compassion

Live your Dreams, Heal the world: Why doing what you love makes the world better…

 

I wasn't sure it was real until i woke up

After years of dreaming to succeed as a captain in search of remote waves, I had to pinch myself in moments like these. Panama 2007

 

“Passion is the love of turning being into action. It fuels the engine of creation. It changes concepts to experience…. Never deny passion, for that is to deny Who You Are, and Who You Truly Want To Be.” –Neale Donald Walsch

 

 

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The mothership,  the quiver, and the happy cappy in 2010. Photo by Adrian Midwood.

 

Wishing you all a peaceful, love-filled, and joyful holidays!! …I’ve been thinking about writing this blog for a long time…excited to share it here with you all!!

 

So aside from the obvious reason that following your dreams and living your passions makes us, as individuals, happier and more fulfilled, I believe there is a Greater reason why doing so is important…So let’s break down my theory…:)

 

We are each born with a great, unique potential. All of us have a different call or purpose in this life that cultivates a deep yearning to be fulfilled through physical experience. Imagine…you can know that you want to be a great chef, a wandering traveler, a singer/song-writer, or the proud owner of a business, but until you actually have that experience, there is an inevitable part of you that doesn’t feel complete. Or maybe you don’t quite know what you want, but you know you need to go figure it out. I’ve come to believe that the best thing that we can do for ourselves, our families, and for the world is to hear and follow our hearts and calls. The alternative is living in quiet frustration, haunted by whispers of what ‘could be’ or ‘could have been’. We can attempt to repress these whispers, to push them deeper, but I don’t think they ever truly go away…

 

But it’s never too late to hear and honor them! Even a small step toward living closer to our truest self makes us feel more alive, more vibrant, more inspired, and closer to the person and potential we know brews within us. Every time we make a choice that moves us in that direction, even slightly, vitality trickles in. We often don’t know what we’re moving toward or even what we really want, but we do know which steps feel like progress and which don’t. Trial and error, forward and back, faster, slower, but eventually closer to what feels right.

 

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Way back in Costa Rica in 2006, it hardly seemed possible that I’d sailed myself there… Photo by Jeff Johnson

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A few thousand miles later in 2007, things were starting to feel real and right! Photo by Ryan Hargrave

 

We tell ourselves a thousand reasons why we should not move towards our dreams and goals: “There’s too much risk!” … “I’m comfortable…” “I don’t want to fail…” “I have a family to support…” I say the risk of regret is much riskier. I say that comfortable is caustic and that the only failure is having never tried. And for the noble householder, I say, what better example, what more important message could you pass along to your children and/or partner, than: ‘Become the greatest You!’, and ‘Live a life you Love!’??  The joy and peace transmitted through this example are worth more than all the material things you could ever provide.

 

This could seem like a selfish concept at first, as it may not intuitively link to uniting humanity and saving the planet. But wait…I’m getting there…

 

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There is no way to know if you can until you try. Photo by Bali Strickland

 

Doing what we really want to do in life can seem a little selfish, probably because we are taught from youth that sacrificing ourselves for others and doing what society needs us to do is what makes us worthy and admirable (…granted that sometimes there are situations and consequences that demand our responsibility and/or  we should always avoid hurting people and use integrity when making decisions!). But in general, our society teaches us that achievements are the things that you can note on your CV or measure in the number of zeros in your salary.

I say achievements are the decisions we make and actions we take to be true to ourselves. I say learning to truly love Oneself is our greatest achievement…and hearing our dreams and calls is a powerful path to getting there. It’s a process, and the road is long and windy, but in my opinion, it’s not money or fame or letters of recommendation that make us admirable. Admirable is each small, humble, and inwardly-celebrated step that we make toward becoming more self-aware, changing habits that don’t serve us and others, and living a life we believe in.

And so, with great courage, we might take a step towards living our version of a more authentic life. Initially, your loved ones might feel betrayed, but with persistent, loving explanations, the people who really love you will understand and want you to seek happiness. Your choosing to do so is a very powerful statement that they can too. As you walk, no matter how slowly, toward each small goal and higher vision of yourself, you give others courage and reason to do the same. This courage is profoundly contagious. And it all starts with a small decision to go within and listen to what you really want out of life.

 

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We can always improve! Putting one’s self in question allows us to see where we can do better…Off for a little soul-searching at this lonely right in Indo on a Patagonia trip.  Photo by Jeff Johnson

 

I don’t think you have to know exactly what you want forevermore. I think the ‘call’ often evolves along the way. One might need to become the richest woman alive in order to know that money doesn’t make her rich. Or compete mercilessly in surf contests in order to one day realize that giving an epic wave to a friend actually feels more like winning.

 

The first steps are the surely the hardest. But as it does when you choose your hopes and dreams, the universe conspires to move you steadily, often magically along. The steps start getting easier until one day you find yourself striding right along–strong and confident that your feelings, instinct, and innate knowing can be trusted. The unknown hardly seems intimidating anymore. In fact, it starts to become kinda exciting! You wonder what twist in the tale will appear, and know that if you choose to greet your daily angels and teachers with an open, humble heart you will never be led too far astray. With great patience, practice, hard work, stumbles and strides, self-examining and reflection, you move closer to the person and place you so desire to be. You keep listening, you keep doing what you do because you love and believe in it.

 

a work of love is hardly work

Even the hardest work is a labor of love when it’s your dream.

Then one day you wake up in your dreams. They have become undeniable reality. It might not be exactly how you had imagined. Maybe it’s even better! You bathe in the glory and greet new adversities with optimism. For each day doing what you love is a gift, no matter how hard or stressful. You learn deep gratitude. You are so thankful that you listened to the voice within you, and cherish those who encouraged and believed in you. You learn to appreciate your life so deeply and wholly that all of a sudden you look around and realize you’ve made a great ascent on your climb to personal peace.

peak of peace

Nothing is more important to peace in the world, than peace in your own heart. Climb to your ‘peak of peace’!

 

While sitting blissfully atop that ‘Peak of Peace’, a few important things might happen:

 

1. You look down at the steep and hard-trodden road to where you are sitting and see that, in fact, all those misfortunes, failures, difficulties were the means to arriving there! You stop mourning things in your past because you see how they helped you to where you are now. A deep trust is born in the Greatness and Perfection of it All. True Wonder and Awe is awakened at the thought of each of our wildly unique and complex journeys!

 

2. Compassion flourishes. The feeling of deep peace combined with the understanding that the same is possible for every human on earth, creates a longing for others to feel what you feel and desire to help them on their way. The thriving, positive energy feels SO good, that you just want others to thrive, too! Your compassion soon expands out beyond your family and friends to all people and plants and animals too…

 

3. Competition is replaced by a sincere wish to bring others up. Jealousy vanishes, for you now know from experience, that life’s truest riches abide solely in the realm of the internal. Rather than feel threatened or envious of another’s good fortune, you praise and cheer them on, in hopes that that they may one day call out to you from atop their own peak of peace… “Hello dear sister! Hello my brother! How glorious is this view!!?!”

 

4. We begin to truly feel and see the interconnectedness of all of life; that we all come and return to one great Energy, regardless of our form. We see the similarity in the struggles and victories of each living being, regardless of its species, race, or gender. Knowing we are One, we understand that we can only truly rise if we all rise together.

 

And so I conclude that the more of us who take this journey, and make it to their personal ‘peak of peace’, the better chance we have at creating a happier, healthier, more loving world. So be assured that living your dreams, hearing your call, and pursuing a life of passion and is as powerfully serving to humanity and the Earth as it is to your Self. I believe it is as practical and direct a means to contributing to a better world, right now, as any other.

 

For how can we possibly hope to feed our hungry, end war, repair our ecological crises, learn respect for all life, and move towards fuller, more satisfying ways of existence if we as individuals are not whole, realized, and peaceful ourselves? I tell you it is just not possible…

 

So do, be, and live what you love! A better you makes a better me makes a better world, because essentially…We are One.

 

 

One Great Heart

We are all of One Great Heart.

 

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Smile, your truest life awaits you!

Bring on the ‘feeling’: boatyards and expanding compassion

 

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Whittling away at the deck paint preparation…this is when I wish Swell was about ten feet shorter!!

 

Our human compassion binds us to one another–not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”  –Nelson Mandela

 

I’m sitting on the bow of Swell in the yard. It’s 3pm and the sun’s heat is irritatingly persistent. Since my return from India, I’ve been up to my neck in this deck painting project. My fingers are aching and there’s a blister on my right thumb. I switch to my left hand, but it’s awkward and it bashes into the cleat as I work around its base. There’s still so much prep left to do before I can paint. I can hardly bear to look around. The rays pierce the spots that my hat doesn’t shade. The smell of resin and bottom paint wafts through the air. The nicked flesh on my hands burn. But I just keep sanding…

 

My mind drifts to family and friends…what they might be doing…and then keeps coming back to ‘compassion’ and ‘suffering’. “…If I never did this hard work, I could never relate to those in the world who work this hard everyday.” Amidst the sweat and fatigue and boredom, I felt connected to all those people out there working similar sorts of manual labor. That connection makes us feel richer, stronger, and more prone to making decisions that serve others and the planet.

 

Some of us are born compassionate; others have to work at it. The difficult situations we go through that can be turned into opportunities to expand our ability to ‘feel’ and connect to others if we choose to use them that way. Adversity can harden us and turn us inward, or it can soften us and open our hearts wider. The latter choice is scarier, but it keeps us ‘feeling’…for when we stop feeling, we’re like a sailboat without water under it—dry, boring, lifeless, and disengaged!

We must stay open to the lessons offered to us and use our hardships to empathize and understand others, in the hope that we can help heal each other. Because the truth is that no matter how happy we are in our individual lives, we cannot know complete peace and contentment when others in the world are suffering.

So yea, I hate sanding Swell’s deck, but I love the ‘feeling’ it brings me…

 

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The chosen chisel.

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Midday papaya snack!

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The neighborhood kids are happy I’m taking so long in the yard since they get to ride my skateboard!

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Super moon setting, 6 am. Time to start sanding.

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Poor lil spidey got dusted…:(

 

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Lil Temehani always finds a way to lighten the situation…

 

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6 hours of sanding later…contemplating a career change…:)

 

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Lani shredding around after only a few weeks of skating.

 

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Let the fun begin…

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Reward for a long day on the job…

 

 

 

 

1 + 2 + 3 + SIX BILLION(or MORE!)=ONE!

A human being is part of a whole called by us “the universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening the circle of understanding and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

–Albert Einstein

Smile, and remember…We are ONE.

In the moments where I can’t find comfort in where it’s all headed and I can’t seem to affect as much change as I’d like…there is one thing I try to do that seems to help in a small, but important way. Connect with the moment…connect with the people right around me and also those far away that I’ll never meet. Make it not about me, but about broadening whatever feeling or subject is bothering me, to incorporate all the other people in the world feeling the same way. Whether it’s anger or sadness or confusion or frustration, there’s always someone else in the same ‘boat’ and many worse…By thinking about the rest of those beings, I connect with the rest of the universe and get some perspective on the situation. I tap into the One Love, One Heart that is in all of us. It’s a beautiful thing! When the guy in the line behind you looks super hurried and stressed out, let him go in front of you. Or the surfer who is struggling to catch a wave…GIVE him ONE?! A smile to a stranger might be just what they needed in that moment. Imagine that lady in traffic who needs to get over into your lane as your mother…let her in!

This voyage has taught me to view all people as my family, all the kids like they are my kids, and to love and respect all creatures like they are my equals. We’re all one at the roots. We all feel the same feelings and have the same wants, and connecting to that makes you a part of something big, powerful, and often indescribably beautiful. By acting with patience and kindness, we can perpetuate love, connectedness, compassion, light, and peace in the world!! It takes practice and awareness…Some days I feel more up to it than others…but the beauty is that if you GIVE and connect when you can, and when you feel too tired or YOU’RE in a hurry…the goodness, the favors come back around.

Although at first glance, this doesn’t appear to be an ‘environmental issue’, I believe what Einstein describes above–our “optical delusion of consciousness”–is at the root of human problems, thus, I might go so far as to claim that practicing compassion is the at the root of healing our environment! So alongside limiting our use of ‘SINGLE-USE PLASTICS’, having a kind heart is something I believe we can do everyday to heal the world!

Just beyond those palms, open sea!

…So after a week or more of putting things back in their places aboard Swell, she became a livable, sailable vessel again. But between the boat work, checking in with friends around the island, collecting trash in the lagoon, making sure Helmut was as ornery as usual, writing emails, and pondering how to save the world…I found myself spread thinner then usual. But when, Eric, a single hander from Seattle aboard his Cal 33, ‘Secret Agent Man’ introduced himself and asked if I could teach him some yoga before he continued his voyage west. “Of course!” I told him. “Come back at sunset…”

Swell’s boarded cockpit served as our yoga platform that evening. I guided him through the basics of a sun salutation along with a series of poses I find particularly great for boat life. Afterward, I whipped up a veggie stir-fry and we chat about the state of affairs in the world—plastic, peace, Polynesia, and polar ice caps were some of the subjects covered, and how sometimes I just feel like I can’t do enough! “I’m exhausted,” I finally told him.

The next morning I prepped Swell for sea. The urge to be in blue water was like an unreachable itch. Just when I needed a hand to put the dinghy on deck, Eric came over to say goodbye. He helped get Miti Miti and the engine all squared away, and then pulled out a book and read me a quote about compassion and the way of a warrior of peace and light. The last part described a condition called ‘compassion fatigue’, wherein the person gives out too much compassionate energy without restoring himself. He subsequently diagnosed me with the condition…

I laughed. I felt honored. We bid each other fair winds, and I assured him that just beyond the edge of reef, I would get a chance to ‘refill’. I pointed Swell’s bow to sea…With bright blue skies, 10-12 knots of breeze, and just enough of a wind angle to point toward my upwind destination, the glittering Pacific welcomed me…I relished the routine sail-setting and adjusted the wind vane with a smile. Swell heeled into an easy, close-hauled reach. I sat in the shade contemplating the whole of it all…

The island in my wake slowly shrank. Soon the details blurred together. I could no longer see the trees or houses, just the green outlines of the mountains with clouds gathering around their peaks. The lulling of my oceanic cradle rocked me into a light sleep. With each breath, the peace of the open sea restored me…