For those of you who’ve been following me and my mission for a while now, you know that each week we delve into different topics dealing with the various different WAKEUP Calls we have in our day to day lives. Whether that’s learning to get out of your own way, realizing that you are not your mistakes, or that what other people think of you is none of your business, each different epiphany shapes who we are and how we show up in our everyday lives.
But what does it really mean to be awake?
Let me lay it out for you…
It’s a beautiful day today and it’s days like these that make me feel alive. What does it mean to be awake? Well, I think the closest thing I can describe is the feeling of being alive…aware…
When we started this whole WAKEUP conversation a while back, if you listen back, I was going through a challenging time in my life, a transition.
To put it lightly, transitions are a real bitch. It’s as if there’s this resistance to change happening at a cellular level. But ultimately, change can be this beautiful awe-inspiring thing if you let it. It’s kind of like the change of the seasons if you think about it.
It’s transitioning into fall here in Fair Haven, NJ and today is an absolutely, beautiful, sunny day. In my mind, today is the perfect weather; it’s not too warm, not too cold, it’s bright, fresh and the leaves have started falling. In fact, when I’m done writing to you, I am going to spend some time outside and get as much oxygen and vitamin D as I can on this gorgeous autumn day and just relish in the feeling of being alive.
THAT is a big part of being awake…
Those of you that know me know I’m not much of a hippie. I don’t really do a lot of the new age stuff or practice the things that I probably should. I know that meditation is really good for the brain (there’s actually a growing body of evidence that suggests that we can increase the communication between the two hemispheres of our brain by meditating – but that’s a whole other WAKEUP Call)…
Anyway back to the point I was making…
The last few dozen or so WAKEUP Calls, dating back through 2013 – 2015, were primarily focused on conversations we were having about transitions – the WAKEUP calls that I was experiencing, the tough lessons that life was teaching me. This morning I was thinking back to those days, and I remember it taking every ounce of strength, every ounce of self determination and drive to get up and host those calls because most of the time I didn’t feel like doing them.
And here’s where it gets interesting…
I didn’t feel like doing them because I didn’t feel like I had anything to share or to contribute. If anything, I needed to be lifted up a lot of times, I needed a word of encouragement myself.
And realizing that you can’t do it all on your own is another BIG part of being awake…
So I continued (and still do to this day) to battle this voice, that overactive part of my brain. To this day I often honestly don’t feel qualified to have an opinion, to have a voice, to be teaching anything and back then I felt like I didn’t know my ass from my elbow half the time.
But guess what…
Although going through this personal transition was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, I powered through…
Another part of being awake – being self aware enough know you have to keep going.
A year later, I’m incredibly proud of myself because the hardest thing I’ve ever done was that persisting and pushing through regardless of how I felt.
It quite possibly saved my life…
And today thinking back, I wouldn’t possibly be able to feel as alive as I feel today, if it wasn’t for that dark period I had to go through, and there’s clarity, through contrast like that, that I experience feeling alive today.
What do I mean by that?
Well, when we came up with the WAKEUP concept, WAKEUP as a perpetual state of being awake, aware and mindful. See, without black, there is no white. Without cold, there is no warmth. Without rain, there is no sunshine etc. Not to mention, how incredibly boring life would be if it was all just monotone, monochrome, no variation, status quo day after day…
We wouldn’t grow, we wouldn’t have an opportunity to fail, we wouldn’t have an opportunity to overcome. We wouldn’t know what it feels like to persist and eventually reap the rewards of our effort, our labor. We wouldn’t know what it feels like to be happy if we weren’t also sometimes sad.
We wouldn’t know what it feels like to be truly joyful and at peace and in love with our lives, with our friends and our family and our pets and goldfish and cats and whatever it is that we love in our lives. We wouldn’t know love if we hadn’t at some point in our life experienced rejection and heartbreak…
It is this myriad of feelings and emotions that we go through on a daily and weekly basis.
Just think about where you were a year ago…
Gosh, I was just thinking to myself this morning, as I was procrastinating writing this post, “Shit! I’ve practically said all that can be said,” and it rolled around in my head, the thought that I don’t have anything to give, like, “What am I going to talk about today that I haven’t already talked about seventeen times, in seventeen different ways?”
And for just a moment, I let my mind go to that uncontrolled and undisciplined place…
The old Jay would’ve let that string of thought go on and on making me more and more anxious. Even, today when those thoughts came into my mind, I said to my girlfriend, Steph, “I don’t know about this whole WAKEUP thing. Am really I sure that I want to do a podcast every week and come up with something today?”
Those are thoughts and feelings and little demons that, even after so many years of doing this, don’t let up. There’s no reprieve from it and there is nowhere to hide from it.
But here’s the difference between old Jay and the Jay of today…
I’ve realized that it is because of this self doubt, because of those moments where I am questioning everything, that I have an opportunity to choose my path, to choose what’s next.
The realization that you can choose your own path – THAT is being awake.
You see, if doubt never crept into your mind, at least for me, I can say that I would eventually become conceited, arrogant, and overconfident, and buy into myself, my story, my success and ego.
Like the old proverb says, “Pride comes before a fall.”
Whatever it is that you have, whatever your cross is to bear, whatever that weakness is that you struggle with, whatever you battle, whatever I battle, I think we all have the little battles with ourselves in our head.
“I’m not good enough.”
“I’m not ready.”
“I have so much to learn.”
Whatever that inner dialogue is, guess what…
That is what it feels like to be ALIVE.
The whole concept of WAKEUP is that you begin to be a little more aware to the extent that we begin to recognize those conversations when they’re happening, so we can filter them out and just objectively and pragmatically look at our lives and say,
“I’m nowhere near perfect, and that’s ok because if I were, there would be nothing to live for.”
There is this bias that we have to perfect, that robs us of that feeling of being alive. Because nothing is ever good enough. Nothing is ever fucking good enough. There is always some bill to pay. I make to-do lists for my to-do lists. I make to-do lists to organize my to-do lists. No amount of to-do lists, or action items, or apps could get my life to the point where everything is perfectly organized and I’m so on top of everything…and that’s ok.
There are a million and one things to do every single day, and you know what? It has always been that way, and that is ok, because if there wasn’t a feeling of being completely overwhelmed and under water at times, then I wouldn’t know what it feels like to put my feet up and relax in the hammock and enjoy the sound of the water gurgling in the pond. I wouldn’t know what it feels like to say, “Fuck it. It’s Monday. I’m sleeping in today. Why? Because I can.”
There is no bigger treat, no bigger reward to me, than being able to sleep in on a Monday morning when I know that the rest of the world is getting up and going to work. What do I do? I roll over, bury my head in the sheets, big smile on my face and just enjoy the feeling of not having to get out of bed when everyone else has to.
And you know what it’s that weird little thing that makes me feel really really alive.
Don’t get me wrong…I do struggle with it at times. In fact, I struggle all the time with anything that has to do with having a “time-out,” like the 20 or 30 minutes I took this morning to unwind and be present.
I’m getting better at balancing personal time and work time, but I don’t want to be perfect, because if I’m perfect at it, it loses its appeal, and I’ll begin to take it for granted.
We have to have that yin and yang, that tug and pull, that natural order of things, that feeling of being alive…
There is something about being tied to this earth and playing by the rules and laws of nature, observing and being part of nature that just makes me feel alive. There is no lesson that can’t be learned when in your in that state of being.
I firmly believe in being awake, aware and, mindful, and just observing – not trying to understand or make sense of it or come up with the answer beforehand. Not trying to rationalize it, not trying to justify in our minds why we deserve or don’t deserve something – what we should or shouldn’t do…
Allow the myriad of emotions that you deal with on a daily basis to be a part of what it means to be alive, to be aware, to be awake.
THAT is what WAKEUP is all about.
WAKEUP is a state of being. So when those negative thoughts, those limiting beliefs, internal dialogue start for you, here’s what to do…just observe it. Listen to the monkey chatter for a few minutes, and then remind yourself that, “Yeah, there’s a lot of work to do, and that’s ok.” Just acknowledging it and framing it as an opportunity and not as a problem makes it lose its power and the weight is gone, the burden is lifted, and the dread of having to show up loses its grip.
When we separate ourselves consciously from our thoughts and observe them from the outside – that’s what being awake, aware, and mindful means.
So like I mentioned when I started my WAKEUP mission, the vast majority of episodes were an opportunity for me to share something with the world, but I wasn’t really doing it for anyone else, I was doing it for myself…to remain present.
So here is my WAKEUP Call today…do whatever you want with it…
Be grateful for the struggles and first world problems that you have. Be grateful for the opportunity to work on the challenges and transitions that are in front of you today, be grateful for those.
I’ll tell you what, I certainly wouldn’t want to trade my first world problems for anyone else. Think about it for a second, how many tens of million of people are still living in second and third world countries, in refugee camps. Kids that are bloated and dying from perfectly curable and preventable disease. Things like polluted water and poor hygiene, gosh, for fucks sake guys. let’s put things into perspective today, how dare we look at our problems and think we some how have it difficult or hard.
We have an opportunity to be alive, to be awake, to explore and grow.
Chances are you will never be satisfied with your progress. Chances are nothing will ever feel good enough, you’ll never feel like you’ve arrived even when you do. That’s ok because when we stop trying – that’s the end…
Be grateful. Take 5 minutes and write 5 things down that you’re grateful for. I’m going to spend 5 minutes myself with a Poppin pen and a Moleskine. Just spend 30 minutes putting thoughts into words on paper and marking this place in time, right here today. Writing it down, logging it.
Because life shouldn’t just be a blur. It should be a series of memories and a series of moments, of people, and the relationships that matter to you. So let’s stop. Make an attempt every day to stop the pursuit of perfection and just be.
Take a minute to actually breathe the air. When you drink a glass of water, actually drink a glass of water. Put the goddamn phone away.
There is so much connectedness but there has never been more apartness, so take a time out, be grateful, give yourself a pat on the back. Job well done, and be grateful for whatever it is that you have on your plate today that you get to work on, because it could be worse. It could be a heck of a lot worse. There is your WAKEUP call for today, there is my WAKEUP call for today.