HEY FAM! I’VE BEEN BLESSED TO BE ON THIS EARTH FOR 25 YEARS, BUT IT WASN’T UNTIL THE LAST COUPLE WHERE I STARTED TO CHASE MY CURIOSITY. I STARTED TO SEEK QUESTIONS IN MY HEALTH, EGO, PURPOSE, LIFESTYLE, SUSTAINABILITY, SPIRITUALITY AND SO MUCH MORE. MY CURIOSITY HAS PUSHED ME TO DISCOMFORT AND OVER THESE LAST COUPLE YEARS I’VE COME TO NEW AMAZING REVELATIONS AND UNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT THIS BEAUTIFUL GAME OF LIFE. THE SOUL SEARCHING HAS RAISED MY AWARENESS AND I BECAME MUCH MORE INTENTIONAL. AND IT IS MY INTENTION TO SHARE WITH YOU ALL MY NEW AND EVER EVOLVING PERSPECTIVES. SO STRAP UP, AND LET’S GO FOR A RIDE.
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned” – Maya Angelou
The Ugly Duckling went it’s whole life being ridiculed, until he blossomed and found his tribe.
Fish…when judged on their ability to climb a tree, are going to think they’re stupid, incapable, and inferior their whole lives. When they are in their element, their family of fish, they belong.
Community is an innate part of our being as social creatures. It is essential for our survival.
Blue Zones are areas/communities around the world where the people, on average, have the longest lifespans. What are the secret ingredients to this longevity?
Well, we talked about diet and nutrition, sleep is another big one, movement and exercise is up there as well, breathing is another biggie, but a major sleeper is the strength of community. Having that sense of belonging.
I think it’s absolutely necessary to sit with ourselves in order to figure out who the hell we are, but at the end of the day, we are social beings.
After self reflection, the best memories in my life have been shared with others. We used to grow up in tribes where neighbors were family. In the Hawaiian culture, you call your elders “Aunty” and “Unco” (uncle). These are people you have probably never met before, yet they are associated as family. Many cultures formulate around the importance of oneness and unity and family, but the modern day American culture…??
Today, in many American cultures, we are afraid to keep our house doors unlocked. We are afraid to walk around at night. Many do not know or spend time with their neighbors. We are divided by race, ethnicity, sex, and gender. AND, on top of this, we have a pandemic that made talking to someone or getting too close to them a hostile act. There is fear in connecting with others that don’t look or act or talk like us. We are very much divided. As a nation, and as a people.
While this is true, I believe at the fundamental human level we all seek connection. Kids growing up aren’t necessarily taught the importance of peer validation, but at that age, we go through almost any length possible to fit in with the crowd. To feel like we belong. I think this stays with us our whole lives, even for those who think the lone wolf path serves best.
There is a healing power that goes on when a group of people get together for the right reasons. It may not necessarily be quantifiable, but it’s there.
Before writing this, I started to reflect on my own personal experiences with community. The different social groups I have been in. The impact they’ve had on my life. I think, first, it’s important to talk about intention with community. So many times, especially at a young age, we go with the crowd to simply go with the crowd. We go out of fear of being an outcast because back in the tribal days, if you were kicked out or didn’t have a tribe, it most likely meant death.
So, many times we join a group/community with the wrong intentions. And then we surround ourselves with all these people thinking this is going to fill the void of loneliness that would succumb us if we were alone, yet, we feel even lonelier in the crowd because they may not align with us. And then, we hang onto this crowd out of fear of leaving because the unknown is horrifying and we don’t want to hurt or piss anyone off by leaving so we continue to slowly suffer. It’s a dangerous little game.
Before diving head and heart first into a community, we must do the work to know ourselves first. We must know what we value, what we love, what winds our clock, and even what we do not love. Once we understand ourselves, then we can attract the right community. That tribe that aligns with everything we believe in. And when we do that…that’s when the Magick begins.
When I was in college, I got a job at the Starbucks on campus next to the Library. I truthfully got it because I wanted to go out to a bar and have someone come up to me and say “You’re the starbucks guy, right?” Well, I got my wish but that wasn’t what made this job so beautiful. I gained so many lessons and skills: Multi-tasking, whippin’ up badass frappuccinos, working the register, driving a golf cart, learning from my mistakes, and making small talk. I went from hanging out with the same crowd for so many years, to surrounding myself with people from all different walks of life. Different interests, hobbies, ages and perspectives on life. I loved it!
As I continued to work, I started to get regular customers. I started to get on a first name basis with students and professors. I would doodle on their cups, fail spectacularly at spelling their name right (Do you know how many ways there are to spell Caitlyn??) and made some rad new friends in those small encounters day after day. Sometimes, they would reach out and say I made their day. But, what they may not realize, is that they made mine.
I started to realize that yes, students need that dose of coffee to get through the rigors of classes, but people really come back for the connection. I see people glow when we make eye contact and we pick up our conversation right where we left off. It’s not even about the drink anymore, it’s about that sense of belonging. That’s what got me excited to put on that green apron on days I wasn’t feeling it. It gave me purpose.
I then worked as a waiter at a small town cafe and found the same thing. Yes, I was a vessel for customers to get food on their plate and in their bellies, but I was capable of so much more. I called my customers “friends”, and we formed bonds. We had great conversations and while the food was bomb diggidy, they came back for that connection. I went to other small, local businesses in that town, flipped scripts and became their regular. I would hug the owner and we would just talk about life for a bit. That’s what fills my cup. That’s the shit that money doesn’t buy.
Yes, we have our beautiful blood family, but everyone is family if we look at them as such. And when we look at them as such, our world lights up. We have more in common with people than we may think. We are superheroes, man. We have the power to get someone out of the depths of the darkness with a smile, or a hi/hello. We can bring someone back into the light. We hold that power!
When I was in my dark night of the soul, I struggled to look people in the eyes. I gave shitty hugs. I didn’t try to spark up conversations with a stranger. It was horrifying. And I felt so alone. So lost. My health was suffering. My hidden voice was screaming to be seen, heard, loved, and understood. He was craving connection. He was angry that the world wasn’t seeing him. But…he wasn’t seeing them. Reciprocity is real. Like attracts like. I’ve realized the power of this now.
Last year, I mentored middle school boys who come from very little. I’m the person they are supposed to look up to and learn from, but I promise you, I learned just as much, if not more, from them than they did me. That’s the beautiful thing about community and the dance of reciprocity. Everyone matters.
I believe everything happens for a reason, and people come into our experience for a reason.
Every interaction is an opportunity…a door. And how many times do we keep that door shut by being too afraid to speak to someone, or look at someone, or compliment someone?
Open your doors. Open your mind. Let people in. Let people go. Live out these experiences because every single experience serves; the good, but especially the not so good. You are the author of your lifes book, and the more doors you open, the richer that book becomes.
When we find that tribe, that community that aligns with us, and challenges, inspires, supports, and listens to us, the real magic begins. They become the fuel to the rocket.
I found my community/tribe, ironically, right after I found myself. I finally knew who I was and wanted to become, and I swear the universe plopped this crew right onto my lap. My incredible Enagic community who share values in health, mindset, sustainability, wanderlust travel and so much more. They helped inspire me to go Plant Based by living the lifestyle themselves. They lead by example with the way they expressed themselves, which unconsciously gave me permission to do the same. They inspire me to be a better person. The love is so incredibly raw and real and gives me life.
We are a reflection, mirrors of our environment. Get intentional and pay attention to who you surround yourself with and what you consume on a daily basis. We have our physical communities, but consuming Social Media (scrolling) and other forms of media play a MAJOR role on how we act, think, and feel. Be intentional with it.
Many of us, for most of our lives, stay in the same community. These communities have a certain set of beliefs, values, and ways of living. I say this with love, but I think we do ourselves an incredible disservice by not opening ourselves up to other circles. To simply see how others think, act and do, even if we don’t necessarily agree. It’s scary, yeah, but how can we truly think for ourselves if we’re only seeing one side of the puzzle? How do we know what is “True” if we only see one side?
I grew up in school being told we must raise our hands if we have a question or have to go to the bathroom. If we spoke without raising our hand, we would get in trouble or told it was “wrong”. I grew up my whole life believing this truth. It was conditioned into me. And there are many other beliefs that my setting told me was “right” versus “wrong”. My beliefs never changed because I was never in another setting that challenged these beliefs, so I always just accepted them.
Until…I took a Communication class Junior year in college. My professor was a different breed, let me tell ya. I loved her. First day of class she ran through her class rules. Everything was standard and I was starting to doze off, then she said it, “If you have a question, or have to go to the bathroom, DO NOT raise your hand. Just say it or get up and go”………..
This felt wrong. It completely challenged my compass of “right” and “wrong”, and I was super uncomfortable at first. Then, I adjusted, and it was super refreshing.
But it had me beg the question…what is “right” and what is “wrong”?
There’s a whole world out there with cultures and communities of people with different ways of doing things. I look at religion like this too. We live in this same, floating sphere in the universe, yet we all have different truths. So what is “true”, then?
Well, I believe, if you believe wholeheartedly that something is true, and your surroundings reaffirm that, then that is YOUR truth. And I believe that is real. A vision, fueled with a burning faith with the right emotion and mindset are some key ingredients in the Law of Attraction. We can actually create our reality. We live in the same world hypothetically, yet all looking through different lenses, and sharing very different experiences. Kind of wild.
Knowing this, I think it’s so important to experience as many communities with open arms as possible. See how people think, and talk and act. Approach it with love, and if it doesn’t fully align with you, then send love, receive what you’ve been given, and keep searching.
Throughout my years of education, so many of my classroom settings were note oriented, and these killed me.
I didn’t enjoy these experiences. Then my life changed when…I took a theater class. You see, in order to succeed in a theater class, you must be vulnerable. You must interact with your classmates. You do physical exercises and practices and every second is engaging. I fell in love with this style of learning.
I knew the name of every single one of my classmates’. We were like a little family. I looked forward to these classes. Our professor built a community. We all belonged. We felt apart of something.
In my math classes for example, it was never like that. Sure we may have done some group work and exercises, but it felt so divided. I would then go to the dining hall, and the theater kids brought extra chairs to their tables, were laughing and loud and connected and I deeply envied that. As I continued to people watch, I saw couples on their phones, empty chairs between different friend groups, and there just wasn’t a lot of love in the air.
I know you may be thinking, “Andrew, bro, chill with the love man”, but Noooooo. It is everything. We all deeply want to be loved and seen and heard and understood. We want to surround ourselves with people that excite us and bring out the best in us, while we bring out the best in them.
One of the best nights of my life was a Prom for beautiful special needs kids called “Joy Prom” and “Night to Shine”. We dressed to the nines, had a big DJ, a photobooth and dinner. It was a legit Prom. Only this time, unlike High School, I was sober. I danced my ass off with my new friends, and the love was in the air. We cheered on the stars of the night as they walked across the red carpet until we lost our voices. Everyone had such a pure heart, and in that room, I have never felt so much love. I felt alive.
Loneliness, while not necessarily quantifiable, is taking people’s lives. It seems that as time ticks we are getting further and further apart, deeply disconnected from our old roots. This epidemic of loneliness is real.
I recently read a Charles Eisesnstein book called “A More Beautiful World Our Hearts Knows Is Possible”. He talks about the story of separation that is run in so much of our society. But we are all truly connected. The next Gandhi is not going to be a person, it is going to be a collective, a coming together.
I know we have social stigmas that make branching out of social settings the most horrifying thing in the world, but give it a try.
Give a stranger a compliment.
Join yoga or painting or cooking or any class that interests you and be yourself.
Approach everyone as a friend.
Make the first step. (Not only may you make a new best friend, but it’s also super empowering)
Shine your light.
The way we win all these wars, the wars that I can’t even count on one hand anymore, is by coming together. Loving our differences. Finding our tribes. Being true. Living vibrant, fulfilling lives.
I believe in this beautiful world.
Might sound too good to be true…but I believe.
It starts with you being the best you.
With me being the best me.
When we find each other, the world shines just a little brighter.
It becomes contagious.
Find your tribe.
I promise you, they’re out there.
And they will love you.