Evening in Manhattan

We walked through the crowded city streets. Water floated in the air, neither falling nor climbing, merely hanging. I imagined this suspended rain to be the home decor of one whose head lived in the clouds. It would certainly be a dreary way to experience life, constantly running into droplets of water.

As we made our way through the East Village my head swayed on its swivel. 695 was the magic number. We’d been searching for this Japanese place for only a few minutes, but it was unimaginably difficult paying attention to addresses. All we wanted to do was laugh. But alas, we were stuck searching for numbers in a sea of words. Or at least it would seem accordingly so, despite the widespread lack of numerals found on the storefronts and frontdoors of the buildings on 5th Street.

720. Damn. We turned around and laughed some more. We agreed we’d have to pay attention now because we were both beginning to crave supper. We counted down like a dyslexic couple on New Year’s, celebrating loudly at 695. I opened the door for the lady and we took our coats off. The place was small, but obviously upscale. The decor was modern and the lines along the walls stretched symmetrically, further than the eye cared to see. Immediately, the comforting aroma of homemade miso made its way to my nose. I smiled and looked for the waiter.

A taught, strict, and ponytailed Japanese man seated us in our recently assembled “custom” table. No more than a wedge behind the cash register, our seat was a semi-obtrusive, lane-blocking last minute addition to an already skinny restaurant. We didn’t care. In fact, we laughed.

The meal came and it went. Descriptions were unnecessary because really we weren’t paying attention. All we wanted was a plane ticket to anywhere, a trip for an evening, maybe a few days. Just some respite from the city. The lonely city filled with millions. We could relax. Joke. Even banter. We gawked and criticized, poked and profiled. We took in all the sights. By the time our check came we were one foot out the door, money tossed on the table.

I held out my arm and she threaded it like a needled. We swayed up and down the avenue. Hideout to hideout.

It wasn’t ever about the destination. It was always about the ride.

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The Alchemist: Learning to Following Your True Path

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Finding a great book is like discovering a new language, it puts everything into a different shade of perception.  A truly excellent book can travel beyond all the limitations we think we have.  It will expand the mind in a manner that has not been achieved before.  Its creativity is marvelously genuine and honest, in such a way that it can speak to a million people is a million different ways. Finding a book like this, for me, is like enjoying a really long home-cooked dinner.  The only difference is their means of ingestion: body or mind.

The last time I came across such a book was in November.  I was in the middle of finals and I really needed an outlet that could take me away from all my research.  Call me 20 years late, but the book I finally discovered was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  I had always heard rave reviews from both professionals and friends, but I had never got around to actually reading it.  For some reason or another, it never crossed my path.  In retrospect, I see that my consciousness was not in the right place to absorb the lessons the novel had to offer (more on this later).  However, once it came my way, I devoured it in the span of two nights—if I had not needed to sleep that first evening, I would have finished it in a matter of hours.

I think this is the best cover of all his editions

This novel was, for lack of a better word, awesome.  Purely awesome.  It begins slow, but the detail-rich descriptions and personal tidbits of life-learned lessons kept me turning pages with enthusiasm.  Something about the way Coelho so honestly writes connected me to every word. Beyond just the story—as many books are capable of achieving a plot—Coelho weaves in thematic dispositions that speak to much higher universal concepts.

One of the most intriguing themes was that of love.  Whether we accept it or not, love is something we all want.  Coelho provides a completely original context to explore the depths of love as a reality.  Through a few examples, he shows that love is neither defined by romance, attachement, or desire, instead transcending all and is embodied in one’s true path, or in this case one’s treasure.

As children we understood the concept of passion much clearer than we do as adults.  So many external factors blur the ideas that keep our inner fires lit.  Soon these ideas fade and are covered by mind-numbing suppression.  Responsibility, pride, denial, and fear keep us away from our true desires, our passions.  Often times, the avoidance will cause physical harm, manifesting in disease, depression, and ultimately the surrender of life.  I know because I have come close to surrendering to my passion.  In fact, it was only because I chose to follow my path that I was lead to this book, which served as a reaffirmation of my decisions.

You’ll always know if you are following your path

The same problem I was facing was exactly what was going on in the book: the dilemma between love and Love. In the Alchemist, a young shepard is faced with choosing between his familiar experience of love, one of comfort and romance, and the unknown outcome of following his passion, his interior self Love.  Through out the book, he meets people in all stages of this exact dilemma.  In the end, he chooses to follow his personal Love, for without that, no other love could exist.

It was this idea that expanded my consciousness.  Love without the self is not love.  Love for a girl, a dog, a father, or anything in the universe is incomplete unless it emanates from within.  This means if I don’t love myself, I cannot love another.  If I cannot do what I want to do, what I am here to do, my dharma, then I cannot learn to love anything else.  Love will never stand in the way of one’s true path.  If it tries to, then it is not love.

The Alchemist poetically orchestrates these timeless lessons of Love, dharma, and passion with a clarity and simplicity so often under-utilized in the literary world.  This is the reason this novel has sold over 60 million copies in over 150 countries.  If you haven’t already read this book, or if you haven’t read it in a while, I strongly suggest you pick it up.  This book has so much to offer that I know the next time I read it I’ll learn something completely new.

Coelho is a huge fan of “pirating” his book as he thinks all should have access.  He has even shown that by giving it away on the internet, his sales have risen.  So here’s a link to his pirating blog where you can download a version of his novel for free.  Enjoy!

Treasure of the Mountain

Perched atop an entire valley, one facet of its of many faces consumed me.  Gleaming across the horizon lie mountains of marshmallows in monstrous proportions.  Up above, a blue so stunning it made any other shade warrant a complementary and descriptive adjective.  The great pines were dressed in highlighted silhouettes of the most colorful white.  Admits the fulcrum of winter, the lack of lush grew undetected.  Healthy tones of deep virescence were bountifully scattered across the vista. Vibrancy was of the hour.

My life did not matter.  Nor did I care to make it.  I sat.  Strapped into the most antithetical object one could plausibly conceive, I sat.  I sat and I forgot.

The mountain emancipated me.  I was free from the chains of thought and the walls of mentation.  In these moments, I was not astonished, for I had been here before.  In recognition, I could continue uninterrupted.  In no telling of how many seconds remained, I leaned forward.

Received with grace, I floated on clouds.  My body was moving with the mountain.  A pleasant resonance played notes rivaling Mozart.  Crisp in their entirety, yet soft in their deliverance, the tablature sung to my ears.  I turned with the trees and parted the white ocean of the canyon.  The pace of my fall was controlled.  Ease and poise.

Balanced against the earth, its nectar gave way to my path, it waves frozen in motion.  Sliding between, diving below, turning inside.  The metaphysical became tangent.  An instant injection of bliss.  A moment of deep meditation.  A glance at heaven and the definition of deliverance.  All above 11,000 feet.  All below 32 degrees.  All within my waking moments.

There were other people somewhere.  There were even people I knew.  There were cars and trucks, planes and boats, houses and hotels.  There were a lot of things.  But on this mountain, on the face of this canyon, only I existed.  I and the lot the natural world.  A world I so evidently contrasted.  The colors I wore, the objects I brought,  my intentions and my purpose diverged immensely.

Yet the mountain did not mind.  It still honored me with its truth.  Without judgement or scorn, I was given the gifts nature has to give.  I understood that it was temporary.  I understood it was unique.

Each trip I search for this moment.  Each trip I find it.  I am blessed to have such means of experience.  The moments never last more than a few minutes, but these minutes last for eternity.  It is not a difficult task to find others that agree.  Some may use different vocabulary, others may not speak.  Some may describe while others just show.  Many are out there and all will agree that the mountain and its treasure will set you free.

Guru

Meet Guru.  Eight weeks young and full of life.  We have only had him for two days now and I have completely fallen in love.  I am so consumed by his amazing energy that I cannot even fathom another topic to write about.  He is a Shih Tzu and is very adventurous.  He is bold, playful, very smart, and loves milk.  He makes the entire apartment come to life and does the same to everyone he meets.

It is incredible the power a young puppy has over the emotions of random people. My girl friend and I took Guru for a short walk around the neighborhood — it was as if Guru was strolling down the red carpet of a Hollywood premier — and everyone had something to say.  For the first time in a while, I remembered the uncanny ability animals had for evoking purely genuine responses.  The reactions to Guru told me so much about the people we met.  Their emotions ranged from sheer happiness to bitter jealousy to even being threatened.  I was in awe at the cathartic abilities a 3 and a half pound being had over the minds of random people.  This pure, innocent puppy was eliciting unfiltered responses from an otherwise layered and protected world.  It was as if his identity of absolute truthfulness made it impossible for others to act insincerely.

It made me think.  Does absolute truth always summon absolute truth?  If so, how can we as humans create a world where everyone is held accountable based on the principles of truth and authenticity?  My answer starts within.  As I purify my identity, I will encourage others to do the same.  Leading by example will always trump preaching.  I hope that when you read any of my blogs, the candor of my words reigns more powerful than the content.  Writing is of course the art of sincerity and its power lies in the writer’s ability to genuinely transfer his or her thoughts into vocabulary.  The more I write from my heart, the more content I am with my writings.  I also see it fit that the truer I am with my self, the more integral the people in my life become.  Creating a community of integrity and love – which is the same as absolute truth – starts with the self and will spread to others.  Changing the world has never had such grass-root beginnings.

And just for the record, the happiest person Guru and I met was a man who made his living collecting other people’s recyclables.  His smile was as big as guru.