To a Wonderful Mother.

Dearest Mother,

23 years ago tomorrow, I was born. And, don’t you remember? I was born on Mother’s Day.

I’ve always been kind of resentful that you chose to have me on that day. What were you thinking!? Do you know how hard it is to share your birthday thunder with someone else?

Kidding.

Kind of ;).

Putting aside jokes, I’m very sorry I couldn’t be with you on this day, but you know that I was born an adventurer, and that, chances are, this will not be the last important day we’re geographically separated from one another.

As I write this, I’m sitting on a rickety makeshift bench out in the Brazilian countryside — I got on my motorcycle and let it take me wherever I felt the words would flow best.

I love you, Mom. Although I’ll never get a tattoo that says that, I really do. You gave me life. You held me in your arms. You taught me so many things about living. You pushed me when me motivation was less than par (which I’m grateful to you for, even though many times I pushed back.)

There are certain things in you I see in myself.  I think about your life before  me and your experiences, your successes and failures.  I wonder which same lessons we’ll both have learned in the end. I want to learn more from you. But I hope, in our differences, there are some things you can learn from me too.  Because at the end of the day, we are different too.

We have grown much closer since the high school days of the dictator-underling era of our relationship.  I feel I can share more with you now, and I want to.  I only hope that over the years our relationship becomes more close, because I’m not afraid of being a “Momma’s Boy”!

Love,

Your son,

Andre

P.S. I made the graphic below. Feel free to share!

hehehe

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Fear keeps us small.

I will explain what you’re about to see, below.

I’ve always believed that fear keeps us small.  It limits our vision. It keeps our breath shallow.  Rather than allowing us to delve into the moment and appreciate the way the light so elegantly falls onto the scene in front of us, it keeps us fixated on often irrelevant and imagined things.

A big part of my life philosophy is to try and recognize areas of fear in my life and confront them. Whether that be gradually such as correcting my bad posture because of social anxiety, or radically like tackling my fear of skydiving by, well, skydiving!

However, sometimes defense mechanisms built and reinforced over the span of years keep us blind to that which is right in front of us.

I had a healthy reminder of this the other day with singing.

I’ve always liked to sing, but I’ve never felt confident about my singing. Most family and friends have poked fun at my bad singing, which of course never helps.

But then, several days ago, I got a taste of freedom from the singing anxiety prison that I’ve been living in all these years. And it was glorious.

During this moment of absolute freedom, I had two major realizations about myself and singing.

The first was that I was too focused on other people’s reactions while I sang. I gave them the power to accept me or reject me, and I would live with their arbitrary verdict.  Wastefully, I gave all of this conscious energy to monitoring someone’s reaction instead of dedicating my energy to singing, which leads me to the second reason:  I didn’t fully use my diaphragm to support my air flow, which made my singing worse and kind of perpetuated the cycle.

So several nights ago, I was hanging out with my friend Joao, and we were jamming together. Somehow, it was in that moment I realized I needed to conquer my fears, and I cut my ties with my anxiety about singing.  I was finally present. As he strummed his guitar to a reggae beat, I started to sing, and it was beautiful. I’ve never felt so connected to another musician like that before. Everything felt so right about every note we played together. I quickly grabbed a pen and jotted down the words that I felt in that moment.

I now know I can sing. Hell, I know I’m not the best singer, but now I have the confidence to stop worrying about what others are thinking about me and just let it happen.

Below are the lyrics that I wrote:

” Don’t forget that one day you’ll die,

No more time for experience,

I say to you, live in the present,

Life is too short to dwell on resentment,

Stand up,

Stand up tall,

Breathe in,

Breathe it all,

Now is the moment,

Snatch it and hold it,

Stand up,

Don’t wait ’til you’re old and die

Life is good,

Life is bad,

Pass no judgements

There’s fun to be had

Stand up,

Stand up tall,

Breathe in,

Breathe it all,

Now is the moment,

Snatch it and hold it,

Stand up,

Don’t wait ’til you’re old and die.”

Ask yourself today, “What is keeping me small?”

Road Rage.

I don’t know who you are, but you just passed me way too close and way too fast.

When I got on my motorcycle today, I reminded myself that this could all end too easily at the hands of someone like you, whoever you are.

Whoever you actually are, a parent, a pastor, a mechanic, a politician, a kind hearted person… however you consider yourself to be or are considered to be by those who know you…. all of who you are dissipates in the cloud of dirt you kicked up as you blew past me in your Toyota pick-up truck.

Those dirt particles enter my helmet, and infect me with a type of rage that I don’t like to feed. I do my best to starve it, but on my worst days (and its best days) I’m helpless to its power.

And this was your contribution to the universe.  It was your move, and this is what you chose to put out there.

How does that make you feel?

I am angered by your inconsideration. Your selfishness and ignorance. Your utter disregard for my life and those who care about me.  I want to pull you out of your metal cage of over compensation, and sit you down and have you consider your actions.

And it’s at this point that I realize there are two perpetrators to this situation. You, my reckless friend, and me, the reactionary.

You were sent as a test for my patience and acceptance, and I failed miserably.  I know deep down I must accept the inequality, injustice, and all of the other fucked up things in this world. I must accept them and be at peace with them for this is, has been, and will be the state of the universe.

Any perceived control over the events in this chaotic plane is an illusion.  And desperately trying to hold onto that control with anger, consumes my soul. It drains the basin of my presence, and transports me into lands of frustration, desperation, and helplessness.

So, here goes nothing (deep breath in, deep breath out.)

We’re both flawed; there’s no denying that. And while I’m not a fan of your driving, I have no clue what life circumstances might have brought you to be how you are. As much as  I believe in free will and the power of choice, I can’t deny the power of life events in shaping our identities and our paths in this world.

Maybe someday you’ll change your ways, but today you’re still dangerous. So, I’ll keep my distance and keep my cool.IMG_20140416_092726961_HDR

 

The Present is Potent

The Present is Potent

The future is far and preoccupying.

The past is futile and perilous.

The Present is Potent.

The present is now.

The present is every contraction of your diaphragm, every oxygen molecule you wheeze for.

Ribs move up. Ribs move down.

It is the stray dog who looks you in the eyes for a trace of compassion.

The present can be cruel and surprising.  It’s the throbbing pain in your knee when, just when you thought you had it figured out, you slipped and busted your ass.

The present is a nascent past and an expired future.

It is all of these things.

And it’s all we have.

Accept your anxieties and the little control you have.

Forget about your mistakes and forgive yourself.

So…

Are you ready to live?

What this kid learned in Peru…

Traveling to Peru was one of the most important experiences of my life.

It was there where I first saw the intense poverty present in the Peruvian mountainside.

It was there I met strangers who would gently remind me of the path I should be on in my life.

It was there I saw how the pain and the trauma of major historical events can propagate through incredible amounts of time.

It is there I felt resentment and guilt for being born into privilege.

It is there I saw the tallest snow-capped mountains, the bubbling rivers, and the starriest skies.

It is there I was reminded of the wisdom the ancients held.

It is there I felt most alive.

 

 

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At the top of MachuPicchu Mountain.

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For $25 bucks a day, you can rent a motorcycle in Cusco and take it through the Peruvian Mountains. Absolutely amazing.

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Singing some Adele.

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Sunset in the sacred valley.

 

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Guinea Pig. Not so delicioius.

 

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I highly recommend a trip to this lovely place.

It has so much to offer you. and I say that even without having traveled to Lima, Arequipa, Huacachina, Manu, or many other allegedly wonderful Peruvian destinations.

Traveling always rewards my mind, body, and soul, and this trip was no exception. 

Never stop learning, and never stop traveling!