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2016 – My Problem Child

(Yes, I stole the blogs title from Albert Hoffman’s seminal book ‘LSD – My Problem Child’. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have minded)

2016, by all accounts, seemed to be a rough year for most people. If it wasn’t “rough” it perhaps certainly was a year of transition, change and deep shifts in our collective consciousness .

Here’s some of the bigger learnings for me from this past year.

1.) I’m smarter than many but not as smart as some

In between these two spectrums lies the ability to know where my strongest suits are settled. This space is where I can tread effectively and meaningfully. If I have doubts that I’m not smart enough to deal with a certain topic then that just sells me short and I don’t get the results I’m after. On the flip side I know what topics I can only skim the surface of and don’t dare compete in. That realization allows me to stay in my zone and be the best I can be within that zone.

2.) Podcasting is harder than I thought

Embarking on “It’s All Happening” in 2015 was no doubt a good idea however, 71 episodes later I’ve come to realize that it’s harder than I thought it would be. Releasing to the world an hours worth of good content every week takes great care, preparation, thought and balance. The art of listening to other people is a whole art unto itself. But listening to others while gently steering them in the right direction in order to keep the conversation vibrant and interesting is also an art unto itself. I’ve learned that you really just can’t throw episodes out in a hurried and rash fashion – it’s better to release a show late than to release one on time but of poor quality. My listeners have taught me so much and now that the show has a decent following getting listener feedback is more important than ever. That’s the barometer.

3.) The political sphere follows and does not lead

I heard Ram Dass say this in a lecture from 1983. At the time I never really paid much attention to it nor did I even think it was true. It was then and is now. He was so right on. Let’s not forget it.

Politics follows polling data and then adjusts according to that data. If the political narrative really was based on leading it would forge it’s discourse not based on fear, a watered down pubic sentiment (polls), or precedent. Rather it would be based on breaking ground and boldly deciding what we can collectively do as a society. Sure, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams listened to the frustrations of the late 18th century but do you think they really cared how the Declaration of Independence was “going to play” in the field. Fuck no. They were rebels, they rebelled. Let’s do more of that.

4.) Time is finite

My incarnation as a 43 year old named Zach Leary is where I’m at and what I’m doing now. Sure, you can change and begin again. There is a certain elasticity to life that allows you to be flexible when needed and for memories to come and go. That’s great and all – but – time is finite. There are only so many days that I’ll be able to do what it is I think I should be doing and using those days wisely is of the utmost importance. I used to think that “Oh, I’ll get it to when I’m ready.” No longer do I think that.

The time is now. Move. Act. Follow through. Produce. Get into action.

Of course, I’ll have an off day when a Netflix binge and Thai food delivery is the best I can do. When that happens I’ll make peace with it and not beat myself up with the “undisciplined loser” dialogue. I can learn to embrace my shadow side with softness but also with enough sting to get myself off the mat and back into the ring. I can only speak for myself in that I feel I have just enough to offer the world, my God and my heart and that my dharma is to simply honor that.

As Krishna Das so wisely says “As far as I’m concerned the only thing we need to renounce is our self-hatred and judgment of ourselves, and our sense of unworthiness, and our sense that we are not worthy of love. This is where we should start. If we could just work with that place a little bit the whole quality of our lives would change.”

That’s it.

5.) Egg McMuffins – really people?!?

By far the most hate mail/tweets/messages that I received from being on the Joe Rogan Experience was from people responding to my  occasional failing of eating an Egg McMuffin from McDonalds. Seems that there are a fair amount of people who truly believe that succumbing to that occasional vice literally makes me “not spiritual”, “a poser”, “not a hippie”, “a cruel hypocrite”, “a drug damaged sociopath” and my favorite “a delusional acid casualty.” Well now, there you have it. I’m really in love with that sort of attack and find it so amazing that there are so many perfect people out in the world.

Should I not eat Egg McMuffins? Yes, of course. McDonalds is about as bad a corporation as it gets and factory farming sucks. But I’ve spent a huge portion of my adult life barely able to gasp for air or for any love at all. If I fall to an occasional trapping of the hypocrisy of the material world, I’m ok with that. And trust me the lowly Egg McMuffin is not as bad at it COULD get for me. I’ve danced in many more dangerous and disingenuous arenas than that. I’m blessed that I’m currently not doing those dances, truly.

Progress and not perfection. One day – yes – I will be Egg McMuffin free. Maybe that even starts now? Who knows? Ram Dass so often and correctly warns us of being “phony holy.” That is the one thing I never ever want to be. So there it is!

Happy 2017. I’m really feeling an upswing not just in myself but in the collective dialogue. Let’s do this thing.