Here I sit practically in my own pile of vomit, what have I just ingested? Where am I?....
Quién soy (who am I)? My mind races at a rather calm, curious pace. The ants crawling around in this dark liquid that was just in my tummy make me question if these ants were just in my stomach. What just happened to my life?
It's October 1st, 2010, three days after I turned 26...
I observe my surroundings, the tree above me blows lightly in the wind and the hillsides in front out in the distance show off their greenery. The chant of shamans fade in and out. "Yaaa haaayy ayaaahh," they echo from high and low in this state of continuous observation. No judgement arises, no level of curiosity falls. Suddenly, I am connected to the universe in and around me. Brief moments of simplicity and beauty somehow justify the fact that I'm sprawled on a grassy hill with my insect buddies taking in the scenery across the rolling Colombian countryside. About forty minutes prior, I ingested ayahuasca, a drink made from a vine native to the Ecuadorian/Colombian region of South America. Widely popular among indigenous people of this region, yaje (ya hay), it's local name, is used as more of a spiritual experience to purge the bad energies out of one's body. It literally purges you, causing you to vomit all of the parasites out of your stomach. A friend in our hostel invited us to come along and here we find ourselves, surrounded by Shamans burning sage and incense chanting away.
I gaze at the beauty around me and begin to reflect on my life as if I'm on my death bed. I first think of family, every single one of my family members and what they mean to me and how they've shaped me. I want them to be here with me, experiencing this. But, I know this is an experience I must keep as my own. I have never felt so close to truth. With my mind at peace, I enter my own little confessional...
Twenty six revolutions around the sun and I reflect.
I've tasted the sweet nectar of a freshly-squeezed maracuya in Bogota, papaya in Cartagena and Acaí in Rio de Janeiro. The smell of a woman's perfume has knocked me upside the head and silly before.
My heart has been broken, repaired, broken again, and now in the process of becoming the heart Neil Young was searching for... made of gold. I've broken the hearts of others, I've made others cry only to bring about my own tears. I've made peoples' days while making others sick to their stomach. I've found that it's not worth it trying to have my cake and eat it too, only so many calories of greed can be had in this life before it turns into heartache.
I've lied, stolen, cheated and have felt the consequences of all three.
My sight and hearing have worsened while my intuition has improved.
I've seen some of the most beautiful landmarks this world has to offer, yet I've seen so very little. I've come to realize, the more I see, the less I know.
I've preached to the choir and have practiced what I preach, at times. I'm human, I too have made many mistakes and have been hypocritical.
According to Einstein's definition of insanity (doing the same thing and expecting different results), I've been insane more than several times in my life. I've walked like an Egyptian to Cyndi Lauper and done the walk of life to Dire Straights. My fondest memories are road trips with my family to California listening to Canned Heat and CCR. Memories of eating dinners at Uncle Donn and Jerry's made me feel never too far away from family while at college. Through it all, I've been one lucky dude. Maybe it's the red hair or maybe from some good deeds but throughout the years, I've been very surprised at how lucky I am in this life. I realized it when I was volunteering in 'villas' outside of Buenos Aires, when I was talking to a man with no legs in the streets of Bogota and when I ride my bike past people in wheelchairs. Not everyone starts with the same set of tools in this life but I've seen some do more with less and some less with more. In the end, it's up to us, each and every one of us to shape our own life. I just realize, I've been lucky to have received a good set of tools in my life, not literally speaking. I'm one of the least mechanically inclined people I know.
My family has been the rock that has propelled me into this great, big, scary world of opportunities. I've felt what it's like to be on top of the world, only to then be in the gutter. I've felt like a King at times and a failure other times. I've come to know that feelings are only that, feelings and nothing else. They come and they go. But one thing remains certain, as long as I'm human, they'll always come back... the happy, the sad, the disappointment, the envy, the content. Each and every one of them will come and they'll go.
Through it all, I've come to see that there is only one thing eternal, this moment. This moment, right here and right now is all we really have control of. I've come to see that this is easier said than done. My realizations have also led me to belive I still know very little than what I'll know in the next 26 years, this intrigues me.
I've come to believe all we are is energy and information. We transform energy in different forms and gather information through our own conditioned ways. I've come to believe in technology but adore the ways without technology. Letters, phone calls and personal visits go much further today in a world of texting, emailing, tweeting and facebooking.
Through it all, I realize that the first 26 years of my life has been one hell of a rollercoaster and I have no regrets. Every moment has taught me something and brought me to where I am today. None of this would have been possible without the support of my family and friends. The biggest revelation I've had in my first 26, now 27, years of life is that I am just a human being with as many faults, aspirations and desires as the rest of you. I like to recite Lynard Skynard's words, "I'm a simple kind of man." When I start making things complex in my life, my happiness goes away. To a point I enjoy challenges, they push me to be a better person and expand my vision. I have also come to enjoy the simpler things in life; sitting on a porch with family watching the day pass, eating fruit, taking a bike ride, whistling a favorite tune, listening without interrupting, 'being' rather than always 'doing' and most importantly saying "I love you."
Because in the end, that's all we really need right!?
Today I turn 27, it's been a year since I had that spiritual experience with the Shamans in Colombia. It will be one that was good while it lasted and shaped my search for truth in everything.
Turn the page, to the next chapter in life.