Follow Your Bliss, (Think for Yourself (for Grownups!))

Hello Friends,

I’ve been talking about my blog this week. At the gym during class; with my lovely partner as we chat before bed; with friends during a night out on the town. In each situation, I’ve been asked to clarify what I am trying to do with my writing, and specifically how I am going to use this blog to bring about the changes I want to experience. I’ve been asked to define WHY I am putting my energy in to this project. My response has been the same in each situation; I intend to use this blog and my creative energy to subvert the dominant paradigm in as many ways as possible.

Each of the people I spoke with had a hard time understanding what I meant. I am going to try to be more clear here.

“Subvert the dominant paradigm” sounds like something you might read on a clever bumper sticker, right? Defining each word individually gives you an inclination of the ideas, ideals and philosophy we are working toward, but it doesn’t really tell you what I mean.  It might be helpful to inform you this phrase has been used as a battle cry by the Anarchist movement for years, and remains a strong tenet of the belief system used by those who label themselves “Anarchist”.  I think the Hippies said it best a long time ago: Go Against the Flow. Think for yourself. Be the Change. Catchphrases are a dime a dozen, but WHAT DOES IT MEAN!?!

As a headstrong teenager, fresh out of my parent’s nurturing embrace, I thought subverting the dominant paradigm meant getting a facial piercing and wearing clothes that didn’t really fit me. I raged against conformity and compromise, grew my hair long, and got a tattoo. I wanted so badly to be different. Or at least, I wanted to present myself as being different. Then, all the cool kids I hung out with ended up looking just like me. We all wanted so badly to be unique; to be novel; to be the “other”. We rode skateboards, tagged dumpsters, worked shitty jobs and slept on couches. We knew exactly what we DIDN’T want to be, but we had no idea what we wanted to be instead.

Now, we all have kids, and car payments. We went back to school and earned degrees, and accrued debt. We bathe regularly, eat grass-fed beef, and go to bed at a “reasonable” hour. Some of us still dye our hair crazy colors, lots of us are still saving for our next tattoo, and after living through a whole host of life experience, most of us finally have a good idea of what it REALLY means to subvert the dominant paradigm. We chase our dreams!

We consciously make choices in our lives that constitute a paradigm shift. We spend time and effort creating the lives and relationships we want, and our successes and failures are determined by the effort we are willing to put forth. Though our lives are constrained by many parameters of “mainstream” culture, we use creativity and curiosity to find ways to bend the rules of the dominant culture, or bypass them altogether and create our own set of rules. We are entrepreneurs and independent artists. We are blended families of all variations, and our tribal network extends beyond any tangible boundaries. We are constantly researching, exchanging information, learning new tricks, and working hard to make sure we are better people today than we were yesterday. This last part is what really separates us from the teeming masses: our desire to achieve our needs, wants, and desires through deliberate effort.  We follow our bliss. We determine our own path. We refuse to take ANYTHING at face value. We refuse to do anything simply because we are told to, or because that is the way everyone else does it. We have the tools, the resources, and the intention to live the lives that we want to live.

All we have to do is practice what we preach. Follow your Bliss. Do the extra work to fulfill your needs, wants and desires. Set the example for people who are stuck in apathy and indifference. Go Against the Flow. Change the Rules. Forge your own path. Do your best to resist the urge to buy clever bumper stickers, and instead live a life that authentically displays your core values and ethics to the world, leaving no question whether or not you think for yourself. I think it really is that simple :).

Tell me what “Follow Your Bliss” means to you. What dreams are you chasing right now? What excuses are holding you back? If we are going to change the world, we need to do it RIGHT NOW.

Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

How Awesome Are You?

Sometimes I forget how awesome I am.

Repeat that to yourself and see how it changes your day. It has taken me thirty-one years to figure out that it is okay for me to remind myself how awesome I am.  See, every year, leading up to my birthday, I spend a week over-analyzing the last twelve months of my life and working to find some significance in my existence. I think I lead a pretty awesome life, so I always come up with some good stuff, but this year was especially poignant and revealing. I’d like to share my epiphany with you now :).

Now, before you label me a narcissistic, egotistical a##hole, please let me be clear. My “awesomeness”, (and your awesomeness as well), does not come from the cornucpoia of gifts we are blessed with, but rather from the plethora of faults, quirks, fu%$ ups, scars, misses and failures that constitute the majority of our lives. I believe these experiences are what teach us all the important lessons in life. I also believe it is an unrealistic expectation to tell oursevles to ignore our broken side, in favor of some impossible search for perfection. Which brough me to my lightbulb moment; I realized this year that it is okay to be who I am, with all the good, bad and ugly stuff that makes me “me”.  I realized that I wanted live the life I want to live. With this realization,  I made the choice to live authentically.

For some of you, my  realization might be a simple reminder for how you already live your life. To you, I say, “well done”.  Accepting yourself, with all the craziness and quirkiness that makes you “you”, is no easy task. The trial and error proccess of finding out who you really are, and then coming to terms with who you are, and then taking responsiblity and ownership of everything that makes you an individual, is not something easily acheived. You deserve all the confidence, self-respect, pride and happiness you’ve earned.

For others, this may be an entirely foreign concept. Like me, you probably grew up comparing yourself to some arbitrary standard, and attempting, with every fiber of your being, to be the person you imaginged other people thought you should be. You made concessions to other people’s opinions and advice, wanting so badly to be part of something bigger than yourself, but never really developing a personality or opinion of your own. As an adult, you continue this pattern by avoiding conflict, staying safe, coloring inside the lines. You are grateful for everything you have, but you have stopped dreaming and reaching for MORE. You are content with your life, but you have stopped pushing limits or taking risks, or tempting fate, because you worry you might ruin the “good thing” you have now. This mentality is killing our souls.

Growing another year older made me think back on the last twelve months of my life and evaluate what significance my life had. What impact did I have on world around me? What impact do I have on the people I spend time with? What challenges have I overcome? What lessons have I learned? What fears have I conquered? After thinking long and hard, I realized that I wasn’t living up to the standard I had set for myself. I was letting myself slip into comfort and safety. I was keeping up a facade in many aspects of my life, and working hard to convince myself that “settling” has it’s advantages. But that is not really who I want to be. That is not who I am.

Now, I am working to make every day an opportunity to life authentically and uapologetically as myself. It is okay for me to be good at what I do, and it is okay to be proud of my work. It is okay for me to be a less-than-perfect parent to my two beautiful children, and it is okay for me to be the best dad ever (when I can pull it off). It is okay for me love my amazing partner, and it is okay for me to show her how I feel in as many ways as I can possibly think of.  Sometimes it is okay for me to be an asshole and a hermit. Sometimes it is okay for me to be vulnerable and broken. Sometimes I will throw a fit, and sometimes I won’t have the right answer and sometimes I will push too hard. But I will do all that knowing I have responsibility for my gifts and my curses, for my faults and talents, and I am living my life as the person I want to be. I encourage you to all try to do the same :).

Until next time..

Peace.Tobias.

The Odd One Out

Hello Friends,

In an effort to keep these ramblings of mine focused on our reality, I recognize the need to be pragmatic about what we are doing here. The Living Revolution won’t always be about reading a blog, sharing a potluck, or having an longwinded, intellectual sparring match on Friday Nights. Eventually, we are going to start living and practicing what we believe. Eventually, we will transpose our thoughts into action, and we will create change in the world around us by behaving differently. Eventually, our diversity, desire and dedication will undermine the dominant paradigm, and we will recognize the part we play in making the world a better place to live. But first, something else must happen.

Before we reap the rewards of creative, forward thinking, we will be ridiculed. Before we reap the rewards of positive, life-altering change, we must endure the struggle to define ourselves. Before we shout our proclamations and revelations in the streets, we must share them quietly with confidants. Before we can re-invent who we are as individuals, we will endure the shame that will be heaped on us by people who cannot fathom living outside the constraints of the safety bubble of modern society. Because we consciously choose to think, talk, and behave differently, we will be ostracized. There are always consequences when challenging the dominant paradigm.

Some of us aren’t ready for that, for whatever reason. And some of us will never be ready for that commitment. Some of us will never be able to manifest a cognitive process in physical reality.  And some of us don’t believe any kind of real change will ever take place, because our opposition just seems so big and nasty and powerful, and how could we really ever alter that? This kind of thinking is the crack in our collective armor, and I don’t know how to address it.

On the other hand, some of us are already living parts of our beliefs. Some of us are pursuing our dreams, taking risks to do what we love, pushing boundaries and reaping the benefits. Some of us thrive on being the “odd one out”, because we understand and appreciate the process of thinking for ourselves, and we recognize how this separates us, in so many ways, from the larger mass of humanity. We constantly test what we believe, we constantly test our relationships, we constantly push ourselves to think critically and creatively about the world around us, because we know these actions and processes keep a fire burning inside us. Our desire is to live life because we know it is all we really have.

So, which one are you? Where is your head at right now? Step back and check out your life today, and see if there are places where your thoughts and beliefs might not be matching up with your actions. Where is the disconnect taking place? What gives you life today? What is sucking your soul away? What can you do to change these situations so they benefit you and the people around you? How willing are you to be the “odd one out”?

Drop a line and let me know what you think. Until next time…

Peace.Tobias