Reflections on my upcoming surgery

Writing the other day about how to handle fear through Taoism really did have a nice effect on me. My surgery is 4 days away, I feel a pressure building, but at the same time, I know that’s just in my head. I go in and out of feeling a bit anxious or apprehensive, other times I am focused on other things and feel better. It’s strange, I’m really busy working on my career and getting everything going. Networking, planning, creating. The only times I can I go out into nature though are when the clouds and sky look right. And I’m going out there with the sole purpose of getting something out of it. I’m doing it for me, so in a way, I don’t think I’m truly benefitting from nature as much as I could. What I mean to say is that if I just walked along a beach or through a forest, without any expectations, without needing to get a great photograph, I think it would nurture my spirit and console me. I think I would absorb its power and essence a lot more if I just took it all in and stayed present with it. Using my senses only, letting go of my thoughts, feeling and listening to what is around me. No planning ahead, or resenting this or that person, no thinking about instagram or facebook, or who won the football game. In the world we live in today, and I know for me especially, this is an extremely hard thing to do.

There was something so beautiful I was reading about Taoism. How, so many people separate the things in the world. “Us” and “them.” “We” as the human race are different from “them” which is nature and animals and the like. But, in reality, we are the same. We are all beings created in this world. Yes, we have different forms and capabilities, but we truly are the same. And this is one of the most important things I have to remember when I’m out in the remote regions of nature, which truly are my favorite. The places where people won’t go, the places where people haven’t been yet. These are the places that have always had the most profound impact on me. And it’s in these places that I need to remember that the sands of an untouched dune, the cactus on the ground, the rock on the mountain, these objects are me and I am them.

I can use their power, all of their separate powers. I can be sturdy like the rock, and durable like the cactus and soft and gentle like the sand. I can go with the flow, as sand cascades down a large dune. These are traits I can incorporate into myself just by remembering that I also am the same being. We all have the sun and the moon in us, we all have chaos and balance, we all have light and dark. We have to get in touch with these dynamic opposites and accept them and be completely at peace with them. And that is when we will flourish. I haven’t even come close to reaching my full potential, but I truly believe that if I keep incorporating these beliefs and ideas into my thinking and my way of life, I will be able to MOVE MOUNTAINS. I know I can. I just know it. I’ve felt that power before. It doesn’t happen often, but I’ve never forgotten about those moments. They will stay with me forever, even in the times where I’ve felt horrible and worthless, those memories are still there, just below the surface. And even when I can’t barely feel them, there is a knowingness about them. A knowingness that I have more power than I ever could have imagined.

How to handle success through practicing Taoism

Can I just start off by saying that today was incredible! My artwork has reached an all-time high in its reach, popularity, number of items purchased… What an incredible feeling! To have worked so hard since May when all of this really started… I got a camera for Christmas and by May of last year I was taking photos that I never dreamed I would be taking… And I was so impatient to get to this point, but it is so real… If you work hard every day all day long, tirelessly, relentlessly and direct that energy to the right places and in the right directions: the universe will REWARD you… I believe so strongly in the energy of the world. If you put the right energy into it, you will get rewarded far more than you ever could have dreamed of.

I was having such a difficult time, knowing deep down how valuable my work was and putting so much effort into getting it out there, and not getting the feedback and the recognition that I know I deserve. Partially, I know it was coming from my ego and of course no one likes validation more than a sensitive artist who has been through a difficult life. A life being shamed, and told no, and made to feel worthless. But another part of it was purely from necessity – food, water, bills, etc. Not knowing where the money is coming from to pay for these things made the pressure and stress increase. And I think this is common for any artist struggling to make it in today’s society.

One of my favorite principles of Taoism is that when obstacles seem completely overwhelming and insurmountable, look to nature, listen to nature, follow nature’s path. We have all seen trees withstand incredible pressure from a massive storm, or flowers grow in the driest of deserts. Maybe we haven’t personally seen these things, but all of us know this exists. Nature perseveres through unimaginable obstacles. By holding steady and trusting in itself. There is no doubt it is hard, but we can be like those trees, those flowers. I was recently reminded that for a diamond to be born, it goes through an incredible amount of pressure. Pressure you wouldn’t imagine. And how beautiful of a metaphor is that? That one of the most valued, beautiful things on this planet is created through an absolutely brutal process. We only see the end product. I don’t think many of us think about what that diamond went through to become what we all know a diamond to be.

Like nature, we simply can’t force the things we want to happen. Usually, the more we try to force what we want to happen, the more it simply doesn’t happen. But what we can do is work as hard as we possibly can, directing our energy towards the right goals and the right actions (these must be well thought-out) and let those things we want unfold before our very eyes. Is this not like nature? Doesn’t a flower seem to spring out of nowhere, even in places where you would least expect it? That flower believed in its essence, it didn’t try to force its way into the world and it didn’t try to control things out of its control. What I’m saying is that we must believe in our essence, in who we are and cultivate that. Nurture it and let it grow like a seed planted in rich soil.

I have worked on myself for years, I have worked on becoming the artist I am today for the last ten years. And for nine of those years, I did not even come close to seeing the results I wanted. Until I got to a place where I was ready to accept that maybe I wasn’t going to be as successful or famous as I had always thought I would be. And it was at that moment – when I was beginning to let go of that need, of not trying to force myself into becoming a famous artist – that I discovered what I was truly meant for. The art that has been effortless from the moment I began. And I’m not saying this will happen for everyone, but I do believe there is so much to gain from letting your life take its natural course and just focusing good energy on the things that you can control.

How to deal with the fear of the unkown

I’m feeling scared. I can feel in it my heart, in my body, in my stomach. I don’t want anything to happen to when I get surgery. I don’t know how to deal with these feelings. A part of me can rationalize it and go ok, this is a great doctor, everyone says he is amazing, he has done this surgery 75 times and only had one failure, using the old method. He is extremely well-renowned, his reputation is on the line and he is not scared of doing it. But it’s still out of my control and there is still that small chance lingering in my head. I have so much to share so many people, who I know I can affect on such a deep level and I’m truly not ready to leave this world yet. My art is starting to blossom into something I never thought it would. Things are happening that I’ve been waiting for my whole life. And I truly need to do this surgery now and not later. But there is this feeling I cannot escape of being scared.

The Tao describes fear as seeing the negative potential of any particular outcome. Clearly, that is what I am doing here. And as it states, potential is not a reality, it is a fear of an outcome. But it is not real. It is just imagined. So one of the main keys for me in dealing with this fear is putting my energy into other things. If I focus on the fear and put more energy into it, through my thoughts, what I talk about, etc. I am increasing the fear and adding more substance to it.

Another way to handle my fear is to get out of my head and into my sensory awareness. Experience the things around me more deeply with my senses. Really engage in what I’m smelling, my body moving when I breathe deeply, how my body feels inside, the quiet sounds of my house – listening for carefully to the things I don’t pay attention to at all, deeply looking at the stormy skies and how the clouds move.

As I feel my body writing this, my neck and back are definitely not in place. And I’m reminded of how much I need this surgery. It is something I absolutely have to do. I cannot keep living with my body so out of alignment and with this discomfort that is keeping me from reaching what I know is an incredible potential of happiness and enjoyment. I love life and I have been gifted with talents that are beyond anything I ever dreamed of when I was a young boy. I wanted so much to become someone special and I have accomplished things that have exceeded my expectations tenfold.

Fear is an illusion. I must remember that. Fear is imagination running wild. Fear is not real. It only feels real. And I am a feeling person, which is a blessing and a curse.

“Whoever can see through all fear will be safe.” –The Tao Te Ching, Chapter 46 – trans. Stephen Mitchell

I love this quote. I tell myself that I must channel Alexander the Great, and the other amazing warriors who knew they could die on the night before a big battle, but did not let that feeling get the best of them. They were calm, serene, peaceful – they chose to focus on how great they were as soldiers and heroes and leaders and their energy was directed towards envisioning their success and glory. Strength and Honor. These are the traits I must find within myself.

Beginning the quest into my inner self through the Tao of Pooh

I’ve come to a crossroads in my life. I’m a young artist from New York City and I live in Southern California now. I have to get surgery next week on my sternoclavicular joint. It is definitely one of the scariest things I have had to face in my life. There is a small chance I could die from the surgery. So, I guess one of the main reasons I want to do this blog is to try and be in the best state possible before my surgery. And not just going through the surgery, but making sure that I’m recovering in the best way possible and beyond that, hopefully once I’ve fully healed, which is something I’ve dreamed about for six years, I can continue down a path of being spiritually fulfilled. I mean, honestly, what could possibly be better than that? 

I have felt imprisoned in my body and this surgery is the last resort for me. I’ve tried everything under the sun to get better, from physical therapy to acupuncture to massages and you name it, I’ve tried it. The bone will not go back in place. But I can get my mind right. I can think more positively and give myself the best chance of not only succeeding with the surgery, but being as happy as I’ve always wanted to be.

There are definitely things I’ve left out, but I think that is a good start in getting to why I’ve chosen to name my site Explore Taoism. I have always been interested and fascinated by eastern methodologies and medicines. I have yearned so deeply for spiritual fulfilment and contentment. And, in a way, having this major problem with my body has forced me to turn inside to find a way in coping with this daily struggle. I definitely know I could improve my various ways of negatively and positively dealing with my body. And that is why, for this specific post, I want to get into the Tao of Pooh. A simple tale, which is something I really need to learn from and incorporate into my life. Less is more. I tend to ramble on, I feel like I’ve been rambling for the last ten minutes. But that’s okay, because I’m slowly trying to let myself discover and evolve in the path towards simplifying the way I think about things. 

In “The Tao of Pooh,” identity is one of the major issues. One’s “inner nature” must be understood in order to flourish as a human being. This is something I know I’ve spent a lot of time. Reflecting, learning as much as I could about myself, digging deep, finding out what makes me tick. See, if we don’t know ourselves at a core level, how could we easily have respect for ourselves? How could we trust our intuition and not let other people easily influence us? 

When you go deep and trust in the natural harmony of life, gratitude should start to flow within you. Because there truly are so many things about life that we all should appreciate. But we get so caught up in the little problems and daily occurrences that we forget about how truly special it is to breathe fresh air and watch the sun break through the clouds. 

It’s late and I’m getting tired, but writing this is a small thing, but at the same time is such an important reminder for me to get out in nature. Before my surgery, use my senses to their fullest. Smell fresh air after it rains, be appreciative of the joys that life bring to me every day. Let go of technology for a bit, and live as if it was two thousand years ago. Walk along a cliff and absorb the boundless sky above me. It sounds silly, but this is the essence of life. The natural world, the animals who live among us, the elements. These are treasures that are given to us for free, for us to either ignore or love. And if I choose love, I think that will give me a bigger shield than if I didn’t. It’s not about family or friends right now, it’s about getting in touch with my inner self more than I ever have before. Getting in touch with my inner self by getting in touch with nature and the environment around me. That is what will protect me, that is what will guide me and that is what I believe in more than anything else. Nature is the most trustworthy friend I’ve ever known.