I've been toiling for the past few days. Having dinner with the Devil. I've been struggling with my direction, my purpose, my growth and happiness.  Coming out of the weekend, I was hit by something that wouldn't let go off me. This nondescript pain, this doubt had taken a hold of me and started to squeeze... 

I usually have practices that I employ to drag my self out of these sorts of depths, but for some reason they weren't as effective this time. I took that as a message; that I needed to stay here for a moment and figure out this pain. Why, suddenly, was I so disconnected?

I go to Wheatsville almost everyday, sometimes twice, to get iced coffee and a taco or sandwich. Its actually gotten to the point where I don't even make food at home anymore. I go to the grocery store more than anyone I know, yet I buy no groceries. Anyway, if one was to read into this neurotic behavior, they might think that Wheatsville is some sort of security blanket for me. They would be right.

It dawned on me how dark of a place I was in when the trusty magic of my Wheatsville experiences began to lose their power. I went in on Tuesday and all of the sudden I was ridden with anxiety. I could not look anyone in the eye, I wanted to get in and out and not exist, not be noticed. Of course that is impossible in a place that I visit twice daily. I was bumping into shelves and people; my inner chaos was oozing out of me and outwardly manifesting itself.

I spent a lot of time with my great friend Keith, and he so graciously let me dump and vent and ask questions. He listened with the great skill of being able to empathize and to hear me, but not be dragged down with me. I appreciate that.

Yesterday I woke up with the dark cloud continuing to hover over me and my life. I called my mom, Marci. We talk almost all the time, sometimes I call her two to three times a day. She's sort of my personal therapist. Actually, she's a professional social worker and currently practices EFT (The Emotional Freedom Technique). She's helped me work through a lot of issues throughout my life.

 I had crafted a plan to induce a "spiritual reset" with her, and she said she was game. We sat down in her living room committed to discussing our repetitious issues, our destructive patterns and how they related to and reconciled with our path to find God. We spoke for about three hours with every spiritual and holy text in the house laid out open on the table in front of us. Half of our approach was finding humor in the err of our ways. The other half was a very real attempt to make clear to the forces of the Universe that we were ready to change, but we needed marching orders.

I left home feeling my pain diffused. I headed to the gym and spent an hour and a half struggling through a difficult work out. I went home. Then the feeling, that dark cloud started seeping through the windows. It was not gone yet. I'd like to say at that moment I stayed strong and meditated or something. That I didn't seek escape, and at least for a moment I did. Until I didn't.

I wound up in a bar with friends. Seeing them with their paths so clearly illuminated. I was happy for them, but disappointed at my envy. Almost immediately I regretted my decision to have a drink, but then I had another. 

I woke up grateful that I had time to sleep in. I watched my judgmental thoughts start to nudge me awake. At first gently, "good morning Markie, isn't it cozy in here. Time to wake up and get to work on your self and your life. You've got so much to be thankful for..." Slowly changing tone, "Do you even appreciate all thats in your life? You should. Your behavior tells me your not." Until finally, "I can't believe you've done this to yourself again. Why do you keep fucking up? You're so stupid, you don't deserve any of this. Just give up."

Until I said, Thats Enough

Almost cosmically I gave myself permission not to beat myself up anymore, not to wallow in pain while trying to find the purpose. 

Just as if on cue, today was the day I had the opportunity to play with Ofer and Sam as Velo for the Mother Falcon Music Camp in front of 46 kids and lots of my musical peers. Half of me was tired and worried that I didn't feel awesome, but the other half had remained committed to not judging myself today.

I love Ofer's songs, they are such a gift to the world. When I play bass with him it feels like we are conducting a trans-dimensional news report on the state of human consciousness on Earth in 2015 to interested souls that live on the other side of the veil. 

We set up and had the kids sit in front of us, just like it looks in school when you put a bunch of kids in chairs that had been purposefully placed in rows so that in the near future kids could sit in rows of chairs at a school for some function, like listening and learning...

I was nervous. I'm realizing I'm fairly often a little nervous when I perform, but sometimes the nerves are the tracks that I ride on through the performance. If I fall off those tracks its devastating, but if I ride them as I should, its wonderful and as it should be and quite pleasant actually. 

We played three songs, and after we played those three songs Ofer said "are we supposed to talk, do other guests say things during this?" The instructors nodded, the kids laughed. "Well um, Marcus is funny, he can say something." 

Now when I get nervous, and if its bad, I get physically uncomfortable and unstable. My body sort of tries to contort itself into the fetal position while my mind actively resists that sort of ridiculous reaction. So if you look real close, you can see I'm not staying still, and I'm almost shaking. At this point there are two ways for me to go, to fall or stand strong and remove doubt. 

I started saying something stupid, but then twisted it around and got some laughs. I calmed down a bit. Ofer seemed more comfortable than me, but he used me as his counter point every once in a while throwing me into the conversation. It wasn't easy, because of the place I had been in for the past few days, to be expected to be so connected all of the sudden, on the spot.

This was it though. This was what I needed. I needed to be reminded in the time of my toiling, in the midst of my "what is this pain telling me?" period, that I had been almost solely focused on myself. I had been immersed in my pain so that I wasn't even thinking about other people anymore. I kept saying to myself, "what is the purpose of this?" and I didn't want it to go away until I figured it out. As I worked on it and focused on it, I continued to go inward, to the point where I was having trouble looking people in the eye. I couldn't listen to people's stories, or struggles, or success. I was consumed by myself consuming myself.

It was all about me again.

That was the answer. That was the pain. Having 50 people in a room with their eyes and ears on me at once put pressure on me to realize that my insecurity and nerves and sadness were selfish in that it kept me from sharing and connecting with people.

And then I remembered. As if being woken up from a dream. Thats what I'm here for; to connect with people. To love them, to support them, to listen to them, to help them. I don't need to be so worried or attached to "what if I do this, or what if this doesn't work for me?"

I just need to be honest, look people in the eye, and love them.