I'm in the desert, scantily clad and a beautiful piece of cloth wrapped around me, adorned in jewels and bindis. Now, mind you, this isn't my usual attire. You'd usually find me in a business suit, walking into offices of CEOs as a management consultant, giving them advice on what to do. But this isn't any desert. It's Burning Man. And it's the first night of my first burn, and I've lost my friends. And I'm in this world of strangers and lights who are practicing these rules of radical self-expressionism and radical acceptance.
And in that place, I'm just lost with how at home I feel. And I feel this urge, both a physical urge and an emotional urge, to push the edge. You see, I had to pee, but I don't wanna go and find a bathroom and leave this behind. I'm almost wondering if this is a place for radical self-acceptance. "I should just pee right here." And I begin to think, What if someone points at me or tackles me, or the cops come out, or a helicopter comes out with a spotlight on me. And I begin to think, I wanna know how much me can I be here, and still be accepted. So I pull over a little piece of this loin cloth that I'm wearing, raise my hands up to the air, yell out a loud scream and just begin to pee right there in the middle of the playa.
And courage was born inside me again. You see, I lost my courage very early in life. You can say it was yelled and beaten out of me by my parents. You can say it was strangled out of me by cultural expectations, religion, and society. You can say it was washed from me slowly from eighteen years of school. And I found myself as an adult without much courage, living a very mediocre life. Of course, it didn't look that way to others. I had a beautiful high-paying six-figure job and a condo in downtown that was part of the Parade of Homes and my dream car. And everyone said, "You're doing it," but I knew it was mediocre. I had also succumbed so much to being the good boy, to doing all of the things that lacked courage, that I had actually taken a vow of celibacy blocking out those things which today I use so much—love, connection, pleasure, bliss—all so I could be the perfect virgin husband for my perfect virgin wife that my family would arrange a perfect marriage for me to be in.
But it didn't turn out that way. I'm in bed in a room in the dark with a naked man beside me. And in this moment, I'm feeling more free than I've ever felt before. And I feel so much energy moving through me, through the room, through us, and something comes over me. You see, I met Corey in Cleveland, Ohio. He's a twenty-two-year-old white boy from Texas that I met on a night out with my coworkers at work who wanted to go out to the gay bars. And I said, "Sure, let's do it." And at first, I didn't think much of him, but as the night went on, something happened that I felt this deep desire to take care of this man. Maybe be taken care of by him as well, but to love him and to just be there for him.
And inextricably, not knowing what was pulling me, I found myself knocking on his door to borrow a drill just so I can hang out with him. And over time, our connection got deeper and deeper. We began spending so much of our time together. We even began traveling together, and it was in Peru where everything came to a head, and he said to me, "Jaymin, I want you to be my boyfriend."I could just feel the looming dooming feeling of judgment and finger-pointing and all of this. I don't know. Ugh. It's too much to think about. But another part of me felt really brave, and some courage lit up, and I felt more alive in me than ever before. And without worrying about what this meant about me and who I was or what all this is, I just said yes to him. And so we're here in bed in the dark, laying together. And before I can even think fully, some of the most truest words I've ever said just fall outta my mouth into this dark void. And I say to him, "I love you, man." And in this timelessness, I heard a voice come back from the other side of the universe, and from within me, and from his mouth all simultaneously saying, "I love you too, dude."
And I felt more free and alive in that moment. You could feel the courage break apart all the walls around my heart that held me back to all the things I wanted most. And in this brave moment, I let it all in, and it changed my life. I've had many choice points throughout my beautiful life that I'm so grateful for, which have asked me to be courageous. I left my corporate job and started to become an entrepreneur that led me to incredible success beyond anything that I could imagine for myself. I had the courage to marry the woman of my dreams, even though it meant my mom not talking to me for five years and never meeting her grandchildren. It gave me the courage to show up when my second son was being born in an emergency situation where no one could get to us, and we couldn't get to anyone. And I had to look at my wife and just say, "Baby, push," and catch this baby as it came into this world. It gave me the courage to leave behind everything that was keeping me in mediocre shackles and come here to Bali, halfway around the world, where I live with my wife and my kids and our dog. And we live courageously every day.
I can't imagine a life without courage because of these moments that have cultivated the courage inside me even though it was my normal for so long. I can't imagine a life that I'm living that other people think is great, but I know is mediocre. After cultivating this courage inside and committing to living it every day, I can only live a life that is fully lived. A life where I allow miracles to happen every day, and I have the courage and the audacity to believe that everything is possible.
There's a knock on the window. Joshua, the tallest boy in my class, comes through it. First, his long blond hair followed by a Metallica T-shirt, ripped jeans, and combat boots. He's late. And if he comes in through the main entrance, he'll get detention. The thing is, he didn't oversleep. He works an early newspaper round to financially support his family. We all know it. And it's actually the teacher that opened the window for him because what he and I understand is that the rules are made up. Some other teachers—they don't get this.
And I often verbally disagree with how they run things. You know, I'm not the quiet type. "Sandra, another zero." My German teacher would crinkle her nose when giving me back a vocabulary test. You see, I inherited my mother's wicked way with words and my father's wicked brain, but somehow their desire for education escaped me entirely. I was bored.
I'm eight years old—in more pain than I've ever been in. My mother wasn't home. She was working late at a convention. My dad is lying on a couch with me. He's holding my head. He's crying. "Please give me your pain. Please give me your pain." The thing is, I've got an ear infection, but he's too drunk to get up and get me ear drops.
I'm seventeen and in the final year of high school. Even though it is a school night, all my closest friends are sitting on this huge circular couch that my mother and I picked out together. We talk about what teacher made a stupid joke and who's crushing on who. No one really wants to talk about what happened earlier that day.
Earlier that day, I'm sitting in the second to last row in a nondescript classroom. You know, the row where the average troublemaker usually sits. The door opens, and the head of my department walks in. He looks straight at me, and I laugh a little guiltily because what happened was I skipped some classes the week before. He and I, we had this fantastic system. I would write a note pretending it was my mom's saying that I was sick. He would accept my note and pretend to believe me. He asked me to follow him into the hallway. And I think Uh oh, I've been to the dentist one too many times this year. Instead, in the hallway, my mother is there. "Your father passed away earlier this morning," she says.
I'm six years old, and I'm learning to write. And it turns out I'm ambidextrous. I sit on my dad's knee in his tiny home office. It still smells like the cigar he just finished smoking. "Daddy," I say to him. "I can learn to write with my right hand or my left. Just like you." He swallows and looks at me solemnly. "When I was in the orphanage, they would hit my left hand with a ruler every single day because I couldn't write with the right hand."
After high school, I enroll in the Bachelor of Economics. Now I really wanted to study something way more unemployable and interesting. But after my parents got divorced, the once or twice my dad and I spoke, we could only talk about school. And I remember telling him, "Dad, I'm doing actually pretty well in economics." And he joked how I would end up as a fancy business lady in an expensive SUV instead of a muddy 4x4 that he would prefer. So when my mother suggested maybe I study something useful first, that's exactly what I did.
It's the first Monday of university. I am ready for a fresh start. A place where no one knows who I am and where I can be anyone other than the girl whose dad just died. However, after three days of math classes, I am utterly befuddled. "Why would anyone want to learn math that has both the regular alphabet and the Greek alphabet mixed in?" We're in the kitchen. My mom's on one side of the dining table, and I'm on the other. By then, I am so angry. Tears are coming down my face, and I'm screaming. "I don't get it. This was supposed to be fun. It's just math." She takes a deep breath and sniffs back at me. "So quit. I don't want you living in my house if you're gonna be like this."
It's the second Monday of university. I'm in a small room with only forty students. A small lady is in the front. She's got this ramrod straight spine and short dark hair. There's gray in it and pain in her eyes. She's lecturing under the early beginnings of Judaism. And she carries the history of her people with her every single day. For the very first time in my life, I'm starting to think that maybe I'm not the smartest person in the room after all.
You know, there's this thing that students always need more of, and I'm sure you can guess it's money. So what happens is I end up working in the Amsterdam airport and, if you've worked in hospitality, you know about this, we don't have clients or customers. No, we have guests. I'm not sure what kind of guests would leave their croissant crumbs all over your house and yell at you when their flight is delayed. It's more like feeding an army of angry two-year-olds.
And in this job, my female managers—they don't like me much. I don't know. Young, pretty, smart-mouthed—not everyone's cup of tea. Clang! I'm in the back slicing tomatoes. The cute dishwasher tells me about his weekend, and I'm relieved to be away from our guests. There's three managers huddled behind a computer. My favorite male manager speaks. "We need to order Mountain Dew." The nicest female manager that stole three bar shifts from me the week before after we had a disagreement speaks next. "Um, Mountain Dew. Do you spell that with M O U or M A U?" That's when I decide I never want to work for someone who's dumber than me ever again.
It's 23rd August 2017. By then, I've finished seven years of university. I'm officially an engineer. I've helped neuroscientists figure out where God lives in the brain. I've done research about tourism in India. I've presented on people going on pilgrimages to Elvis Presley's house. Surprisingly, I can't find a job. So what happens is that I enroll as an entrepreneur at the Chamber of Commerce.
For the first time in my life, I feel like my dad and I have something in common after all. You see, when he was sober, he was working, building, selling, inventing, tinkering. And actually, by the time I was nine, our family home was paid off. And it's this thing where we share maybe a hunger to decide what we do with our time. A hunger that did not have to listen to what anyone else wants for us and a desire to get paid for the stuff our brain comes out with. I'm utterly clueless as to what I'm doing. And although my dad would've known nothing about online marketing, for the first time in my life, I miss him. And I wanna tell him, "Dad, even though I didn't end up writing with my left hand after that little speech of yours, maybe we're the same—you and I.
It's 27th February 2021. And in the past three and a half years, I've signed clients, and I've lost clients. I've left friends behind, and I found a new family here. I've messed up more than I can count, but I've also done really well for myself. Most days, I still have no clue what I'm doing, but I do know this. No one else chose my life for me.
You see, I love words. Words are powerful. And sometimes you hear some words from some friends and they will stay with you for quite a long time. Like these three words a friend shared with me, "Revealing is healing."
So today, I would like to reveal to you the story of how I began my journey into this life. And to be quite honest with you, everything I'm gonna tell you I wish I didn't tell you, but I'm gonna do it. When I was six years old, I'm starting to journey into life and into school. I'm just like every other boy of my age except I've a strange name, my hair is very red, and I've got many freckles on my skin. No big deal, but I'm also the only one like this in the school. And one day in the playground, a group of boys come and they stand all around me. There are many, and I'm alone. And they start to scream at me some very intelligent stuff like "Carrot hair, carrot hair, you've got rusty skin." I'm six years old. The only thing I get is that I'm scared. They continue. And one comes and pushes me, and I'm falling. They are laughing, and I'm crying on the floor. To be honest, I hated it.
So imagine this on repeat over many years quite a few times. I had to learn to live with this fear looking down. And I never know when the next treatment of humiliation would come around. At some point, I told myself that I need to talk about it and ask for help. So who's the first person you talk to? Your mother. "Mum, at school, there are boys. They always make fun of me. They call me names all the time, and they hurt me. Mom, please do something. Help me." "Listen, it's nothing. It's just words. They won't kill you. Get over it, okay, and stop it." Now you see those words—they felt like they were killing me. I felt unseen, and unmet, and unworthy. And I get it. My mother—she's a schoolteacher. And the only thing that matters to her is the good grades. And I can do that quite well but for the rest. The shaming, the humiliating, the bullying "doesn't matter" means to me I do not matter.
So, as you can imagine, I had a poor level of self-esteem as I grew up, and I had to live like that because life goes on. So me and my good grades, we had a mission—destination; find a job. And eventually, I did. I ended up working and as an executive in a bank, and it's not exactly the dream job. I'm working far too much, and I'm burning out. My dad passed away, and my girlfriend at the time had a great idea. She disappeared overnight. Not happy. I'm depressed.
One day I'm waking up, and everything feels blurry. My mind is foggy. I can't make sense of anything. And I can't recognize where I am. All I hear is beep beep beep, beep beep. Somebody comes. This man is a nurse, and he tells me, "You're in hospital, in the intensive care unit. You had a bad accident. You cannot move for the moment. Be patient. We're taking care of you." I don't understand. All I know is that I'm in this bed, and my body's plugged to many machines, and there's many pipes in my body, and I can't move.
I'm just waking up from a coma that lasted fourteen days. And I'm on my way to the third of three surgeries—long, complex, and major surgeries. So days go by in this intensive care unit. And eventually, with time, things got a bit better, and I'm taken to a patient room, and one day a doctor comes, and he tells me, "We think that you intended to end your life when you drove that car into a tree." "What are you talking about?" I have zero memory of anything. Zero. But there's one thing I get is that to him, there's something wrong with me and I'm trouble.
And again, here I am filled with shame and guilt. To be honest, I felt crap. And I start to understand that they have a plan for my life—a plan that I don't like—and I start to feel the trap. And there's no way I'm gonna let myself go there. So a few months later, as soon as I could, I found myself a place somewhere, anywhere. And I got myself out of hospital, and I left behind all the medical programs. I'm twenty-nine. I'm rather crippled. I'm alone, and I'm scared for my life. But I know I have to do something. I have to fix myself. And I have no idea how I'm gonna do that.
Eventually, at some point, I managed to pick myself up, and one step at a time, day after day, I got there, and it wasn't like I go from there to there, more like this. I had to bring myself back up many times, and I received some very mysterious help along the way. And I learned a lot. So I embarked on this journey of self-healing and bodywork. And eventually, I got there. I spent the last seventeen years trying to fix this body so it can be functional. And this is now part of my daily life. And it will always be. And I kind of like it like that, in fact. But what happened to the other part of me? What happened to this scared boy, the part of me that was keeping me hiding, taking no risk, and playing little in life?
I realized that instead of walking towards life, I was walking away from life. So I still had to fix that part. And something had to happen. Early this year, as I'm enjoying my morning routine, not the one you're thinking of—the French one, coffee, croissant in a café—I meet a very inspiring person, and I feel extremely motivated when she talks to me about her upcoming course starting in two days. Something inside feels this is right for me. So within five minutes of knowing her, I said, "Deal. Please sign me in. I'm coming." And I'm excited. I'm gonna start a course learning to do something I've been wanting to do for a long time—if not all of my life.
So we are halfway into the training and my initial excitement changed a bit to slightly uncomfortable, embarrassment, and fear. I think I've made a mistake. This wasn't for me. I don't have what it takes. And naturally, I opened up to the teacher about it, and she listened. She said, "I get it. Why don't you go home and watch a few more videos of other students who did the course and try to find inspiration? See if it works for you. And we'll see how it goes from there." Sounded like a good idea.
So I go home that night and get on my laptop and get online. I watch one video after the other, one video after the other. And as I'm watching, I can see there's one thing in me that says, "Oh yeah, me too. I'm gonna do that." And there's another part of me who says, "No way. I don't have what it takes. There's no chance I'm gonna do that." So you see, that night I'm split, and I can't sleep. I'm anxious, and I'm nervous, and I don't know what's going on. I'm in my bed. I'm tossing and turning, tossing and turning. And I'm trying to figure out what is this all about?
And in the middle of this tossing and turning, I start to have flashbacks and some vague memories. And I start to connect the dots. I'm afraid that I can die from shame and humiliation. It's all about my initial trauma of public humiliation in school. That night there's a frightening monster just came out of the dark, and I'm scared. So at this point, I have two options. I go for it, and I face it. Or I quit. I resign, and I give up, which will feel like I'm driving my car into the tree one more time. And also, I would have to tell everybody, and I would have to face the shame of telling them one more time. And that's not me. That's the old me.
So I consider that. "Trust me, trust the process. Use the framework I'm giving you, and you'll be just fine. Do as I tell you. Trust me. I know my stuff." Those were the words that we heard at the beginning of the training from our coach. And it sounded doable, and it sounded easy. So I had to remind myself of those words, but also of my intention that I had taken many years ago to transform myself and to overcome the hurdles that were in my way—my own limiting beliefs. So I took a firm decision that I'm gonna go for it. And eventually, with the practice with the team, I crafted my story. Not one time. God knows how many times I repeated over and over again. And I got there. I mean, I got here. I got here, and I didn't come here alone. I brought with me a six-year-old child.
And me speaking in front of you here is him beating the beast from the past and taming the ghosts. When I was a child, I loved any kind of superhero. We do that, right? But I thought about it many, many times until I understood that it was just because I wanted to be like one of them—out of my wound of feeling unworthy, inadequate, or not enough. So I met a superhero, and he's six years old, and I know where he lives. You see, life has extremely mysterious ways and powerful ways to make whole again that which was once broken.
And my mom was right. These words didn't kill me. Though they nearly did. And my friend was right that "Revealing is healing," but I found something else. That "Healing is also revealing." Let me explain. My journey of healing myself has revealed to me my strengths within my weaknesses. My termination within my fears. My capacities within my doubts and my beauty within my vulnerability and my many scars. Now, I am no different. I know that all of you, all of you here tonight, without exception, you all have many scars of many types, and they're beautiful. They make you beautiful. They can reveal your inner gems, your inner treasures, which I hope you'd see for yourself. But more importantly, they do not define who you are. Our scars do not define who we are because it's up to us to choose how we're gonna write the story. And in life, a real story never has an ending. It only has new beginnings.
So my new story goes like this. I'm forty-five, and I'm a lucky man living on the gorgeous island of Bali surrounded by amazing inspirational people. I'm coming back, and I'm ready. I've got two powerful and amazing friends that will be always there for my life. Fear—hello, fear. Vulnerability—hello, vulnerability. With these two guys, I'm walking towards my life, and I'm willing to welcome what's coming my way. I know I might have to pick myself back up again more than one time because that's life. And I know also I will. My beautiful heart is now open and willing to share more of it. I'm ready. And now if you were to ask me, "How do I know I'm ready? How do we know when we are ready?" I think I would simply tell you that I was born ready for my life.
I'm five years old. And I find myself wearing my first suit. It was a matching replica of what my dad was wearing. Just think classic Men in Black. We were in Las Vegas at one of the most iconic hotels in the entire world—the MGM Grand—at my father's company convention. While holding my dad's hand, walking through the casino, we saw it. Lit in bright lights, surrounded by people with their film roll cameras taking photos. As we got closer, my grip got tighter, and there it was—the grand prize that the casino was advertising—one million dollars in $20 bills in stacks of $10,000. Now gripping my dad's hand with all my might to get his attention. In his face, I can see the excitement that we shared. Smiling, I said next, "Dad, I'm gonna be a millionaire."
Once we made it back home to the Boogie Down Bronx in New York City, where I was born and grew up, I started sharing my excitement of becoming rich without having a clue what that would entail. My excitement got so bad that my mom one day snapped at me and said, "Look, boy, shut up."
After this experience, I felt it was no longer safe to express. I isolated myself. I couldn't relate to others. They just weren't interested in talking about the same things that made this heart beat a little bit faster, that consumed this mind day and night. You see, while the other kids were sitting up straight doing what they were told and getting high out of getting good grades, I was daydreaming. I was doodling. I was masterminding in my mind what I deemed to be a compelling future. When I got home from school while my sisters were doing homework, I was listening to my dad's personal development and business tapes in Spanish. Over the years, hundreds of them. What resonated about these tapes and what fueled my drive was that everyone that I listened to shared how they were just like me, often misunderstood, misfits, rebels, troublemakers, the ones who saw the world differently and who weren't fond of rules.
Thanks to this habit and others that were later developed, before my nineteenth birthday, I made my first $100,000. Before my twenty-second birthday, I had broken the sales record at one of the most iconic brands in the entire world. Before my twenty-fifth birthday, I had helped my clients generate tens and tens of millions of dollars.
And I was miserable. In fact, the moment I knew it was after leading a two-day, all-day and night business seminar, which I call a top lion, for over two hundred people who had traveled from all around the country to be there. It was the fifth time in a series that was supposed to be hundreds all around the country for thousands of entrepreneurs. And because it wasn't New York City this time, I invited my family cos I wanted them to share this experience with me.
After two full days, it was the closing ceremony. And I asked everyone to stand in a massive circle around this grand ballroom with beautiful chandeliers. And I asked who would be willing to share what the last two days were like for them. Person after person after person said, "This experience changed my life. My life will never be the same. I've been to every event under the sun and this by far was the best." After everyone shared what they got out of this training, I looked at my dad, who was standing by the entrance of the ballroom to my right, and I see tears falling down his cheeks. In his eyes, I saw what I can only describe as proud. And I imagine if I can hear his inner dialogue, it would've said something like, "That's my boy."
In that moment, I felt something I lost when I was nine years old. As I arrived home from school, out was walking my father suitcase and bags in hand. I knew. I immediately dropped my book bag and ran to my dad with all my might, and I dropped to my knees, and I grabbed my father's legs. As I looked into his eyes as I was crying, I said, "Pa, please don't go." I knew my parents were going through a hard time, but none of us expected this. My mother grabbed me, and without saying a word, he walked out. I blamed myself for my parents' divorce.
And now here we were in this grand ballroom with tears falling down his cheeks. I finally felt I did it. Everything I ever wanted to do with my existence to make my father proud, to have him witness me having done it—the materialization of that moment we shared when I was just five years old. I felt the tears coming before I stopped them. And in that moment, an undeniable feeling of truth arose inside of me. And it was that I had been living my life to get my dad's love, to get my dad to come back.
Every action surgically taken to show him that I am worthy, to show him that I am significant. And in that moment, I can clearly see that none of it mattered to me at all. And this was confirmed when I woke up the next day, feeling my entire body sore in every part of my body from giving my heart and soul on that stage for over thirty hours over the course of two days. And I remember the first thought that arose in my mind, and it was Now what? Now what? I had just done everything I thought I ever wanted to do with my existence. And I felt nothing.
That's when I knew I couldn't do it anymore. That was the last time I facilitated that training. One week later, I find myself on a plane to a tiny island in Thailand. This is me walking away from it all. Everything felt like it was crumbling, including my identity and who I thought I was. I had to get away. Maybe this is how my dad felt when he walked away from me, my mother, and my three sisters. My experience in Thailand only intensified things. I literally could not focus and do basic tasks that my business required to thrive.
I became a person I did not recognize and found myself in a love affair that broke me open in ways I now see were necessary but were so painful. One day I'm sitting at a busy cafe attempting to get some work done that my team had been waiting on for weeks. And it started to rain. And when it started to rain in walked this couple and they see two empty seats positioned directly in front of me and they say, "Can I sit?" Then the next words outta this guy's mouth whose name I would later find out was Chris was, "It looks like you're working on something important." "You could say that." And just like that, we went on to have a beautiful conversation.
Now when I say we went on to have a beautiful conversation, what I mean is we spent all the time talking about me, which is something I would only realize much, much later. And somewhere in that conversation, I asked, "What's your story? What do you do?" I can't remember exactly what he said, but it was something along the lines of, "I help people who are ready to wake up wake up." Looking at the clueless look on my face, he went on and said, "Basically, it's the next step from where you are now." Now I was very intrigued. I asked him to tell me more. "Well, it's hard to explain, man. It's really something you have to have a direct experience of to understand. If you feel called, I can give you an introduction section." "I feel called. How do we connect?" And we exchanged contacts, and I walked out.
The longer I stayed on the island, the more lost I felt. During a sunset walk on the beach, I remember hearing my inner voice say, "You need help. You need help." And in that moment, I remembered what Chris said. "When you're ready, just get in touch."
Now I was ready. And what Chris put me through next, I cannot put into words. What I experienced that day was the beginning of discovering who I would be if my father was dead. I was confronted with questions I could no longer ignore. Who am I beyond my father's approval? What might I discover about myself? What would life demand of me? And how generous would I be with my one wild and precious life? What Chris started to teach me that day was a very simple practice to take total responsibility for my inner world. To let go of what no longer serves me by relaxing into my heart's truth, no matter what, no matter what over and over and over again, especially when I don't feel like it. Whenever I was lost in my mind wrestling with my ego to find the comfortable place to rest, Chris would have me repeat a simple mantra, which was, "I don't know. I don't know anything."
Sitting there in the unknown. Empty with no desire to fix, prove, protect, fight, or even blame. That's when a drive infinitely more powerful than any other force I've ever experienced in my life arose. It whispered into my mind a question. "Do you or do you not want to know what's beyond yourself?" "Yes. Yes, I do." Now in life's infinite wisdom, she met me by showing me where my limits were, where my openness and presence stopped, where I was seeking certainty and significance rather than growth and contribution. Going through this was the hardest thing I've ever gone through my entire life. It was an ego's death, but I leaned into it despite the uncertainty of it all. And the more I did, through how I showed up moment to moment in my life, the more life showed me it's not about me.
It revealed to me how, when I get out of the way, my presence can impact the web of life and my existence matters by itself. And how to the proportion I hold this presence, I can experience what it's like to feel free from the chains of suffering and how when I'm free of suffering, I can contribute to breaking down the walls of separation between myself, others, and how others relate to their mission— to create a more connected humanity and world through my God-given gifts, which is a whole new way to do business and build brands that matter for generations to come. Because what's business about at the end of the day? Is it about validating our own egos, or is it about creating a dream come true result for those we have the privilege to serve?
After this realization, I wanted nothing to do with this stage until I knew it would be different. Until my clarity of purpose was so abundantly clear that it radiated out my presence so intensely that it could not be ignored. Until it was no longer about feeding this monster called my ego, which I created to meet my need for certainty and significance. Until I cared more about what the universe wanted from me than feeling safe in this fragile heart.
Well, now here I am. Here I am. Was it easy? No. In full transparency, it still isn't at times. I had to give up the safety of the illusion of control, which means I had to master the terrifying act of being vulnerable—the one thing I wanted to avoid since I was five because it wasn't safe. To be different and to be generous. Shutdown after shutdown after shutdown. Rejection after rejection after rejection.
It never felt safe to be me. And let me be clear. I don't want it to come across as if I have it all figured out or that everything always works out because it doesn't, but life is not here to be lived perfectly. It's here to be lived generously. And to me, what that means is what I give while I'm here matters. This is not a belief or a knowing. Through experience, it is my truth as I've seen the miracles. So here's my generous invitation to all of you. If you're anything like me, and you too know you're here to be generous with your existence and a vessel for other people's growth in some way, some shape, or some form, I say, let's do that. Let's not let our past or our current awareness of what's possible limit how generous we can be with our existence.
I believe part of our destiny is to align and lean into the vastness of our future, especially when our mind says, "That's not a good idea!" But you know. You know. It's step by step, experience by experience, to become the person you've always wished to be. To get out of the way and let life be generous through you.
My name is Pedro, and I believe in the power of being generous.
I'm twelve years old. I'm on the school bus I ride to and from school every day—that big yellow bus with the double-seater seats with the little kids in the front and the big kids in the back. Well, today I'm in the middle of the bus. I'm talking to all my friends, having our usual banter bouncing up and down. And I hear a voice. Tanner Johnson. Ugh, your standard school bully. Well, Tanner yells from the back of the bus as loud as he possibly can for everyone on the bus to hear right at me, "You are a brown cow." Brown cow—attacking everything that's different about me.
You see, I'm your star child. I get straight A's. The teachers love me. I don't wanna stand out for any reason. I'm already the tall girl with big curly hair, dark skin, dark eyes. I've got the middle Eastern nose. I don't wanna stand out. In that moment, I flashback to years ago.
I'm six years old. We're at the Calgary Stampede, this big citywide event. We're in this crowded room, shoulder to shoulder. And with my family, we shuffle onto this escalator, and this woman turns around and tells my parents to go back where they came from. And as slowly as the escalator is moving down to the floor below, this feeling of sadness moves up and wraps me up. And this knot that had never existed before has now formed in my stomach. I don't remember what my dad said in that moment, but I know that he stood up for us. And I also remember that my heart broke, and I never wanted to feel this shame or sadness again. And so, this belief that I had to fit in to survive was solidified.
You see, my parents came to Canada in 1982 as refugees from their home country of Iran. At the time the newly formed government was persecuting my family and thousands of other families who were members of the Baha'i faith. The newly formed government was giving them two choices, recant your faith or face prison, and oftentimes even death. And so my parents chose to give up everything that was familiar to them, including their own family, and leave to find a life that was better for their children. My parents sacrificed everything to seek out opportunity, security, and acceptance. And the sacrifice that they made has informed every single decision that I have made in my life.
I'm back on the bus. And I remember the courage that my dad had in that moment. I take a deep breath like I'm breathing in the courage that my parents had when they were forced to leave their home and leave everything that was familiar to find a new life. And I look Tanner right in the eyes, and I yell as loud as I can, "At least brown cows make chocolate milk."
It was that moment that my warrior spirit was sparked because I knew that what I had to say in that moment was bigger than just standing up for me. It was about standing up for every kid on that bus that was different—to tell them that their differences have value. And to tell me that I don't have to be ashamed. The impact that I had on that bus and everyone around me was unforgettable. And I knew it was because I showed up as my authentic self. Being a member of the Baha'i community, I grew up with this tight-knit community. It was awesome, but I also had formed some really strong beliefs. And I had drawn some really deep lines in the sand. If you were this, you were good. And if you were that you were bad.
And when I was twenty-one, I finally moved out on my own to go to university. But that meant that I had to leave that community that I was so familiar with and comfortable with. Now I'm in this new city, and I have to make new friends. And all of a sudden, these people aren't fitting into the boxes that I had once created. I'm meeting people who are gay, straight, bisexual, non-drinkers, drinkers, weed smokers, weed-growers, weed trimmers, doctors, yogis, teachers, artists, cultural creators, and some who are all of the above. And unexpectedly, they're all inspiring me to be my best self which is incredible and eye-opening and heart-opening. And also really scary because that meant that I had to reidentify the way I saw myself moving through this world with this new understanding and this new empathetic heart. The world went from being easily black and white to completely gray. And I was scared, and I felt like I was being a traitor, particularly to my parents and this community that loved me so deeply because they also brought so many incredible things into my life.
And so I retreated. I needed time to understand and figure it all out. Well, what did that look like? I stopped meditating. I stopped praying. I stopped reflecting. I was drowning in sadness. The guilt was overwhelming.
And then one day I'm sitting in my room alone, and I look over at my nightstand, and there's this Baha'i book of meditations that I used to read from daily, and something was calling me that it was time to pick up the book. So I reach over, and I open it. And this is what I read. "The more difficulties one sees in the world, the more perfect one becomes. The more you plow and dig the ground, the more fertile it becomes. The more you cut the branches of a tree, the higher and stronger it grows. The more you put the gold in the fire, the purer it becomes. The more you sharpen the steel by grinding it, the better it cuts. And therefore, the more sorrows one sees, the more perfect one becomes."
In reading these words, I realize that the pain of this past year wasn't for nothing. I am the earth being plowed. I am the gold and the fire becoming more and more pure. I am the steel being sharpened. I started reading these words every morning, and every night I would breathe these words so that every cell in my body could feel these words because they reminded me that you don't have to be afraid. You don't have to be afraid of pain or confusion. It wasn't all wrong. I was coming out stronger. I was forging my new own path. I wasn't being a traitor. In fact, I was just being really honest with myself.
And the biggest thing that I realize is you don't have to forget your past to grow. In fact, it's the foundation that you are growing upon. The values that I grew up with are still within me and play a role in my life because nothing in life is a mistake. Looking back, the twelve-year-old me could have been quiet on the bus, and I didn't have to follow my heart. And I would've still been of service today, but I know it wouldn't have been with the same impact. And most importantly, the feeling of righteousness that I have in my bones. And it feels so good to know that this is my truth. The path of creative service is not dissimilar from the one named in the Baha'i meditation. It's not always an easy one, but the more I am willing to plow, the more I am willing to have my branches cut and to face the grind, the more powerful and impactful it becomes. I need me. Not the condition me. Not the one trying to impress, not the one feeling unworthy. I just need me. I need the authentic me to shine through. And that's why I'm here today to share my authentic truth with you.
February 20th, 2016. I'll never forget this date. I'm at the Vancouver International Airport, and I just got my ticket stamped. I'm feeling hopeful. I'm about to start my life over. I'm getting out. I'm leaving Vancouver. I'm moving to Bali. I'm starting over, starting fresh. It's my full reset.
See, for the last eight years, I had been getting sucked deeper and deeper into organized crime. I grew up in the area. It was normal, but I wasn't that type of guy. I was fucking my life up. And if I didn't get out then, I wasn't gonna make it out. I could feel it coming. I was with my girlfriend, Leah, at the time. We were making it out.
I got onto that passenger bridge, you know, that little weird walkway to get to the plane. And what I saw floored me. It was six border security agents and a police dog. What they saw? An inked out brown boy with a Louis Vuitton T-shirt, diamond earrings, and a Ferragamo man purse with a hot bombshell girlfriend. They looked right at me into my soul and said, "You. Come over here. We've got some questions for you." And I was like, Oh shit. You see, I was way too high to handle this situation.
My best friend gave me a bottle of THC weed oil to have a pleasant trip. And I took way too much by accident. He said, "Where are you going?" And I was like, "Ahhh, Bali?” I could barely speak English. He goes, "Okay. How long are you going for?" Meanwhile, while he was asking me questions, I was surrounded by the agents. And one of the agents was poking my pockets so the dog could sniff them. So I was trying to answer questions head-on with this dog sniffing in my pockets behind me. And I looked and was high as fuck.
So he goes, "How long are you going for?" And I'm like, "Uhh, two, three months." He goes, "How do you not know how long you're leaving for?" I was like, "Well . . ." He's like, "Are you running away from something?" I was, yeah, absolutely. See, for the last three months, I thought I was under investigation. Things were hot for me. I needed to leave. I was paranoid. I was freaking out, and I thought he could see right through me. I was bombing the situation, and he could smell fear. And I don't know what that dog could smell, but I had drugs on me. See, I was a drug-addicted drug dealer. This was the lowest moment of my life. I was addicted to opiates. I had eight oxycotton in my man purse right there. I had a bottle of methadone in my carry-on luggage.
I was going to Bali. I was getting clean. I was done, but I needed enough to get me to that detox center. I'd be sick on the plane if I didn't have it. I was, Can that dog smell this stuff? I don't know. But this guy said, "You're acting suspicious. Let's go to secondary questioning." We're going away from the plane now, off that little passenger plane, back into the terminal. And I'm like, Fuck, this is it. They're not gonna let you leave. This is a sting. This is where your worst fear is. You're done, buddy. You're going to jail. You're not passing Go.
So I get to that airport terminal, and that East Van punk kid in me, he was like, Take it like a man, bro. Don't look like a bitch in front of your girlfriend. So I go to that security agent and I go, "Look, man, if this is just for me, let's get this over with," as tough as I could. He looked back at me, and he is like, "Why would you say that? This is a routine check." They pulled over somebody else right beside me. I was like Fuck! Leah's like, "Shut the fuck up. You're ruining the situation." And I was. This other guy was some forty-year-old Vietnamese-looking dude, kind of sketchy looking. So he goes, "If I was to pull your suitcase, what would I find?" And I'm like, "Uhh, clothes." What he would find was more oxycotton and a set of fake identification that I used to rent work spots with. Add fraud to the charges, I would cop right then and there.
He reaches out for his walkie-talkie. He's gonna pull my suitcase off. Fuck! I see him reaching for it. If that suitcase comes off that plane, I'm fucked. I'm going to jail. I'm done. I'm not making that flight. No Eat, Prey, Love for me. Just as he is about to punch the numbers, I hear, "Fuck you! You're taking my liberty." The Vietnamese guy's freaking out. The entire airport stops and looks—international departures lounge of Vancouver airport. What the fuck? It's me—sketchy-looking brown guy. Sketchy-looking Vietnamese guy. Hot bombshell girlfriend, six border security agents, dog barking. "Sir, are you threatening me?" says the agent. The Vietnamese guy goes, "Fuuuck yooou!" I'm Damn!
The agent that's dealing with us is looking at the situation. This guy gets pounced on by the other cops. The other one's pulling back the dog. He's resisting arrest. The agent dealing with me is trying to figure out what to do. It is a scene. I'm there. "Hey man, we're just trying to go to Bali. Can you let us go?" The agent looks at me, looks at the scuffle in the corner. Looks at me. He goes, "Okay, go."
I get back on that passenger bridge. I look at Leah. She's like, "Shut the fuck up and get on that plane." I'm like, "Yes, ma'am." I'm walking back to that plane. The entire stewardess crew is waiting for us at the door. We are the last ones on the flight. Everyone on the plane is seated, ready to go. And what they heard outside was, "Fuck you. You're taking my liberty. Are you threatening me? Fuck you." A dog barking. I walk in.
The stewardess takes my ticket. My hand's trembling as I come in. She's like, "Yeah, 84 F all the way to the back in the middle." Fuck. I have to go past everyone looking at me. Holy shit, what the fuck just happened? I have to ask a little old lady to get outta my way cos I'm in the middle. I sit down. She looks at me. "What happened?" I'm like, "No, no, don't, not right now."
Waiting for that flight to take off was an eternity. Finally, we lift off. I'm sitting there having a panic attack in that seat. As soon as I hear ding from the seatbelt sign, I rushed to that bathroom. Locked the door behind me. And that's when I had a come to God moment. I almost didn't make it. I almost didn't get here. I was laughing and crying at the same time in a little airplane toilet. I couldn't process the emotions. I almost didn't get this life. I almost didn't get that second chance. I remember I made a promise right then and there on that toilet seat. It was a serious moment!
Fighting back tears and laughing, I went to thank the universe. This was divine intervention. This was guardian angels. This was something special that just came down and was like, "You're almost not gonna get it. Here you go." And I had to honor that. I had to thank that moment. "Okay. I get it. I promise I'm gonna be good. I promise I'll make a difference. I promise I'll help others. I promise." Right then and there, I'm gonna make a difference. Just I didn't really know how. I grew up in East Van around thugs. I didn't know what to do. How do I be a good guy?
So I spent the next ten months using that addictive personality I had to personal development, spiritual journeying. I did everything possible I could think of to try to get spiritual. I did the yoga teacher trainings. I did the tantra trainings. I did the meditation retreats. I danced ecstatically, really awkwardly. I did the cacao ceremonies, the plant medicines, the mushrooms. I did all sorts of weird spiritual things the guys in my hood would've kicked my ass for.
I traveled. I went through all over Southeast Asia, and I found myself in this random Bhutanese Himalayan Vajrayana Buddhism Conference, surrounded by monks. And I still had my Louis Vuitton T-shirt on and the same diamond earrings. I lost them now, thankfully.
I was at this conference, and I was still outta place. I locked eyes with a guy across the room. He wasn't really a guy. He was someone special. He had long salt and pepper hair. He wore a white robe. He had big Rudraksha beads. He looked like he could fly. I walked over to him. I sat in his presence, and it was different. He was radiating love. I felt so comfortable around him. He was an Indian guru known as Guruji. And when I connected with him, things shifted. He invited me back to his ashram in India and, when a guru invites you to his ashram, you go.
So I rock up at this ashram a few months later. It was a powerful time for me—around a bunch of other yogis. And one of the days, the staff had the day off, and Guruji asked us who could come with him to go buy vegetables. I was like, "Yo, me." I push all the yogis outta my way. “I'm going with Guruji. He picked me.” I was like, "Fuck yeah. Just, yeah. I mean, Namaste." Chill. So we get outside. Guruji has a car. I'm like, Guruji has a car? What did I expect? A carpet or something? I don't know. So we get into his car, and I'm in a fucking white compact car with a guru driving through the streets of India, watching him drive like, Yo Guruji just shifted gears. Guruji just used the turn signal. Guruji just merged into traffic. I was watching a spiritual dude do normal people things. That was cool.
We get to this Indian market, and it was hectic. Like ten thousand people, ducks, dogs, chickens, pigs, cows. It was a lot. When I got there, I saw how he acted and how I acted. See, in between dodging piles of cow shit and trying not to lose Guruji in this crowd, I had the most spiritual moment I ever had. See, the way that he rolled and the way that I rolled were different. His presence was that of love and compassion. It was radiating on everyone around him. And I had presence. I had intuition, but it was from the dope game. I was constantly surveying the area around me. Where are the exits? Who's behind me? I'd never have my back towards an entrance. I'd constantly be sizing everybody up. You a threat? You trying to rob me? What are you? A cop?
And it was tough. I was filled with anxiety. I was never safe. I didn't trust anybody. He was love. It was as if he floated through the crowd. He was buying cucumbers with love. He was buying eggplants with love. He bought oranges with love. Seeing him do normal people things with this presence, that was spirituality to me. That was the shift. Okay. That's what I want. Yeah. I want to be bringing that energy to people. See, I still had the paranoia in me. I still had the fear in me. I had left the dope game, but the dope game didn't leave me.
And it was from that moment I started to shift, and I asked him in his little white car on the way back to the ashram, "How are you so peaceful? How do you manage that? How do you have that presence? And he said, "Love." Okay. Okay. I thought about that for a while. Okay. What does that mean? I was still wrestling with so much from back in the past. And I realized, from then on, I had to bring that love to it. I was fighting demons within me that whole time. And when I brought that love within myself, into my own demons, into the shadows, things shifted. I was able to start creating again. I was able to start doing but from a place of love—loving my shadows, loving the parts of me I hated. From then on, I was able to create four businesses in four years. Start giving. It was a big part of me that just wanted to give. It was cos I found love and peace with myself. 'Cause behind all that fear, that paranoia, that wanting to take, when you send love to it, you end up just wanting to give.
So now I was coaching people how to integrate these shadows, but I'm still a hustler. I'm creating hustlers. But now we hustle with heart. See, loving my own demons and doing that work—that's what shifted for me. Our greatest faults, our deepest shadows, our darkest demons can become our greatest allies. The worst things that ever happen to us can be our greatest gifts. I'd be so embarrassed and ashamed to tell all of you that I was an addict until I integrated that. And it became one of my superpowers. If I didn't do that, if I didn't have an airplane toilet breakdown, I wouldn't be here on this stage with this presence, bringing you my love.
I'm twenty-six years old. And I'm the new host of a small Swedish TV show. I'm just beginning to feel comfortable with the whole thing, like talking straight to the camera as if it was my best friend and the last couple of weeks, I'm starting to get a few really good reviews. They say that I have 'it.' I feel so good. And I feel so proud.
This day a man walks into the office. I've never seen him before, but he presents himself as a producer of the Nobel Prize live event. He sits down, and he looks at me all the time when he's speaking and starts saying that it's a four-hour-long live event. I know that and all of Sweden will be watching. And then he asks me if I want to be that year's TV host. I almost start laughing because I'm so new. I've just been on television for two months. I'm a beginner. And no, I'm not ready. Absolutely not. But the producer and reporters of my small TV show—they go nuts. They're so excited because they know I will be in all the newspapers, all the magazines, and I will spread light to the tiny TV show.
So I say yes to make them happy. Two months later, I'm dressed as a princess. I'm wearing a long blue silky dress, jewels, makeup, and I'm standing in the blue hall. It's the main hall of the Swedish town hall. It's a castle-like building with twenty-two-meter high ceilings, marble floors. And in just minutes, the Swedish king and queen will walk down the stairs, followed by this year's Noble Prize winners.
Yeah, I'm here to guide the TV audience throughout this four-hour-long live event. And yeah, it's a huge step in my career, and it's supposed to be a moment of celebration, but I can't breathe, and I can't feel my feet. And in the next moment, I experience something I've never experienced before. It's like I contract into a small bubble. I leave my body, and suddenly I see myself from above looking down at myself at this empty shell standing on the floor.
And from that moment, it feels like I'm trying to survive the evening. I'm the captain of the Titanic, but I don't know anything about boats. The next day I wake up to an article in a newspaper, and the reporter says that watching me made her so embarrassed that she needed to hide behind a pillow. And the next day, I'm on the list of the most unpopular people of Sweden. I start looking down when I meet my coworkers in the TV corridors because I can't stand meeting their eyes. But I decide that I will learn from this. I will never ever not listen to my 'no' again.
So do I listen to my no from that moment? No, I don't. I say yes to having lunch when I want to eat alone. I go to parties when I would like to stay home. I stay too long in relationships. And I even say yes to impossible projects like playing a part in a theater play that requires me to travel for two hours and not getting paid, but instead needing to pay for the equipment, the rent, and no upside whatsoever and doing that for weeks until I can't stand it for one more minute and then quitting absolutely too late. It's insanity. I'm so afraid of making people disappointed that I end up with people being really disappointed and angry.
To be honest, I've never been a fast learner. I've done things over and over and over until they hurt myself and others. It feels like I'm walking around in this too-tight costume. I can't breathe in my own life. It feels like I'm dying.
So I leave this small TV show, and I decide that I will jump on to one-year actor training because I loved theater when I was a kid. And I'm so longing to be joyful as a kid again. And it's an incredible year—so much fun. And at the end of the year, we have a big performance. I don't know this, but there is a soap opera producer in the audience. And she calls me a few days later, and she asks me if I want to play one of the main characters in the soap opera Friends and Enemies. And I feel this instant joy like bubbling energy in my heart. Like, yes! And then crushing energy. Crushing thoughts saying, You can't do that. You're a serious journalist. Are you crazy? People will be so disappointed.
So I'm struggling with this for a week. Should I choose this joy that I'm feeling or this tight costume? It feels like for me going from being a serious journalist to becoming a soap opera actress is the same thing as if I would have been a nun and then suddenly become a stripper. And I don't know if you had the experience or if you remember the experience of being a teacher's pet or an adult's favorite and at the same time feeling the weight of that and that finally messing up and disappointing them sets you free. So that's what's happening—because I chose the soap opera. Ahh! And people judged me badly. I'm not at all seen as a serious journalist anymore, but I'm free.
Ten years later, I'm on vacation in the South of France with my husband and two kids. And we are walking by the ocean—glitter in the waves, a soft breeze, and these golden pink lights everywhere. And I just ask my husband to please stop. We just stand there. Me and him and our kids. I can feel it everywhere. "I want to live here. I want to move from Sweden to France." And I look at my husband, and he just nods and says, "Me too." But there is no way we can make this happen. We don't have the money. We don't have any job contacts or friends in the South of France. We have no one to pick us up if we fail.
And the following two months are the most scary and challenging of my life. It feels like I'm dying and being born at the same time because people get angry, upset, disappointed. How can we be so selfish, irresponsible, and leave people behind like that?
But every time I close my eyes and I think about a life in the South of France, I feel this bubbling life force running through my veins. And we take a leap of faith through the fear and with the courage of many lions. We made our way to France, and we found everything. We found a house, friends, money to survive, and so much more.
I'm not married anymore. And I don't live in the South of France anymore. Huge life changes that brought up my biggest fears—the fear of being alone, the fear of feeling guilty, ashamed. But it's never been about choosing or not choosing fear to me. It's been about listening to that inner voice that speaks to me through my longing, my inspiration. And sometimes as a very clear no. My soul's voice and my soul didn't choose life to be born here on earth to play small and safe or to please others. My soul wants me to grow and to expand and, most of all, to be happy. So my soul is my wise and kind guru.
It was the mid-1980s, somewhere in the middle of Canada—you know, the tall part of America!
Now there was actually a very, very fatal illness sweeping the nation, and little children were getting very sick. If they were cheated, they had disabilities. It was called spinal meningitis. It's orally contracted. And what happens is it goes into the spinal column, and it affects the nervous system. And, in effect, actually, the fever affects the brain so much that it can shut a small child down.
Now the 1980s. Tape decks, VCRs, station wagons, come on. Great decade! Budweiser was king, and Donald Trump was just a mere mortal wearing boxy suits and buying real estate. But I really wanna tell you about a little girl's journey, her brush with death, her glimpse at the other side. And that little girl is me.
I was sitting eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the stairs. I loved to sit there because I could watch all the foot traffic move around the house, but I was really hot, like really hot. And Oh, I love this sandwich. I'm not hungry anymore. What's happening to me? Oh, I'm gonna go to the kitchen and talk to the adults cos they always know what to do.
So I go to the kitchen, and I pull on Auntie Gina's shirt, and I'm like, "Auntie Gina, can you feel my forehead?" And she leans down, and she puts her hand on my forehead, and she says, "Oh dear, this child is really hot. I'm really concerned about her." Well, I scurry away because I'm like, Oh no, I've done something wrong now. Oh no, why am I so hot? And I put my little head through the banisters on the stairs, and I look out, and I listen to the adults as they make a commotion and talk about the hospital. Oh no, not the hospital. I really, really don't wanna go the hospital. That's where people go when they get really sick. Sure enough, they're throwing things into a bag. They're acting a little funny, and it's just a circus, and we're running out the door.
And the hospital—clean, clinical, bright white lights, beeping sounds—doctors, nurses being called to all different floors. Surely a doctor comes and stands right in front of me, and he assesses me immediately. And he says, "This child is very sick. We think she has spinal meningitis. If we test her, we might lose her. Let's get her immediately to intensive care." I'm isolated in a room. I'm dressed in white. I'm sitting straight up in my bed. I now have intravenous being put into my arms—medicine running through my body. I don't know what's happening.
My mother comes and sits on the corner of my bed, and she says to me, "Sweetheart, do you know what you have?" "No, I don't." "It's spinal meningitis, sweetheart." "Spider man ingitis? Oh, that sounds really scary." "Yes. We're very concerned for you. You see, we need you to make it through the night." "Okay." And with that, she got up, and she exited the room and went into the hall. It had grown quiet now, and night was falling. I sat in my bed, medicine running through my body. Exhausted. And I fell asleep.
Sure enough, I woke up to something coming down next to me. A spider. Oh, okay. I'm gonna close my eyes. I'm gonna get myself really nice and tight like a board. And hopefully, this will go away. I open my eyes. I turn to the right. What-what is going on over here? Three unidentifiable shadowy men standing next to my bed. So I now have a spider and three men over here. Oh boy. This is what she was telling me about. If I close my eyes really tight, I think, Yeah, this is gonna go away, right? Yeah. And it does.
That was a close one. Okay. But now what's going on now? Oh my God. I'm in a hospital, and I can hear dogs barking. There are three, four, five dogs in the room with me. They're barking so loud. They're snarling. They are drooling, and they are attacking my bed. They know I'm vulnerable, and they're coming for me. They're gonna take me down to Hades and present me to Persephone. What is going on? They oh, they can't get in. Oh, thank goodness. They can't get in. They keep attacking it, but they can't get in. There's a bubble around my bed that's protecting me—some kind of a force field.
Thank goodness. Okay. I'm just gonna wait this out. This is just gonna go away. Yeah. Daylight is breaking. I can see it now. And like a good vampire movie, I know those dogs are going away, and they just get off of me, and they slither away through the cracks of the room. And the room is bathed in this warm white light. And I'm like, Oh, thank goodness. I've made it through the night.
But now what's happening? I thought this was all over. No, it's not. It's not over. Oh my gosh. I'm getting up outta my body. I think they call this astral traveling, and I am looking back at myself. Phenomenal! Wow. And I can feel something beautiful and warm coming from behind me. Oh my goodness, what is that? Wow, that feels so good. And I can hear string instruments. Oh, it's beautiful.
"Beloved. You are at a checkpoint." "Oh, a-a checkpoint?" "Yes, beloved. You see, you are now at a place where you can make a choice. How do you want to choose? Do you want to go back into that life, or do you want to come back behind the veil? We must warn you that if you come back here, you will have to work two times as hard. You see, beloved, the life that you have chosen, the contract that you have chosen is for your soul's evolutionary process. And the souls that you come into contact with will also evolve. It's a very multi-layered process, you see, my beloved?" "Yeah. I-I understand. Okay. Uh, so if I go there, how long will it take exactly?"
"You see, beloved, for us it's a very quick timeline. Blink of an eye, really. But for you, once you will be embodied, time will move quite slow." "Oh, okay. I-I, okay. And what's . . . what's gonna happen? Can you tell me a little bit about that?" "Well, beloved, you see, there will be great global catastrophes. You will witness genocide. You will see abuse of human life and source life on the planet. There will be technological wars, famine, and you will feel it all." "Oh, okay. Sad." "Yes, beloved. And you will have a heart—an empathetic heart.
And you see, there will be hardship, heartache, and your heart will break." "I understand. What else?" "Well, beloved, there will be beauty beyond belief. There will be human connection, joy—pure joy—humor, surprise, and elements that you can only experience if you choose to contract this life as a human." "I see. Well, I-I suppose I accept that, and I understand. Yes, I agree. I agree to this."
And with that, I felt my body, my spirit slip back into my body, and I was looking back at my family, connected again. I could feel their collective hearts beat, their prayers answered. Their little girl had made it through the night. She wouldn't be taken from them too soon in this life. I felt cells regenerating and blood pulsing through my body. I was going to heal. I was going to make it.
You see, there's actually many of us that have an experience like this. In fact, one in ten people that's admitted to the hospital has what is called a near-death experience, but because of fear or shame, embarrassment, we conceal this immaculate experience. We don't share it. And yet it's so beautiful to know that there's something beyond this. To know that it's pain-free. To know that we have to live without regrets here. That this is our training ground. That this is our playground. Our learning, our schoolhouse.
I hope this message is something you can take with you tonight. Death is really very simple, you see. It's just a transformational doorway. A transformational doorway for the mystical energy that is spirit and spirit never ends. Thank you so much. Thank you so so much for being my audience for that story—that's the first time. Thank you so much.
I'm sitting in a restaurant in Rio de Janeiro. Across the table is Sarah. We've been traveling around South America for the last six weeks. It's meant to be one of the most amazing romantic journeys. I mean the most romantic city in the world, but I feel nothing. I thought I'd be falling madly in love, but we are falling and drifting apart. The next day I wake up in a hotel room in Rio, and I know it's over. I feel this knot of dread. I know I've gotta break up with her. I don't how to tell her.
I'm just baffled, and I'm confused. My mind has been hijacked. All I can do is frantically panic. And I can only think All I've gotta do is just get outta this hotel room. I freeze and I start packing up my bags and I start packing up my suitcase. And all of a sudden, Sarah wakes up, and she's like, "What are you doing, Chris? What's going on?" And all I can say in my panicked state is, "I-I'm sorry. It's not meant to be. This isn't gonna work. I need to break up with you. I'm sorry." Twenty-four hours later, she's booked a flight back to Australia. We don't even hug goodbye. And like that, the girl that I thought I was gonna spend the rest of my life with . . . it's over.
Two months later, I'm back in Australia, and I'm taking a look at my life. And on the outside, my life looks amazing. Looks really successful. But on the inside, I'm empty. I've been in an engineering career for the last ten years that I'm bored with. I'm now single. I'm lonely. I'm thirty years old. What am I doing? I think Did I even want to break up with Sarah? Maybe I made a mistake. I sent her a message, and I say, "Sarah, I'm so sorry. I think I messed up. I wanna get back with you." I don't know if she's ever gonna respond back to me. She doesn't respond.
So I book a flight to Tasmania to spend some time with my family over Christmas. And as the plane hits the tarmac, I check my phone, and there it is. There's a message from Sarah. She wants to speak with me. And now I'm like the guy outta that romcom, that guy that messed it up. And I've got this one chance to make amends, to win back the girl. What do I do? I book a flight straight back to see her.
And this time, when we're sitting across from each other, she's the one that feels nothing. I'm gutted. She says she could never ever trust me again after what I did to her. I'm devastated.
I send her one last message to let her know I'm so sorry for the pain that I caused—I had no idea. And she replies. She says that sorry isn't good enough. And she proceeds to tell me every last little flaw about my character. She tells me I'm passive-aggressive. I don't even know what that is. I've gotta Google it. She says that I'm judgmental. I'm egotistical—I gotta Google that too. She says that I'm disconnected to my feelings. Like, wow, this is intense. This is the most criticism I've ever got from anyone.
And then I reflected back to that day in Rio. I didn't even know myself. And I thought maybe, maybe she's right. What if I don't even know myself? What if I'm blind to this? The next morning I wake up, and I've got a very specific recommendation from my sister for a very specific book from a very specific guy, Tony Robbins—the self-help guru. Right now, I'm thinking I can do with some help. Anyway, I go straight to the bookstore, and I grab the book, and it's called Awaken the Giant Within. I take. I read it. Holy moly! I'm hanging off every word—every page. This guy's deconstructed my whole entire reality. Oh, this all makes sense now. I get it. I really get it. I am the giant. It's me. I'm the giant. I get it. It transforms my life. Everything changes.
I go from being oblivious to being obsessed. I got the source code to my reality now. I learn more in the next thirty days than I have in the last thirty years. Wow. This is big. This changes me. I start showing up so much differently. I'm telling my mates that I really care about them. And instead of shaking their hand, I'm hugging them. I'm looking people in the eye when I'm chatting to them. I feel connected to people. I even ring my dad, and I tell my dad that I love him for the first time in my life. I'm changing at a rapid pace. I don't know what's going on, but this is good. This is so good. I really feel alive. And that's just the beginning. I realize I'm changing from a boy into a man. And I've just activated beast mode. All of that criticism became my fuel. It activated this hunger, this deep yearning inside of me to know who I really am.
And I go on the next six-month journey of awakening. I truly awaken this new man inside of me. I get back into my life, and I'm going to seminars on weekends. I'm going to all these workshops—learning about myself. My friends think I've joined a cult. My dad's confused cos he thinks I'm into all this weird fluffy duck hippy stuff. But it's okay. He knows I love him.
And I'm even sitting at my desk during the day in my engineering job, pretending to work on spreadsheets while I'm listening to podcasts and TEDx talks and audiobooks, feverously just documenting and writing and capturing all this wisdom.
It all shifts. One day I'm scrolling through my Facebook feed, and an ad pops up. "Ever thought about becoming a life coach?" I don't even know what life coaching is, but there's something about it that resonates with me. I click it. And before you know it, I'm on the phone to some guy, and I've signed up to a year-long life coaching training course. But on the first three-day training of that course, holy moly, this is what I've been looking for my whole entire life. I found it. I knew there was more. I knew there was more. And I found it. And I didn't even know what coaching was, but I knew that was something for me to explore, something to expand into.
So the next six months, the beast mode goes up a notch. I put everything I got into this coaching stuff and I'm actually pretty good at it. I helped one guy get off crystal meth. I helped a girl pretty much recover from the same crap that I went through. And it's not even the most important part. The most important part is I feel alive. I know why I'm here. I got a reason for being here, and it's incredible, but I have no idea how this is gonna work out. I don't know anything about business. I don't know anything about coaching, really, but I realize I need to make a decision. I've spent ten years climbing the ladder of success, leaning against the wrong wall. And I can see a path in front of me. I don't even know what it is, but it feels right.
On that day on the drive home, I asked myself, Why? Why am I still in this job? And in that moment, I decide to take my decade-long engineering career, and I walk away, and it's liberating. It's also the most scary, crazy thing I've ever done in my life. What's my dad gonna say? But it feels right.
And what I've realized to be true is that life is the ultimate contact sport, and I'm not here to play a safe game. And life—she's a tough teacher. She gives you the test first and then the lesson afterward. But bless it because all the adversity, all the chaos, all the suffering, all the confusion—it all exists. And it's there because it contains the seed of wisdom for the awakening and for the expansion of who you are meant to be. And I realize this whole time through the chaos, through the confusion, through the suffering, through the joy, through the love, through the adventure, through the whole lot, life has been conspiring in my favor, even when I didn't know it.