Monday, March 15, 2010

Dancing With Discomfort: That Elusive Instruction Manual

Since I was a kid there has always been this feeling inside of me that some how I must have been absent on the day they handed out the instruction manual for this body and mind that I had been placed in. Everywhere I looked, it seemed that everyone else but me seemed to “get it,” and I often wondered when Scotty was going to “beam me up” and return me to the planet that I apparently was from because the world that I was in didn’t really make any sense to me.

While I waited for what I believed was that inevitable day, I began looking for the contents of this elusive manual and began my search. I became a student and started to watch friends, family, TV, Movies and read books to try to figure out how to avoid the embarrassment of not having my own copy of the manual! I learned how to dress and figured out what to wear and more importantly what not to wear. I learned how to smile in the right places, stand up tall, pull my shoulders back, and hold my head high. I learned to appear humble and confident at other times, I learned how to look people in the eye and give a good firm handshake. I became a master of parroting sound bytes that got the most favorable response. I became a good enough student… not too good because that was not cool and not a bad one because that would reflect unfavorably on me. I learned how to be funny, entertaining and tell a good story. The formula was quite simple: do whatever got the most favorable response and keep doing that over and over again. Was this it? Was this what was in the elusive manual that I was looking for? The formula seemed to be working but something was still missing. Everywhere I looked there were all kinds of signs telling me there was something else to do, something else to buy, somewhere else to go, or something else to learn. I kept looking….

I went to college, I moved out West, I got a good job. I lived in the mountains and lived by the beach. I made money and I had days that I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from. I bought a house and lived out of my car. I worked for a corporation, built my own company employing 35 people, and was also a ski bum. I bought fancy things and drove cool cars; and I sold everything I had reducing my life possessions to what fit in my car. I drank, I smoked, I sniffed and I ingested all kinds of substances to reach other levels of consciousness in the search for that elusive information I was looking for. I also learned how to practice meditation and yoga. I learned how to chant and I also sat in silence. I’ve had long-term relationships and I’ve slept around. I’ve been sober and worked the 12 steps and I’ve been stoned. I got in shape, got healthy and also drank black coffee and smoked cigarettes. I ate meat and also went raw. I ate till my hearts content and went on periodic cleanses. I sat in the therapist’s chair, sought out coaches and guru’s, went to seminars, sweat lodges, retreats, took classes, read books, listened to inspiring audio’s and diligently followed the steps outlined by each teacher and each program. I looked everywhere! Still…there was something missing.

Now this may not come to a surprise to many of you but what I eventually found is that there was no manual and the answers had always been inside of me. While I intuitively knew that, and went inward periodically to look so that I could get “there,” what I found is that there was nowhere to get to.

So what is it that had me feel this way? While there are many places too look, for now I will simply assert that what I uncovered for myself is fundamental misperception and expectation that had been installed and reinforced within my brain that looks like some kind of conditional IF – THEN mathematical formula promising success, happiness, joy and peace. It was this fundamental belief in this elusive “destination” with the expectation that if I followed the instructions I could get “there” that has been the source of all kinds of unnecessary suffering in my life. Not much of a revelation for most but for me it is has been a profound realization that continues to help me step out of the Vicious Cycle of Guilt and Shame.

Has anyone ever gotten there?  Thoughts? Comments?

From the heart,



  1. So proud of you my friend. So vulnerable and powerful.

  2. LOL haa haaa, "The Wizard of Oz." When I was a little child, I dreamt that I was Dorthy at the end of the movie, waking up and looking at all the characters who were really people in my own life. It was not until I was much older that I understood why this movie resonated with me mystically.
    There is no "there" You are right. There is also no state of bliss to be achieved in this lifetime, in this form. This is, as you discovered, some kind of journey whose destination seems to be the journey itself. That, that is easy to say. It is much harder to truly accept it and to live it.
    I enjoyed your simple listing of the insanity you have participated in on the quest. LOL. Mine has been just as crazy. It is actually very funny now. It was not so funny at the time but it is extremely funny to look back on it now... to look at the ridiculous places I landed and what I went through because I was in search of the Holy Grail and at times so dramatically miserable because I could not find it. Cheers and thank you.

  3. Thank you! Good to hear that I'm not alone! ;)

  4. It's interesting because I always felt the same growing up. Sometimes we may go out of our way to attain something we already had all along. Maybe if they laughed, it would validate the fact that I am funny, and if they liked me, that just stamped me as the cool kid. It wasn't until I started doing things the way I wanted to despite what the world was doing, that I felt validated, not by anyone, but by me...and I was fine with that.

  5. I´m glad that the universe is a constant breath. periods of crush followed by periods of understanding.
    Thanks for being in the understanding part of It!

  6. Shasheen - I think we've been on the same path, minus ingesting all sorts of chemicals. ;-) We've had discussions about this and I've done all the same things and it's been this inherent misnomer in our society of "if you just had , you'd have it all"...and then you get it and you realize that's not it. It's been a constant search of trying to really find ME and be happy with ME, not what everybody else perceives as me. Once you're there, you're free and it's OK for people to interpret and perceive you however they feel meets their current mental state. It doesn't change who I am or who you are. It's about being true to yourself and being open to life and the people in it.

    I am starting meditation next week (Deepak Chopra's 21 day challenge)...just like in the Matrix, it's about "free[ing] your mind".