earlier today, i was sitting at the ATL airport, had chicken and celery for lunch, with a water. a year ago, i would've been 2 whiskeys deep with a burger and fries before my flight, dead tired, with a headache, and regretting it when i got home to spend time with my girls.

i got to austin on thursday to spend the weekend with eric. we worked, we ran, we paddle boarded, we watched movies, we nerded out, we saw friends, we spent time in the sun, we ate good food, we talked, we meditated.

we soaked up each other's company.

instead of whiskey or wine or white claw, we had sparkling water. instead of junk food, we had pretzels and fruit. instead of floating on lady bird lake with a cooler of beer, we found a spot in the shade and meditated.

we took time every day to sit with rapeh, and each other, and meditate. we talked, we listened, and we grew closer.

looking back now, for so long, so many years, all i openly talked about, with anyone, really, was small talk. this movie, that music, mom talk, kid logistics, work, computers--skin-deep topics that eventually allowed me to silence my inner voice, my soul. my head was always full of thoughts, but i wasn't exactly mindful, i wasn't awake, and i never really shared my thoughts with anyone, or gained any insight from anyone else.

my eyes were closed, and i had built a wall around myself, and slowly over the years it grew thicker. i was unaware that the wall, the wall that i thought was protecting me, was doing more damage than good.

i didn't take care of me. i didn't recognize the damage i was doing until i stepped outside myself and took a good, hard look.

i'm still learning to not judge myself for all of that, because how was i to know? you don't know what you don't know. i didn't realize any of it. everything i did, every choice i made, led me to where i am. and i will be present for all of it.

i struggle with this sometimes, because some days it feels like 2 steps back.

one of my favorite bits from alan watts:

People fall from grace. 'Why do they?'

See, we're just talking about the same old problem, but we put it a step up. But it's the same problem. 'How can I improve myself?' was the first problem. The second problem is 'How can I accept grace?' They’re both the same problem, because you've got to make a move, which will put yourself out of your own control, into the control of a better.

If you don't believe in the Christian kind of a God, you can believe in the Hindu kind of God, who is your inner self. You see, you've got a lower self which you can call your ego. That's that little scandalous fellow, that's always out for me. But behind the ego, there is the atman, the inner self, the inward light as Quakers would call it. The real self, the spirit, which is substantially identical with God.

So you've got to meditate in such a way that you identify with your higher self.' How do you do that?' Well, you start by watching all your thoughts, very carefully, watching your feelings, watching your emotions, so that you begin to build up a sense of separation between the watcher and what is watched. So that you are, as it were, no longer carried away by your own stream of consciousness. You remain the witness, impassively, impartially, suspending judgment and watching it all go on.

That seems to be something like progress. At least you're taking an objective view of what is going on.

eric and i talk about this frequently, because it's on my mind a lot. and he reminds me, whenever i start to dwell on it, that what i'm doing now, and what i've been doing for a while, is, as alan says above, progress. people fall from grace, we all do. but being mindful of it, aware, and reflecting on it is the work that i am doing, and will continue to do.

all of the little changes i've made over the last year--cutting out red meat, eliminating 90% of my caffeine and alcohol consumption, routine exercise, eating more veggies, more sunshine, plant medicine, more meditating, more reading, more talking, less meaningless noise, less junk, less small talk, less toxic anything in my life.

all of these things--they are all. progress. they are all steps to better myself, to connect with my higher self, and hopefully share that with my girls to carry with them as they get older.

i can't choose their paths, or keep them from tripping up--we're only human. but i can plant seeds, to guide them, to allow them be more mindful sooner, in the places that i truly never was until 35.

But when you look at it from the spiritual point of view, you see that suffering is grace, a gift given in order to awaken you. Once you want to awaken, then the meaning of suffering changes. You don’t court it, but when it comes down the pike, you work with it, because you see that it’s a valuable vehicle. -Ram Dass


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