One of the analogies I use about life is that it is like a pizza that has every known topping on it. Yes, meat, veggies, cheeses, everything. That is the pizza called "life." If you really want to live life, you eat the pizza with everything on it.
Is this really good? If you want to experience the fullness of life, yes it is. It doesn’t mean that each topping will be wonderful to your sense of taste – but it is the fullness of choices in life.
Most of us like to live life by taking off what doesn’t’ look right, taste right, or feel right when we chew it, so we end up making a custom pizza for ourselves usually with a few toppings.
We make the choice to avoid living the fullness of life by creating a life thinking we can pick our own toppings. It is a wonderful ideal, but life doesn't seem to work out that way for most of us.
One of the people that has helped me the most as I struggle to look inward and change is an old monk who lives in the dessert, Father P. It truly is amazing how the world blinds us with things and stuff, allows us to get into bad habits in what the world says one should be and live- to that which probably seems really strange to the world in giving up “self” in an effort to love “selflessly.” (sounds nice, but in reality, really hard)
The truth is that I wonder each day, much like my German classes, “will I ever really make progress?”
All I know is each day; I get up and try again.
Perhaps the quest I am on is “how do I become a better human being?” It sound so simple, “just love!” Yet, to truly go inside and see what is blocking one from doing this is not a popular or even fun process.
“You mean I am not all that good? No where near perfect?”
That is the beauty of the paradox of life. Individually no one is, as an entire humanity, we probably actually are. The question is how will we ever work together if the model of the world is to work for self or the state where we live?
If you go into the texts of most some religious books, you are giving a set of rules or laws to live. One of the odd things about following Christianity is that we are supposed to forgive and turn the other cheek. As the world becomes more complicated, social decorum seems to be eroding, and more and more people are hurting inside – there seems to be more problems and/or overcompensation in building more rules and systems for society to live. Common sense doesn’t’ seem to have a law anymore; it would be too general and simple in a world that wants to appear perfect and be right.
As I was reading about the several passions that seem to do a fine job in the developed world at ensnaring us to do whatever we wish - gluttony, lust, greed, anger, dejection, listlessness, self-esteem, and pride – I realized how much easier it is in our modern world with all the tools we have made to simply fall into attaining these habits – without really ever seeing them.
In a sense, that is how Augmanity really developed from its fun and entering state to that which might hold value. I was more interested in helping people have a good time and forgetting the world for a bit with live shows and how to truly take the emotional impact of the human sense out to a level where the idea of needing to ingest some substance would be foolish. In hindsight, I didn’t’ want to just go to a nice show; I wanted to go create experiences.
Augmanity shifted the day I was visiting my parents and my dad walked up to me and said, “mark, you need to drive me to the hospital, I think I am having a heart attack.”
Fast-forward a few months and there was open-heart surgery. My day was spent in the ICU waiting room watching how an ICU operated, the cool gizmos and toys they had and my knowledge of what they did, and then me asking “why aren’t they doing (Insert a variety of ideas)?
One day I asked a doctor, “doc, I saw a crash cart that had (insert equipment) on it, why aren’t you using it for (insert solution to a health problem)?”
“You know, that is a good question and it would work. I don’t know why we don’t use it?” was his answer
The real kicker and the solution for taking Augmanity from an entertainment tool the level of a tool that had high performance levels needed for medical and other uses was when my father came home from open heart surgery. The man didn’t sleep for a week
Think about the times when you are really tired in life. I think the longest I went without sleep (yes, it was a voluntary test) might have been a few days. I would not advise this test on the average person, as your mind does go off and do strange things. While I had read the books and research on sleep depravation, to me, the words on the page mean little if you don’t understand experientially.
So here was my father, who in hindsight does not remember three weeks of his life, but I remember him trying to go to sleep, yet, he simply could not.
My explanation was that even though they said they were not going to stop his heart, I swore they had to. “Dad can’t fall asleep, because I am guessing in surgery, they switched off his heart and the human mind is far better at taking in all the sight, sound, sensory and olfactory cues than we give it credit for. Dad can’t sleep because he is afraid if he does he will die.”
Augmanity – people, places and spaces was born out of what amounts to our human fear of dying.
I filled many sketchbooks from the time in the hospital that year, trying to make my mom smile and learn not to worry, or sitting alone in the ICU waiting room with what amounted to a kick butt wifi signal. I would go sit alone down at the hospital dining room and eat and ponder all the things I was seeing and come up with a myriad of ideas and products to help people
Then I thought about my own journey. Call me the prodigal son that was a doubting Thomas that had to have a Damascus road experience to start to change.
The paradox of life is that we all want everything around us to change to fit where and what we are. We want a life where there is no pain, all happiness and joy, a life that is easy and abundant where we can do whatever we want, whenever we want. There is no shame in saying, “that would be a cool life!”
Do you really learn much about life or yourself when all is going well?
While I wonder, “has mankind really evolved much?” in the past 7-10,000 years, I sometimes think “evolution” in man is best described in warfare, where man still repeats the same solution to the problem and expects a different result. All we do is find quicker, better and faster ways to kill each other. Why is it so hard to find better, quicker, faster solutions to be kind, care for, and love each other?
IT is because most of us have “stuff” inside ourselves that we haven’t taken the time to deal with. Instead, most of us point to the other person as the cause of our “stuff.”
To change anything of value in the world, I have learned, albeit later in life, the only way to do that – is for me to go through the pain of changing myself and getting rid of selfish “stuff” that really isn’t doing me any good in the overall context of life and living.
Instead, the stuff, much like entertainment is simply a cover, or a façade that keeps us from ever having to look deep inside and realize, “damn, what a fool I have been in thinking I was more than I really am.”
A bullet or a bomb is not mans biggest killer. It is his pride.
We just happen to live in a world and time where the reality of living in a space where every human sense is being bombarded and desensitized – it will lead us to a place that is not good, unless we stop from time to time, get still, and ask “what is really going on? Where are we really going?”