Sometimes You Love People for the Person They Could Have Been

I have an old friend. We were friends in high school.

I remember him as being so poignantly alive – so full of character and spirit. He inspired me and wowed me – and I really think a deep part of me truly loved him.

After high school we went our separate ways, as people tend to do. And then a Christmas or so we reconnected….

And I was appalled. He was so constricted. So tight. So not full of life, or truth, or passion, or all the things I remember him as being.

He was bloated, and blind to reality, and slowly suffocating from his own fears.

I knew another man. And this one I definitely loved. He was the first man I ever fell hard for.

The kind of passion that made me cry when I got within half a mile of his apartment – even two years later – because I was so deeply affected by him.

He was smart, and kind, and spiritual. He was clever and caring. He was a beautiful man, inside and out.

And I saw his potential. I saw what he could grow into being.

But he wasn’t ready to embrace that part of himself. He was not ready to face his truth.

He’d rather hide, and escape, and not confront the reality of life’s most challenging – and often growth filled – moments.

In both of these instances – I cared for these men because who they had the capacity to become – and not who they actually are/were.

And this is so hard to acknowledge and accept.

For those of us who have the capacity to see the potential within another human being (and I believe there is a lot of us), it’s very easy to get caught up in assessing them as the person they might become.

And this is why so many of us stay in unhealthy relationships.

Or forgive abusive friends.

Or endure hostile relatives.

We know – deep down – they are capable of so much more.

But the truth we must learn to acknowledge is this:

They Are Not These People.

These individuals are only so good as the person they are in this moment. They, in actuality and totality, are not just these gems buried inside.

And I can’t love someone for who they might be.

This is why I keep that high school friend at a distance and don’t reach out to him very often. While I love the memory of the boy he was and the man he might have grown into, I cannot abide the man he currently is.

Similarly, I cannot hope that my first real love will come round, face his fears, and acknowledge the capacity to learn and grow that lies between us.

I cannot love him for that – because that is not where he currently is in his psyche.

So – I delete his number from my phone. And I wish my old friend a happy birthday – and that is all.

I send out a prayer and blessings to the universe – thanking them for the light and inspiration that they brought to my life – and wishing them well on their journeys.

And I stay grateful for having the capacity to see beneath the surface – and to see another’s deeper truth.

And keep reminding myself to not get caught up in what another might eventually achieve.

Because they are just not there now.

Namaste.

Letting Go of Needing to Be Extraordinary

I remember in high school being quite taken with the not-quite-so-authentic-or-inspired lyrics of Avril Lavigne:

“I want to know that I

Have been to the extreme

So knock me off my feet

Come on now give it to me

Anything to make me feel alive

Is it enough to love?

Is it enough to breath?

Somebody rip my heart out

And leave me here to bleed

Is it enough to die?

Somebody save my life

I’d rather be anything but ordinary please”

Like I said, not entirely the most inspired bit of song writing ever penned to paper… but it encapsulated a desire that was beginning to pressurize in my chest; a desire to do great and extraordinary things in my life.

An excerpt taken from my daily journal around this same teenage-time reveals my own, modest ambitions towards achieving greatness:

Sept 16, 2002

Life Goals:

  • President of the United States
  • Prime Minister of Britain
  • Be knighted
  • Win at least two Academy Awards for Best Director an Actor
  • Win a Tony Award for Best Actor
  • Win a Nobel Peace Prize

…the list went on from there with at least fifteen more items of a similar nature.  Although I am relatively confident that my fourteen-year-old self was cognizant enough to realize that  A) Several of the items in that list would be tactically impossible due to different laws and regulations, such as nationality; B) Would take multiple life times to fulfill, if at all; and C) Would require substantially different skill-sets and life orientations – and yet, I am not so certain I was fully aware of the unfeasibility of such.

The craving within me to achieve something “Great” was profound beyond measure.  I recollect lying on a heap of crumpled comforter, on the floor of my parent’s master bedroom at sixteen, having my first-ever legitimate panic attack due to the fact that should have already attained something publicly noteworthy and profound in my already advancing years of age.

Long story short: I was a nut-job, hellbent for glory, and totally disconnected with any deep sense of self-worth.

I wanted the profoundly extra-ordinary to manifest in my life and convince me that I was merely good enough.

Sound like a current President we all have the misfortune to be currently acquainted with?

At that time in my life, I really did not have a lot going on to teach me my inherent worth.  I had few (if any) real friendships, I was scared of most everyone I encountered, I was bullied horrendously, I was totally disconnected from my sexuality, and so repressed that I considered myself “broken” because I could not feel what other normal teenagers felt.  I felt really worthless.

And I wanted something glorious beyond measure to tell me I had worth – because I could not find it in myself.

And so, going to college shortly thereafter, I decided to become a professional actor – because assuredly Hollywood and the thundering applause of a raucous crowed would give me that fulfillment.  And, if it wouldn’t be tangibly possible to attain all of those checkpoints on my high school to-do list, at least onscreen I could play a President, King, Physicist and Astronaut and achieve some feeling of that attainment.

Well, life, as she has a way of doing, has kicked me in the gut and pulled the rug out from underneath me, knocking me down, enough times since that point that I began to question that longing.  Why did I want to be a movie star?  What was I afraid of in starting to date other people (something I did not attempt until I was twenty-five years of age)?

Long story cut very short: I eventually started to develop sincere self worth.  I started to learn my “size.”  Learn to know what I had to genuinely offer and what was mere aggrandizement.  I started to genuinely connect to who I truly was, what I wanted, and what I had to give.

A large step in that process for me was discovering meditation.  I truly credit it for giving me my life back.  It taught me to start removing the layers of facade I had unintentionally fabricated, to uncover my truest self beneath.

And – it simultaneously connected me with the mystical – the ethereal – and the divine.

I moved into a meditation ashram right after college – where I learned that I was “special.”   I had unique karma to encounter this practice.  I was blessed.  And that I had a chance to go beyond what normal humans experienced – and live a life that was truly “extraordinary.”

Wait… Sound familiar?  … somehow I traded one dream of self-aggrandizement for another.

In hind sight, I do see there was a dangerous mentality to the tradition I entered.  A promise of specialness. A guarantee of life being more than normal humans (outside the practice) could understand.  And that gave me purpose and a feeling of divine grace.

And then, as all false-idols must, my sacred imaginings shattered to the ground.  The leaders that promised this mystical and otherworldly ideal were revealed to be more human than they presented themselves to be.

And I ended up parting ways from that tradition – heartbroken and distraught.  But still much more alive and authentically myself than I encountered it, thanks to the still-excellent teachings I received.

But in wake of that leaving, I once again have found that craving inside me to be “extraordinary” resurfacing.

Now, I no longer want to be a movie star, or famous, or a figure of social importance.  I actually now desire the simple things: a loving home, a gracious partner, good food, sturdy friendships.

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But there’s part of me that wants something so much more – something that I am now beginning to call a connection to the divine.  My experiences in the ashram started to illuminate some glimpses of that for me.

And if I am totally honest with myself – that longing for something more than what we associate “normal” to be – is indeed a spiritual longing.

A desire to return to a state of pure-bliss, pure-awareness, pure-truth that the ancient rishis and “seers” have articulated existing within each and every one of us.

That the longing for the “Extraordinary” is nothing more than a longing to return home – to my Soul.

Spiritual traditions across the globe have articulated that the Earth is just one place conscious beings reside – and that there are other places that we might be more akin to.  That we are “spirits having a physical experience.”

My question is now for myself: how can I truly appreciate and relish the ordinary – while striving for the extraordinary within me – and not through outer glorification?

How can I cultivate the magic, love, light, and prosperity I feel in glimpses in my meditation in the rest of my waking life?

How can I live a life fully empowered, aware, enheartened, and steadfast?

How can I live in truth?

These are my current questions.  Questions to which I am unsure there are solid answers.

What do you think?  Please share your insights and inspirations below!

Namaste,  Kaelan 🙂

Getting Naked

I’m ready to get naked.  How about you?

Shed my fears, my inhibitions, my shame.

I’m beginning to realize how much shame each of us carries.  Shame of our bodies.  Shame of our desires.  Shame of our needs.

Shame is like a pack of rank, moldy critters scurrying around in the dark crevasses of our subconscious.

Shame causes us pain; shame causes suffering; shame causes us misfortune.

More over, shame keeps us from our truest and most authentic selves.   If we are ashamed of parts of who we are, how can we ever love ourselves in our totality?  Can we learn to accept the beautiful and the terrifying parts of ourselves as one holistic unit?  Can we love our love-handles, our proclivities, our relationships to food?

For if we cannot accept all part of ourselves, including the scary bits, how can we ever love another human being in their entirety?

These are the questions that have been running through my mind as of late.

Like many Americans, I grew up in a very sex and body negative environment.  I grew up in a society where bodies should be covered at all times.  Affection generally isn’t publicly displayed between couples – even in the home space.  I notice that I have never really watched my parents kiss romantically or even spontaneously hold hands.

In gyms, we dress as quickly as possible, dancing behind towels to keep our bodies hidden from our peers.  On social media apps, we only share the most carefully curated, filtered, and photoshopped versions of ourselves to present the most flattering images of our white-washed lives.

And this is so gross and unfortunate.

Our messy parts are beautiful.  Our unrefined and unglamorous angels make us human and relatable.  If our minds and bodies are born to act and look a certain way – these qualities should be celebrated.

This shame in regards to sexuality is as logical to me as a shame of walking.  Imagine a society where it’s shameful to walk.  Feet are to be subjugated.  We must only roll on wheels from destination to destination.  Do not use your feet for their designed purpose.  How dare you highlight the fact that you even possess feet.

Why are we like this with other parts of our bodies and psyches?  Perhaps its partially due to our Puritanical heritage as Americans.

The Ancient Greeks used clothing to highlight the natural lines of the body.  They didn’t cover areas for modesty – but utilized accoutrement-ization to highlight their best assets.

Why is there so much shame in our culture for exposing a breast – even when feeding an infant?  Or a bulge in a man’s pants?  Why have we become so sterile?  Europe certainly isn’t this way.

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I have recently begun to realize how much shame I carry regarding my own sexuality.  Although I came out as a gay man several years ago, much of me has still felt dirty for admitting that I actually like sex. Now, I’m discovering how “vanilla” my relationship to sex has been.  I realize that in my mind I’ve been holding biases: like believing that someone can want or like sex too much.  Or that one should only have it in certain ways.  Or that it is acceptable only in certain contexts and relationships.  That we shouldn’t be horny.  Or be raunchy.  Or express …all those desires you buried inside that you might actually, really want.

And this means that I’ve not been been expressing my truest version of me.   If we deny our deepest impulses, if we deny our bodies’ innate truths, we are living inauthentic lives.

In Jungian psychology, they have a concept called “The Shadow Self.”  We have the normal, socially appropriate self that walks around everyday.  But hidden behind that is The Shadow Self.  It’s comprised of all the things that titillate you, inspire you, excite you – but your conscious mind feels is forbidden.  Maybe that drag queen caught your eye – and maybe you feel angry that you want to look.  Maybe that extra dessert lures you fantastically – but you can only think about your already too significant waistline.  Maybe that person in the blue jeans, of a different gender than you are usually attracted, entices you – and you suddenly feel unexplainable frustration towards them.

These forbidden desires exist within all of us.  And they have to be resolved.  As long as they seem interesting and yet impossible – they will pull on our subconscious, and we will build shame around our unacceptable impulses.

Instead, if they can be healthfully acknowledged and expressed, they can be integrated into one’s regular self.

And it’s not that, suddenly, you will find yourself every Thursday night at the local drag bar, kicking up your spangled heals (although, that might be possible – and that’s totally okay – if it is); but it by opening up to your fear and shame, you might heal a very deep trauma in your psyche, perhaps keeping your from deeply integrating your masculine and feminine qualities.  That forbidden curiosity might be a symptom of some deeper issue that needs addressing and bringing back into wholeness.

Shame causes disease – it’s been proven by healers and health psychologists again and again.  And there’s so much that American society says to feel shamed about.  Our weight, our food, our bodies, our desires, our partners.

So this season, I’m blowing the lid off my basement of creepy, shameful creatures.  I’m letting my full shadow self dissolve into the light.  I am healing – and allowing myself to accept all aspects of this beautiful and contradictory human experience.  And this takes guts and bravery – and a willingness to accept that not everyone will understand it.  Others may question or judge me for my choices.

But if there is any source of inspiration to counter that judgement, it is this:

“This above all: to thine own self be true

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou cans’t not then be false to any man.”

As Shakespeare said it like no one else ever could – when we are truer to our actual, authentic selves, we become truer citizens, lovers, brothers, sisters, parents, children, friends, and human beings overall.

If I can fully love and accept every aspect of who I am – I can thereby accept all other walks of life.  If I can hold no judgement or blame of myself – I can accept all others openly and with compassion.

So long as I resent my deepest self – I will resent others too.  This is the truth – and the crux of the issue with shame.

I’m moving further towards the light – shedding my inhibitions (and my clothes) – and asking you to join me.

Please share in the comments section below how you are working to share your “Naked Truth” – your most vital, uninhibited, and joyous celebration of your truest feelings and desires.

Learning to love ourselves for who and what we are – free of shame.

Love and peace to you all!

Namaste, Kaelan  #nakedtruth