“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
– Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Address, circa 2005
Let’s get free. Dead Prez, circa 2000.
Yo, circa 2009.
Let’s get free. Free from what? ¿De qué?
Free of paralysis, of stasis. Free of fear, a fear that finds us perpetually acting (more often than not through inaction) in accordance with how the world views us, but instead acting in the faith of how, who, and where we envision ourselves to be…
You only have one life to live. So go live it. ¡Vívela!
For me, it took awhile. For me, it was a double edged sword, a double sided coin of dogma. I was paralyzed by how others, how people around me, how the world would view me for any decision I made, any step I took. And furthermore, I was in a similar stasis regarding my own self-image, and to me one of the worst things I could do, worse than taking some sort of action because the world dictated I should (a thought that often kept me motionless, and an ironic one at that, seeing as I often followed suit), was to do something vain, something to simply feed my ego, to juice my own image with anabolics.
I was lost, lost in the world of silent suffering, the smothered self that so many lives tragically become, when the dreams slowly die out, like some kind of lifelong bloodletting…
It took me awhile to figure out what I genuinely wanted. A long time. Years.
We often wish for the years back, for the time we spent in the doldrums, trying to navigate the fickle winds of life. But we all know that these times cannot be won back, and more importantly, we would not have made landfall upon the present shore in which we find ourselves, if not for the time spent wandering in search of our authentic selves, in search of happiness, in search of meaning, in search of…..more.
I originally had something else planned for a blog entry last week, something more relevant to life here, to what we are seeing and doing and living. But after I spent a few days in the hospital (a byproduct of several bouts with la gripe, the change in climate, dehydration that crept up on me, and a little bit of Dominican….. hyperbole), a few days which I spent reflecting on being here, on the book I was reading, on life and death and living (and on the passing of Steve Jobs, and the commencement address a friend posted on Facebook)—I felt compelled to write something in this vein.
After all, what is more relevant to my presence here than the road that brought me to this point.
Sometimes we need moments to put things in perspective—-for Steve Jobs, it was the typical “live like you’re dying” mantra, up until the point in which he was actually told he was dying of pancreatic cancer, with only months left to live. And yet, in the face of that, he remained as determined as ever:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
For me, it was a bout in the hospital that put some perspective on this experience here. Thankfully, I am not in dire straights– I am not dying anytime soon, si dios quiere. But holed up in a hospital for a few days, I gained a handle on what it meant to me to be here, and what I want out of the experience. I vowed to be true to myself while I am here, to not allow myself to be crippled by the perceptions of others, and to make the most of every minute. And the most important promise I made to myself from a hospital bed—I will not long for these months back. If I pull that off, I will have known I’ve done it right. Habré sabido.
Two years ago, I finally started living my life. I had a burning desire to go work in the solar industry, and relocated to Arizona with my brother to work doing residential solar installations. I remember thinking at that time that tomorrow I could die a happy man, because in that moment I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. It was the happiest I had been in a long time.
But the road often grows dark, and I soon found myself lost again back then. I had no idea what to do next, I was lost and depressed, and struggled in the doldrums for months (think latter part of 2010). I soon had my heart set on moving to a Spanish speaking country. And then I read about this program.
The dots all connect.
After spending the better part of last week in bed rest, en reposo, I thought a lot about my experience here, and living it to the fullest. About being ever-present in the moment, in doing what I am doing and being where I want to be. In allowing conversations here not to exhaust me–which as Americans we so typically tend to do– but to energize and excite me. In making the most of my limited time here– in the Dominican, and on this Earth–and in being faithful to the self that brought me here by allowing myself to grow with this experience.
There is an authentic self that exists within each of our hearts, lodged deep in our souls, longing to come into being, longing to get free.
As Jobs said about finding what you love in this life:
“So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”