I write to you today at the beginning of my long day of travel to the Chicago and then Wisconsin to begin the Midwest tour of Insane Roots. Despite the long day of ‘hurry up and wait’, I am tingling with anticipation to get this party started. So far I have had book signings in Pennsylvania & Denver, which were great, but I am anxious to get back to the Midwest, it will always truly be home to me. It is crazy to think that less than two years ago, I left that place of comfort to start a new chapter of my life in Denver. Back then I had just signed my publishing contract with Morgan James Publishing and Insane Roots was still in the very early stages of manifestation.
Madison, Wisconsin was a place I called home for many years and before that I lived in the home I inherited from my grandfather in 2009 just over the border in Illinois. It was in that home when I was very young, that my dreams of being a writer began to take flight. After my mother disappeared in the summer just before my freshman year of high school, writing became an outlet for me and without it I am not sure I would be the person I am today. First it was just poetry. We didn’t have a computer back then (yes, I am that old), just an old electric typewriter my grandmother found at a garage sale several months earlier. There was always something about the noise of that typewriter that seemed to bring out the writer in me. There was just something about the crispness of the letters hitting the page that created a snowball of creativity. The words would flow so fast at times my fingers could barely keep up. Little did I know, I was launching rockets of desire for my future with the completion of every page.
One of my grandmother’s favorite movies was Funny Farm with Chevy Chase and I remember telling her that someday that would be me. “You’ll never make any money as a writer” she would tell me…”it’s just a movie”…”You’ll die penniless and alone” should would reiterate, but I never gave up! Mostly because I didn’t want to be a writer for the money. I wanted to be a voice in this noisy mixed up world. I wanted to empower people with my words, motivate them to go after their dreams and give them the courage to reach for the seemingly unreachable, no matter how silly it may seem to others. Besides, you are not here to live their lives, so don’t be afraid to step outside of the social constructs of society. I feel it is so important that we learn to define our own lives and seek to find our own destiny.
Having said all that, my choice of reading on the flight today is Change Your Thoughts, Change your Life – Living The Wisdom of The Tao, by Dr. Wayne Dyer. It is a book I have wanted to read for quite some time. I picked up the Tao de Ching several months ago after listening to a seminar where Dyer mentioned how powerful the teachings of Lao-tzu were. He believed there was great power in just carrying the book with you wherever you go. Which I have started doing. I have read my version several times, but there are thousands of translations out there and Dyer spent a year of his life researching as many of them as he could. He then wrote the before mentioned book as a practical guide to applying the wisdom of the Tao in our lives.
The very first verse and practical application could not be more perfect for today.
Translated by Stephen Mitchell
The Tao that can be told
Is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
Is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternal real.
Naming is the origin
Of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire you see only manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations
Arise from the same source.
The source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
Deep, but what does it mean? Dyer helps us to understand that this verse is telling us to live the mystery for that is the gateway to all understanding.
“The Tao is an unknowable, unseeable realm where everything originates; while at the same time, the Tao is invisibly within everything. When we desire to see this invisibleness (mystery), we attempt to define it in terms of the outer world of form…He counsels us that letting go of trying to see the mystery will actually allow us to see it.” Dr. Wayne Dyer
But how do we do that? We have been brought up in a world where everything is defined for us. How is it possible to let go of these definitions? According to Dyer, we do this by recognizing that “just as the world is not its names parts, we’re not exclusively the skin, bone, and rivers of fluids that we’re physically made of. We, too, are the eternal Tao, invisibly animating our tongues to speak, ears to hear and eyes to see and experience the manifest and the mystery.”
Regardless of what your spiritual and/or religious lifestyle is, the Tao urges us to simply allow the unfolding of the larger picture without always attempting to figure it all out. Embrace the mystery in all that we do not understand. When we do this we become an observer rather than the judge. We listen more and are more able to open our mind to the fascinating uncertainty of our human experience.
One of my favorite quotes from Dyer is “We are not a human having a spiritual experience, but rather a spiritual being having a human experience.”
There will always be the unexplainable, so rather than trying to categorize and define it based on the social constructs of this world, sit back and enjoy the opportunity we have been given to experience it.
The challenge Dyer gives his readers as a way of practical application is something that proved quite challenging for me today. When faced with an annoyance or irritant from the outside world, he urges us to go inward and decide to do the Tao (practice the way). He tells us to permit the paradox of wanting the irritant to go away while allowing it to be what it is. That is much easier said than done.
As anyone who has traveled knows, coexisting with strangers is not always the most pleasant of experiences. First there was the stress of security, waiting on unorganized passengers to move through the line in a timely (or not so timely) manner. As I stood there, shoes and laptop in hand waiting on the flustered family in front of me, I began to feel annoyed. Then I heard Dr. Dyer in my head telling me to take a deep breath and let go. There was no need to be bothered by their lack of understanding. After all, I had allowed myself plenty of time to make my flight. So I smiled when the little girl in front of me held up the line with all of her questions and instead of feeling annoyed, I was entertained by her curiosity and excitement.
The next challenge came when it was time to board the plan. Everyone rushed to board, creating a cluster of people funneling into a single file line as we slowly shuffled aboard the plane. I came up to my seat…it was a middle seat…something I always dread, but don’t care about enough to pay extra to prevent. As I took my seat, I felt a kick from behind me and heard the banter of two young siblings one row back. This should be fun, I thought to myself and then I stopped myself again. I was being judgmental.
Normally I put my headphones in immediately and escape the uncomfortable sardine like travel experience with some music, but this time I decided to be present in the moment instead. I became the acute observer and embraced the variety of life around me. I shook the initial feeling of disgust as I noticed the man in front of me digging for treasure in his left nostril and instead I laughed in admiration for his persistence. I listened to the children behind me talk about their plans for the upcoming week-long visit with family and friends. I was impressed with their father’s patience with them and couldn’t help but giggle at his goofy explanations to their inquisitiveness. When they asked what the button with the person was, he told them it was an ejector button. I couldn’t see their faces, but I am sure their looks were priceless as he chuckled through the real answer.
I realize now that a lot of the stress and annoyances of everyday life can be beautiful if we only take a moment to appreciate and allow. I could have been irritated and unhappy, dwelling on the negative aspects of the situation. Instead, I was able to take each unpleasant experience and find the joy in the moment.
“You alone can prepare the ground of your being for the experience of living the mystery.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer