“Here’s to the crazy ones — the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs
“Truth is unalterable, eternal, and unambiguous. It can be unrecognized, but it cannot be changed. It is beyond learning because it is beyond time and process. It has no opposite; no beginning and no end. It merely is.” ― A Course In Miracles
You, who read this now, may be from half way across the world. We may be separated by decades of age and experience or be from completely different races, cultures, and religions but we can all relate to the ever-present helplessness, fear, and disconnection we feel being part of the human race on planet Earth. But feeling lost, in reality, is a universal truth that connects us all. We share the same journey; to stop allowing fear to chose our lives for us, and end the control it has over our existence.
Most of us believe we need more of some THING to keep this constant fear at bay. More money, more success, more ‘friends’ and ‘likes’ on our Facebook page. Many of us will do almost anything to get these THINGS. Some of us dishonor our boundaries and compromise our true selves to feel accepted. Some even try to conquer their helplessness through intimidation; living a life of greed and unhinged aggression, and taking advantage of their fellow human beings in return for a false and empty sense of superiority. These facades prove yet another universal connection; WE ARE ALL HELD HOSTAGE BY OUR FEAR.
All these tactics and manipulations are defensive human staples utilized to feel, even for just a moment, a respite from our loneliness and fear. The truth is, fear is not real. Fear is created only by our perceptions. True connection is not something to be attained. It simply is… always whispering quietly in our consciousness while the world rages on, drowning out the truth, and roaring the lies our experiences have ingrained in us since childhood. The greatest lie being that the vulnerability which accompanies connection must be avoided because if anyone truly sees who we are – they will reject us. And there is nothing worse than that.
Pain and tragedy have become what defines most of our society. It is constantly screamed into our consciousness through every medium available. As it increases, it becomes almost impossible to let our guard down enough to empathize and truly SEE or understand the other humans who are all around us, and in the same stranglehold of fear and pain that cripples us.
Almost every sensation we encounter is now based in an instant gratification that stems from our need to distance ourselves from this primal pain the simplest way we know how; DISTRACTION. It is a web that both protects and suffocates which we willingly and gratefully envelope ourselves in. Our phones, computers, and televisions have become the way to live a false life of connection through the safety of disconnection. It’s empty and transitory but it’s easier than seeing the reality of what CHANGE honestly requires from us; facing ourselves, what has formed us, understanding and forgiving those who have had a hand in our formation, and ultimately forgiving ourselves. It is a momentous undertaking and understandably the most terrifying thing any of us can attempt.
It’s comforting to blame the external world for our fears. If it’s the outside world’s fault then we don’t have to take responsibility for how our lives turn out and we’re off the hook from the fact that we avoided recognizing the transformation desperately waiting to be embraced by us. It’s distressing to accept that we have always had the power at any moment to live our lives to the fullest but have chosen to deny it out of fear.
Because our past seemingly reflects our future, we don’t expect to see things transform and we are often blind to them when they do change. If hope and possibility are not within our Rolodex of life experiences, we don’t recognize the warmth when it finally shines on us. Most of our energy is put into imagining what life would be like if only we had more time and money. Then we’d feel safe. If only we were thinner or more popular. Then we’d feel accepted. If only we had more outside sources of love. Then we’d finally feel adequate inside our own skin.
THE TRUTH IS, if we have the courage to destroy the defensive walls we have built around ourselves, and become absolutely fascinated with our fellow human beings and enthralled with the world of miracles around us, we would finally and truly let ourselves feel the unconditional love that has always been available to us.
If we can forgive ourselves for getting lost in the human condition by letting fear control us, just as everyone else has, we can finally BE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT. Start by realizing that everything is made from atoms. If everything originates from the same energy source then EVERYTHING is really only ONE entity. We are part of an all-encompassing energy presence that embodies all of us. Therefore, whether we recognize it or not, we have always been connected. You and I have never been strangers. We as humans were never separate. I am you. You are me. WE ARE ONE.
All of you are precious to me, and we are not alone in this present moment. We continue our journey towards the collective realization that we are all one and always have been. Peace be with you all!:)
2 April, pt. 2: City Garden Hotel, North Point, Hong Kong
After that unforgettable early morning experience, I went for a walk around this massive city block, which was about the size of 3 of our city blocks back home. I saw so many shops, restaurants, bakeries, all in various stages of preparing to open for the day. The morning light was growing, and I began to see more people in the street. Away from that beautiful square, I got more of a feeling of the city. The sights and smells left me wide awake, and my eyes and my nostrils attempted to take in every bit of information. One moment, it’s bread, than coffee and tea, then it’s meat coming from some restaurant’s exhaust port; the next, pungent fumes coming from the city’s sewer system, up through the manhole covers. Bad and good alike, it was exhilarating, like that first cup of morning coffee. It was bordering on sensory overload, so I headed back to the hotel.
Once my wife woke, we went down to the breakfast buffet, which was extravagant, but expensive. We only went there twice – it just wasn’t quite worth the price. We started to slowly explore our new neighborhood together. Over the next few days, I bravely jumped in, going out and exploring in a 500 meter radius from our hotel whenever I could. We explored the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood, going into the little malls around and beneath the streets. We went up to the nearest subway station and got familiar with Hong Kong’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit). It is a very efficient and inexpensive way of getting around the city, no matter where or how far you need to go. Later on in our stay, I was able to go from Sha Tin, in the New Territories, back to North Point in 45 minutes. That’s a about the same amount of time as it would be to take a taxi that same distance, but for about 1/10th the price.
We went to several street markets, which were filled with vendors selling clothes, fruits and vegetables, meats of every kind, knock-off watches, handbags, jewelry, and touristy trinkets. The markets would take up streets of every size and width, and go on for several blocks.
We had breakfast at a McDonald’s, which was conveniently located right next to the subway station, but looked much nicer and had better food quality than the McDonald’s in America. There was also a KFC across the way, which again had better food. I tried a bucket there that had all white meat popcorn chicken, with a spicy country gravy that most Americans are familiar with, covering a steamy pile of sticky rice. Best food I’ve ever had at a KFC.
But going back to that first day, that evening we went to YUE, the Michelin starred restaurant located on the 2nd floor of the hotel. My wife had sweet and sour pork, which she liked, but didn’t think it was Michelin star worthy. I had roasted pork belly, only because they were out of roasted suckling pig, a theme you will see repeated later in our journey. It was okay, the presentation was nice, and it tasted good, but Michelin star? No. If Anthony Bourdain had film this, it would have wound up on the cutting room floor.
So, the hotel had overrated, overpriced food. That was the last bad experience we’d have at this hotel. The rest of our stay there only increased my love for this neighborhood, its people, its food, and its feel. But that’s another story…
-For images of our trip, please visit my wife’s Facebook page: Mischa Elaine Johnston