I got partnered with a weirdo.
The concept behind Outsite is that you should be able to live in eco-friendly villas near the beach while coworking with a group of awesome people. They exceeded my expectations when it came to property, location and people. The Venice, Ca property is ideally located between the Venice Boardwalk and Abbot Kinney, features very clean and modern design details and comes complete with cruiser bikes and a surfboard. Something about the energy on the coast, this spot is the perfect place to crush out work and meet great people.
Menotti’s Coffee Shop – Locals-only java spot with tatted up baristas, amazing granola/ greek yogurt, and strong espresso (they play music on an 8-track).
Gjusta – Angelic breakfast bakery featuring a blend of eastern European and Italian cook-up and charcuterie.
Siamese Garden – Tasty Thai spot positioned on a patio above one of Venice’s famous canals.
Deus Ex Machina Cafe – Awesome open-air work spot surrounded by motorcycles and cool threads. Only downside is lack of outlets, so show up with a charged laptop.
My friends brought me down to Brazil on a crazy spontaneous one-way ticket! I was sitting in a coffeeshop on Melrose in LA and the next thing I knew I was in an Uber to the airport.
We partied, jumped off mountains, ate like kings and started the new year with a bang, and some good intentions.
Sometimes you got to just get the ticket and take the ride ✈️
The Jupiter Hotel is literally the only home you need in the best part of E. Burnside. Walking down the motel designed communal layout, you’re burdened with a handful of options before even leaving the premise.
The Douglas Fir appears to be a wilderness lodge serving warm winter drinks and elevated bar food, but on closer inspection, contains an underground venue called the Douglas Fir Lounge which totes shows by the likes of The Cool Kids (Dec. 29th, 2016) and Bowie Vision, a David Bowie cover band.
On street level, downtown Portland takes the feel of a peaceful mountain village, winding almost European in a way as city streets blend the corporate and independent shops. The weekend hosts the Saturday Market, a few block street fair of local artisans and outdoor crafts.
Portlands food scene is obviously the main attraction. From cheap little ethnic gems to elevated farm-to-table che che spots, and of course tons of munchies. I had to end the night was a late night trip to Voodoo Donut, smuggling home a thick bacon topped maple bar. Divine!
Jupiter Hotel – Affordable, cool in the heart of Portlands best neighborhood.
Sweedeedee– Farm to table bakery dine in concept with strong brew and egg sandwiches.
Douglas Fir Lounge – Casual, upscale diner/lounge with basement venue and outdoor fireplace.
Nong’s Khao Man Gai – Super legit thai street staples in quirky cave w/ hocker decor.
Voodoo Donuts – Devilish donut treats from an iconic North West brand.
The benefit of having a bike with everything I own on it is it makes it incredibly easy to vanish into the wilderness on the drop of a dime. Throughout this trip, most of my development and passion has been experienced in a wild, natural setting, preferably in solitude, but my recent trip back to Chicago brought to the surface an obsession that has seemed to follow me ever since setting foot in Israel almost a year ago to date.
Introducing My Zahir, a Zahir is an Arabic term referring to a persons subconscious obsession with a topic which is the overriding theme of a book written by my favorite author Paulo Cuelo appropriately named The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession. It’s taken a year of nomadic searching and pounds of personal development material to get a peeking into the belly of my Zahir, and this perspective has made me realize why I feel so comfortable being constantly on the go. There’s a fine line between running away from a problem and searching for a solution. I’d like to believe that my quest has led me in search of a solution, but there are times when I feel the urge to just keep running until I’m ready to grow again, and this is why learning my Zahir has created lots of value, because awareness is the first step to healing.
My Zahir – The Wandering Obsession
My obsession has to do with my reference to society in terms of success, and the strong desire to create a new, unconventional notion of success. The problem with entering any city or any social structure, is there are constant reminds of the brand of success that has been in place since the 80‘s; get the car, get the girl, donate to charity and everything is peachy, you‘ll be the man! My first notion was that success involved making everything wonderful for yourself, I then moved onto the understand that success is about making the world wonderful for others, and I’m finally starting to realize that there is a deeper notion of success that we need to realize. Deep in everyone’s heart, below circumstances, mind and even feeling is something more powerful and amazing than we can ever imagine, and that is the life energy that has no thought, no feeling of lack and is the true purpose of all this physical hoopla we are involveed in. I feel that by being alone and listening to inner guidance there is a power that can be accessed in the search for the third level of success, deep spiritual connection and enlightenment. This idea of success will surely transcend every other, and I believe is what is needed to create the best world possible.
The aspirations of a wanderer is rarely to escape from this established game of success in society, but rather a burning desire to enhance it and create something new for the world, knowing very well how hard it is to do under the molding hand of a bustling, cosmopolitan social tribe.
Spinning Wheels and Rolling Stones
On my flight via London, back to Istanbul where I was reunited back with my bike, thus reconnecting with existential freedom, I watched a Rolling Stones documentary called “Exile on Main St.” While initially just wowed by the groups irreverent gusto and sloppy creative brilliance, it wasn’t until I found myself strolling through Trafalgar Square when in passing the National Portrait Gallery a picture of none other than Mick Jagger was being showcased for his sheer musical genius and world changing fame that the universal creative juices began to flow and I was able to conceptualize the meaning behind the coincidence and start to feel the benefit in my Zahir. I realized that through exile from their comfortable British lifestyle, the Stones were able to unleash their creative potential and change the world. In the film they were exiled from England for tax issues and while the switch to southern France was difficult for the group, it was the driving force of their creativity for one of their best selling albums.
This historic turnaround of the Stones career was said to be their most creative and was when they shifted from commercial success to critical acclaim. The onslaught of this creative stew of genius, all housed in a drug-laden basement of Keith Richards South France Château, was the groups exile from their home, forcing them to leave Britain and find their voice in a more secluded side of society. In Nice, the Stones were able to walk the streets with their kids without being recognized and were able to isolate themselves in their own worlds and forget the worlds opinion, and the result was truly dynamic.
I then began to realize that this whole new set of people who are aspiring for location independent lifestyles are looking for much more than just freedom and cool travel pictures. I think there is an instinctual drive in all of us to want to be able to operate in any setting for the evolutionary purpose of creating the most impact on the world. My Zahir isn’t about success in society, but rather about my obsession with creating success outside of the constraints of society, and all of the backlash, doubt and preconditioned fear that comes along with that, trying to do something that hasn‘t been done without even know what I was doing. To me success is defined by creating abundant good in the world, so by this definition it still involves the usual criteria that the city would view success with.
At the moment, there are hordes of people brushing the surface of this wandering aspiration, they are figuring out new businesses and means of creating good while not being locked into the expectations and assumptions of one cities trends. There are many organizations that are succeeding in this:
…the founders of each project realized a way while being global to create value for themselves, their cause and the world. The potential value that can come with wandering success is unfounded, if the vision is supported and structured. By not being tied to one location, thought leaders are able to actually experience the causes they seek to support and inspiration can come from an ever-changing environment.
I believe the location independent trend isn’t just a self-fulfilling ploy to travel while making money, but the initial steps to a global movement that will mobilize Generation-Y and allow the youth to tap into their inner guidance to create ideas that fit outside of societies expectations of them. Becoming successful at this is not an easy proposition, but the least you can get out of the experience is a better look at the world and a better look at your life. This is my vision of a wandering theory: the idea isn’t to escape society forever, but to escape it for long enough to find your unique voice and emerge a complete individual hopefully impenetrable to the invisible hand of the big city, and what I like to call “the-way-things-are-economy“.
In one of my favorite pieces of writing, Self Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson sums up every part of this post in saying:
“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude”
I’ve realized that I’m running from my Zahir; the well-dressed, over-sexed, over-fed version of myself (my ego), it’s an easy obsession to obtain with the reams of perceived “personal success” our culture seems to breed, so I’m deciding to denounce it and attempt to claim a new concept of success for myself and the world.
A Call to the “New Success”
This is a call to a new group of successful people, young gifted people that recognize the power of energy and the individual power we all contain deep inside that can liberate the world of its problems and literally create a heaven on earth. This new success is defined by no definition, to these people there is no limit to what can be created for the world, the minds imagination is the only limitation, something that can be easily transcended. The goal of the “New Success” is to learn to constantly operate from a state of heightened awareness, allowing inner, intuitive guidance to be what creates ideas, goals and eventual growth, not the ego and reactive thinking. The old guard will look at this group as rebellious and irreverent to the rules and that is exactly what they are, because they have realized that there are no rules in life and that no societal constraint can hold back the good energy that brews inside the individual willing and ready to express their full nature, connecting presently to the stream of positive consciousness we are all made of and connected to. I want people who feel this way to start taking pride in who they are, realizing that if they carry through with their visions and create these wild imaginary ideals in society, that while they will first be faced with resistance, from themselves and everyone around them, it is this young, incessant energy that will be the next driving force of change in the world. Go out and create companies that give all the profits to those in need, make reference to silly rules that never made sense, stir the pot and do it with a smile.
The “New Success” recognize the consciousness and good that we actually are under the ego, and look both to the physical and non-physical as a reference, not only attributing success to what we can physically perceive, a strong well-shaped body, lots of friends, social power, economic means, but to a connection to the consciousness that floods our perception with evidence of the non-physical. This is how success has been defined in the past and ones life is considered a failure if they don’t achieve this notion of worldly success. While there’s nothing wrong with the way we have defined success in the past, there is a fundamental flaw that gets overlooked and can explain much of the suffering that has taken place in humanity. The achievement of this success has involved looking entirely external, altering time and space to make things happen in the physical realm. This is achieved primarily through the ego, and the success that is created only boosts the ego further and creates a stronger attachment to what has been achieved through much hard work and strife. Worldly success has been the primary focus at the detriment of something much more important and purposeful, which is the recognition of our conscious connection to a greater non-physical well-being and purpose.
In this “New Success“, a shift to focusing primarily on satisfying our non-physical purpose will not only dismiss much of the suffering associated with the ego’s attachment to the worldly realm, it will actually unleash this element of our lives as we tap a power that is far more effective than the reason, action, acquisition model we have been using through our evolution to aquire the lives we envision.
The “New Success” operate on three principles:
1) The most logical ideas comes from an inner energy and source of abundance and creation that cannot be accessed by the logic mind.
2) The most good is created through independence from location, societal rules, popular opinion and the egos considerations.
3) Operating from a center of fun, positivity and enthusiasm is the best way to heal even the worlds most grime issues.
While the past 30 decades has been seen as an immensely successful period for humanity, with the advent of the computer (which has enslaved many), a sophisticated financial system (which has ruined many) and a multitude of comforts (which has weakened everyone), we have created these things out of the seat of the ego and much suffering has occurred out of this as we have witnessed. Moving forward, we need to create out of our being, out of the conscious energy that we are all linked to and strip our commitment to servicing the ego by recognizing where in our lives we are strongly conditioned to operate out of fear, pride, future worry, control and lack. The success that can be created out of letting our inner purpose rain into our physical realm will involve a renaissance of free creation that will have no egoistic attachment and truly provide what we are on earth to accomplish as humans, which is unconditional service of the divine and of spirit in a physical setting.
Feel what’s right and Do it!
We all are connected to the feeling of what’s right. I don’t mean what’s moral, sinless or submissive as religion and society has convinced us, but what feels right deep in our true beings. Everyone has faced up with what’s right and many people now are taking strides to follow that feeling fearlessly and passionately. Keep listening inside, focus your energy on good and you’ll start to get energy from places inside you didn’t even know existed.Vodpod videos no longer available.
Raising to the sun and bumping Bulgarian hip-hop, my eye still stinging in irritation and my hand still cut from climbing into a thorny cove the prior night, I could really feel the comprehensive pain from the past few days of cycling. Limping down to the kitchen I am greeted by a tatted up Bulgarian hipster, still drunk from the night before, asking me if “I think I’m a tough guy.” I try to ignore his ridiculousness, this could just be the extent of his English, learned from a few Pacino flicks, and decide to move my focus to the day ahead. I find out from the equally ridiculous hostel owner that the final stretch to Istanbul is 300kms, about double what I expected. I crash back in bed in a daze, wondering why everything over these past few days have become so shitty, how can so many elements be flawed at once in my life, after all, I’ve been focusing on positivity and was constantly grateful for the things I have, right!?
Vodpod videos no longer available.
The purpose of setting off on this intrepid cycle was to be in a state of constant bliss, always seeking the truth but never wavering from internal joy. So why the HELL was everything going wrong?! It wasn’t until I broke down and accepted the state of affairs that I landed on the poignant truth of the matter, and I felt the magic of life flutter back into my consciousness. I scratched the underbelly of my brain and started to uncover the focus that I had chosen for myself, leading up to my next major destination, Istanbul. It was a pattern that seemed to perpetual itself through the whole trip. My fear that leaving the war-torn, weather-whipped state of my pedaling activities would reduce my brain to mush and the wonderful growth I’d been experiencing would cease had been the driving force of the wonderful, transformative and murderous distress I was currently feeling. After all, a week with my beautiful mother in Istanbul, with its expected standard of luxury, splendid ease and joyful moments couldn’t possibly match the fierce gusto and instinct-driven thrill of being lost in a rural Ex-Soviet setting on a bike. I started to see where these problems arose from, what it was in my mind that convinced the universe that a nice helping of hell would be the best medicine for the upcoming pampering.
The beautiful thing I realized right there and then, which I consciously grasped by looking back into my past thoughts, is that every single problem I was facing in the moment, as unfair and crappy as they seemed, were actually created by none other than little old me! We are creative beings, so everything that comes into our reality is the product of our thoughts, feelings and intentions for our self. I had created the pain, the anxiety, the subsequent physical injuries, the rowdy hosts, the displeasing notion of biking another 300kms through sweltering heat into a new cultural setting. I realized that this journey wasn’t about constant joy and bliss, it was about just this, finding where my mind creates suffering in order to teach me lessons and help me grow as a person, and also to get better at finding the lessons without creating such suffering. Once realizing this, it begged the question, why is the mind set up to create such problems for ourselves out of nothingness, when it can just cut to the chase and create what we want with ease and joy? When we are facing difficult challenges in one area of life, it is important to really investigate why these problems have come up, because these are often the areas that our self is struggling the most in breaking the thick shell of the ego and letting the light of our soul to shine through.
Whether is be a habit of the conditioned mind, or a true means of tapping deeper into the human spirit, it seems that us humans intentionally cover our gold with a slew of difficult situations and obstacles to overcome before we allow ourselves to reach our actual desires. I’ve possibly created the endless challenge of pushing over mountain tops for myself, so I can one day more confidently create my true desire of changing social rules that seem unfit, moving against the grain, and helping society live a more enjoyable and free existence. To the human mind, there are no easy tasks, so we feel the need to create as much difficulty for ourselves as possible, so the obtainment of our desires appears more realistic. The catch is, we can learn how to move closer to our desires without creating as many problems, once we learn how our mind is spinning them up.
Thought and the conscious universe is set up so we can set any rules we want, we don’t have to go through these problems, but the minds we were given are limited in its ability to think beyond this concept, to a true believe that everything we desire can come to us with ease, that the universe is fair and that we create absolutely everything we perceive. It’s hard to admit, but most of the issues we face on a day-to-day basis were created by our own mind. Usually subconsciously, mostly insightful to our psyche and always representative of the focus of our inner mental state. When we realize this, we can start looking at our problems as a source for personal growth and whenever they come up, we get a peek into what negative feelings we’ve been putting out into the universe without ever knowing. These problems are often created as a means of strengthening our resolve, and depending on how we handle them, can lead us further down our path of purpose and enlightenment. Our first response though is to look at them as these bullshit instances that we have no control over, which have happened completely randomly. With this mindset, people end up facing the same bleak situations over and over instead of looking at problems in life as a signal that something is wrong or that they are putting out the wrong frequencies consistently. This involves looking past the current reality of things, which is often scary for people to do, and regarded as reckless and foolish. When we learn that it’s our own thought process that is creating the problems, we try to steer our minds away from these problems and focus on the positives. The issue with this is that we our designed to grow this way, while the conscious power of thought can choose to grow in any way conceived, the human brain seems to be designed out of growth through pressure, using heat to bend the steel. So, until we can transcend our problems and leave the reality of our situation outside of our brain, we must learn to use our problems as leverage to get over the hill.
In Buddhist mythology, the symbol of The Plough represents this powerful tool that we can use in personal development. The Plough is our internal attitude that allows us to turn the harsh soil of our ego into a fertile field that can grow the fruits of our desires and souls intentions. While our brain is still conditioned to expect difficulty, we have the power to use those difficulties to aid in creation.
Instead of trying to get rid of your problems in life, begin to recognize the creative nature they have in store for you and use them as a tool for growth. While is may be difficult to break our association to facing difficulty before experiencing growth, with a fresh perspective you can be sure to face your problems with an attitude that will give insights into what you’re intending to create and make the difficult times more enjoyable. All you need to do is recognize that whenever you have a problem in life, you have created it for some means of bettering yourself, be it through breaking egoistic habits or focusing more openly on the light at the other end of the tunnel.
There is a natural part of me that wants perpetual prosperity, joy and ease in my life and then there is another side that craves challenge, strife and the fear that comes along with uncertainty. On this trip, I’ve found that when I focus on prosperity, everything seems to fall into place perfectly, problems may arise but given my mindset nothing seems to be stifling enough to break my mood. Other periods of the trip have been wrought with difficultly and stress and it is in these times that I feel like I’m growing as a person. I believe that we have the power to experience both and the ultimate power that we need to realize is, that no matter what focus we take, there is always something beautiful in store for us that is truly a blessing. So next time you’re faced with a problem, try to look back into your mind and find the point where your daring nature may have created this scenario, and realize that your work at that time is to get past the notion that these are random, unfair events and to the space where you see the true gold that you’ve created for yourself hiding under the tough surface.
We all dream of going on a daring adventure, stepping out of our day-to-day lives so we can live out in the world with an exciting new reality, where our mood is as capricious as our environment. After deciding to claim just that a year ago, my anxious pre-journey mind fantasized about what incredible adventures lay ahead, what challenges I would face, and ultimately what stories I would have to tell in the end. Biking through Romania provided no shortage of adventures; from standing off with a pack of vicious herd dogs in the middle of an isolated rolling meadow, to dragging my 60 kg heap of gear through a kilometer long mud pit in an insect infested forest, to getting lost in a dated Romanian village being led by my compass and shouts in a foreign language. I had gotten everything I was looking for, but it wasn’t until attempting the Transfagasan Highway, Romania’s highest and most grueling road that I started to realize what I was truly looking for while still stuck in my mundane, adventure-less American setting.
My approach of the highway was laden with fear. The night before, I biked up to the base of the mountain so I would give myself adequate time to get through the pass the following day. I left the town just before the mountains late in the day, my rear wheel hub has snapped after the strain I had put on it going through tracks of road that certainly weren’t worthy of making it on a map, so I had apprehensions about whether the road would even be accessible and whether I was prepared for the trip. I cycled down through lush fields as the sun set, checking my map to see where I’d be entering. I eased up on the pedals as I approached the ominous arched sign over the road, “Highway 7C”, the road snapped sharply off the highway and pointed directly to the mountains I’d been looking at for the past few hours. I pedaled slowly through the night as bats flew over head, the moon kissed the ridge of the mountains, illuminating its peaks poetically as dogs barked in the distance. As I rolled my bike into a farm to set up camp, I heard the sound of angry sheep dogs intensified as they ran towards me in the dark, I jolted back to the road and sped away avoiding attack. After about an hour of playing this game with the dogs in the dark, I finally found a spot where I went undetected. I woke up early morning to a downpour, an extra seed of doubt for the ride ahead. As I started cycling to the mountains, the clouds parted but the intense feelings of fear and doubt didn’t. As I pushed up a steep incline in the cold wetness, I tried to figure out why there was so much misery surrounding the day, both in my mind and in reality. Was this opening my soul, what was the lesson in the frustration I was facing? After a grueling day of consistent uphill pedaling and forewarnings of fear by passing motorists, I sat at the top of the mountain face, overlooking a cascading waterfall and began to contemplate why I was facing so much frustration when I was getting everything I wanted, all the adventure I could’ve hoped for. It was there in my broken state that I realized by manifesting adventure for my ego, I had lost contact with manifesting the inherent joy that I thought the adventure would provide.
Every step we take through life, we have the choice of intending for either of our two separate selves, our lower self, which is the make up of our ego, and our higher self, which is what we know exists below our frustrated longing and needy behavior. As I sat at the base of Romania’s longest tunnel, which shot through the peak of the mountain, I realized that while I had effectively manifested everything I’d been intending, a feeling of adventure, listless endurance and accomplishment, it didn’t matter because I had lost touch with the part of me that really mattered, the part of me that is content without all the adventure and glory. Our focus and energy can create everything we want in life, but if we are creating through the ego, we may find that the things we end up with don’t actually create the expected fulfillment. There is a balance that exists in life when we connect with our higher self, our soul which has no association to physical and social needs, where we become whole and complete as we need to be, and our creation for the lower self becomes something secondary to what we already have inside. I realized where my intentions had led me, I had been facing this challenge as a way to serve my ego and had lost touch with the real connection to the magic of life. By intending something for my lower self, the process of creating it in my life led to a whole slew of negative feelings and insecurities. Even though it eventually became my reality, it had encapsulated my focus of energy, leading me further away from my higher self. The word ‘selfishness’ sets out to scorn the person who thinks about getting something for themselves, making it seem that by being selfish, we need to compete for, fight with and even steal everything that resides outside of us. The distinction here that needs to be made is that selfishness is only bad when a person is intending for their lower self, but the act of selfishness in intending for the high self is the key to joyful creation and prosperity in the world. Being selfish for our higher self creates the energy that makes people do kind things for strangers, give their time openly to help with no concept of loosing out, and is the definition of positive energy in the world. That’s why I think the world needs to start being more selfish, because if we can’t find the soulful energy in ourselves, we will find ourselves grasping at the destructive demands of our other self in order fill that void.
All it took was to check-in with myself and understand that the pain and fear was coming out of choosing to serve the wrong self, and I was able to instantly switch gears. I may have been switching gears downhill that day, but the change in mindset allowed me to climb higher into the self that matters. When you focus on connecting with your soul, your higher self, the part of you that needs no approval, no stories, outcomes or change, you will be surprise by the daring adventure you’ll be led down.
We have always drawn the spiritual line between our selves; the part of us that society has molded and the real truth of the universe; the part that is what we really are. This is a very fine line which has started religious wars, created a conflicted belief of faith in humanity and is why it often feels like we are behind enemy lines in our day to day lives. Inside all of us is a knowing, the feeling that our material world is not the truth that our senses and security-seeking minds convince us, and outside the boxes we create, something greater resides which is the summation of eternal joy, our connection to everything in the universe and our true nature. Many groups have committed soul and body to this quest for truth, spawning a dogmatic separation that seems to contradict the underlying unity which all factions of religion and spirituality are direly seeking to label and deduce.
Climbing through the hilly countryside of Northeastern rural Czech Republic served as a great training grounds to teach a valuable lesson about how we approach action in our life and what we expect out of the things we do moment to moment. Pushing up the calf-hammering slope of a windy country road is easy, because there is no doubt that the action of the climb will eventually lead to a free-wheeling downhill joy ride. But in life and the daring journeys we put ourselves through, the fruit of our actions aren’t always so evident. We often wonder why we end up unfulfilled when we reach the fruit, only to find that it didn’t quite satisfy the original desire we put out into the cosmos. A simple paradigm shift can greatly effect how we view the fruit of our actions, and put us in a river of wellbeing and happiness that will never make us doubt the worth of selfless, whole-hearted action. The shift in perspective that I had on that rainy day in the Czech cycling grounds was that contentment and satisfaction comes from the actual creation of the fruit and not from the sensory pleasure of having fruit.