The perfect you

Everything is perfect and there is always room for improvement.         — Shunryu Suzuki

For those suffering from self-induced pressures of striving to be perfect, here is a reprieve. It doesn’t involve daily affirmations that we are already good enough and should embrace our shortcomings as part of what makes us special. Nor does it reject the idea that perfection is unattainable and reserved only for the divine. These binary options are based on our presupposition that there is something wrong or broken about ourselves and we should either fix it or surrender to it. When we re-frame our definition of what it means to be perfect, we can liberate creative forces that are unconstrained by fear of failure, rejection or loss. This freedom gives us permission to create abundant art and in the process, become more comfortable with our own inherent perfection. Continue reading

The happiness trap

Happiness is so overrated.

Think about it. When we’re happy, we’re content with how things are, which is another way of saying complacent. When we’re complacent, we take things for granted, stop being curious and lose our interest in learning. We forget our appreciation for what it means to be free. We become busy and switched off to our passions, or marginalize them to our spare time. Being busy lets us off the hook for not pursuing the things that make our lives truly meaningful. In Chinese, the character for “busy” translates literally as “dead heart“. Instead of seeking fleeting moments of happiness that we cling to, long for and feel depressed about when they elude us, we can create a much more fulfilling life that revolves around the simple concept of facility. Continue reading

On being Lisa

It would be a lie if I told you that I am not scared. For me, the most frightening part of being smashed against the wall of mortality is the feeling that my life has been a failure. That I haven’t had enough time to realize all of my dreams and to make the kinds of contributions to the world that I always thought I would. — Lisa S. Keary

My dear friend Lisa passed away last week in Chiang Mai after more than a year fighting lung cancer. During this time she wrote eloquently about her experiences in the course of her discovery, treatment and eventual surrender to the disease. She held a Ph.D with distinction from Columbia University and had a exemplary career in human rights NGOs. Lisa did make a great difference in this life and by the end of it, she realized that the things she had failed to achieve mattered less than being grateful for all that she had been given.  Continue reading

You get a purpose! You get a purpose..!

It’s been almost a year since I last wrote, as I haven’t been struck by anything in particular that inspired me. Then yesterday I was at Starbucks minding my own business, when I was assaulted by Oprah Winfrey. Oprah is now selling her own branded tea, which includes putting her inspirational quotes on the insulating sleeve around my Americano. “Follow your passion,” she writes. “It will lead you to your purpose.” There’s nothing better than being reminded by a TV celebrity that you have a purpose in the universe, which is only knowable by following your passion, so that you too may someday become as successful as she is.  Continue reading

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Being there

Almost weekly, I will be mistaken by someone who swears that they know me. This has been going on for many years, and I’ve become used to it. I enjoy the surprised look on people’s faces, and then joking with them, “Well, there are a lot of short bald white guys around.” For those who have never seen me in person, I’m unremarkable looking, though once an elderly group of Japanese tourists thought I might be Bruce Willis. People are always more receptive to what’s familiar, and in those wonderful moments when I forget that I am separate and different from everyone else, the world reminds me that I may be on to something. Continue reading

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Loafing toward salvation

The unbounded life is perfectly content is its pointlessness. It’s not a formula for any kind of traditional measure of success, nor intended to achieve any specific purpose. It’s defined by a spirit of infinite and cheerful uselessness that is found in all forms of play, and born from a desire to avoid the evils of work. When we embrace our laziness, we feel less guilty about the pursuit of leisure. We allow ourselves the time to dream and create versus being consumed by daily practical concerns. The leisurely life is an artful life, one that expresses the curiosity, humor and waywardness of our essential humanity. Continue reading

Slowly and all at once

It’s a rare kind of person that knows early on who they want to be, and commits to becoming it with a singular, persistent focus. For the rest of us, we slouch through life, wondering what our purpose is while resigning ourselves to making a living. When we talk about purpose, we’re really talking about intention. Purpose is a way we describe our intent toward a course of action. When we’re unclear about our course of action, we say that we lack purpose, but really we lack intention; a determination or resolve. There’s really never a time when any of us lacks purpose, because our purpose is all the same: to express our creative selves. Continue reading