Updated: Jan 31, 2020
“We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own…” That’s Alan Watts, a British-American philosopher, coming from a Youtube video playing in the background while I tidy up my room. A year or two before, a European guy I had gone on a few dates with had pulled up a Youtube video with an Alan Watts speech dubbed over it. At the time I thought it very inspiring. One of those “take notes” type of videos “because this pertains to you.” Time passes on…I had forgotten about the video and a year or two later it shows up on my recommendation playlist. Alan Watts really spoke to me at the time. Years before I had gone through a major religious crisis. I denounced my Christian background and started reading about other religions and theologies. I held a fascination with Buddhism and eastern philosophies and is one of the reasons I became so drawn to Alan. He interpreted Eastern philosophies for a Western audience and had a remarkable mind and a way of speaking. It was easy to drink in his words and never become satiated.
I’m droning on about this because everyone asks and wants to know “how did you end up where you are?!” “What did you do in your life to end up differently than me?!” Telling everyone that I applied for a job that would take me around the world and I just packed up and left is NOT the answer. That’s not what you want to know! Deep down you’re wondering something else. The most important part of the story is not the part everyone can see. It’s the prelude. It’s all the thoughts and the realizations and the destruction of thoughts that lead up to the visible changes in your life.
I didn’t just wake up one day and jump in my car and go. There were years of construction and deconstruction leading up to that day. I’ve encountered many persons that when I tell them the “in a nutshell story” they often tighten up their faces and resentfully reply “must be nice.” I used to get very angry at this response. Like they were judging me or didn’t think I had similar if not the same types of responsibilities, doubts, and tie-downs. For whatever reason I was resented for exercising the same freedom they had, but they didn't use it. I don’t get angry anymore. I can see that they are carrying their own burdens and we crave exactly the same things. I just figured out a way to cut the strings from some of my responsibilities that tied me to a particular way of living. And it requires sacrifice which is why a lot of us can’t stomach it. More on those particulars later. I’ll tell you all about how I cut out my own heart and fed it to the gods in exchange for some gas money.
It’s a little funny. Once you reach a certain milestone it’s often amusing to look back and trace your steps. The people that seemed unimportant introduced you to a more important figure. That important figure gave an unimportant speech. That unimportant speech become important when it changed your thoughts. Those unimportant thoughts became important when they changed your life…
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In the meantime, while you anxiously wait for the next blog in this remarkable odyssey, I’ll leave you with Alan Watts.