Draft: Following the Signs along My Own Road to Santiago

“A stranger in a strange land…”

I’m taking this trip because I was compelled and propelled too.  I long ignored it and I can see in retrospect that it took taking away many elements of my life that I loved in order for me to get the point and go (which I had a choice to do otherwise and I’ll expand later).

Let me start first by saying I believe in dreams.  I also believe in love.  Couple that and it’s safe to say I think the world could be a bit cooler if people followed their passion and lived a life that they loved.  Just a thought considering that fear based action has been quite limiting in my opinion.

So yeah, lost job, lost the love of my life, lost the patriarch of one side of my family.  Add that I lost the home that I lived in and loved for the past year and left my tribe of warriors and I really am like a stranger in a strange land.

Well, strange can’t be that bad right?  There’s a compilation of short stories called the “Kindness of Strangers” that I once skimmed and it’s all about the help one can find along the way of travels from strangers.

When I began this trip, I had to give myself 3d goals to motivate myself.  “I have to train as much as I can.”  “I have to blah blah blah.”  It evolved to following my passion because I love training, not only Jiu-Jitsu but yoga, tai chi, running, loved Muay Thai.  I love the place it puts me.  This place of peace, a peace which allowed me to feel gratitude earlier this year.

Well, planning may work for some people but it’s kicked me in the balls before and it’s surely not working so far in this trip.  But wandering has.  And so has following the signs.

My first day here I wandered into a trinket shop called The Raven’s Nest.  I read the speech of Chief Seattle and man if that didn’t speak to me.  It hit me that I was here because this is what my soul was trying to tell me.  I love Hawaii, I do appreciate it, but being there was clouding my ability to go within and listen because of the familiarity of it.

I spoke briefly with the owner, Candid, a Chinese woman from the PI, and she  immediately knew that I was Chinese.  WT.. efe, I rarely get that in Hawaii and it was often a point of contention growing up.  My white skin made me feel like I didn’t belong.

I know poor white man.  Well, there’s only so much Fuck you Haole a child can take and understand before starting to loathe their skin, literally and figuratively.

I wandered further into Momo and Zen, a Chinese Herb and Metaphysical store because a big reason I believe in dreams is my favorite author, Paulo Coehlo, the author of The Alchemist.  The book is all about following one’s dreams.

The main character, Santiago, literally has a dream of the pyramids and he goes on a quest.  At the start of the dream, he sees a gypsy, who helps to read his dream.  So me, I think, I plan, I try to control the delivery of the message by going to see a tarot reader.  The tarot reader’s name was Raven, which aha sign, right because I just exited the Raven’s Nest.  Somehow, I didn’t make it back.  It was as though my mind shut off.

Anyhow, The Alchemist is also about manifestation.  Here is the kicker though.  You have to read The Pilgrimage in order to get how it all fits together.  That guy, huh?  Might as well make some scrips off of two books.  Nah nah, joke.  I began reading The Pilgrimage because I was inspired to do so and following the Road to Santiago de Compostella, a journey millions have taken over the centuries, is the spiritual quest that empowered Coehlo.

In it, he describes the events of his journey on The Road to Santiago.  So I’m reading it, I get to see how he experienced certain elements that can help me.

Let me step back and say that I’ve always planned.  Also, I have always tried to control what would happen.  I think rather than listen to my heart.  It’s the natural function of the conscious mind really.  It means well but is dealing with some collective unconscious baggage as well as some personal hand carries if you will.

Well, I’m here and learning to let go.  To trust and to follow.  And you know, the things that I set out to plan have kind of crapped out.  So the only guides right now are the signs that just happen.

This is all day one.  Day two I awake to hear this damn bird.  Can’t tell what it is.  I set off to wander, something inside telling me when and where to turn.  Really weird too because I have no idea where I’m going.  I walk into this courtyard filled with trees that have chimes in them.  If it were a movie, it’d be some eerie, cool music.  For real!

And I see a totem of the Sun and Raven.  Then I hear the cawing again and see a black bird.  Now I’ve since learned it was a crow but at the time for all I knew it was a raven.  I started to get this weird tingling sensation in the crown shakra of my head.  The body is the way the soul experiences the world and this was a feeling that I’ve learned means to pay attention.  I keep following the sounds and it leads me to another part of the square where there’s these two homeless dudes chilling, a black man and a white man.

This is the leap of faith dear reader because it sounds crazy, but if you’ve read this far, than here goes: I look around to my left because the black man was giving me stink eye.  New city, being careful, makes sense.  He then says my name: “Jason.”  I look back, he looks at me for a second, and then turns away.  I pause and I recall The Pilgrimage and how God (and at times the Devil) act through others.

I stop and look across and see a sign for the Seattle Underground Tour.  Now this was interesting because this was the one tour I wanted to do here.  I thought symbolically it would be good to do to honor my dreams and show that I’m letting go and going into the unknown, the underground if you will.

Tour was bomb and it led me to the top of the Smith Tower which is a 35 story building which overlooks Seattle.  While there, I started talking with this woman there, Meseret (The Foundation), because her accent tripped me out.

Being on a spiritual journey, I asked her why she had traveled so far. She told me something had guided her. I told her of my dream to really live and later an actual dream I had which showed me going from NYC, to Las Vegas, and ending in a place like Huntington Beach and that I felt I was being pushed to take this journey.

We talked some more and as though it was message, she said foreigners would be my guides. She took my number and told me stop by when I return to Seattle.  Later, she called me because she stayed later so that people could see the sunset.

I did and it was a beautiful sunset in a different way.  I thanked her because I had a feeling she set it up to stay open because they were going to close early.  She thanked me and said she was happy that I could see what she sees.

I head back to my Hostel and I meet my Asian roommate with a Hawaiian name, Kai… from Australia.  We have a bloody good chat I tell you.  Quite eye opening in many ways.  I found it all too coincidental that he was a foreigner and told him what Meseret had said.

He quips back: “It’s because we see the world through our own eyes and can say what we see.”  And that’s when the aha’s of the day made sense.  All the different viewpoints create a picture with more dynamic colors and dare I say balance the equation.

I’ll be writing more as I go but I just wanted to share this because this that seagull I saw in the sky reminded me of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  Jonathan truly believe life was meant to be lived fully and that seagulls could do more than eat, shit, sleep.  He was into dive-bombing and 360s, then 720s.

But like the character in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.  Jonathan was ostracized from his community because they thought he was a bloody nutter.  Well old boy goes on his journey and basically meets the Seagull God.  He hits this point where he decides he has to go back because he wants to share what he has learned.

He remembers what it was like to be angry.  To be afraid.  He knows that he has something to share, even if it’s only for one person.  And I’ll spare you the rest because it’s like 70 pages, just read it, it’s bloody awesome.

Why all the bloody banter you say?  Well, because Kai checked out and a new Australian moved in.  We talk and for some reason he tells me to be a writer (funny side note: Kai said to be a travel writer or to start my own religion (shut up Gavin McCall (who said I’d start a cult)))  I told him I cringe when I look back at some experience I am far removed from.  He says, yeah but even though you are past it, someone else may not be.  And I realize why I want to share my experience.

Some will say it’s narcissistic.  I’m sharing it because I want to be of service to this world.  Even if it’s only to better relate to others.  Why?

Well, I’m a product of my generation, and Tupac’s underground song, “Pain” once spoke to me.  Spoke to me in such a way that I realized that I am never alone.

Which will probably lead to Chapter Two…

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Appreciation, Accountability, A$$holes

It’s one thing when we do things so that others appreciate us. It’s another thing when we are able to do them and appreciate who we are. It’s yet another when we are able to appreciate what we are doing and still yet people fail to appreciate this life.

We are each so vastly unique, divine even, with the capability of changing the world. No one person is greater than another. We can say fate played a role in this or that but really if you think about it, choices played the main role and fate merely the assist. Howard Hughes could have chosen to invest differently. Johnny Cash could have chosen to not continue in music. Barack Obama could have chosen basketball over law.

Ultimately, we all choose this experience called life, how it unfolds, and what we choose to do within it. That’s the type of power we have. That’s how amazing we are.

I think it’s important that people start to realize this. Particularly those of us who are privileged. We pine over some really crazy shit when we could be out there making a difference. I’ll tell you what, I don’t need to see a dead baby in a dumpster in another country to realize that I have it lucky as an American. I don’t need to have my home destroyed in a natural disaster to realize that I am blessed even though I’m not a millionaire.

Which leads me to ask those of us who do have in this life, what have we done lately to try and make the life of another better? What have we done to strive to love unconditionally?

And if we have, how often have we stopped because it didn’t have the outcome we desired? How often have we pressed on to keep doing good for others because it was necessary regardless if they could appreciate it at the time or not?

I have fallen terribly short of serving others in a loving fashion many, many times and am as guilty of this as everyone else. But I am alot better at choosing to continue giving as fully as I can and trying to help as much as I can than most other people. People say I have a big heart. No, I’m just choosing to be loving as best as I can and choosing to try to help myself better so I can better serve others. We all have the same tools within us so it’s a cop out to say bigger heart or not. It’s a choice to be shitty (not that there aren’t reasons playing into that but still once those reasons are known, continued shittiness is an unhealthy choice).

In my opinion, people need to start being more accountable and not just talk because like it or not, we as powerful creatures, with the potential to create and destroy in the ways that we have, must be accountable in making this world a better place to live.

We fail to give our best more often than not. We fail to appreciate the moments we have. We fail yet we still have a chance to do something about that. We don’t have to keep sustaining the suffering of ourselves and others.

What am I saying? Why? To me it’s the same and has always been: Live and love life fully. Doesn’t matter what you choose to do because so long as this a core component of that, I guarantee the choices will be beneficially individually and collectively. If you live and love life fully, you appreciate being alive, you love others unconditionally though they kick you or don’t respect your gifts, you take care of this life because you know it’s all too short and wasting a moment not living in a healthy fashion is one foot closer to the end, physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.

And really, it shouldn’t take one part of us to die in order to live life a little better. Mistakes will be made but it really doesn’t have to be hitting our head against the wall is the only way to live. I learned the hard way. How will you learn?

Listening to Your Heart

“My heart filled with love, flowing over with joy, my own little drum that I like to march by!”  ~ Gunda Fijnje-Nolan

What does it mean to listen to your heart?  According to the quote above, it sounds like a parade marching band with cotton candy or whatever it is you liked as a kid.  Point being, fun, alive, free, etc.

Something I have been pondering is as follows: “Truth is when the mind is in accordance with the heart.”  Now, I feel like I get that statement.  It’s the alignment of the heart and the mind.   The question I subsequently pose is how do know you when you are listening to the heart versus the chattering of the mind?

The mind, the old egoic mind, is a bastard, a dirty rotten bastard who sings songs of “woe is me” and “if only this, if only that.”  Well neither this nor that or woe has any place in the the “Truth” that is the balance of mind and heart.

Now in the past, I thought filling up spiritually is the answer. Well that opens up a whole bag of grey, albeit available in gluten-free and organic grey, but still grey.  Besides one might ask: How can I be filled if I haven’t even let go, relinquished control?

But I digress, so what does the beating of the heart say and how does one know if the mind is in accordance?  Pretty simple: tranquility, stillness, calm, etc. is the way to get there.

I haven’t found my ultimate answer, what it is that I have been seeking, my “Truth” if you will.   I see it in the distance. I can smell its aroma. But I haven’t quite found it… Yet, but I Am getting closer.

How?  Peace.

Finding ways to create peace in myself and extend the energy around me (Insert Love for Peace if you’re Christian and put the stone down because I love Jesus and think he had it right,  his later homies not so,  but Jesus for sure).

Now, perhaps it is a bit premature to share this.  But I am very open and I know someone else might be at the threshold ready to cross through the door and reading this particular blog could be what helps them to take that step.

And why might that matter?  Because we aren’t alone friends.  We aren’t alone.  That’s why I have more peace now than I have ever had.  And were it not for the messages left for me in the wind I would be struggling more than I have.  That is why I write the process out.

Because the more light we shine, the easier it is to see the Way.  Besides, listening to the wind is an entirely different and more complex matter.

I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart.  I am.  I am.  I am.  ~Sylvia Plath

Only Love

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love.” ~ Mother Teresa

This passage makes total sense to me today.  Had I found this awhile back, I don’t think it would have been as profound as it is for me now in light of how my life is unfolding.

A few weeks ago, I was taken by surprise when my love broke up with me.  I had my time of intense pain and shock.  I still have moments of great emotion well up inside.  But rather than be spiteful or act the fool to her, I can only love.  I realize that is all that there is to do and that is the gift I choose to give.

My Grandfather passed within a day of the above occurrence and again more shock at the all at once-ness of it.  As I stood in his house with my Grandma, I felt his presence, felt his love for her.  As she spoke to me of fond memories, I heard her love for him.  Great sadness is there, they spent 63 years of their lives together.  But above that, only love.

As I found myself amidst intense pain in two different scenarios, I felt the presence of God.  I see how loved we truly are.

Every day, I see and feel love in the signs of confirmation in my life, in the eyes and hearts of others.  So much so that all I can do is have faith and share the love I feel, share it freely and without condition.

It is so simple.  LOL.  It is so simple, it’s hard to understand and actualize. So simple people fight it and refute what another says because it’s not spoken in the same language or recited from the same book.

Mother Teresa had it right.  This saying sums up exactly what Jesus was about and what Buddha was also teaching, what other faiths of years past said and those today say.  Beyond pain, beyond all things, there is only love.

Hilo…

I find myself in Hilo, where I spent my formative years, at the start of an adventure and new chapter. The last chapter ended abruptly with a whole lot of loss. This loss has spurred a renewed faith in God and life. And no matter how much I am shocked, this is a journey that I meant to go on alone.

But first, a couple things about Hilo, Hawaii…

Where can you fall asleep to a tsunami (Hilo rains extensively) and wake up to the sun shining bright? Hilo and I’m sure I’ll find a few other places in the coming months.

Second, how cool is it that I can drive down Komohana Road along side a goat sauntering on the shoulder? Pretty cool and I bet I’ll see that more than once in my travels.

Point being, and this is something I know in my heart, I just can’t say I’ve experienced it in too many places and as a result stumble when I try to explain, life is really the same and pretty simple.

I met a monk a week and a half ago and he told me something similar. He told me: “You see this flower, it is the same as any other flower. You see my skin, your skin, it looks different but it is made of the same thing. Our blood is the same color.”

As I go down this path, I find that I am digging deeper in myself, sorting through the piles of things, and seeking something. Some would call it “soul work” and for lack of a better explanation that’s what I’m doing.

I cannot fully articulate it but I feel it. If anyone is anything like my now ex but new special bff, this vagueness is driving you crazy. Don’t worry, I’ll be able to tell you what I mean in a few months. There is something inside that I feel must be shared and I will find it.

Thank you Hilo for giving me many of the greatest things about me and for being the start of this new chapter in my life.

“Hilo is just a rainy old town and at night I listen to the rain… fall.”

Aloha ke Akua.

Here’s to You, Harry

On April 22, 2010, I got to hang out with my Dad for a bit and my grandfather, Harry J. Walter. Known as “Budd” to many and “Dirty Harry” to others, my Grandfather was always “Old” to me. When I was still in small kid time, he used to call me “Young Buddy” and in turn, I referred to him as “Old Buddy” and over time it’s been shortened to “Old” and “Young” as evidenced above.  They were here because “Old” was getting screened for cancer.

I went home last week to say good-bye to “Old” because he had caught pneumonia and his time seemed to be short.  Sure enough it was and he went on to the next phase the other day. Many feelings have come up for me in relation to his leaving the physical plane.

One that really stands out to me is that he gave us our family name.  I never thought to deeply on this before but as I look at it now, four generations of the Walter family, from Iowa, before that Germany as the Von Walter’s (spelling?) and yeah.  Kind of nuts.

Harry was an amazing person.  He always had a story and he gave me alot to remember.  In fact, his last words to me were “You just remember, Young.”  In the days since I last saw him, many things have happened in my life which I will soon write about.  But I tell you what, I’m trying hard to remember you “Old” and how you lived your life and went down a different path than those before you and in turn created four generations of a family in Hawaii to follow.

Thanks for the memories.

I’ve searched for a poem
To sum up how I feel
Perhaps it is so that none exists
For this event has never happened

I’ve been through heartache
I’ve lost loves
But none quite like this
So surreal, so true

The mistakes I’ve made
Are now the past
Move on, move forward
Is all that lasts

I loved intensely
I was truly human
I made many mistakes
But I always gave as much as I could

I’ll always be here for you
I’ll always love you
You cannot know
Not yet see
Probably don’t believe
Surely disagree
But it is true

I want the best for you
Won’t fight if you want to be free

The hole in my heart is filling
With more love, with best wishes
Because if I cannot make you happy
I will still send you a loving energy

Devastated, adrift, floating
I am gone
We are no more?
I never saw

Sad, so sad, 17 small eyes
I see but
Still glad, so glad
To have known the range of our journey

My hand still extends
If you will have it
And I will walk with you
In whatever capacity

I love You!
Thank You!
I hope the depth of which
You will one day feel.

You are the love of my life
Don’t know what else to say
No poem can do this justice

(sigh)

((NNHH))