Honor The Ending: Time Is An Illusion

It’s the time you spend on your rose that makes your rose so important. … You’re responsible for your rose.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Two weeks ago my friend Amy and I got back from an ayahuasca retreat called Dreamglade in the Peruvian Amazon. I wanted to kick off this blog with that story, but when I started looking through photos and videos I realized that it’s just too big, and rushing would be doing a disservice to the whole experience. It also put me in a really strange mood that sent me spiraling into a familiar darkness.

I foolishly thought that, with all the progress I’ve made because of the ayahuasca, I would be impervious to pain. One of the themes throughout the journey was recognizing that pain is temporary and all you can do is move through it, rather than wallow in it. I felt like I had made a major breakthrough, but coming back to this “reality” I now see that pain manifests in so many different ways. Modern society is naturally overwhelming because we’re all constantly overstimulated, so to be able to isolate reasons for feeling a certain way can be difficult sometimes. It was much easier at Dreamglade because we were literally only working on ourselves, and had so many of those stimuli taken away to detox from this mess we live in. Eddy reminded me that a retreat is literally “backing away from a battle to recuperate,” and for me, coming back to Los Angeles to live my “normal” life is like returning to battle.

I wanted SO BADLY to honor our two week Dreamglade anniversary and spent hours yesterday trying to get it done in time, neglecting so much else. I fell into the same patterns of beating myself up about it when it got later and later and realized I just wouldn’t be able to do it. Looking at photos made me feel even worse, like I was losing something important by not having archived it quickly enough. Watching my video journals while the emotions were still fresh, seeing myself talk about little details I’d already forgotten made me so afraid that I’d forget everything I’d learned and felt. That this whole ayahuasca journey, the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life, was already fading into a dream and it would all be for nothing. I heard Drew’s voice echo in my head “You’ll remember what’s important” and responded with “No I won’t, that’s bullshit.”

But then I remembered this “meditation for endings” that Adriene released on her Yoga with Adriene channel yesterday for New Years, and how she emphasizes the importance of “Honoring the Ending” and a “Resolve to Evolve.” I did this first thing in the morning as soon as I got the email, and it made me cry because it resonated so deeply. It’s amazing how we as humans all struggle with such similar issues of not being able to commit to practicing what’s good for us because we crave “perfection” or “instant gratification” which makes no sense when we’re still new to something!

“This is one of the most maddening things about human nature: we quit doing the things that help us most.” – Phil Stutz & Barry Michels, The Tools

My whole life I’ve struggled to commit to anything, allowing myself to wallow in the dark hole of my pain. It’s resulted in me feeling depressed, stuck and unable to follow through with anything important…life continually slipping through my fingers. Being diagnosed as bipolar, I am very much a slave to highs and lows, not understanding how to balance that duality and live in the normalcy of life.  Another Drew quote from the retreat when I was going through some pretty bad shit — “Maybe this is a sign that you just need to start living.”

But what if you’re not even sure how to live, after not living for such a long time?

This is a very common problem with our species, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because we’re all slaves to time, and need to constantly remind ourselves that time is an illusion — Something my dad also clearly struggled with, expressing his frustrations in a comic where time is literally the enemy, “Tempus Fugitives.” But time is something so abstract, a force we’ll never be able to control as mere mortals. This is why “honoring the ending” is SO important, and something great to keep in mind while moving into 2019.

There’s talk about how, after doing ayahuasca, you experience a lot of synchronicity in your life… things that seem to just be meant to happen. Reading The Last Unicorn (and also The Little Prince) has been part of this for me, because I am getting so much life changing advice from both of these books. There’s a part of The Last Unicorn that completely blew my mind regarding time, which I think sums up the issue quite beautifully. It made me realize that what ayahuasca does is open ourselves to receive messages from the higher powers, allowing us to see the world differently and experience magic. Because what is magic? Things that we don’t understand that inspire wonder, similar to when we were a child. And, ayahuasca or not, I believe that magic is always there. We just live so blindly on a normal basis and float through life without recognizing what’s actually important. And this is why art exists, as a desperate plea from people who have experienced these universal truths — a reminder to take the time to see.

“When I was alive, I believed–as you do–that time was at least as real and solid as myself, and probably more so. I said ‘one o’clock’ as though I could see it, and ‘Monday’ as though I could find it on the map; and I let myself be hurried along from minute to minute, day to day, year to year, as though I were actually moving from one place to another. Like everyone else, I lived in a house bricked up with seconds and minutes, weekends and New Year’s Days, and I never went outside until I died, because there was no other door. Now I know that I could have walked through the walls.” – Peter S. Beagle, Last Unicorn p.236

This literally made me tear up just typing it out for this post, because it’s SO FUCKING REAL and WE ALL SUCCUMB TO IT. We feel constantly busy, constantly behind, things piling up to such a crippling extent that we don’t allow ourselves to live…but what are we even living for at that point? It’s such a joke! “A house bricked up with seconds and minutes, weekends and New Year’s Days”… “New Years” is just another excuse to put more pressure on ourselves to set resolutions that we won’t commit to if we don’t see the root of the problem.

Even now, attempting to honor endings, part of why tears came while during the meditation was my fear of failure. The fear to just let go and experience life, rather than try and control it. The fear of TRUE CHANGE. But the same behavior has prevailed time and time again and caused me so much pain…and what is insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. The results won’t be different unless you make the choice to change, and that choice is where all our power lies. That choice is our magic. 

“The clock will never strike the right time. Haggard scrambled the works long ago, one day when he was trying to grab hold of time as it swung by. But the important thing is for you to understand that it doesn’t matter whether the clock strikes ten next, or seven, or fifteen o’clock. You can strike your own time, and start the count anywhere. When you understand that — then any time at all will be the right time for you.” – Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

Time is much more fluid than we think…it moves backwards and forwards, and if you pay attention, the more life you live the clearer this becomes. I’m already starting to see it, but that’s for a future post. This quote from Haunting of Hill House explains it well for now.

I thought for so long that time was like a line. That our moments were laid out like dominoes and that they fell one into another. Days tipping one into the next into the next… in a long line between the beginning and the end. But I was wrong. It’s not like that at all. Our moments fall around us like rain…or snow. Or confetti.” – Nell Craine, Haunting of Hill House

As we left Dreamglade, Amy and I were huddled in tears in the front of Stacy’s car as he was playing sad, appropriate songs like this one:

And she said “I feel like the end credits are rolling” which made me cry and cling to her harder, not wanting the moment to escape because it was too perfect. 

Indeed, that’s exactly how it felt, and during these magical times I try my best to “live in the moment” but can’t help feeling like it’s never enough. But this too is part of being human. We live in the painful space between past and future, a space that doesn’t truly exist. The tragic beauty of humanity is that nothing lasts forever, and everything comes to an end.

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Me and Amy in Stace’s car during the “end credits.” Huge thanks to Erik for the photo!

To make me feel better last night, Eddy reminded me of the concept of “eternal return,” and the idea that time is infinite and because we can’t even fathom the nature of infinity, it’s nice to believe that time will repeat itself someday. So every experience that we have is part of us forever, and rather than be sad about an “ending,” focus on how beautiful it is that we’ll always have these memories within us. People constantly take photos and videos to capture a moment, but, like Mother Ayahuasca told me in Peru “The best camera you have is your mind.” As badly as we want to cling to the past, we have to trust that regardless of details, we’ll remember the feeling we had at certain times in our life, and that’s what we have to treasure.

once youve met someone you never really forget them

This is a constant message in tons of books, movies, songs… because it’s such a universal struggle and requires effort to remind ourselves to focus on gratitude rather than sadness. And this is what “honoring the ending” and “resolve to evolve” means. All we can do is be grateful for the joyous experiences in our life and use them to better ourselves… to remind us to commit to practices that clear our minds so we CAN focus on the good rather than the bad, and be patient with ourselves when we fall into the trap of being human.

We have to remember that the most important thing about life is to enjoy it with the time that we have and the people who we love. And to be patient with ourselves so we don’t miss this opportunity. Happy New Year everyone, 2019 is going to be different. Let’s approach it without fear or expectation. Remember…pain is temporary.

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How Do You Reconcile The Duality of the Soul?

“We are each of us a wise guru in charge of a mental patient”

Jamie Catto

I’m not sure what to do right now… I feel very sick. It reminds me of being in the maloka listening to people retch and purge around me, except now I’m just so crushingly alone. On Christmas Fucking Eve.

And is being alone really so bad? (Also I know I’m not actually alone…just being a drama queen)

I mean I just snapped at Eddy when he asked me what I wanted to do for Christmas. “I WANNA BE FUCKING ALONE.” But do I? He looked so hurt when I said that and it made me feel awful. I’m such a walking contradiction that can never figure anything out… WHY DO I HAVE TO FEEL THIS DUALITY OF EXISTENCE SO. FUCKING. HARD??? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT I FUCKING WANT??!?!

I want to be alone, but at the same time I NEED people. NEED people to the point of fucking EMBARRASSMENT. WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO DEPENDENT ON PEOPLE ELORA. DON’T YOU WANT TO BE ALONE?! DON’T YOU WANT TO JUST GO LIVE OUT IN THE JUNGLE SOMEWHERE AND LEARN TO FEND FOR YOURSELF?!?! No you don’t because you’re so fucking dependent on people for your happiness and you NEED someone to talk to, don’t you?

HOLIDAYS ARE SO MUCH PRESSURE!!!! I FEEL SO MUCH PRESSURE TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE TO PEOPLE AND GO SEE PEOPLE LIKE… WTF WHY CAN’T I JUST BE ALONE AND NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH ANY OF THIS??!?! WHY DO I HAVE TO FEEL LIKE CONSTANTLY PERFORMING FOR PEOPLE?!?! ALSO IF I LOVE THEM, WHY DO I FEEL THE PRESSURE IN THE FIRST PLACE? Why do I always feel like I OWE people everything? Why can’t we all just exist and I don’t have to feel GUILTY all the FUCKING time?!?!

I have a long ass list of things to do, but rather than doing them I get wrapped up in some fucking MELTDOWN and then the list gets longer and longer and longer and I feel like I’m DROWNING then just want to up and LEAVE IT ALL. But I’ve CHOSEN THIS LIFE and I know I would REGRET NOT DOING THESE THINGS and NO MATTER WHAT LIFE I CHOOSE I’ll still have to LIVE WITH THIS MONSTER INSIDE OF ME SO FUCK IT.

WHY DO I TAKE SO MANY PICTURES?!? Because I enjoy my experience so much and want to document them! But THEN WHAT DO I DO WITH THEM AFTERWARD!? NOTHING! SO NOW I FEEL SO MUCH PRESSURE TO GET THEM PRINTED AND PUT THEM IN ALBUMS AND GIVE THEM TO PEOPLE AS PRESENTS!! But it makes me PHYSICALLY ILL to think about organizing all these thousands of fucking things!!!

BECAUSE THE PRESSURE OF THE PICTURES AND GIFTS ARE ALWAYS ON MY MIND I CAN’T GET MYSELF TO DRAW!! When I sit to draw, all I think about is this LONG LIST OF SHIT I NEED TO DO! Currently, because it’s the end of the year and also Christmas, I KNOW I need to focus on the thank you cards and organizing photos to print for people but I have all this fucking pent up anger inside me that if I were to go and do those things right now, they wouldn’t come out right and I would just have ANOTHER MELTDOWN because I have all this HORRIBLE ENERGY I NEED TO GET RID OF FIRST.

Am I just DOOMED and CURSED to have too much EMOTIONAL BULLSHIT EVERY DAY OF MY FUCKING LIFE that I can’t even FOCUS ON ANYTHING REAL AND PRODUCTIVE?!?! Is whatever this energy is inside of me something that will ALWAYS CONTROL ME??? No matter what I do and what I try?! I KNOW I SHOULDN’T ALLOW IT TO HAVE POWER OVER ME BUT IT FUCKING DOES.

It’s so fucking painful to want SO BADLY to just BE CONTENT but constantly be torn in two completely opposite directions of WANTING TO DO and NOT WANTING TO DO, WANTING TO BE ALONE and WANTING TO LOVE, WANTING TO RUN and WANTING TO FIGHT. HOW DO I EXIST IN THIS REALITY?!?! AM I SUPPOSED TO JUST SPEND HOURS EACH DAY VOMITING OUT MY SHIT SO I CAN BE AT SOME BASE LEVEL WHERE I CAN FUNCTION!?!? WHAT EVEN IS THIS?!

WHAT THE FUCK DO I WANT REALLY???

Ha, yesterday Eddy mentioned that my mom had “done a number on me” with how I was raised. I guess I didn’t even realize till recently how insane I actually am, and how all these issues have manifested in ways that are so challenging I’m not even sure what to do with myself anymore.

I was diagnosed as bipolar this year, and when I went to do ayahuasca, I remember thinking “am I really bipolar?” I think these diagnoses really help us try to pin down what’s wrong with us based on certain traits we have. No matter what you call it… I think I’m starting to finally learn what I actually am. Or what about me at least got me the bipolar diagnosis. It’s amazing to think that people are constantly going to doctors about symptoms, but because they just want the pain to stop they take a pill and don’t do the work to actually try and get to know themselves.

I am so grateful to Ayahuasca for teaching me how to get to know myself, but at the same time… it’s really fucking scary to face… whatever this is I am. And SO fucking hard. “Bipolar” people are known to experience extreme highs and lows, and that’s definitely something I’ve always struggled with. Existing in the “gray area” between SUPER HIGH and SUPER LOW has always seemed impossible for me.. But it’s that “gray area” where life happens. I’m constantly guilty about not spending enough time with Eddy and our dog Han because I’m having a fucking breakdown… but I don’t know what else to do with this energy. Because if I DO go and spend that time… I feel guilty for not doing all these things I feel constant pressure to do! And then when I go and try and be rid of this energy by writing or whatever… I FEEL HORRIBLE THAT I’M NOT DOING THE OTHER THINGS!!!

This breathing technique that I recorded from Dreamglade is saving my life in the way that… I feel like I can get myself in a similar headspace as in ceremony, in order to work on things I need to work on, and even IDENTIFY things I need to work on. It’s so funny because I remember leaving the retreat feeling like I had all the tools I needed to succeed. They kept saying “the real work happens AFTER you take the ayahuasca and get back home” but I was in such a great place, like “psshhh I never need to go do Ayahuasca again! I’m completely healed!”

But that’s another one of those extremes talking. Each day I’ve been home… I see what they mean.

Doing the breathing exercise the past couple days, a LOT has come up… and I’ve become aware of JUST HOW MUCH WORK is to be done within myself… and it scares the shit out of me. There are so many layers to myself that I’m starting to become aware of and, like everything else in my life, it’s causing me overwhelm, but in a different way than having a long list of things to do.

I think actually, the overwhelm is what triggered this. Coming back to work I was all chill like “I don’t need to feel stress anymore because I completely trust myself to get everything done that I need to get done!!” But I barely got ANY work done during the week because I was TOO chill and now, along with the BILLION other things I need to do, I have to try and fit WORK on top of it during this holiday break so I can manage to meet my deadline in the first week of January.

I realize just how much I avoid things and procrastinate and let things PILE UP because I’m unable to focus on doing things when they’re SUPPOSED to be done…which I was aware of before, but I guess I was expecting myself to be able to handle it a bit better. I did just get my period so maybe I’m extra irrational because of hormones,  but I’m really trying hard to work through these things so I can at least be a bit productive.

That being said, today during breathing I immediately just burst into tears the WHOLE TIME, because I felt this INCREDIBLE POWER OF DUALITY BEING FORCED DOWN ON ME. Duality is something that Mother Aya makes you face in ceremony, but I have yet to even BEGIN to fathom how to use what I’ve learned in normal life.

BECAUSE the nature of ME is just SO FUCKING EXTREME. The duality within ME is SO HARD TO HANDLE. AND I REALLY HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO START GOING ABOUT IT!

“Slow down, take your time”

“BREATHE”

“PATIENCE.”

Yeah yeah. All this shit that’s supposed to help me…YEAH I KNOW. WELL I DID JUST BREATHE AND THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED.

I felt this incredible power within me… almost like a monster. Well I DID call it a monster, but Mother Aya said I shouldn’t see it that way. That I should see it as a “power.” The first blog I made was called “Bipolar Beastie,” for good reason… I definitely always thought of the “bipolar” being a beast within me but… today was the first time I actually FELT it (which, although scary, was pretty nice. Another duality). Like something deep deep within my soul that needs to be tamed but is just… writhing around in there wreaking all sorts of havoc. And holy shit it made me NAUSEOUS to actually FEEL it. (This breathing exercise is powerful shit, I assure you.)

The word that kept coming up was “Hummingpup.” After I got back from the retreat, I wanted to create a new site focusing on healing, and about a year ago this “Hummingpup” kept coming up in my mind… I dunno why and part of me thought it sounded a bit dumb, but since I’ve gotten back this little voice kept saying I needed to actually use it for something.

It’s nice because today I just got some clarification on this, but it confused me even more. I definitely think the keyword in all of this is CONFUSION. And with such a lack of patience and conviction, I feel like I’m so shit outta luck in terms of knowing on to deal with all this chaos that keeps popping up in my head.

But anyway, Mother Aya explained to me what a “Hummingpup” is. THAT’S what the “monster” or “beastie” within me is. It’s like a hummingbird in the way that it moves SO PAINFULLY FAST because it thinks that’s the only way to survive. It’s so sad to me how hummingbirds can’t even SLEEP unless they go into a state of torpor, or “temporary hibernation.” It’s the only way for them to save their energy so they can GOGOGO again in the day… and it’s so fucking sad to me that this is basically the only way I’ve functioned too. It’s either I’m GOGOGOGO or in complete isolation (hibernation) where I can’t even bring myself to interact with anyone to conserve my energy for the next time I can GOGOGO again. Then it’s like a puppy in that it has ALL THIS CRAZY ENERGY THAT IT DOESN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH and this lighthearted curiosity, innocence and love for the world… that’s kinda stamped out by the constant need for movement. It’s sad really 😦 All the “pup” wants to do is play, and all the “humming” wants to do is work… but there’s really no in between…at least none that I can currently see.

Eddy says I need to relax, and that he worries about my motivations for doing things because most of the time it seems like I’m doing something out of frustration. I’m not quite sure how to do something because I WANT to do it, if there’s always such a long list of things to do. I’ve been doing the grateful flow tool from the tools book as well… to try and help with this constant state of worry from the overwhelm, but even that didn’t help today. I KEPT DOING IT TOO and it didn’t really calm me down… only the breathing calmed me down because I was able to RELEASE and CRY but then… afterward I was a fucking wreck.

He says my comfort zone is wanting to GOGOGO… wanting to write and get out my energy, wanting to angrily clean or throw a tantrum… but how am I supposed to know when to RELEASE ENERGY or when to DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE with it? How am I supposed to adequately identify my comfort zones?  I’m not sure what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong… which way is the right way to go… how to actually move forward even though I’ve been doing the pain exercise from that book… I’m so constantly overwhelmed I can’t tell what’s what anymore, and again I feel so crippled by reality. Am I supposed to take time each day to expend this energy? Breathing, running, yoga, writing, talking? It takes me a long ass time to get my words out because I have so goddamn many of them… and then once I write I have to go talk to Eddy about it, and then I spend hours feeling sorry for myself and can’t concentrate on anything else…what is the proper approach here?

Hummingbirds are weak and fragile because they never stop flying, and pups have boundless energy and need to be trained to even start to focus. WHAT HOPE DO I HAVE OF A FOCUSED LIFE WHERE I CAN BE PRODUCTIVE AND ALSO EXHIBIT UNLIMITED LOVE TO EVERYTHING AROUND ME?! Do I need to start taking meds again?! Do I need to do more ayahuasca?! Do I need to run away and live in the jungle again but this time never leave!? How much work do I need to do on myself before I can ACTUALLY start moving forward!? UGH.

I feel as though… Mother Ayahuasca has opened a door within me that I’m both intrigued by and afraid of, and I’m not sure what to do with what’s coming out of it. It’s almost like opening a Pandora’s Box…There are so many layers and I’m not sure how to come to terms with that… Meanwhile time just keeps slipping away and I feel like my life is going to waste…