"Walk with Your Heart, and Embrace Your Journey": What I Learned From This Summer's Tr
I was very privileged to have just experienced one of, if not THE, best Summers of my life over the past few months.
I was lucky that my work commitments were spread out, affording me time to travel, reconnect to friends and family, take on passion projects and perform (see a video from a performance below, one of my new songs, "Hello, I Love You.")
(Click above to watch a live acoustic performance video from The Studio Venue of one of my new songs, "Hello, I Love You" co-written with Leo Gallo.)
This incredible Summer taught me a lot about myself and the world, and I'm glad to share some of these insights, as well as some photos, with you.
Here's a little of what I learned:
Beauty heals the soul and puts life in perspective.
Throughout my travels, I felt repeatedly overwhelmed and healed by great beauty---grand vistas, waterfalls, mountains, sunrises, sunsets, tall trees, vast meadows, cityscapes, great art, architecture and music--- and the inherent beauty of my fellow humans.
It affirmed for me why I am drawn to witnessing beauty, especially in great scale. Beauty, to me, is the witnessing of divinity. It's a direct communion with Source-- humbling, inspiring, and restorative. I think that access to beauty is vital to human wellness.
My greatest gift in this life are my family and friends.
The journey of my life has been and continues to be filled with inspiring, beautiful, warm-hearted, badass people. My family, my tribe, my community are the greatest parts of my story. I had the BEST time reconnecting with my people this Summer.
The natural beauty of our nation is truly awe-inspiring and must be protected.
Over the Summer I got to visit/pass through some of our nation's most beautiful natural sites, including Yosemite, the Rocky Mountains, the mountains of Utah, the Great Plains, the Great Lakes and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It affirmed for me that the U.S. is one of the most stunning places in the world, so incredibly diverse in its natural landscapes. It also reaffirmed for me that our natural sites must be protected. The rollback of protections for national parks is a terrible mistake that cannot be undone, once these places are destroyed, they will never be the same again. We owe it to these beautiful places to protect them not just for ourselves but for future generations.
Humility and availability are crucial to finding understanding.
While I was riding the Amtrak across the country, a self-proclaimed "liberal" from Colorado loudly engaged an older "conservative" couple from the South, whom he'd just met, inviting them to debate politics and discuss the issues of the day with him. Intrigued, I listened in to see how the conversation would go.
I was disheartened when the Coloradan was continually rude and belittling toward the couple, seemingly merely for the fact that they were "conservative." They were very polite while he bullied them for over an hour because of their beliefs, especially berating them about their opinions (denial) of climate change. He approached the whole conversation with a presumption of intellectual and moral superiority, and hardly listened to them at all.
This saddened me, because he had such a great opportunity to create understanding with people who have different lenses of the world than he, if only he had approached the conversation with humility and availability. Humility in knowing that none of us know everything, nor are morally superior to one another, and the availability to learning something new, or perhaps being wrong.
If he'd approached the conversation with that intention, he might have actually been able to change their hearts and minds about issues as urgent as climate change. Although I understood his frustration that they did not believe the science, I couldn't get behind his approach. This conversation taught me a lot about how we have to move forward in healing our divided nation.
I love being alone in new places.
I love being in new environments where I don't know anyone. The unfamiliarity challenges me to think critically and to be resourceful. It allows me to shed my perceived identity of who I think I am or am used to being in favor of who I authentically am in that moment or who I want to be, and it teaches me so much about where I'm at in my intellectual and spiritual progression based on how I engage with the world around me.
Mornings are magic, I want to see more of them.
This Summer I had a lot of early mornings where I either watched the sun rise, or woke up with the sun. I love the energy of the morning, that quiet period before the world has begun to stir. I love to hear the birds, to see the dew on the grass or the trees. There's a freshness to it, a great potential. I want to be awake in these times much more in my everyday life.
Some of our most vital human needs are to be seen, heard, understood and affirmed.
Perhaps even more than we want to eat or sleep, I believe we as humans need to be seen, heard, understood and affirmed. I am beginning to think that these needs, unfulfilled, are the source of most modern human conflict.
From what I'm witnessing, just as we need air, oxygen, water, we also need the energy of each other's consciousness. This energy fuels and feeds us somehow, the feeling of connection. Perhaps this is the basis of what we experience as "love," the true gifting of our consciousness to another.
I noticed this in my interactions with people I spent time with this Summer, the way they lit up and grew when I truly saw them, listened to them, and acknowledged them, and the ways they dimmed and shrank when I didn't.
This is an important lesson for me because I don't know if I do enough to acknowledge the people in my life, or even the people who I meet in passing. I think that it's not enough to be kind to others. One must also be generous.
History, lineage, legacy and impact are important.
As I grow older, and I watch as my siblings and friends that I grew up with begin to have children and expand their families, I am beginning to feel the importance of history, lineage, legacy and impact.
Returning to my home town this Summer, engaging in a way that I haven't for fifteen years, reminded me of the value of place, and the ways that the town I grew up in shaped me as a person.
There's something special about families maintaining and fostering community across multiple generations, with each generation taking the mantle and making their unique contributions. There's a level of intimacy, trust and depth of relationship that's created when multiple families of grandparents, parents and children all know each other and co-create together over time.
I am excited to see my generation start to have ownership and leadership in my hometown. It makes me really happy to witness their contributions to the legacy of that place, and it fulfilled me in a deep way to be able to give back while I was home.
I am excited to watch my nieces, nephews, and the kids of my life-long hometown friends, grow. The impact of our decisions as adults now will affect the trajectory of their lives, just as our parent's and grandparent's generations affected ours. It's a big responsibility, but I have great faith in my people.
The world is bursting with heroic, good and beautiful people.
I interacted with hundreds, if not thousands of humans this Summer, some directly and intimately, and some just in passing, but I want to tell you that of the humans I came into contact with 95% of them were lovely. MANY of them were doing incredible work in the world, exhibiting generosity, infallible kindness and courageous commitment to making the world a better place.
This world is bursting with heroic, good and beautiful people, but somehow we seem to focus mainly on the ones who are hell-bent on creating dissonance. I imagine if we focused more on the power of the harmonic resonance of the lovers rather than amplifying the hatred of a few, we'd drown out the hurtful noise easily.
Walking is one of the most primitive and powerful forms of healing.
149 miles walked from Porto to Santiago this Summer affirmed for me why it's advised to "take a walk" when feeling creatively blocked, energetically heavy, or caught up in internal or interpersonal conflict. There's something primitive and powerful about the physical process of walking long distances. As I walked each day, I could feel my mind unwinding, creating space for insight and inspiration to flow. I highly recommend to anyone looking for perspective or to move around some blocked or negative energy to find some way to walk a long distance.
The signs are everywhere, I just have to look for them.
The Camino de Santiago, the historic Catholic pilgrimage I journeyed on this Summer, guides its participants with regular yellow arrows against a blue backdrop. These signs point the way toward the end goal: Santiago.
The Camino, to me, is a wonderful metaphor for life. I think that in life, just like on the Camino, there are signs pointing us toward our heart's desires all the times. The only difference is that the arrows in life are less obvious, you have to know to look for them, and what they look like.
Sometimes they appear in the form of wise words from a friend, a strange "coincidence" or perhaps literally a sign (a billboard, a street sign, a graffiti artist's work.)
A series of strange "coincidences" brought me to the Camino in the first place (I hadn't even heard of it a few months before I went.) In fact, many of my life's greatest adventures and growth experiences have come about because I've learned to look and listen for the messaging all around me. I think there's much more guidance than we realize. I am committed to looking for and following the signs.
The journey is the destination-- life is a pilgrimage.
As I wrote above, the Camino was a beautiful metaphor for life, and one of the many lessons the Camino taught me is that the entire point of life/the pilgrimage is the journey, the process, the unfolding of the story, the revealing of the way.
The feeling of arriving at the cathedral in Santiago, although beautifully cathartic, could never come close to adding up to the richness of the many difficult, joyous, intriguing and expansive little moments that happened in the many days leading up to my arrival.
There is a danger that a pilgrim might spend their entire journey dreaming of Santiago and miss the Camino itself. This is a great reminder for me as I am back in Los Angeles now, getting projects off the ground, setting goals and working to reach them.
"Walk with your heart, and embrace your camino."-- Luis Ferreira
There is nothing more satisfying than rest and reward at the end of a truly boundary-pushing effort.
While swimming inside the searing pain that I felt during the first few days of walking The Camino, I repeatedly asked myself whether I was actually capable of taking on such an ambitious goal. I'd never experienced such physical demands before, and my mind was continually challenged to push past the limiting beliefs I held of what I was capable of in order to arrive at my lodging for the night.
This made me realize that I hardly ever push myself to my true limits in my everyday life.
"If this is where my edge is, waaaaay past my perceived pain threshold, then why am I giving up at home after merely experiencing boredom or discomfort?" I knew I had to try harder upon my return.
Additionally, not only did the pain teach me so much about my own capacity, but it also gifted to me some of the sweetest reward and joyous relaxation I've ever experienced in my life.
At the end of each long walk, I had a ritual. I'd sit down at a local cafe, journal, and treat myself to an ice cold beer. And let me tell you, sitting never felt so restorative and beer never tasted so delicious!
This experience made me want to work much harder in my day to day life, not just so that I could truly excel at the levels I am capable of, but also to experience the joy of rest and reward after pushing myself to the edges of my capabilities.
One great chapter of my life has closed and another has begun.
I was halfway through this year's Burning Man when I fully understood what the significance of this Summer had been for me.
This Summer was a portal from one chapter of my life into another.
The last period of my life was the era of King Benjamin. King Benjamin was a game I was playing with myself to actualize the qualities that I needed in order to move to the next level in life.
He taught me to own my power, to feel comfortable as a leader and creator, and to know that I was worthy of everything that I wanted in life.
It became clear to me at Burning Man that the lessons of that period had fully integrated for me. This Summer had been the denoument of King Benjamin's story, and I was ready to play a new game.
It was mid-week at The Burn when the game was revealed...while at Burning Man, I had the honor of attending two friends' wedding. The wedding was themed, "The Gathering of the Gods."
As part of the theme, the bride and groom asked each guest in attendance, "What are you the God of?" which I interpreted as, "when you are fully empowered, what is your unique purpose or mission in this life?"
When I took the time to think about my answer, it came to me clearer than ever before:
My purpose is collective ascension.
I am here to raise the collective consciousness in order to bring about a new age of peace, freedom and abundance for all beings.
And so, the new game began. As I bowed gratefully to King Benjamin and thanked him for everything he taught me, I looked upon my new avatar and understood the new driving question of my life,
"Now that you're empowered and feel worthy of everything you want and desire, what are you going to do with all that power and worthiness?"
I'm so ready and excited to play, to walk with my heart, and to enjoy The Way.
ONE MORE THING BEFORE YOU GO!
I'm performing a set of original songs acoustically alongside some of my favorite fellow singer-songwriters: James Byous, Emily Lopez, and Rae Cole/Oscar Bugarin of The Native Wind on Tuesday, Sept. 24th at the newly restored retro-bar, Club Tee Gee.
Tickets are $10 presale, $15 at the door, available here.
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