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Death is the greatest catalyst for change.
Amen to that. Last weekend I felt about as close to death as I care to feel. Three months ago, I began to experience the symptoms of BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) which is an enlargement of the prostate. When the prostate gets too large, it impedes one’s ability to urinate. This is a very common ailment among men over 50. Statistics indicate half of men over 60 suffer from this condition.
This is a drug you may have seen advertised on television. Now you know what it is designed to do for its customers. It is one of many drugs created for BPH sufferers. Three months ago, I noticed I was not able to urinate with ease. I needed to apply quite a bit of pressure, and then when I started to see some action, I still wasn’t feeling completely emptied. The doctor here in Thailand prescribed a medication and it worked like a dream. One pill at night, and I was back to my normal “peeing like a racehorse” status. The honeymoon lasted two months.
Last Friday, I was having a very difficult time urinating. No matter how hard a grunted, strained, and patiently waited, virtually nothing came out. I don’t know if you realize how painful it is to have a full bladder with no way to empty it. I went through two days of living hell. I did not sleep. It was excruciating. I don’t mind telling you that I screamed in utter despair. I must have taken 50 mini showers to relax my muscles, so I could squeeze just enough out to relieve the pain for a few minutes. I distinctly remember thinking that death would be better than this.
On Sunday morning, I jumped into a taxi and went to the local hospital. My stomach looked like I had eaten a tight-as-a-drum basketball. I was hurting. I had taken four times the recommended dosage of my medication, and 3 Advil every few hours, so I also felt woozy and light headed. I was really out of it in every way imaginable. I had read that the most promising and immediate solution was a catheter flush. For those not familiar with the process, a long rubber tube is inserted into the tip of a man’s penis, pushed past the prostate, into the bladder, and then the urine can freely flow out into a bag or glass jar. It sounds painful, and it was at first, but then the sensation of all that urine flowing out of me was something I will never forget. I had two lovely Thai nurses kneaded my stomach to squeeze out all the urine. They were shocked out how much had come out of the farong (westerner). I basically filled two Best Foods Mayonnaise jars. Epic.
I left the hospital and thoroughly enjoyed my walk home in the sun. The pain which I had endured for 48 hours was gone. I planned to go to another hospital on Monday morning (the next day), and see a specialist to figure out what we could do on a more permanent basis. My respite lasted six hours, and soon I was back in pain and had to dig in for another hellish night. Again, I dragged myself to the hospital in the morning, again they rushed me onto a gurney, again a Thai nurse shoved a catheter in me, and soon I was able to peacefully doze to sleep while I waited in urinary bliss for the doctor.
During this past weekend, I felt very alone.
I have no family here in Thailand. I have a few friends, but they don’t rank very high on the “comforting” scale. I missed my children, and asked myself why was I still in Thailand, when my plan was always to return to the USA for a spell, and then venture out to some new distant destination, like Ecuador, or Morocco, or Spain. 65 is when I will settle down. I still have nine years of vagabonding ahead of me. Why the change in plans? As this week wore on, I have realized I need to be home, for a variety of reasons, none the least of which is to spend time with my family. America, here I come.
So you must be wondering: “Jay, how did you fix your prostate?” We haven’t yet. The doctor told me to keep the catheter in me for one to two weeks. That’ right! I have been walking around Chiang Mai with a catheter inside of me and a bag attached to my leg. It’s not so bad, although I am just vain enough to wear long jeans instead of my de rigueur shorts. According to the doctor, this will give my bladder some time to heal from the extreme stretching it endured during the past weekend. I am also to drink at least two liters of water per day to clean out the plumbing. He also gave me some much stronger and more effective medicine to try. I visit the doctor tomorrow and we will see if I can urinate like the days of old. If all goes well, I will once again “pee like a racehorse!” If not, then we have to look at surgical options, which I will wholeheartedly embrace. Let’s get this fixed so I may resume my catheter-less physical life of exercise and intimacy.
When the universe sends me a message, it is often spoken with great strength and gusto. I must be somewhat dense, as my messages are never subtle. They are about a subtle as a two by four across the forehead, or in this case, a basketball in my belly! Last weekend was such a message. Get home. Get to work. Keep writing. Keep coaching. Be the best Dad I can be. I have two more weeks here in Thailand. I am already making a mini bucket list of experiences I want to have one more time before I leave. My year in Thailand has been one of the best years of my life. Apparently I am now ready to bring the Thai magic back to my little neck of the woods in America. Tally Ho.
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I picked 5 books that impacted me as a man starting way back in 1979.
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In 1999, I began a two-year apprenticeship with author Stuart Wilde. If you are not familiar with the work of Stuart Wilde, you can find his twenty books on Amazon. I first read Whispering Winds of Change and was hooked. I have noticed how some authors seem to literally grab me by the throat with their words, as if to say “This is true!” Hemingway, Thoreau, Whitman, Jed McKenna, Bukowski and Castaneda all had the same impact on me. Stuart passed just a few years back driving the winding bucolic country roads of Ireland, an apt departure for a remarkable being. Back in 1999, Stuart was very alive and fully embodied his mystical, magical, powerful, take no prisoners self. This is when my journey with Stuart Wilde began.
After reading several of his books, I felt I had found a kindred spirit. Therefore, I searched for live Stuart Wilde events and found him at a presentation in Sipapu, New Mexico in the fall of 1999. Following that experience, and feeling Stuart’s immense energy and charisma, I knew I had found my teacher. Consequently, my wife and I flew from San Francisco to Sidney, Australia a few months later to attend a more intimate intensive weeklong gathering of 20 spiritual seekers at his large castle like home in Milton. On the fifth day of the event, after spending most of our time training on the subtleties of meditation and energy, Stuart asked me to go out into the local woods and find a big stick. He gave me very specific instructions: Five feet long. Two to three inches thick. Smooth surface. Stuart handed me a saw, and off I went. Two hours later, I returned with the perfect stick. I had no idea for what purpose I had found the stick, but I was proud of my stick. Stuart carefully examined the stick, accepted the stick, and that seemed to be the end of that.
The next day, mid morning, Stuart asked all the blokes to meet him outside at the driveway in the front of the house. There we found a big hay bale. “Hmmm. What is that for?” I thought to myself. There on the hay bale rested my stick. Stuart had wrapped a white cloth around one end of the stick to create a protective handle. He proceeded to give us instructions for what was going to happen next. One by one, we were going to approach the hay bale, grab the stick, and take massive whacks at the hay bale. It was important, Stuart said, to use all of our body and strike with everything would could for as many times as we could until we felt complete, or totally exhausted. Equally important, Stuart instructed us to yell out loud the target of your anger and rage. This would make the experience more real and more cathartic. Immediately, upon hearing these words, fear started to settle in amongst my newfound band of brothers.
Allow me to step back from the story and address the fear. Having now experienced and led men in several hundred of these hay bale rituals, I have observed that the primary fear is “how will I compare to the other men?” “Can I do this?” “Can I truly let go and allow rage to consume me?” I am often surprised by how difficult it is for men, even when given full permission and group agreement, to let go and fully express their rage. I have no doubt that every man does the best he can. However this ritual demonstrates the self imposed barriers we place on ourselves. The great majority of men walk away from the hay bale experience feeling they did not give it everything they could. All men experience a breakthrough, however the little voice in our head whispers we could have given more. Fear stops us. In the end, this was a huge lesson for each and every man who did the hay bale ritual. It opened up each man’s inquiry into his own relationship with fear and self-expression.
One reason Stuart became my mentor for two years, the thing that always impressed me, was that he showed no fear. He never asked anyone to do anything he would not do, and he did everything full out. So when we started the ritual, Stuart was the first to go. He grabbed the stick and swung it over his head and hit the hay bale hard. He yelled out “Stuart, you fucking wimp!” and then again “Stuart, you fucking piece of shit!” and on and on, taking it out on himself, and all the lies he told about himself. Stuart had kicked the door wide open, and now we were to follow.
I was inspired. I went next. I apprehensively walked up to the stick, grabbed it and felt the weight of it in my hand. Then I took my first swing. Oh, it felt good. After a few tentative whacks, I forgot that anybody else was watching. My whacks at the hay bale became more intense. My target was god. I cussed at god. I yelled about how he had lied to me. I yelled about what an asshole he was for creating a planet with so much death and pain and misery. I called god a fucking hypocrite. I continued to whack the hay bale until I was ready to collapse. I gave it my all and felt complete as I walked away. When I returned to my place in the circle around the hay bale, I felt changed. I had never expressed my full masculine presence in that way. Never had I been given permission to fully self express, and speak aloud my deepest anger and rage. My body continued to tremble for several minutes, the effects of the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I felt like my balls grew in size. My inner warrior had been released. But I was not done, not by a long shot.
Then I watched as each man, one by one, took the long walk toward the hay bale. I observed how each man had his own way of striking the hay bale. Some whacked it as if with a baseball bat. Others, like me, raised the stick way over my head and brought it down with all the force I could muster. As it turned out, I was not the only one who had an issue with god. He was definitely the number one target. On and on it went. One by one, I saw men transformed from my friendly workshop mates to rage filled creatures who had quite a bit of rage to express. Over time, I relaxed, feeling complete, and ready to resume our more subdued and subtle mystical activities.
Next, Stuart said, “Now that you are all warmed up, we are going to do it again!” “For fuck’s sake,” I thought to myself, “what’s left?” This time, Stuart did not need to go first. I wanted to lead, and see what I had left inside me. I walked up to the hay bale with absolutely no idea who or what was to be the target of my rage. I picked up the stick, my stick, and started to hit the hay bale. Whack. Whack. Whack. And then, the name of an ex girlfriend that had broken my heart started to erupt out of my throat. “Carol!” Whack. “Carol!” Whack. “You fucking bitch!” Whack. On and on it went. The second round allowed me to go to a much deeper place of hurt and despair. With each whack, I was releasing the pain and freeing myself up of that gut wrenching memory. The second round was longer, more rage filled, and far more self-expressive. I found a new energy that sustained me, even when I thought I had given everything during the first round. Finally I was complete. My body trembled once again. I threw the stick at the hay bale and walked away. As I returned to the circle and I saw Stuart smiling. My buddy said to me, “I don’t know Carol is, but I hope I never meet her.”
Many men had a similar experience. The second round was much deeper, and more profound than the first. Once I had gotten the fear and self-consciousness out of my system, a whole new level of self-expression opened up. The superficial Jay had to take a back seat to a more authentic and real Jay. No longer was I a sensitive new age guy who discounted his masculinity. Now I was feeling like a real man. Jay meet Jay.
Over the years, I have led the hay bale process in my own weekend workshops. The hay bale ritual is powerful in its simplicity. Men are given permission to rage and fully self-express. I have seen men take whacks at god, their wives, their mothers, their fathers, their girl friends, that childhood bully, and at themselves. I have seen men in the depths of fear, take that long walk to the stick, and let it all go. It is liberating to see such courage. It is inspiring to see men take full responsibility for their fear and rage. It is enlightening to see and begin to understand the dynamics of our own fear and rage.
Two incidents stand out amongst the many hay bale rituals I have seen. The first took place in Santa Rosa, California. During our morning circle, in which we introduce a topic and each man is required to speak as open heartedly as possible, one man shared a gut-wrenching story about how his father has sexually abused him. Tears rolled down his eyes as he told his story for the first time to another human being. This often happens. Men, in a safe and confidential environment, inspired by the vulnerable sharing of others, often release painful experiences for the first time. No one who heard his story remained unscathed.
As this man approached the hay bale, we all knew that the target of his rage had to be his abusive father. He grabbed the stick, and placed the end of it on the hay bale. I had never seen this before. Crying profusely, he was literally unable to lift the stick up and take a whack. I cannot begin to imagine how conflicted he must have felt. As boys, our dad was our hero. However in his case, his dad was also the devil. After a few minutes, as the leader, I instinctively took action. I asked him if I could take a few whacks to get him started. I was definitely feeling the rage towards his dad, especially seeing the devastating impact on his now paralyzed son, so this all happened very naturally. I began whacking the hay bale, swearing up and down about how horrible he (the dad) was to betray such a sacred covenant as father and son. I was so enraged that I began gouging the stick into the hay bale, as if I was stabbing the abusive father with a lance. Suddenly, the stick bounced back and hit me in the face, putting a nasty gash above my right eye. Blood flowed. Everyone looked in terror, concerned I may have lost an eye. I told everyone I was ok and headed off to the bathroom. But before I did, I said to the man, “Kill that fucker. Do it and free yourself!” I understand he was able to begin whacking the hay bale and the healing had begun. He was a man finally becoming free from the grip of horrible events from his past.
The second incident took place in Sebastopol, California. We had one participant who was very reserved and quiet. He was the last of the group to go. Everyone else had taken their whacks in the first round. We all looked at him. He expressed that he felt he did not have the same kind of rage living in him. He shared that in his family, he was never allowed to fully express himself. Then one of the participants spoke directly to him: “What if this is your last chance on earth to get this shit out of yourself?” That seemed to light a fuse, and he proceeded to take his whacks. Afterwards, he too was a man transformed. You could see it in his face, and in the way he confidently walked around and interacted with us all.
Do I hate god? Do I hate my ex girlfriend? Do men hate their wives? Do men really want to inflict physical harm to any of these people? No, of course not. However, we do often have conflicted feelings. The hay bale process is a powerful technique to release painful memories, and allow more energy for love and appreciation. I know when I carry around pain and hurt feelings; it is hard for me to be present with another person. These experiences I have shared are a safe and very effective way to purge those feelings. I would liken it to taking your car in for a tune up. Over time gunk builds up, and it is good to get a regular cleaning. Otherwise, these feelings may be expressed in far more harmful and often violent ways.
My two-year stint with Stuart Wilde, in Australia, in America, in England, and in Ireland was a time of profound learning and personal transformation. You could not hang out with Stuart and not be changed. Stuart was a tough teacher. Many of the lessons he shared with me had a very hard edge. He exposed many levels of what he called my dark side, those qualities like competitiveness, female objectification, and dishonesty that I had never had to the courage to look at and claim as my own. It was a hell of a ride. And it all began in earnest the moment I picked up that big stick and started whacking away at my own painful memories that early December morning in Milton, Australia.
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There is no doubt that a weekend getaway can provide excitement and adventure and intimacy for a relationship. I noticed, especially with children in the house, when my partner and I took a short trip together, we returned home feeling reconnected, reinvigorated, and happy. As the dude in the relationship, I have always felt it was my job to look down the road, anticipate when my relationship could use a little excitement and then plan a trip that my partner and I would deem unforgettable. Planning a trip is not enough. There are certain things you can do when on the road to add that oomph that transforms a mere weekend away to something very special and wonderful and memorable.
Recently I spent a weekend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and it was unforgettable. My partner and I had a glorious time. Here are some things I learned, which you can incorporate into your next weekend. These items are not listed in any particular order, and are presented cafeteria style. If you can work all of them into your next adventure, fantastic. If only a few apply, they will still add to the scintillating nature of a sensual get away.
- Make it a four-day weekend.
In my experience, two days is great, but four days is even better. By leaving on a Thursday night, and returning on a Tuesday morning, you are giving you and your partner four full days to wake up and go to sleep in a new area. There is also something wonderful about waking up on Monday and seeing many other travelers heading home, and knowing you still have one more full day to enjoy your trip. I realize it may be difficult to get the time off from work, but believe me, it is so worth it. The positive benefits on your relationship will be profound and life lasting.
- Go someplace you have never been before.
It is easy and convenient to have your favorite “go to” place. It is comfortable. When you go someplace unknown, both you and your partner are in a constant state of not knowing, and everything is new. There is nothing like the first time of anything. It is exciting. In men’s work, we talk about the paradigm of living at our edge, in that place of not knowing but still willing to go for it. It adds a very attractive energy to everyday life. Visiting a new location, not knowing where to go nor where to eat, nor where to explore, it puts you both at your edge. This adds to the excitement. It also adds to a sense of partnership and togetherness as you and your travel companion figure things out as a couple.
- Go someplace where the locals speak a different language.
Having just returned from Kuala Lumpur, I experienced this first hand. Most people there do not speak English. This forced me and my partner to communicate with our bodies, our facial expressions, and by doing quite a bit of pointing. Being in a place where English is not the native language is another way to gently coax you out of your comfort zone just a bit, all of which adds to the excitement level and the unique and one of a kind feeling of being a foreigner in a foreign land.
- Have sex in the morning.
Do it. Many couples get into a rhythm of sex at night before going to sleep. Try to mix things up. Take showers, brush your teeth, and have a wonderful romp in your hotel room. Most hotels have very soft sheets and comforter and pillows. They are a perfect launch pad for erotic play. Sex in the morning gets the day off to a glorious start. It makes the day special. It is something you will always remember as a delightful part of your weekend getaway.
- Eat great food.
Eating delicious food is a very reasonably priced way to experience the delicacies of your destination. In Kuala Lumpur, we at hot pot, a variety of local fruits, exquisite sushi, delectable steamed fish, and local beef soup. Each meal was an adventure in itself. If you are not sure where to go, check out the Internet. All cities have food critics who post their favorite restaurants, the best restaurants on a budget, the best food carts, as well as a top of the line, don’t miss this place, list of eateries. There are also several apps for that. Even on a budget, you can eat well, and have stories to share.
- Get massages.
Life is too short not to get massages. We all work hard. Perhaps you are a man who does physical labor. I know that sitting for eight hours per day focused and typing on my Macbook Pro makes my neck sore. I recommend you make it a priority to get a massage. You can get a simple foot massage, a full body oil massage, a neck and back massage, a Thai massage (a body massage without oil) or a reflexology massage (focus on your feet). If you do not normally get a massage at home, this will make your weekend getaway even more memorable. And even if you do get a regular massage at home, it is still ever so decadent to take an hour or two and allow yourself to be pampered. Your body will thank you for it. And so will your partner.
- Walk everywhere and utilize public transportation.
It is easy to jump into a taxi and get driven around. Is sitting in traffic really what you want to be doing? Walk. Get lost. Experience your destination the way the locals experience their home. While in Kuala Lumpur, I made a half-mile trek each day to the local health club. On my way to the club, I passed local vendors and best of all, I was able to look eye to eye at the other temporary visitors passing my way. I also saw some of the poverty that exists which was both humbling and left me filled with gratitude. I would not have experienced any of this had I had not walked. If you are bored, take a walk, get lost, and keep going until something interesting happens. And something interesting always happens! Also, especially as you get outside of the United States, the public transportation services are phenomenal. I took a train to and from the airport in Kuala Lumpur. What a joy! I could sit, look out the window, play on my cell phone (the train has free wifi), and people watch to my heart’s content. One extra benefit to public transportation is you can feel good that you are contributing to a cleaner environment.
- Get a room with a view.
I have found that when I have a room with a view, my days start off with a certain sense of wonder. I enjoy my morning coffee. Perhaps you drink tea, or water. Waking up, opening the blinds, and drinking your favorite beverage with your partner looking out at your new destination, it is a wonderful way to start your daily adventures.
- Take pictures and videos of your journey.
I don’t recommend you use your smart phones for much else. Watching your partner checking out her Facebook page is not too enlivening. However, the action of taking pictures and videos does do a few things. First. It is fun. You smile. You ham it up for the camera. You talk and express yourself. Your partner will appreciate your open hearted sharing. Second, you are creating a digital memory of your amazing journey. There will be a point when you will look back, and watch a video, and remember little details you may have forgotten, and it will make you smile. I just looked back at a video taken during my visit to hot pot restaurant. My partner took a video of me adding meats and vegetables to the bubbling hot soup. She added some music to the video with an app and now I have a perfect memory of my joy sitting at the table creating a sumptuous feast in a very unique way.
- Do something unusual.
When I was in Kuala Lumpur, at two in the afternoon, I walked to a local outdoor restaurant. Next to the eatery was a tiny older woman who took dough, dropped it in boiling oil, and served up fresh doughnuts. The texture was like an American doughnut, but the taste was not as sweet. It was absolutely delightful, especially with a cold iced coffee. Another thing we did was to go out late at night. Normally I am in bed by 11 PM. In Kuala Lumpur in the Changkat area, the place doesn’t get going on a Friday night until 12 midnight. We sat at our street side table at two in the morning, drinking mojitos, and watching all the people come and go. We laughed, we shared stories, and we had a blast. Do the unexpected and you will be surprised at how much you will enjoy doing something different.
There you have it. Get out of the house. Get out of the country. Travel the world. Make your life the exciting adventure it is. Use some of these tips and before you know it, while you are on the airplane heading home, you will already be planning your next adventure. Life is short. Live it with no regrets. We men are often looked to for the direction in our relationships. Do it the right way. She will love you for it. Surprise her and surprise yourself. Create it big and bold. Going out and making a weekend getaway unforgettable is a great way to spice up your relationship and keep you and your partner smiling from ear to ear.
Many years ago, my good friend David, a very successful business owner, suggested I read a book with the crazy proposition that I could work four hours a week (rather than the forty I was expending) and be just as productive. The book was aptly titled “The 4 Hour Workweek.” I ordered the book on Amazon, read the book, and was intrigued by many of the concepts and ideas and “hacks” presented in the book. I immediately obtained a virtual assistant from India to handle many of my daily tasks. I began to think about how often I started and stopped a specific task, while being interrupted by emails and phone calls. My efficiency increased overnight. I learned to turn off my phone during the day to avoid interruption, and allocated 30 minutes at the end of the day to return important calls. The 80/20 rule took on a whole new meaning. If you have not read the book, do yourself a favor and buy the book now and read the book (Click on the image).
While I learned a great deal about my own efficiencies, I noticed something else, something even more profound. Tim’s book placed the seed of world travel in my mind and heart. For the first time, I saw world travel as a viable goal, affordable, and doable. I still remember my utter giddy joy as I read about how inexpensive it could be to travel to a city in South America. Although I had lived in England for one year, this book opened my eyes once again to the magic that lives on the road, and specifically on roads outside of the United States. What one man can do, another can do. Why not travel and see the world? Why not? The Four Hour Workweek was like a beacon in the night. It was a siren song. It was an invitation to live an amazing life. I am not being grandiose when I say that I was reborn during my initial reading of Tim’s epic first book.
Next, Tim Ferriss wrote and published “The Four Hour Body.” This substantial work of experimentation and research sparked my interest in foods, macros, weight loss, and muscle gain. I credit much of my 45 pound weight loss, and subsequent and ongoing self-testing I have undertaken to the fabulous material presented in “The Four Hour Body.” My life will last a bit longer, and my daily experience is much simpler, healthier, and life affirming, all a result of what I read in the second book. Tim wrote a third book, “The Four Hour Chef,” which I have not read. My interest in cooking is not that profound, although I understand the book is more about advanced learning techniques than how to cook a quick omelet. I will get to it.
Best of all for me now are Tim’s podcasts. Tim Ferriss’ well-deserved notoriety has given him access to some of the best and brightest amongst us. The podcasts are long form conversations, each one filled with powerful realizations, guidance, and seeds of greatness. I listened to Arnold Schwarzenegger and was filled with the power of possibility of what one man can do with a life. I listened to Pavel Tsatsouline (Olympic strength trainer) and transformed my time at the health club from workouts to practice. I stopped pushing myself to failure, and implemented four sets of five. Now I enjoy my time at the gym, rather than gutting it out every day.
Through the Tim Ferris Show (Click on the image), I have listened to some amazing lights in the world, people I had not heard of such as Maria Popova, Sam Harris, and Peter Diamandis. Maria writes a simply gorgeous blog called Brain Pickings that she shares with the world on a weekly basis. Sam Harris speaks and writes and debates about reality and consciousness and meditation. The greatest praise I can heap on Sam Harris is that he is Christopher Hitchens 2.0. Peter Diamandis, author of a fantastic book entitled Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World, shared the question during his podcast “Why not take your 10 year plan, and do it in the next 6 months?” That is a powerful way to see the world, and Peter has demonstrated the validity of this paradigm with his remarkable life. Each podcast of Tim Ferris is like an unopened Christmas gift. I don’t know what I am going to get, but I am sure I am going to learn and grow and be filled with challenging and potent ideas.
What is possible? So often during and after many of Tim’s podcasts, I have to check my ego at the door, and take a hard look at my life. My sense of accomplishment takes a beating. But in that humbling experience in which I say something like “Wow, _______________ (fill in the blank with virtually any of Tim’s guests), he/she has done so much and continues to do so much. What have I done? What have I been doing? How can I do more? How can I make a similar impact on the world?” I often feel small, and in that feeling lays a desire, a passion, a deep search for who I really am, and what I really will do in the world during this lifetime. I often don’t know what is possible until I see someone else doing it. Tim’s podcast are like a cold bucket of water poured over my head. It’s a wakeup call, a yelling in my ear of “Hey Jay, wake the fuck up!” I like it.
I seem to use the word powerful quite a bit as I write about Tim Ferriss and his body of work. Much of my bromantic feelings do come from a shared love of power. When I think of power, of course I can envision the hulking physique of an Arnold Schwarzenegger or the wealth of a billionaire investor like Peter Thiel. But in Tim’s world, we can also see the power of a Sam Harris, who has cut through the bullshit of religious dogma and duality like a surgeon. Power comes in a variety of forms, and while many of Tim’s guests are physical performance enthusiasts, there are a fair number of consciousness enthusiasts as well. This balanced ebb and flow of creativity and ideas keeps me engaged and insures my loyalty to all things Tim Ferriss.
“Freedom lies in being bold.” Robert Frost
Let’s talk about meditation. Tim often asks his guests, “What do the first 90 minutes of your day look like?” As we have discovered, nearly three quarters of Tim’s guest include meditation as a vital part of their daily routine. As an avid meditator for the past 20 years, I found this knowledge of other’s meditation habits to be an open invitation to join Tim’s Tribe. I am amongst my own. Success shows up in balance. Light and dark, Yin and Yang. Tim’s work is shattering the myth or illusion that success is exclusively about power and money. Success may just show up in a smile on your child’s face. Success may be found in a profound moment of stillness when you feel connected to every thing. Success may actually be about walking away from public adoration and taking a Thoreau like walk into solitude and family life.
I have heard some people say that vision boards are shit. When used as purely a visioning tool, I would agree. But a vision board used as an anchor for sustained action is a powerful tool. Above you can see my vision board from 2012. On the left side, you can see (it’s a bit dark) an image near the word Travel. This is a picture of Tim and a friend from somewhere in Vietnam. I can remember feeling, deep in my heart at the time I first viewed this image, “Why Not?” “Why can’t I travel the world, see exotic destinations, meet people from different cultures, and share it all for the growth and education of myself and anyone else who cares to read or watch what I put out into the world?”
In May of this year, I traveled to Vietnam, was guided by a beautiful woman through Saigon, and met many wonderful people. The practical application of bringing a vision to reality, of prioritizing our activities, the focus on the one thing, all emerge triumphantly in Tim’s work.
My greatest praise for Tim Ferriss comes in the form of my emulation of his life. I love Tim’s life (at least what I see of it). Now, over 5 years into my own Tim Ferriss style life experiment, I am experiencing a path similar in many ways, while still being quite a distance from where I am going. I have used my body as an experiment, now walking the earth at 190 pounds, rather than the 235 pounds I use to carry around. Now I work online, and am not bound to any one location. I live in Thailand for the time being, and who knows where I will go next. I have recorded 3 episodes of my own podcast, called The Men’s Room, and am excited to one day have Tim Ferriss himself as a guest. I created Indigo Yak, a course that will show anybody how to meditate. And I wrote my own book, Radical Freedom, which shares a variety of steps one may take on the road to spiritual freedom.
My life, now at 56, is filled with a hope for the future. I see the unprecedented exponential growth of knowledge, and feel the energy of an immense energetic movement like an 80-foot wave rumbling under my feet. I am finding my way. Aren’t we all? I read books and listen to podcasts and know others are feeling the same way. Gratitude fills my heart. I have seen much of the world and know we are all the same. There is coming a time when us versus them will seem silly and obsolete. One by one, we are waking up to myths that bind us and hold us down. Tim Ferriss’ work allows us to embrace powerful ideas that emancipate us.
I will conclude this homage to Tim Ferriss by sharing how much I appreciate the courage he continues to demonstrate by putting his words, images, sounds, and heart out into the world for all to experience in their own way. It is inspiring. Tim Ferriss is, in my life, a rock star. He shares my love of performance with my dedication to spiritual growth. He is a writer, a creator, and one who brings together amazing people for the benefit of all, truly a catalyst for change. Tim Ferriss’ gift to the culture cannot be over emphasized. Certainly, my life has been altered, and I trust the titanic shifts will resplendently continue. Long may Tim create! Long may he share his vision! I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.”
Upon arriving at the Ho Chi Minh International Airport, obtaining my highly valued and well earned “visa on demand”, passing through customs and finally walking out to breathe the Vietnamese air, I was immediately struck by the number of people waiting outside for loved ones or for potential customers. It felt like a full ocean of people. It was also raining hard, what I would call torrential rains, the kind of rain that hits your windshield as if someone had dropped a bucket from overhead. And then there was the music. My taxi driver was playing what I assume was a traditional Vietnamese tune; with a very simple sing song rhythm to it. The scooters also made a lasting impression for they were everywhere. They dodge and dart through this vibrant city like a cat swats at a toy placed above its head.
Now having landed, and as I walk the streets with the sidewalks largely rough and uneven, and the smell of grilled meats wafting here and there, I notice the remarkable human diversity here. There are not too many Americans, nor Europeans. Amongst the Vietnamese people, I saw the affluent in their big cars, the workers zipping around on their scooters, the tourists on foot learning how to negotiate through said scooters, the impoverished, who unabashedly hit me up for money time and again, and the physically deformed. I have never seen so many people with such physical challenges. There was the little girl with no arms, who approached me to buy a lottery ticket, which she held under her chin. There was the very old woman who had a body that looked like a reverse L, bent at a 90-degree angle. There was the older man missing both legs, who walked on his knees, in tennis shoes, with the help of two canes, and wearing a huge smile on his face. The human spirit is remarkable.
It is hot here. Let me say that again, it is hot and humid here. I like to walk. During my first day here, I put in 5 miles, going from restaurant to bar to restaurant and back to my hotel. My Saigon body is always wet. I don’t know if the body adjusts and sweats less over time, but as I felt the drip sliding down my back, or the chilling cold sensation of air conditioning pelting my sweat laden body, I remembered that sweating is an excellent form of purification. Each day out walking about is akin to an ongoing sweat lodge, uncomfortable at times but always worth the trouble.
The food is unique and varied and most often accompanied by some cigarette smoke. Last night, I ate barbeque. Each table had a small gas-burning platter in the center. We ordered some beef, and a variety of fish and shrimp, all brought raw to the table. The platter is then coated in oil, and then without any further adieu, let the barbequing begin. The flame is quite hot, so it does not take long for a piece of filet mignon wrapped in bacon to become an excellent accompaniment to a cold swig of Tiger beer. We also shared a salad and some white rice, and finished off with a nice crepe desert filled with bananas, vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. I have had some of my most memorable soups here (Pho), and a pancake wrap filled with vegetables and duck, and don’t even get me started on the unbelievable fresh sushi and in particular the lightly grilled salmon underbelly special.
But all of this covers up what I most strongly observed. The Vietnamese are a very warm and loving people. They are much more of a social animal than my American brethren. As my local tour guide explained it, people are more interested in sharing coffee before work, and then having drinks after work, then what they do during work. I saw this from the window of my hotel room. I awoke my first night at 4AM. There across the street was a small group of people, sitting on chairs, drinking coffee, talking and preparing items for the coming day. Again in the late afternoon, small tables seemed to appear out of nowhere, and groups of men, families, and old women, all were drinking, laughing, sharing and relating. Interestingly, I did not see many smart phones amongst these socializers. Say what – old school conversation? You can still find it in some places in the world. Vietnam is a place I may soon call home.