Enter Your Truth

(Written on 15 November 2014)

Party girls don't get hurt
Can't feel anything, when will I learn
I push it down, push it down

I'm the one "for a good time call"
Phone's blowin' up, they're ringin' my doorbell
I feel the love, feel the love

1,2,3 1,2,3 drink
1,2,3 1,2,3 drink
1,2,3 1,2,3 drink

Throw 'em back, 'til I lose count

I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist
Like it doesn't exist
I'm gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

But I'm holding on for dear life, won't look down won't open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, 'cause I'm just holding on for tonight
Help me, I'm holding on for dear life, won't look down won't open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, 'cause I'm just holding on for tonight
On for tonight

Sun is up, I'm a mess
Gotta get out now, gotta run from this
Here comes the shame, here comes the shame…

-Chandelier, by Sia

Pure Fakery

I think I have a way of polishing myself over a bit too much. You know, acting like everything’s fine and I’m totally negativity-resilient when this is not the case. Giving off the impression of being dedicated when I’m highly ambivalent.

And sure, maybe it’s okay- even good- that I resolve to remain composed, even if that doesn’t entail that I appear excited. At least I look acceptable to other people. Maybe I even look studious, ambitious, strong, admirable. Who knows what good labels I might get.

And besides- if I tell myself that things are okay, I might just believe it. I’m just entering the darkness for a little while to see what I can learn there. I’ll be just fine. Sure, there are some things that are less than ideal, but it’s all part of the experience.

Where I’m lacking I’m working on myself. I know there are some things that I constantly hop on the fence about and wonder whether I should expel them from my life, but I know that I’m just being unreasonable. They’re not really that bad; I even have fun with them sometimes.

College, part-time job, living at home, almost all my relationships—just ease up on them, will ya? They’re fine. And I know they’re temporary anyway. Just for about another 6 months, and then it will all magically go away.

I mean, I like having these things around, don’t I? They’re better than spending most of my time alone or being dirt poor and having to rough it on my own.

Besides, they all mandate things that I have to do. They do the nasty job of planning my time for me so that I don’t have to. I don’t have to float around in the uncertainty of What do I do now?  There is always something that I must do. They give me purpose- or at least, direction.

Silly me, thinking I should forge these things on my own. What would I do everyday without having some place to go to? I can’t imagine my life without institutional-commitments. How would I ever see other people? I’m not good for much aside from taking exams, creating bad humor, and folding clothes anyway.

It doesn’t matter what things I do- it matters that there are people around me. Hell, it doesn’t even matter who the people are- they’re all reflections of myself anyway, so exactly who it is doesn’t make a big difference in the grand scheme of things.

I’m not really sure of what I’m doing here anyhow. I don’t think I see the point in trying to help people. What am I wanting to do, help people so they can help other people in turn? That’s foolish. I think I should stick to low-level corporate work. That doesn’t require me to put myself out there too much aside from saying hello to people. I don’t even have to be myself at all- whatever that means.

What is myself anyway? I think that’s just a bunch of bs people make up to get themselves into believing that their life has direction which they should follow.

Purpose is just the same. Why am I here anyway? I’m just wasting time. I’ll try to go away in a few years’ time, and then none of this will have mattered too much. For now I just have to man up every day and go do the stuff I’m expected to do, then I can come home and forget about it in food and sleep. Come on, I’ll be just fine. Everyone else is doing it anyway, so why shouldn’t I?


Aaaand that’s right about where the whole shebang collapses on itself. That is, if it wasn’t bound to from the start.


Denial vs. Strength: A Fine Line

The line between denial and being strong has always eluded (and deluded) me. When should I acknowledge what I’m feeling, and when should I just flex my muscles and carry on? When do I need to be honest about my pain and when do I need to just suck it up?

At the verrry beginning of 2014 I chose the latter and ended up with a giant ankle for 3 and a half weeks. And no, that’s not a good thing—some parts of your body are just plain not meant to get bigger.

At the end of August I again chose the latter while running- this time in regards to major tightness all through my legs- and ended up completing a 62.1 mile race. Then in Cross Country I did the same thing- this time with foot and hip pain- and had a mediocre season at best.

Of course, it might not have been the pain. What about the flipside?

Last Summer I bought a new pair of sneakers, ran about 2 miles in them, and then returned myself home barefoot and the shoes to the store. Sure enough, I got some slack about it. The shoes weren’t that bad, ya know. Sure, they were a tad narrow and left blisters on my feet almost right away, but they might not have always done that. And even if they did I could have found a way through it. Come on, they weren’t that bad. You didn’t have to go and return them.

Really now? Do you think I would have enjoyed myself running 40+ miles a week in those? Do you think I even would have been able to?

Of course, this is about much more than injuries and running shoes.

I’ve lived the greater part of my life in a state of denial. Further in the past, pretty much every thought and emotion that dare come my way was rationalized, avoided, and/or twisted into something else. I should feel like this, I shouldn’t feel like that was a constant.

So often I’ve tried to convince myself that I can’t experience certain feelings. In the last year, I’ve told myself numerous times in the face of difficulty that I should be beyond this. I know better than this. I know the truth. So what am I flailing around and doing a crappy job for? Get the hell with it.

Knowing that I can do better than I currently am for is a helpful attitude to have. However, saying I should be beyond this specifically has done almost nothing for me. I cannot think of a time when I immediately sprung into amazingness upon saying that. Usually I just keep brooding and being ineffective.

I’m coming to think that I should be beyond this is the ticket to denial. Yeah, maybe I should be, but when a particular message or experience keeps arising in my reality, how can I claim to be beyond it? That’s like handing a picture to someone and being told that whatever’s in it didn’t happen. Actually, it’s more like watching something happen right in front of your eyes and then saying it didn’t happen. It’s like a 1984-complex (yeah, I love referencing this book). Oh, no, I’m just seeing things that aren’t there. Silly me. Can’t trust these weak human eyes of mine!

Are you really as far in the dark as you think you are? There is only one force which can propel you in into darkness, and that is yourself.

What I mean in this case is that, for the most part, you really already know what is right, what you feel, what you ought to do. But for some reason or another we put up resistance to these things and turn that resistance into patterns of thinking and behavior which soon become unconscious and automatic. It might be as simple as reaching for a snack every time we feel a bit of anxiety.

For supposed protection we squeeze ourselves into a small window of what we are allowed to be like- how we feel and act. Chances are this primarily concerns how we would like other people to perceive us. We think that if they see us a certain way that is all that matters. Then we will be safe and on the path to greatness, or even just being okay.


Blocks to Being Yourself

There’s a problem with that way of thinking, however. A huge, massive, disgusting problem. Are ya ready for it?

How others perceive you has little to no effect on the quality of your life.

That’s right. I said it. I have just defied every sociology, psychology, and business textbook on the planet, and probably more.

And, okay, I’ll admit- maybe there’s a bit more to it than that.

I must clarify: making the projection of a particular image that you want others to hold of you your primary business will do you little good; in fact, it is much more likely to do you intense harm. If I insist on running on broken ankles in order to give the impression that I can hide and overpower pain, you know what that will get me? Broken ankles.

And maybe eventually someone will make a comment to me like, You are good at hiding pain, or even poke fun at me in front of the whole track team for doing so. And maybe out of that I get a shining, fleeting moment of glory- one based upon maladaptive defense mechanisms (called beliefs) no less.

 But tell me- Is it worth it? When I can never be sure of what other people truly think, and I can only assume, Is it fricken’ worth it?

No, it’s not. It never was, and it never will be. The only person worth holding myself to is myself. At the end of the day, that’s the only person around. That’s the only person who I can ever be, and the only one whose thoughts I have access to and can be certain of. The only one.

Let’s be clear here: I’m not giving you permission to be a jerk and let yourself go and indulge in your maladaptive habits and health-deteriorating cravings. Of course, I can’t stop you from doing so. Keep eating ho-hos and smoking weed everyday. Go on ahead. Rebel against the establishment. Don’t listen to what other people tell you you should do. If you’re fine with living that way and keeping yourself in a low state of consciousness, then keep up the good work.

But I need you to realize that rebelling for the sake of defying other people is just the same as conforming for the sake of pleasing other people: in both cases, you’re attempting to project a particular image you want people to hold of you—one that somehow validates you and gives you a fleeting, unstable sense of being good enough.

Please note the word fleeting. This means that the sense of being good enough is not real. The self-image is highly unreasonable, you see. Its standards are so tight and flighty that they are just about impossible to attain. Again, it’s that small window of the ideals of how you should be. It is insane, unproductive, unforgiving perfectionism.

The ideal of how we should be is different for each of us based on our experiences. For each of us who base that ideal on an image we want to project, however, it is a ridiculous ideal.

Sure, it may not sound ridiculous at all. I always wanted to have the identity of being tough. Not rough ‘n tough, but just able to face anything. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? Well, not when it’s based on how I want other people to see me. Not when it drives me to self-starvation. Not when it doesn’t even work out a majority of the time because it involves suppressing and rejecting so much of who I am—my desires and my true feelings. No, not when I have to avoid living the way I truly want to for the sake of some stupid ideal. Yet when you’re ruled by the ideal it can be so hard to see through.

There is a bit of solace, however. I don’t believe the truth is ever completely buried or fully-unconscious. Pay attention to those thoughts that run through the back of your mind everyday.

It is those persistent thoughts which I tend to write off that I’m finding to be of incredible significance. They tell me what I really want, direct me to where I really want to go, help me figure out what I should do.

With the persistent thoughts may also be a persistent feeling, particularly chronic discomfort. It’s an unrelenting desire for some breakthrough to happen- for better or for worse- or for the clock to move faster, or to disappear. Unfortunately, it is easy to become desensitized to such feelings and take them for granted, believing that feeling this way is normal or that you’re just stuck like that with no way out.

These persistent thoughts are, I’d say, typically the object of denial. Part of the reason they’re so darn persistent is that we don’t do anything about them. Maybe for some people they die off eventually- I don’t know. I know that for me they never do. They’re stronger some days than others, but ultimately they don’t leave. Not until I acknowledge their existence and act on them.

You see, stepping out of denial is not always in itself enough. You must act.

I don’t mean to undermine the importance of that first step of acknowledgement, however. It’s huge- believe me. And for many people, it never happens. Never!

Somehow we fall into the underlying assumption that denial is safe. Keeping the truth at bay is somehow much healthier for us. With the lights out, it’s much safer. Well, Kurt Cobain, it sounds ridiculous when you put it that way! When the lights are off you can’t see anything!! And yet, we keep up this fight against ourselves. Even if there is a lot of tripping and breaking things involved, we would rather be in the dark.

I have no idea why, but we do. Somehow we convince ourselves that our fears are correct. Maybe the subconscious mind will take any pattern that you feed into it. Maybe our brains blow a single traumatic event out of proportion. Maybe it’s just the culmination of a blend of beliefs, and our minds accept no one belief as more valid than the other. Of course, perhaps physical damage aside, what is traumatic to us is based upon belief. It’s just that many of us share similar beliefs in this regard.

I will tell you, however, that we’re not insane. We just protect ourselves based on what we know. From one view all we are ever doing is protecting ourselves, and this simply looks different for everyone because we all have had different experiences. From another view, we are at all times either protecting ourselves or growing.

Whatever the case, we can’t always articulate what we know; we’re ruled by what we have concluded unconsciously. What we know isn’t always accurate, either.

I’m finding that there may be nothing more maladaptive than a belief about how we’re supposed to be. How can we even be sure that the basis for this idea is valid, accurate, or even stable? How can we have any concrete, rigidly defined idea? I’m not sure that we can.

Trying really hard to live up to some sort of ideal, no matter what it is, is often futile. You cannot make yourself go where you would be a hypocrite to travel to. How can you strive to be peaceful when you are filled with conflict trademarked by denial? I don’t know. I should have asked myself that a year and a half ago. That might have been a nice wake up call—though, of course, I would have denied any such denial.

Sigh. So ornery are the lost. So certain are the self-suppressing. They’ve got it alllll under control. Well, not really. Not at all. If one thing slips out of those tight standards the whole fiesta goes to hell. Tell your anorexic daughter that the grocery bill is too high and she is just done. She has no idea what to do about that one—except freak out, and probably also push down the freak-out. At least on the surface and in some cases, anorexia nervosa is really a big bundle of denial. You deny yourself food when you really, really want it. And need it.

It’s just like how you don’t need to do work that you actually enjoy, or admit to someone who you feel about that, or acknowledge that you have feelings at all. Trust me, guys, I’m totally cool. I can handle it.

And now, we’re back to where we started. Boom. The whole thing comes crashing down.


Moving Toward Acknowledgement

Maybe it’s time that I start acknowledging more of what’s going on within me—that is, my thoughts and feelings. And does this mean complaining? It can, but it need not. It’s not complaint that will give way to progress. Rather, yielding to the truth of what’s really going on will be productive.

And maybe I’m resistant to the idea and think I need to be a bit manlier, but, hasn’t this yielding worked out before? Why, yes it has. It’s exactly how my life turned around. Now, that sounds like at least somewhat of a valid event to go off of, doesn’t it?

I understand that just because something has worked before doesn’t mean that it will work again, and in any situation. But it also doesn’t mean that it won’t work again, or in at least one situation.

I think that even though I have transformed the way I relate to myself and to life I do still push things down to an unhealthy extent—it’s just not nearly as far as I used to. Still, doing better than in my past is no crutch, just as saying that you’re doing better than most people does not at all define how successful you are. Just because you won a race doesn’t mean that you did well; you just did well enough to beat everyone else.

I’ve racked up plenty of sorry wins. Despite what the walls of my room may tell you I’ve had much prouder 2nd, 3rd, and even last place finishes. Objectively excelling in comparison to other people doesn’t speak much to how fulfilled I feel or to how closely I heed my values. It’s not that being at the top is bad- that’s not true at all-, it’s just that it isn’t everything.

Beating others may signify that you’re doing something better than them, but what if that something is cheating or using cutthroat tactics? Or what if it’s even doing something wrong or just plain silly better than them? I know that isn’t always the case, but it can be. And just how rewarding is cheating to you anyway?

Likewise, beating your past self may mean that you’ve made progress, but might she also have been better at something than you? That is certainly the case for me. Does beating your past self mean that you can just stop where you are, because hey, at least you’ve changed this much?

Well, if you’re okay with that. And if you’re even sure that you’ve made actual progress, and aren’t just stuffing things down deeper.

Just because I went into my sophomore year with frequent panic attacks and self-injured in an attempt to alleviate them, and I went into my junior year with no such problem-behaviors, does that mean that I was better my junior year? That I had resolved all my issues?

Not. At. All.

You see, at the age of 16 (junior year) I woke up every day with agony over the haunting thought that There is no point to life, and I simply took that combo for granted and just kept moving on with it. Having good grades through 4 AP classes, lots of friends, and being a top runner made it all okay.

I can’t deny that things looked really good objectively back then. They looked great. Maybe I have bad hindsight and am being unfair to the present, but I’m not sure that I’ve been quite so athletically or socially prominent since. Plus I certainly had a few more A’s then than I do now.

However, it was only a couple months before things started getting bad, and then really bad, and then really really bad, until they got to the point of possibly being unable to get worse (okay, I know it could have been worse). Yet it was until the very last moment that I insisted I was fine.

That doesn’t mean I never freaked out—it’s just that even when I did, I had to squeeze myself into some sort of rigid nobility, like I was so cute and my story so darn tragic. And that was even when I thought I was an immeasurably broken and insane idiot. I was still putting myself on a grandiose storyline of which I was the pitiful protagonist. Poor me. Poor, poor me. Darn it. No one could ever understand, but they should at least give me some charity.

So how much better am I now? Much better- yet that doesn’t mean I cannot be charged guilty of the same crimes. To a less intense extent I still sometimes choose denial over strength. Let’s take a closer look at this.


Crossing the Line for Myself

To return to the beginning of this article, I understand now that a lot of times being honest is the same as being strong. When you see someone putting themselves completely into whatever they’re doing, sharing the intimate details of their life, and allowing their feelings to show, what do you usually think of them?

Imagine the guy who walks on to a stage and tells a few hundred people about his lifelong struggle with drug addiction. Do you think he’s being weak by being honest, or strong? Would denial be stronger in this case?

Other times honesty in itself isn’t quite strength, but it can serve as a launching pad for you to become stronger. Instead of pretending the thought that I don’t want to run anymore isn’t there I just let myself hang out in that space for a while, and soon enough the desire returns and I’m off for another hour. Well, or a few. J

So maybe it’s time to admit that I do want to have a business, that I’m afraid to because I don’t think people will take me seriously, that they will think I’m a stupid kid who is just rattling on incoherently about things countless other people have over the Internet. I’m afraid that I will be ineffective and a waste of time and money. That I don’t actually have anything to offer, and I’m a fraud. That I haven’t scheduled any public speaking events on any scale because I think the audience will hate me and my ideas. That at this time I haven’t finished my small book because I’m not sure that it would make sense to other people, or that it even does to myself.

That I never tell people what I really want to do because I feel inferior and stupid for it. That I always think I am doing and being something wrong, something incorrect, something inferior. That I’m worried that being too self-disclosing will drive people away—and there’s a good chance it will. That I know that my fears are ridiculous and invalid but they are here anyway.

That sometimes, I think I look too big, but I never tell people because I know it will upset them. That other times I think I look too weak—not at all like a true athlete. That even in spite of a completed ultramarathon (100K) I still am ashamed of my running performances in the last year. That I have an overbearing sense that I am just not damn good enough. That I always am concerned about being wrong, even though it doesn’t really matter that much.

That I worry about people thinking I’m insane, which is futile because someone tells me I’m crazy almost everyday now. That I’m not really cut out for this work and will have to see college through to the end and settle for some corporate or government-funded job at which I’ll feel ineffective.

That I worry about my friends thinking I’m lame. That I so often feel like I’m just taking up other people’s time.

That I am a lot of the things I don’t want to be- even if not to quite as intense an extent. That I can feel anger and anxiety and sadness. That it really bothers me every time someone tells me they’re on medication- especially for anxiety or depression. That I do still try to impress people. That I get mad at myself when I feel like I haven’t been outside or ran for long enough.

That this has probably taken twice as long as I needed to write this because I’ve been breaking off the ends of my hair the whole time. That all the scars on my face, I put them there. That today, my head fricken’ hurts. That tonight, I really don’t want to go to work. That I feel dumb for hating my job even though I just started and it ends in a month and a half (at the time of editing I have quit).

That for at least the last year I’ve felt uncertain of most, if not all, of my friendships. That most of my relationships drain me. That sometimes I feel like the only sober person in a room full of drunks. That, at the same time, I still feel like an inferior idiot.

That I’m concerned that a room covered in ribbons and trophies makes me look like a narcissist, which I totally have been in the past, by the way (and that is in the sense of narcissism as a defense against deep-seated shame, which is basically the whole premise of this article).

That I still don’t like eating in front of other people. That I feel stupid for having the diet I do, even if it’s healthier than that of 90% of other Americans (I really don’t know). I still think it’s not good enough—but at the same time, I’m still slower than my drinking-smoking-junk food eating friends, darn it!

That sometimes, I’m afraid to go outside. It’s mainly because I’m afraid of being cold. I usually go anyway.

That I always think the sounds I’m producing are incoherent, to both ears and mind.

That sometimes, I’m not sure that I know how to love, or what love really is.

I don’t really know how necessary that was. Maybe it is stupid, just like myself. I’m going to need a lot of foresight to climb out of those foxholes. A whole darn lot.

From this it might look like I haven’t changed too much over the course of my life. I still have all this people-pleasing and perfectionism and low self-esteem.

But there is a dichotomy. For one thing, before I turned 17 I never ever would have admitted all those things—not even to myself, and that is key. Just imagine all the energy it takes to keep all that down- and what I become capable of when I let it out. And the other is that it’s not all painful.

I think it’s awesome that I ran a 100K at the age of 18, and on a month and a half of focused training.

I think I have a rather wonderful, synergistic blend of experiences and traits that make up my person.

I actually like learning. Scratch that—I love learning new things. Part of the reason is that I can share what I learn with others, and possibly enrich their lives by it.

Sometimes when I notice certain thought patterns changing and developing in me I like to think that I’m gaining new superpowers. And sometimes it feels like just that. I think the pursuit of personal growth is highly valid, and also highly enjoyable. It excites me to think of all the things I might try, all the things I could be.

I wanted to live in the woods when I was 16, and I don’t think about it as much now but I still think it would be amazing. I think it’s kinda cool that in high school I bagged 6 league championship titles and that I’ve won more races than probably three people can count on fingers and toes. The fact that I once ran a 10:54.6 3000 meter race amazes me, even if it didn’t when it happened two and a half years ago.

I think it’s pretty cool that I went for a 3 hour run in the dark after my first nightclub experience. I think this whole business thing is sweet and I’m glad that I’m giving it a try.

In July, over the course of 4 days, I went kayaking for 3 hours straight, did some swimming here and there, climbed a mountain, ran down, then climbed up it again in the morning; danced for an hour on a boat later that night, conquered an insane ropes course, and then ran a 22:01 5K. I felt amazing—and I thought it was awesome. I love when physical activity rules my life.

I’m darn proud of the fact that when a depressed 16 year old I radically changed a lifelong unhealthy diet, in spite of all the cravings and even moreso how socially abnormal it was—and that I’ve stuck to it almost completely unwaveringly. I think it’s awesome that I’ve never turned to drugs of any sort to “resolve” my problems. I think the transformation I underwent from depressed to Real is even more awesome.

As mediocre as I was at it I very deeply enjoyed my 10 years of playing the viola, and I’d like to pick it up again someday. I like the fact that the sun is coming through my window and beaming on the purple ribbon of a beautiful (and big!) trophy I won. I think it’s awesome that I successfully completed a biphasic sleep 30-day trial last August, typically sleeping about 6 hours total each day (sometimes less). And this was even through the removal of my wisdom teeth. I simply felt amazing that whole month.

I think it’s rad that Jimi Hendrix hangs out on my bedroom wall. Some days I am filled to the brim with ideas, and the thought of implementing them excites me. I love it when I am excited to be awake. In those moments when I become lucid and remember that this is a dream I am truly amazed. Life amazes me everyday. I amaze myself everyday. People amaze me everyday. Even in spite of my ambivalence in friendships I generally hold people in much higher esteem than they may realize. I think that at least for some reason or another, everyone is interesting and awesome. It’s just not always highly apparent is all.

If I were to die right now, I believe I could die peacefully.

The idea that consciousness is primary is truly profound. The model of subjective reality has done so much for me. Without it I may not have been prompted to write this, which was in part inspired by a friend whom I remembered is but a reflection of myself.

P.S. I would like to throw in that at this time, as of 4 PM, I have not eaten in 23.5 hours. I think that’s pretty cool too (It’s not deliberate self-starvation out of punishment, mind you).


More than We May Ever Realize

There’s a whole lot more to us humans than you might think. So many times I have thought that I had life figured out, and so many times I was wrong. Don’t ever take something as absolute, no matter how intelligent it may sound (even that very statement right there!).

Don’t take anything for granted- it may be much more fluid than you think. Pretty much anything and everything can change. Pay attention to what you try to avoid and deny. What is it that you’re running from? Might it be truth?

About 3 months ago I woke up around 5:30 in the morning and went for a long, long run- somewhere between 33 and 40 miles (I never quite looked it up) (I also think it’s awesome that I did this, by the way). Roughly halfway through I ran through a small part of the Albert J. Memorial State Forest. Having earlier seen the massive size of the region on a map I felt somewhat intimidated being in there, wondering if I might be doomed to wander helplessly for days. The paths through this part of the forest were dirt roads- maybe even stones, if I remember correctly.

At one point I looked to the left and to the right at unmarked, undeveloped land—endless forest on both sides. I remember comparing it to life, or perhaps to the universe, and thinking, Damn, there’s so much mystery… you could never discover it all. Now I think of the road as a sort of heuristic through which to explore the forest: it gave me a darn good experience of it, but it could never claim itself as the entire breadth and depth of the forest. That would simply be arrogant.

It may be the same with how we must live our lives. Not one of us has come even remotely close to experiencing everything- I cannot comprehend what that would entail- but each of us has forged a path through the forest of life. On its own this path is a profound collection of experiences sufficient to call itself life, even if it is by no means the whole forest of life.

Remember that while you’ve traversed a whole lot on your path, there’s a whole darn lot more beyond it. Maybe you’ve run into some of the fundamentals, but there’s a lot out there you don’t know. Please don’t act like you’ve overturned every rock on the forest floor because even if this is your 8000th life here on Earth, believe me- you haven’t. You have by no means had every possible experience through every possible perspective. No way.

That might just be what makes a forest- and life- so beautiful. There is so much you can see and hear (and taste!) and yet, so much that you haven’t—so much you can’t even imagine. Simultaneously accept that you can create whatever experience you’d like here and also that there is so much experience beyond your present imagining and knowing—that that’s just how it is. You can do whatever you want, and that’s just the way it is. :)

The path to Real awaits you, my friend—I hope you take it. Who knows- it might just be everything you never knew you really wanted.

Don't go changing to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don't imagine you're too familiar
And I don't see you anymore

I would not leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I'll take the bad times
I take you just the way you are

Don't go trying some new fashion
Don't change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care

I don't want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are

I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
Ah, what will it take till you believe in me?
The way that I believe in you?

I said I love you and that's forever
And this I promise from the heart
But I couldn't love you any better
I love you just the way you are

-Just the Way You Are, by Billy Joel

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