Wildly Optimistic for What's to Come
I took off for a weekend last month just to try and recall the whole year. All of the faces and all of the places, wonderin' where they all disappeared. I didn't ponder the question too long; I was hungry and went out for a bite. Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum, and we wound up drinkin' all night. It's those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,
nothing remains quite the same. With all of our running and all of our cunning, if we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane. Jimmy Buffett, "Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes"
I can't say I'm a Parrothead. Prior to a few hours before I heard this song for the first time on my brother's Instagram story, I couldn't name a Buffett song apart from "Margaritaville" if my life depended on it. The concept of escaping reality and drinking alcohol to excess isn't an appealing one to me.
Regardless of how you feel about Jimmy Buffett, it would be hard to deny that these lyrics aren't prescient for all that unfolded in 2020. Those are enlightened words.
Last year at this time, I wrote, "I'm not clairvoyant. But in 2020, the one preordained item I can guarantee that's in the cards for you is that it won't be all smooth sailing. It is a metaphysical, cosmic certainty that each one of us will have setbacks. Challenges. Darkness. Fog. Resistance. Bumps and obstacles along the path. Our own unique moments of frustration and doubt. I don't want to be a party pooper, or to rain on your parade, but all of those will be on the menu, and it's up to you how you choose to alchemize those inevitabilities for your benefit or choose to adopt a defeatist attitude about it. It is a choice, so choose wisely."
Don Howard would advise people, "Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it!" Needless to say, I got a handful of all of the above obstacles in 2020. I reckon you did as well.
One of my friends recently remarked to me how he feels like he's been holding a purge bucket for the world since March. That resonates. It feels like we're going through some big-time collective shadow work. We all have some shit to dump, as Don Howard would say.
Be that as it may, better out than in. Personally, I've done plenty of dumping. It might be painful, because we've all done things that we're not proud of, but life is way more pleasant on the other side of the purge.
As the sun is about to set on 2020, there are no shortage of pieces online that take a look back in the rearview mirror and provide insights on this past year (it was only one year, even if 2020 felt like several ages of the Earth!) and offer various reflections and commentaries. I'll throw my hat in the ring as well.
There were no lack of hardships. Items on the menu this past year included murder hornets, desert locust infestations, and volcanic eruptions. And, oh yeah, a pandemic that shut down the entire globe. COVID brought about a worldwide depression and catalyzed environmental upheaval and political quagmires. It further fractured our disturbing social and relational crisis.
We lost tons of next-level human beings. Legends like Kobe Bryant. Alex Trebek. Chadwick Boseman. And Rep. John Lewis.
We also experienced apocalyptic tornadoes made of fire. A bookstore in the fire-ravaged village of Cobargo, New South Wales, had a sign outside which read: “Post-Apocalyptic Fiction has been moved to Current Affairs.” As Sanchi Reta, Don Howard's sister, told our SpiritQuest community, we live in a world that is literally and figuratively on fire.
Surely, I could go on. And on. And on.
And surely that would be wholly unnecessary. We all get the picture.
Let's strive to take a balanced approach. As a famous West Virginia mountaineer once said, "No matter how thin I make the pancakes, they always have two sides."
We did plenty of stuff to be placed on the naughty list in 2020. But we also earned a place on the nice list as well.
Humanity persevered. Say what you will about how immature, juvenile, and selfish humans can be (and there's no shortage of ink to spill on any of that), but we are nothing if not resilient.
I'm convinced as anything that things are happening for us as opposed to to us. For our highest evolution. For our growth. For our benefit. I do my best to look at things as blessings regardless of their superficial appearance. Why? Because in my own experience, I can legitimately say that life has given me exactly what I need. It's not necessarily what I or my monkey mind want. But if it's what I need, it should be what I want. We innovated. Despite being severely limited in what we could offer at SpiritQuest, your support was unwavering. In October, we had a virtual gathering which demonstrated how sensational the SpiritQuest community truly is.
Since May, the SpiritQuest community has raised a remarkable $22,000 USD to support our indigenous friends and staff. These continue to be extraordinarily difficult times in Peru. Thankfully, all of you have been a beacon of light. If you're feeling generous this holiday season or at any other time, you can donate by clicking here.
While we couldn't host many retreats groups this past year — we were only able to have groups join us in January, February, and March — we had fantastic convergences of kindred spirits. As Don Rober says, "Calidad, no cantidad" (meaning quality, not quantity).
All over the globe, more and more people are waking up. Many of you tell me how you sense a real renaissance of consciousness that's brewing. There are enough signs of this renaissance that there's no denying it. We need more of it, no doubt. We need catalysts in all areas. Don Howard would say that, "Everyone is asleep until they wake up." And for those who are awake — like all of you — you're stepping further into service. How can we not have enormous gratitude for that?
If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, you're on the other side of the winter solstice. You're experiencing a return of the light. A return of the sun for a new cycle. Eventually, the collective light will get bright enough that the darkness can’t survive. The darkness can't hide in the light.
We live in a universe where it seems like the only constant is change. And yet, the outpouring of love and support from all of you was indomitable. No, the only constant isn't change. The only constant is love. That's the real currency of the cosmos.
At SpiritQuest, we intend to restart our public retreats in April. We've set our first few dates on our calendar. We'll continue to update our upcoming retreats as events continue to unfold. If you're interested in rejoining our circle at any point, please don't hesitate to reach out. While 2020 certainly taught us how control is an illusion, we'll keep our intention and continue to water that seed. Any prayers, love, and light that you send our way will be reciprocated in Don Howard's Bank of Ayni.
Predictions for 2021? As my high school graduation speaker, Dick Jackman observed, "opportunity and obligations" feel like a cosmic, metaphysical certainty. He advised us, "What’s on tomorrow is opportunity and obligations. The opportunity to see life as it is and the obligation to figure out what else it can be. That’s heavy stuff, here comes the instant replay. The opportunity to see life as it is and the obligation to figure out what else it can be." A few months back, I reunited with a dear friend of mine, Matt, who runs the Peyote Way Church. He asked me how I was doing. I responded that I was spectacular. I thought about it a little more, and qualified my response by saying, "Certainly interesting times, though." He smiled and said to me, "What's that Chinese proverb? 'May you live in interesting times.' Well, we scored!" May we live in interesting times. Indeed. According to Wikipedia, the phrase is an "English expression that purports to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. While seemingly a blessing, the expression is normally used ironically; life is better in 'uninteresting times' of peace and tranquility than in 'interesting' ones, which are usually times of trouble." That's the consensus perspective. My perspective is that these "interesting times" are amazing times to level up. For those on the spiritual path, we're presented with incredible opportunities for radical growth and evolution. Unification, transformation, and ascension. We can choose to move into 2021 from a place of abundance and love, or from a place of scarcity and fear. We can choose to be bliss bunnies or terrified turtles. I choose to view these interesting times as a blessing. I told my friend Zachary that "I'm naively optimistic" about humanity's chances to get it together. He responded, "I'm wildly optimistic." He's right, of course. I know I've written this before, but it bears repeating: It's a daunting task to try and make the world a better place in a heart forward and head up Don Howard way. But that wouldn't stop a woman or a man like you, would it? When kindred spirits converge and form that beloved community, the fire rises. Don Howard's life’s work and vision has been like a bolt of lighting that positively electrified the entire world. You may have read somewhere about how if we want 2021 to be better, we need to make it better ourselves. That seems to be a pretty universal motif in these yearly summation pieces. And for good reason. It's a salient theme. But let's not settle for merely better. Let's set the bar higher. Let's lean into 2021. Let's make it an absolute masterpiece. And what better place to start than with ourselves! Let's be clean instruments. Positive examples. Beacons of light. Light attracts light. Having a childlike wonder of the world and an open heart is a pretty phenomenal operating system to have right now. My two-year-old nephew, Rafa, has been one of my greatest teachers this year. He smiles. Plays. Scoots. Runs around. Doesn't take himself too seriously. Roars like a lion. Laughs. There is a lesson in there somewhere. I hope I've learned it. We not only have a right to our own happiness, but an obligation to pursue that zealously. Or as Jimmy Buffett concluded, "if we couldn't laugh, we'd all go insane." So "Lighten up," as Don Howard would say. Download your delight. Then pay it forward. Optimism is an export item: export your positivity, support, and love to other people, other creatures, and the world. I deeply appreciate how many of you open this newsletter. I genuinely love that some of you write to me and share your feelings, your frustrations, and what you're doing Para El Bien De Todos. It fuels the fire. At the very least, I'll do better to reach out to you on an individual basis and let you know I haven't joined the Witness Protection Program. For your loved ones, you could consider doing the same. Thank you for all that you've done to elevate my consciousness. For all of the love. For your contribution to the greatest good of all. With gratitude and love, One heart 💚