At first glance it seems like a pretty low bar, but let’s think about it. The statement implies an incredibly miraculous symphony of trillions of biological functions that have to work together in harmony and symbiosis with the trillions of other life forms around us to keep our bodies humming. It doesn’t account for the “spark of life” or consciousness that imbues this meat suit that keeps the lights on, or at the very least is somehow aware that we’re alive.
This definition puts mere survival at center stage for us and, to be fair, that was the dominant theme for our species for centuries, before we got smarter and richer. We have neither huge fangs nor body armor, like many of the animals out there do. We grew brains and harnessed fire to gain some edge and survive in a pretty harsh environment with drought, predators, and marauding invaders from other tribes. If we made it, we would continue to live.
This definition of the verb live essentially means “to continue to exist.” Where? Well, I guess here. When? It must mean now. If you’re not here, like on this planet, then you are not “living”—at least not here. And in terms of time, if you’re not here right now, then you either existed in the past and are now dead or have not been born yet . . . neither of which would allow you to be here reading this book.
Your Life Garden
Mastering time starts with understanding where all your time is currently going. What plants are we currently watering with our time, energy, and money?
If your life were to be symbolized by a garden, what would it look like right now? Barren areas on one side and big gnarly weeds on another? What areas would look pretty good, and what others would be neglected? This honest accounting of where we’ve been and where we currently stand is an essential step in getting the life we say we want.
We say we want certain things in life, yet our actions prove otherwise. What you do on a daily basis is where the rubber hits the road. Your actions speak much louder than words, and when we look at the current state of your Life Garden, we’ll see the result of these actions.
Action is energy and focus driven by intent. It will be the catalyst for change that will transform our lives. But for now, we’re stuck with just words. Where do the words that are not backed by action come in? Regret.
If you keep saying you want to truly control your blood sugar or write that novel, yet your life reflects a different reality, the steps you’ve taken have not been aligned with the words you’re speaking, so you are lying. You are lying to yourself, and that hurts. It starts to wear away at the fabric of your being because your word is everything. It’s intimately tied to this thing called honor, which is all but gone in our society.
Weeding Your Garden
In a world where there are too many stimuli, new things to buy, politicians to listen to, advertising ventures into our brains; it’s just a matter of time before the walls cave in. It becomes almost impossible to hold the line. What line?
Your line. The line you draw around your sanity, dreams, aspirations, and goals to create the space needed to live your best life.
There are relentless waves of outside influences working to breach your defenses and get you to buy, vote, believe, and act a certain way. The world is filled with competing influences vying for your attention—the prime currency in the information age. We are the bodies the leeches drink from, the carcasses the parasites leave behind after their feeding frenzy. Sound harsh?
It is our job to hold the line and take a stand for ourselves, or we simply don’t stand a chance. There’s been a lot of talk about how people are supposed to “say yes to Life” and how that’s a winning operating system for a fruitful and meaningful life. The part that’s omitted from this statement could be summed up as “and say NO to all the bullshit.”
Sure, we should say yes to the good things that make life full and rich, but we need to make space for them. We also need to temper these yeses in time. At this buffet of life, we don’t need to eat everything in sight in one sitting. Over time, you can feast on what you’d like in between lots of activity and movement, but you need time to digest and assimilate.
Saying yes to something right now more often than not means saying no to something you’ve already agreed to. For example, your friends call you up and say, “Let’s go for a drink.” You impulsively say, “Yes. Okay, great; let’s do this!”
You had plans to go to the gym, eat a healthy dinner, and get home to your family. You need to help your son with a project, and it’s due next week. But now you’ve taken down a few drinks, eaten chicken wings and chips, drunk a few more drinks, skipped the workout, and gotten home after the kid went to bed.
That one yes killed three previous yeses. Namely, Yes to a healthy fitness routine that would boost your energy, clear your head, and make you feel happy in life; Yes to a healthy dinner that would nourish a robust microbiome, reduce inflammation, feed your cells, hydrate your body, and energize your life; and Yes to your family that needs you to be a great partner, parent, role model, friend, and positive example of someone who makes the right choices.
Every time we say yes to something, we need to understand that there’s an opportunity cost and that there needs to be time and space created in our lives for each thing we say yes to. That’s where the Life Garden comes in. When we consciously map out our priorities and commitments, we can use the Life Garden as the screen, or the filter, that allows—or, more importantly, disallows—new “invasive species” to come in and drink from our Water.
Life as a Journey
One of the areas that will become more significant to you as you continue is the state of your subconscious mind. With better awareness and mindful observation, you’ll become more aware of the subconscious programming that’s running the show right under the surface. Much like the operating system and various programs “doing their thing” on your computer, you’ll notice that there’s a lot going on in your mind when you look deeper.
Simple examples of subconscious processes include breathing, your heart beating, and digestion. These things take energy and run all the time without us having to think about doing them. But what about the mental stuff? What about the scripts you downloaded from childhood and beyond? The narratives you’ve been told that may not in actuality be true?
As you fuse your attention and intention, your Fire and Water, you create steam. That opens your spiritual centers and helps you see more clearly. As this happens, you clear the cobwebs in your mind and can continue to grow. You pluck the weeds you discover and continue to thrive.
Your soil gets healthier, and your Garden blossoms. Your life starts working, and you have extra energy to be more creative and effective in your life. You invest that energy into further growth as you radiate and impact others in a positive light. You wake up and become a star. Not the Hollywood kind but the kind up above us. Your rays provide energy and clarity to those around you. You are a beacon of enthusiasm and optimism. People can see the transformation in you. You don’t need to talk about it, because you are it.
That’s the difference. Change your life and change your ways, and people can see it. This is the way to lead by example. Be kind to yourself, and keep working through your Gongs. This isn’t a “one and done.”
Keep going. After your first one, pick what’s next, and keep navigating in the direction of your longer-term goals. Things may change . . . What you think are priorities right now may shift as you continue to grw and wake up.
You’ve been given this amazing opportunity to somehow be alive on this random planet in the middle of outer space with the innate capacity to dream things up and create them in material reality. To create.