CRACKED ACROSS THE KNUCKLES BY THE UNIVERSE

Do you remember what an incredible feeling it was to believe in Santa Claus or Superman? There was a certain comfort and hope as a child believing that there were really no limits, not everything could be explained, and that some element of magic was part of everyday life. When we were young the line between magic and reality, as we know it, was blurred. As a child you knew there was something beyond what your five senses could perceive. 

For all its great contributions over the last hundred years science has indirectly taken something immensely valuable away from humanity. Science has imposed false limits that have held us hostage in accordance to our level of intelligence. Our egos lull us into believing that nothing more than we currently think is scientifically possible can be real.  

I’m not knocking science, it’s not the main culprit but our egos most definitely are. We must understand that science’s system of so-called absolutes is limited by our level of intelligence and sophistication of our tools. Science is only the ability to measure our uppermost understanding of reality. It’s important not to confuse a system of measure with absolute truth. 

We must never think we “know it all” or lose our hunger to evolve into a greater version of ourselves. To give into the ego is the lazy path and although it might seem easy at first it only brings suffering in the end. This causes mental and spiritual stagnation and will prevent us from growing to solve problems that, on the surface, appear to be trying to bring about our demise. 

As we’ve seen in the brief snapshot of the last hundred years as our intellect grows we realize things science once told us were impossible are, in fact, possible. Albert Einstein searched but never was able to find the elusive Unified Theory, the theory of everything that tied all of his other theories together. As the sophistication of our tools have grown many physicists are theorizing that consciousness itself is the golden string that ties everything together. What amazing power we possess if this turns out to be the case. 

As I’ve progressed down the path of meditation in the last twenty years my sense of reality has drastically changed. In some ways it has come full circle. As my consciousness has expanded through meditation an inextinguishable sense of wonder and hope have returned. I’ve come to realize that “I’m” just one tiny drop in a vast ocean of consciousness. 

Meditation taught me that the Universe is an interactive web that presents each of us with lessons, in real time, as we’re meant to learn them. We are students and our job is to merely pay attention and to learn. Life will teach you everything you need to know. Until you grasp the meaning of the lessons you can bet they will be repeated, again and again until you get the message. The Universe is like the proverbial nun that cracks you across the knuckles with a ruler if you don’t get the message. This is happening to a lot of people but they don’t realize why.

I’ve been cracked across the knuckles by the Universe more times than I dare to admit. There has been great struggle in my life but I’ve also experienced magic, many things that I once believed were impossible. The severity of the struggle can be far less the more quickly we learn our lessons. I’m convinced that the purpose of this physical life is to learn, to love, and to evolve into that greater version of yourself. I have no doubt this is one reason I’ve connected so much with the Choose Yourself movement because they share this same philosophy.

I truly believe consciousness is humanity’s next great frontier to explore and it makes me ecstatic to think of the possibilities. After I’ve seen what meditation has done for me I have no doubt that, if practiced on a global scale, it would spark the next phase of humanity’s evolution. Meditation is the single most powerful evolutionary tool we have at our disposal. 

Imagine waking up each day with a sense of wonder and that you’re beginning a wonderful new adventure. To do this we must only invest a few minutes of our day to venture inward with a daily meditation practice. If you do so one thing will quickly become apparent, we have only scratched the surface of our superpowers. $h!t happens in life but so do miracles and these miracles occur every single moment. The real question is…are you awake enough to notice? 

~Eric Vance Walton~

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About the author: Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by “liking” his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. You can find Eric’s new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook. Article © 2015 Eric Vance Walton 

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PERFECTING OUR STORIES

It’s astonishing is how fast it happened. One day I was young and then I blinked my eyes and somehow landed in the unchartered territory of my middle years.This June I turned the double quatro, forty-four years old, and have started to notice some interesting very things going on.

There are the well known physical changes of middle age, decreased muscle tone, laugh lines starting to form, higher forehead and gray hair. As we approach the autumn of our years, no matter how hard we try to hide it, our faces truly reveal the kind of lives we’ve lived.

The psychological changes are even more interesting. Before middle age I thought the repetition of stories was just something seniors did along with complaining about whippersnappers and eating dinner at three-thirty in the afternoon. I was wrong. Yes, my friends and I are now beginning to tell the same stories over and over again.

This could easily be attributed to some natural age-related cognitive decline, stress, or maybe the accumulative effects of too many beer bongs in the 80’s and 90’s but I don’t think this is totally it. It’s as though we are retelling the stories that comprise the mosaic of who we are because a small part of us are afraid we’ll be forgotten. On some level we want our stories to be forever etched into the collective consciousness of humanity. We want our brief blip of existence on this planet to be remembered.

The middle years usher in wave after wave of profound realizations or “Oh $h!t” moments as I call them. I think Generation X, like every generation who came before us, are experiencing, “Oh $h!t” moments on an epic scale. I see it in mass media, social media and face-to-face, we are waking up to the fact that we’re not going to live forever. When you have an Oh $h!t moment it can’t be denied and isn’t easily forgotten. It’s a realization that can be felt on a deep cellular level.

Because of this, Gen Xers are discovering how valuable time is and are figuring out how we can best spend the time we have left more wisely. I’m concerning myself much less about what others think of me or the balance of my investment portfolio. Lately, I’m focusing more on happiness, facing fears, and making awesome new memories. Most importantly, I’m thinking about how I will be remembered by those I leave behind. Lately, I’ve been making a conscious attempt to shed anything or anybody who doesn’t bring a spark of joy to my life. Time is just too short to spend what you have left of it mired in drama and negativity.

I’ll admit this year I’ve given a lot of thought about my legacy. To get to the bottom of it I asked, what do I love greater than myself? After a little contemplation I decided that the legacy I wish to leave the world with will be small, often anonymous, acts of kindness and my words. I hope the many words I’ve written and the words I’ve yet to write will spark some joy in others. I hope my words make someone think, or smile, or even know that they’re not alone in this world. If my words accomplish this my life will have been complete.

Thinking about legacy can be uncomfortable. It can even border on morose but it doesn’t have to be that way. Contemplating and then consciously creating a legacy can provide an extra boost of octane to those of us in middle age who are beginning to feel a bit weary and worn around the edges. I tend think it as a little red button on the steering wheel of life that, once pressed, propels me through mires of the middle years, soreness, fatigue, and at times, the worry that my life will never quite measure up to the one I wished for in my dreams.

Time can teach, time can heal, and time eventually always reveals the truth…IF a person is awake enough to notice. Sometimes we simply must take a deep breath, have faith and take comfort that the universe is unfolding exactly as it was meant to. One thing’s for certain, there’s no fighting age or time. There’s such a profound beauty in learning from our missteps, gathering wisdom, and surrendering to time gracefully.

I would like to leave you with a three things I’d like you to ask yourself. What do you love greater than yourself? What will be your legacy? How would you like the world remember you? When you answer these questions your life changes in some pretty amazing ways. What once seemed so important starts to seem trivial and some things that seemed trivial all of a sudden pretty damned important.

Shakespeare penned the following lines in his play, As You Like It nearly five hundred years ago,

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

Here the Bard sums life up with his typical genius. Yes, life can hard and it is short but it is also the most amazing ride. Not a minute of it should be taken for granted. We are put on this Earth to love, to learn, to grow, and perhaps to help make life a little easier for others. Each of us have the chance to leave our own unique stamp on the world. What will yours be?

~Eric Vance Walton~
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Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by “liking” his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. You can find Eric’s new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook. Article © 2015 Eric Vance Walton

10 WAYS TO PIMP PROOF YOUR LIFE*

10 WAYS TO PIMP PROOF YOUR LIFE
*Pimped (slang): To be persuaded, smooth talked or tricked by another person into doing something for their benefit.
Apparently I’m an extremely slow learner because it’s taken me twenty years to just begin to find modest success as a writer. In my defense, writing is one of the most difficult professions in the world. In the last twenty years I’ve learned some hard won lessons by being pimped (i.e., taken advantage of, swindled, led on a professional equivalent of a snipe hunt) in almost every imaginable way.
Below are some of the most effective ways I’ve learned to shield myself from the pimps of the world:
 
1. Realize your true worth and never tie that self worth to anything outside of yourself. Your self worth should never be measured by anything external like money, possessions, looks, or anything other than the treasures you hold within yourself. Never seek acceptance or validation from others. This alone takes away most of the pimp’s power of persuasion. If you are walking around with a general feeling that you don’t measure up this is a good indicator that you have work to do on yourself, spiritual work. I realized this in my early twenties. I began a self improvement regime that prompted me to move eight hundred miles away from home and to master meditation. I became a new person because of it. 
 

2. Get to know your true self. This isn’t as easy as it seems. Have the courage to learn who you really are beneath the mask that you’ve become accustomed to wearing so you will be accepted and liked by others. This takes courage and honesty, this takes deep reflection, this involves assessing your strengths and weaknesses. Pimps seek out victims who don’t know who they are, the confused, and the indecisive. We spend too much of our time and energy trying to figure out other people and events in our lives but not nearly enough attention on introspection and contemplation of ourselves. Once we know ourselves we can learn to love ourselves. If we don’t like what we see, we can also identify what we need to work on.
 

3. Be original. Once you have removed the mask and are comfortable with who you are relish it then unapologetically flaunt the h@ll out of it. There’s only one you, a single person who sees the world through the exact same lens as you. Don’t dare compromise your future fans and/or customers by emulating anyone else. There are many people waiting to connect with your uniqueness. Do you. Learn to be confident and comfortable in your own skin and others will be drawn to you. People can feel genuine confidence and are attracted to it like a magnet. Authenticity sends the pimps running for an easier target.  
 
4. Live, eat, and breathe your business or craft. You must learn your business or craft inside and out. It must be absorbed into your DNA. It’s cliche but knowledge truly is power. Your passion in life should not feel like work. I repeat it should not feel like work. Your business or craft should give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning and provide you with hope that is the guiding light through dark days. If this is the case, it is a very good indication that you should doggedly pursue it. Your passion simply must feel like one of the greatest loves of your entire life. 
 
5. Don’t be afraid to fail. Pimps can smell fear from a mile away. Unless you’re extremely smart or very lucky you will fail a few times. You may even fail five times like me, or more but that’s okay. I published five books before I sold even two hundred copies of a book title. Sure I was depressed about it but I learned something from each and every failure. If you learn a lesson it’s never a failure. 
 
6. Do the work. Research shows that it takes ten thousand hours to master a new skill. I would argue it takes another five to ten thousand hours to learn the skill well enough to put your own unique stamp on that skill. This will set you apart from everyone else doing the same thing. The most important thing is to start…start today. It’s absolutely not necessary to “pay dues” in anything, never let anyone let you believe this line of thinking. This is a trick the pimps of the world use to exploit you. But you better believe there’s no way around having to do the work. There’s a difference. 
 
7. No excuses. Believe me, I’ve used them all, “I’m too old, I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough money, no one will publish my work, no agent is interested in me, I don’t know the right people, etc.” This is pure bull$h!t. Very few people are handed anything in this world. The problem is some people just make it look easy. The clock of your life is ticking, don’t delay. The sooner you begin the sooner you’ll eventually find success. 
 
8. Be patient. The universe unfolds according to its own timeline, not yours. For fifteen years I watched almost every single one of my peers far surpass me in every measurable way. Have faith and trust that everything that mystifies you will eventually make sense in hindsight.Trust me, it will. Most people quit when they’re just inches away from the finish line. Don’t quit. 
 
9. You can’t do it alone. Trying to wear every hat and be an expert in everything will not only lead to exhaustion it will take you years longer to achieve your goals. Outsource what you’re not proficient in to the experts and focus on your strengths this creates a shortcut. Do you remember those first five books I mentioned before that didn’t sell? I failed because I did everything myself from book layout to cover design, to promotion. I spread myself too thin to spend enough time on the things that mattered. Learn from my mistakes, assemble a talented team to help you achieve your goals. If you don’t have money offer to trade skills or offer them a percentage of future sales up to a certain amount. Also, find an altruistic network of people who support you and provide honest feedback. I found a wonderful online forum of like minded individuals on Facebook called, “Choose Yourself” (based on James Altucher’s bestselling book of the same title) that has been a tremendous help to me.
 
10. Help others whenever you can. This is especially important to do when you’re feeling depressed or like you’re a failure because it boosts you up! This kind of behavior is the ultimate pimp-repellent. It confuses them, they don’t understand it. In truth, there’s so much success to go around that it should never be hoarded, rather it should be shared. There’s plenty available for everyone to have their own piece. No matter where you are in the pursuit of your passion there’s likely someone you can teach or encourage. When you do this the world literally opens up to you. We’re so lucky to live in an age where it’s easy to connect with large groups of people to share our stories and teach. Others can learn from the mistakes you made and you can offer them the invaluable gift of providing a shorter path to success. The really beautiful thing is the universe rewards this kind of behavior and you’ll ultimately find much greater success because of it. 
 
I hope these tips have helped to give you something to think about. In reality, the pimps of the world are cowards and bullies that thrive on intimidation, scare tactics, and empty promises to survive. 
 
These people will never find happiness and true peace until they learn to evolve and become a better version of themselves. Even if a few of the steps above are mastered your life will quickly become more pimp proof.
 
Each of us have a right and an equal opportunity to experience life as a victor instead of a victim. The only true limits are the ones we perceive in our minds. Life can be much more wondrous than we can even imagine. The choice is yours, which path will you choose? 
~Eric Vance Walton~

DON’T FALL FOR ANYONE’S BULL$H!T (ESPECIALLY YOUR OWN)

All of us can think of at least one talented artist (musician, writer, actor, etc.) whose creative prowess peaks a few years into their careers and they spend the rest of their lives chasing their former glory. As a creative person myself I always feel horrible for both them as well as the loyal fans who follow them down the death spiral of their careers hoping their heroes will regain their glory. Many times these people just can’t seem to free themselves from the gravity of the spiral and their work gets progressively more and more out of touch. They eventually become irrelevant, or even more tragically, a societal joke.

I’ve heard many excuses as to why this happens, among them are laziness, too much of the good life, a creative dry spell, burnout, old age. What do I say about these excuses? I call bull$h!t…quite literally. I think all of these excuses are merely symptoms caused by two different kinds of bull$h!t.

Let me elaborate.

I’ve been writing for decades and have recently had the good fortune to finally achieve a small taste of success. As a result of this I’ve suddenly realized how crafty bull$h!t is and how easily it can creep into your life. If you achieve even a small amount of success in this world inevitably people begin lavish you with praise and tell you how talented you are. Most times this praise comes from a altruistic place within the people who are doing the praising but occasionally it doesn’t. Sometimes people seek you out and will stroke your ego so they can manipulate you into doing things for them. These are the takers.

The truth is when you begin to believe the praise from either source that praise turns into poison for both your soul and your career.

As a creative person you must proceed with caution and become cognizant of which category the praise falls into. It’s difficult at first but gets easier to discern with practice. In a short amount of time you develop a sixth sense for spotting takers and they become easily avoidable.

The altruistic praise is ten times more dangerous. We feel that it’s sincere and after struggling for so long it feels amazing to get this kind of attention. This sincere praise creates an emotional high that we begin to crave more of, if we allow ourselves to believe it. Some people become addicts and surround themselves with people who lavish them with praise. So begins the death spiral.

The antidote to the bull$h!t is to accept the praise, be grateful to the praiser for it, then release it long before it has a chance to turn into bull$h!t.

You see, altruistic praise only is recycled into bull$h!t when you begin to believe it. Ego is our kryptonite. Each time you believe it makes you feel as though you’re as good as you need to be. You feel as though you’ve finally attained your long sought after goal and you no longer need to learn, grow, polish your craft, and evolve into a better version of yourself.

I liken this modern world to a treadmill, things move so fast that to stand still means you quickly fall behind. The only way for most of us to be truly successful and create a sustainable career is to wake up to the fact that we will never truly “get there”. Our work will never be quite done. We will be honing our craft until the day we die. In fact if this seems tiring and it feels like work we probably shouldn’t be doing it.

I’ve learned that it’s truly never been about the destination, it has always been about the journey. This journey is exhilarating, I wake up every day with a new wish and a renewed sense of hope.

Enjoy each second of your journey but just be careful where you step and that your meter is finely tuned.

~Eric Vance Walton~
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Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by “liking” his Facebook author page at for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. You can find Eric’s new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook.