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“Seek Shelter”

The Missile Threat That Brought Me To Peace

I heard about Thrive on an episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast some time ago and have been internally considering what to write about. I finally decided to wait and trust that inspiration would kick in when it was right. And so it did almost a month ago when I thought I was about to die.

I live on the island of Kauai, Hawaii and on a Saturday morning I, along with the rest of the state, woke up to an emergency alert telling us to take cover as a ballistic missile was on its way.

I must say my first response was laughter, I have always found the humorous side in life’s absurdities. “Seek Shelter” is nothing short of bad advice in Hawaii. We do not have basements or anything of the sort. An image of me hiding under a coconut tree made me laugh, “Seek shelter! Really?! Where?”.

I would have never guessed I would die via missile attack and in Hawaii of all places. There was something invigorating about the utter surprise of it all. I had no idea if the message was valid or not but if it was a true threat I didn’t want to die alone so decided to walk over to my neighbors house to be in the company of a good friend. Before leaving my little one bedroom house at the end of a peaceful cul de sac surrounded by gorgeous views and singing birds I instinctively looked around to see what I should grab. In the span of a second my brain harmoniously worked out a string of thoughts that lead me to the most profound peace I have ever sensed. I didn’t need anything. There was nothing to take with me. All I could do was say my goodbyes with gratitude should it come to that.

While this may seem superficially obvious there was a profound moment of growth for me through acceptance. I wasn’t attached to any material object per say. In the cliched scenario where you think about what you would grab should the house catch fire I have always known what is of utmost importance to me. There is a stack of journals that sits in the second drawer of my bedside table and a laptop in which I have jotted down every idea I have ever had for businesses, paintings, book and script ideas, films… For me, those moments of inspiration, scenes of what this world could look like are my greatest valuables.

I am a very very ambitious person, a blend of idealism and realism. I will always have hope that things can be better and want play my part in encouraging growth in the evolution of our species. I have a vision for humanity’s potential and living on the edge of this wave can oftentimes separate oneself from others. Growing accustomed to this I have always placed a lot of sentiment on those things that represent my goals. Objects like my computer that has everything pertaining to my businesses and my stack of notebooks that contain the magic of excitement. Anything I have ever wanted to create would be kept safely in these journals that house my ambitious visions of what I aim to do with this life.

On that singular Saturday morning waiting for a missile to hit I stood in my doorway and realized that either I die via missile attack or I don’t. There wasn’t really much wiggle room and therefore no point to try and save anything, even a record of my dreams. It was the first time I have ever felt separated from my own ambition. It was like a weight was lifted, all be it a weight that I had welcomed for so many years. The self inflicting pressure of lofty over achievers never dissipates. I never wanted or allowed it to. And then suddenly, for the first time on a regular Saturday morning I found myself gently detached from ambition and productivity.

It was around 40 minutes later we got word that the message was a false alarm.

I knew the events of the morning had been a gift to me. I had released myself from the self imposing pressure I have carried my whole life. I could, if I wanted to, just be here, be present and that would be enough. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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