Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia.
I have another life lesson to share with you today.
It is not entirely a coincidence, this sharing of lessons. Because I am on the road now for about a year I am asking myself continuously ‘what did I learn’. I don’t feel very different from a year ago nor do I feel very different on a daily basis. There are some things that I know and knew before but tended to resist thus far. For example that many readers prefer pre-cooked life lessons over reading about personal struggles. When I assume a position where I pretend to have and give an answer my post will score more likes and clicks. It is understandable: our egos prefer clarity over insecurity. But I am not in the game of feeding the ego, neither mine or yours.
What I can do is share something I observed today. For quite a while I have been committed to reveal my inner truth. By monitoring what is happening inside me and reporting what I observe constantly I maintain a connection with myself and stay attuned with my surroundings. I do it primarily for myself: when I lose touch with myself, when I get disconnected, I create unhappiness and suffering. This practice has brought me a lot of insight and wisdom; it is an ongoing process of self-discovery.
The trick – and my trick – is to not take the ego personal. We have all woven a complex web of beliefs, preferences, ideas and concepts that we like to refer to as ‘I’. The only thing that is special about our ‘I’ is that it is unique. We are all filled with paradoxes, obstacles and barriers. Instead living our lives without ever looking within, assuming or pretending that whatever we experience is real, we can use our own ‘I’ as a subject for exploration and investigation. What we find is terrible, sad and scary but also amazing, fascinating and beautiful. There is no need to keep it a secret or to be selective about what we share because the only one who would really like that and is concerned about image is our ego. So the reason why I am open and honest is because it is fun, liberating and insightful. It makes my life richer and more adventurous (and I am not talking about money or traveling but purely about the ‘profits’ of feeling and being aware of so much more than before).
You will agree with me or not, depending on who is in charge in your life, your heart or your ego. Your ego will disagree with openness. He is not into vulnerability and unsafety although he might like the pro’s that come with an experiment like this. He might see an opportunity to be cool or different but will prefer a selective approach of the truth to be able to create this cool and different façade. Your heart just wants to be free and is unconditional. He is a whole other story. There is no temptation to hide, change or deny the truth. There is no fear, no shame and no guilt. Its only function is to manifest and share what is true in the present moment, really.
For many of us this is more or less known. Many of you know me personally and have heard me talk about it. A lot of people who have an education and come from Western countries have done some therapy, a meditation course, a seminar on personal leadership or some other self-development stuff. Maybe some of you have even developed mechanisms to ignore my underlying message of choosing a life of honesty. Maybe you have a voice in your head saying ‘yeah yeah whatever but I am happy with my life, why change anything’ or ‘fortunately I have no trauma, fears and insecurities, lucky me’. But either way we still have a bit of a psychological and cultural framework that allows for a concept like ‘personal growth’ or something like that.
Now what keeps blowing my mind that outside many environments that are ‘normal’ to me and where I feel I am considered more or less ‘normal’ an approach to life based on equality, honesty and openness is completely non-existent and embraced in an almost devotional manner. In many cultures and environments people are just not exposed to openness or vulnerability but everybody recognizes it instanteneously. This morning I talked to a young woman from Iraq through Facebook Messenger and she told me ‘I will remember this conversation for the rest of my life’. Yesterday I heard that I am ‘so different’ than South American men. I talked to a young man from India about girls and relationships and his relief was almost tangible. Never in his life he was able to talk about girls to somebody who was older than him and never did he receive any information other than how it was ‘supposed to be’ in his culture. I have been accepted, respected, embraced and praised by a wide variety of cultures, religions, traditions, age groups and corporate environments just for being a guy with an open heart and a curious mind. Apparently this is something very special and dearly needed in many places of our global society. Sometimes it feels like accidentally giving fresh air to a choking man.
My lesson of today is that cultivating an open heart is not only a source of wisdom, beneficial for our personal well being, our relationships and friendships and offers an amazing and exciting personal life journey. It also touches and heals others, strangers, passengers in our life, in ways we cannot imagine. It breaks down cultural barriers and creates connections that transcend age, class, religion and race. People are hardly interested in meeting another ego. But meeting another human being charms the hell out of most of us, especially if we can relate to him or her even though he or she comes from a part of the planet that is alien of perhaps even intimidating or frightening to us. Wouldn’t you feel the same?