for a much better one, I have a set of tools to recognize what I’m doing and focus on what’s in front of me before I miss it. This takes practice of course and I’m still very much learning, but I’m getting so much better at identifying everything around me that’s actually going great, and trying to stay in that place of appreciating it. Going for a walk and enjoying trees and sunshine has taken on a completely different feeling, because I’m not wondering if life will be great next month or how I’ll get this or that accomplished, I’m thinking about how nice the warm sun feels on my face and how beautiful the trees are. I’m staring in awe at a humming bird or listening to birds sing and realizing there’s a cardinal in the tree next to me. I’m enjoying and living in the moment itself, not worrying about a future that may never even be available for me to experience. The only bad thing about this frame of mind, is the tendency to wish you discovered it sooner, having wasted so much time thinking and worry about things that never came to pass.
The Universal Law of Attraction has also been huge for me the past couple of years, enabling me with further insight as to why certain things happen and what I can do to change. It has answered many questions for me and created some more in the process. It’s the only principle that seems to fill in the holes of so many belief systems, or at the very least, bridge them together. It doesn’t satisfy every need for me, but it’s come much closer than anything else. It also seems to be a concept that so many practice already without even knowing, and yet illusive in your awareness until you’re absolutely ready for it. I’ve realized the hard way you can’t explain it to someone, they just won’t get it until they’re ready, so I won’t even try here. However I couldn’t write about what I’ve learned during the last ten years without mentioning it.
” I know that my goal won’t give me happiness unless I learn to be happy before reaching it. “
I’ve also learned not to care so much about things I can’t change, to pick my battles more carefully and the power of saying no. I’ve learned that people often don’t have your best interests in mind and the only person that will never intentionally let you down is yourself. And if you do manage to screw yourself over, holy shit it feels bad. I’ve learned I can’t fix the problems of the world or be all things to all people. I continue to learn every day, practicing what’s already come into my awareness… because knowing something is much different than actually applying it… and so I’m learning that as well. Of course I’m also learning there’s so much left to learn and I’m hungry for more. I’m not concerned about being the best at something anymore, I’m concerned about forgetting I’m still a student.
So what do I expect for the next decade? Nothing. Expectations are the mother of all fuck ups, not to mention I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and it wouldn’t matter anyways. Which is totally bizarre because it seems the moment I became aware of the decades I’ve lived and what I’ve learned from them, is the moment I realized to stop counting them. Live in the now and live your best life to the best of your abilities. Enjoy every moment for what it has to offer, be thankful for the days that your back doesn’t hurt and when you have an hour to spare with nothing to do, but to just be. I still have goals but I’m also aware of the many milestones I’ve encountered on the way to them. I know that my goal won’t give me happiness unless I learn to be happy before reaching it. I’m open to changing those goals as my awareness changes, knowing that being flexible will make you a much happier person. So I end this by wishing you all the same for the upcoming year, may you be blessed with knowledge, love, prosperity and health, and the awareness of its presence in your life. So many have everything they could ever want in life, but are completely blind to it.
Most people don’t like uncertainty. They prefer a life of 30 day billing cycles, along with a fixed rate mortgage on their fixed sized living space which they return to daily. We work on a schedule, have some days off, then go back to work. During this lifetime we’ll have interactions with others, fall in love, make friends, get hurt, and variety of other experiences we value or hate as humans. Much of our time will be spent on ensuring that our journey here is stable and certain… predictable. For many of us, the allure of material possessions keeps us striving and moving forward, while for others, happiness is obtained through constancy and simplicity. Nothing more and nothing less, a no frills kind of existence with the least amount of variables requiring any kind of management or manual intervention. Still, through all these examples, uncertainly is the thorn in our sides which threatens to disrupt and remove any kind of joy we’ve obtained through whatever means.
Society goes through a lot of trouble to avoid uncertainty. We purchase insurance policies to take care of situations or incidents which haven’t yet occurred, we start saving for college when our children are born and we even make arrangements for our loved ones before we die… death being the one uncertainty that’s very certain. We also form huge organizations which set forth to guarantee certainty through supernatural means. As technologically advanced as we are as a species, most humans on this planet believe in some kind of supreme all-knowing being, whom will actually grant us certainty… on the condition of praise / worship and or ritualized behaviors. Although we may no longer sacrifice our fellow man to sun and rain gods, we easily opt for a fate just as bad, or even worse, for those that dare to cross the deities which guarantee our certainty… and happiness. Entire cultures and civilizations have been built and destroyed in the process of garnering a sense of security, peace and joy… in other words certainty, by pleasing some kind of deity.
Sometimes bad things just happen to good people and that’s a fact that many find hard to believe. It blows our concept of certainty right out the window when we realize that all the worshiping and sacrifices we do through our lives has little or no bearing in what happens to us. We uses phrases to help us cope with this unsightly truth by saying things like “only the good die young” or “it was just his time.” Perhaps we even suggest that a person’s right to live and exist peacefully was somehow removed by cosmic forces such as Karma, which instantly eases the fear of those practicing what they believe is a righteous path. It soothes the human psyche to know that your kind neighbor, who took care of all the homeless cats in the area, was a ruthless ancient leader in her previous life and that must by why she was killed by a hit a run driver. Yeah it sounds pretty stupid, but even a stupid answer is better than none at all for those seeking closure or absolution.
Although we may no longer sacrifice our fellow man to sun and rain gods, we easily opt for a fate just as bad, or even worse, for those that dare to cross the deities which guarantee our certainty… and happiness
I know this may sound depressing as hell, but there’s actually a silver lining to it all. You see the fear of uncertainty relies on your perception of time and expectations of what’s to come. In other words, the future. In fact the future and uncertainty are almost sisters in relation to their meanings. Not knowing what’s to come and the events which have yet to come, are pretty freakin’ close… if not first cousins. But what if you didn’t have uncertainty because it didn’t have a place in your way of thinking? What if you just lived in the present and enjoyed each moment for what it was, learning what you can and moving forward as time must actually do? If you’re living in the present, then uncertainty really isn’t a thing anymore because every thing that’s around is pretty darn certain. You take in the available information and there you have it. When the information is pleasant, take it all in and enjoy the moment… every last second of it while it lasts. Bad situations may arise, but there’s still information in the experience, and that information may provide useful and offer solutions you didn’t know were there while distracted by the “happy” stuff.
Yeah this sounds a lot of like Eckhart Tolle‘s the “Power of Now,” and even some Law Of Attraction mixed in for good measure. It’s also just me being sick and tired of trying to work against everything for a desired outcome. I’m down right exhausted. I still have hopes and dreams of course, I’m still working towards them… but I refuse to believe any longer that there’s some magical way to doing it all that makes you exempt from tragedy and or disappointments. Life happens and shit happens… there’s no way around it. Don’t spend your days and nights worrying about the future and uncertainty when right this second, you probably have what you need to survive… especially if you’re reading this blog post. Any more than that is icing on the cake. So many forget their existing blessings while pursuing the ones they desire, only to recognize them when they’re no longer present. Don’t ever put yourself through that misery. Live in the now and give uncertainty a big middle finger. When shit happens, learn from the shit, weed through shit… get your hands dirty looking through the shit because maybe you swallowed a pearl at that all you can eat seafood bar.
As for faith, how about having some in the mathematical principles which dictate the eventual conclusion to your losing streak? I think sub-consciously, a person’s belief that a deity will somehow help them, means the opposite belief exists in them as well. Somewhere in the recesses of their brain, the grey matter is doing some spiritual math which states some all powerful being can knock them off their horse as fast as it helped them on it. Why even bother if it’s causing you more pain than it’s helping? Please don’t confuse my anger and frustration with a desire to become an atheist, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m just trying to sort out the emotional from the logical… you know, like Commander Spock. I’m just thinking if we remove the construct of living with expectations to just living and being happy with what we have, we’ll all be a lot more satisfied. And probably in the process attract more positive people and experiences?
There’s a wonderful phrase in the Neopagan / Wiccan text The Charge of The Goddess, that states “If that which you seek, you do not find within yourself, you will never find it without. For I have been with you from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of all desire.” Most recently I have come to identify with this sentiment more and more, and it caused me to put much thought into my spiritual path and where I am headed with it. Earlier this month, my partner Eric and I cruised to the ABC Islands in the Southern Caribbean, and it was in Bonaire, where we visited a desert and explored caves, that I realized I needed to go completely solo on my spiritual journey. Being surrounded by such natural beauty, feeling this deep connection to nature, made me feel that I was spending too much time seeking the unseen, when there was lots around me that I could already see, hear, taste and touch. And it just felt right that after all this time seeking advice from others, in a wide range of different faiths and practices, that I have a go at it…. alone. This meant saying goodbye to an online spiritual community lead by amazing individuals, with equally amazing members, whom I had come to love and enjoy. So a difficult decision was made.
I’ve learned many things since I was a young child and started making my own spiritual choices. My mother and father weren’t big on organized religion, and although they were Greek Orthodox and Catholic respectively, the furthest they pushed their views on us was in the form of saying the Lord’s prayer and a Hail Mary before bed. I think this had lots to do with my Serbian Grandfather, who died a year before I was born, that witnessed so much devastation due to religious conflict between Muslims and Christians. He never went to Church, as he said it was full of hypocrites and that Church was indeed inside his own heart. He followed his faith, basically on a solo path as well, something I’m just now realizing I have in common with him. This didn’t fly very well with a local priest that refused to say his name at mass unless my grandmother paid him off. Thus my mom felt very comfortable in letting me make my own choices, even when it involved a group of Mormons visiting me when I was 10. I wasn’t baptized until I was 14 and the choice to accept Christ and become a Southern Baptist was entirely my own.
Just this morning I experienced a huge epiphany and I had to share. I was having a conversation among fellow spiritualists and one of them, David Hanzel, a psychic medium, made the comment that we are special and magical no matter who we are. David went on to say that it didn’t matter if you were a galactic princess or a plumber, that everyone had the power to change the world. While we’ve all heard this type of grounding motivation before, today these words brought a new awareness to me. I’ve always believed them in theory, but this morning I actually saw and felt the potential behind them. It’s difficult to describe but I’ll give it my best shot.
For starters, power, as we know it, is basically an illusion. As humans we like authority figures because it comforts us and provides a sense of security. Since the beginning of our hominid existence we have looked to healers, wise men, village chiefs, tribal leaders and political figures for guidance and authority. While those figures help shape our society and we need them, the actual power they possess is no different than anyone else alive because in reality, they are a part of the same bigger plan as all of us. They are playing a role, just as important as yours, to get our collective species / consciousness to a certain place in time and space. Yes, this is waaaay metaphysical and philosophical but at the same time, perfect in its design.