Advice to a Younger Self

"If you lack the iron and the fizz to take control of your own life, if you insist on leaving your fate to the gods, then the gods will repay your weakness by having a grin or two at your expense. Should you fail to pilot your own ship, don't be surprised at what inappropriate port you find yourself docked. The dull and prosaic will be granted adventures that will dice their nervous systems like an onion, romantic dreamers will end up in the rope yard... The price of self-destiny is never cheap, and in certain situations it is unthinkable. But to achieve the marvelous, it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought." Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

 

“If you had a daughter in her 20s right now what advice would you give her?”

 

Me? She wants an answer from me? Who am I to give advice? Wait, she is serious! She really wants to know what I have to say. I laugh. Wow, a reality check, I guess I am turning 36 this year. I am seen as wiser just by being around longer, a few more bruises, heartbreaks, failures... So what is it that I’m going to tell this beautiful, youthful, life-full 20 something? What is the one thing that I can tell her right now that I wish someone told me when I was her age?

 

With only a few seconds of hesitation I heard my voice as I said “have as much sex as possible with as many people as possible.”

 

 

Her full bodied laughter... the relief I saw in her eyes... the wave of joy rushing between us... I knew I was onto something.

 

As my birthday was approaching I started thinking about myself ten years ago. Anxiety, depression, self hatred, self abuse, lack of self esteem, zero confidence, loneliness, desperation. Those are the words that come up when I imagine myself at that time. It didn’t matter whether other people perceived me that way or not. No matter how many awards and scholarships I received, no matter how many diplomas I received, every achievement of every goal seemed to deepen my feeling of dissatisfaction in my life.

 

My eventual, inevitable response to this was to STOP.

 

There was no way I could keep pursuing and chasing after something without first addressing the epic shit fest that was my mind. Demanding more and more out of myself, I was driving my body and mind to their limit, extracting every ounce of ability. The judgement and criticism I exercised toward myself now seems like a human rights violation. Back then, it was truth. Eventually I came to recognize my self-abuse but I didn’t know how to change it.

 

By some miracle, some divine kindness, some  supernatural intervention, I started to attempt to meditate... and by a greater miracle, after years of starting and attempting and quitting and starting again, I learned to meditate and through that to understand the workings of my mind and its relationship to my body, my emotions, my life.

 

The grand metamorphosis that I underwent over the next decade was grueling and terrifying. (Infinite gratitude goes out to all of the amazing people whose love and belief in me were the threads I could hang onto as I battled).

 

If I think of a movie that best reflects the feeling of those years, I always turn to the scenes of Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill. The one where her hands are shaking so bad from throwing punches at a wall that she can’t hold her chopsticks. Pei Mei, her merciless kong fu master, both cruel and loving, looking on with satisfaction. But the inhumane training pays off when she breaks out, practically explodes, out of a freshly buried coffin (another epic scene that I feel I lived through several times).

 

Internally this was my experience for years - training, practicing, learning, testing, battling, failing, trying again, succeeding, integrating, more training, more testing, on and on. It felt like it would never end! But there was no turning back. Even though the unknown was not becoming more known, even though the fear was not going away, even though the results I wanted were still alluding me, I felt very clearly that there was literally no other way.

 

And just like the inevitable, richly satisfying triumph of Beatrix Kiddo at the end of Kill Bill 2, I too gradually emerged into a new reality. Or rather, a new reality emerged through me, through the intricate, time consuming process of curating my mind, examining every thought, questioning every belief, observing every emotion. And after ten years of this I feel like I’m just at the beginning, like I just caught up with myself.

 

I often say that it feels to me that nothing has really changed, I still have the same fears, same anxieties, same limitations, I just have more history with them.

 

So what do I say to that desperate, driven, stubborn, passionate, confused, scared, frustrated, talented, gifted, overachieving, lonely, unhappy woman? I say to her that which I have tested and proven to myself to be true, that which has become the framework for my philosophy of life, that which was a gut instinct ten years ago, a guiding light, a fragile question, a guilty hope. Now these are facts...

 

The unknown is always going to be there, stop running away from it.

There is no reality outside of your perception, therefore...

The most important thing to study is the nature of mind.

Rushing is an optional state of mind.

Maturity and mastery take time. Don’t be fooled, there are no shortcuts.

There is no such thing as “being good.” There is only how good you feel about yourself right now.

The deepest happiness and fastest growth lie in fully accepting who you are in the present moment, not who you might become in the future, or who you were in the past.

How attractive you appear to others is a reflection of how much you enjoy being yourself and how much your body enjoys being itself.

Physical beauty is a lot more informed by your posture and grace of movement rather than size and proportion of the body.

You must articulate with precision what you want in order to have it.

Jealousy is useful in finding out what you want.

To have what you want, love its absence.

In decision making, if it is not a 100% yes, it’s not worth your time.

Happiness, satisfaction, pleasure, joy, contentment, and love are not destinations to be reached, they are skills that require time, commitment, attention, and discipline.

The intention behind any action is more relevant than the action itself.

The optimal, most beneficial attitude to have towards anything and anyone is reverence.

Life without the experience of the sacred and the feeling of magic is physically unnatural. The doorway to the sacred and the magical is your mind.