I'm proud to announce my new business venture. It is not so much a social media startup, but a revolution. It is an alternate economy that provides a real alternative to the corporate economy.
Abscondo is my artistic outlet. It is the place I come to for inspiration, the place where I can express feelings and share ideas. But ideas pale in comparison with action.
At this point in life, it is time for me to take action that is long overdue. The Abscondo blog will track this challenging journey I have chosen for myself.
To be alone is to be free. Does falling in love mean losing that freedom, or can love set you free?
Why, when a relationship is based on love, should it require any rules or conditions at all? Why must lovers, life partners, spouses attempt to control each other? Is love, itself, not the controlling force and the glue that holds two otherwise free and independent people together? Does something else really need to be negotiated beyond that?
It is possible for love to come with no rules or conditions. Love is two people accepting each other to the extent that they are one. To become one is to trust that anything the other person does, says, thinks, or wants cannot possibly be meant to betray that love. To question this is to question your love, itself. Without the burden of rules or conditions, betrayal and disappointment is impossible. Everything has already been accepted and forgiven, unconditionally, through love. This unconditional love is the only form of true love. Anything less fails to live up to love's potential.
These past few weeks spent traveling and on the beach have given me time to think (probably too much time to think). I've made some very difficult, painful discoveries about myself and I think that what I have to say might be interesting to others like me.
Some days I find myself in an absolutely exuberant state of inspiration and brilliance. On those days, everything works -- relationships, creativity, work, and everything else I engage in. I am full of energy and, when I let that energy shine into the world, life is beautiful. I hold onto this version of me as my self-identity. This is the identity that I attempt to project to the world. But it isn't the full truth about who I am.
The problem is that I am never able to sustain the inspired state of being beyond a few days. After some time, I find myself burning-out or maybe just becoming too influenced by the depressing state of things in my life or in the world. I start worrying about money. I start to feel the burden of my inability to achieve everything I set out to achieve. I withdraw from relationships, keeping everything inside. On my worst days, I go through life with a negative attitude and offer those who love me very little emotionally. I get depressed.
This is my normal cycle. The only question is how extreme these extremes can become. Maybe there's something wrong with me, or maybe this is how any creative, experiential person goes through life. That is what I'm trying to figure out. Is this simply normal and inevitable for a person like me? If so, why do we pretend otherwise?
Is it possible for anyone to maintain an inspired, bliss-filled, exuberant state indefinitely? I don't think so. If you allow yourself to enter into a state of feeling fully-alive, it is absolutely inevitable that at some point you will come-down. That feeling of coming-down, when compared with the feeling of being fully-alive, will always feel like depression.
People like me accept the world not as it is; rather, we see it the way we want to see it. We try to find beauty where we can, we chase moments of bliss where they can be found, and we take risks to achieve our dreams. To live freely and openly is to inevitably live somewhat recklessly. We end up facing more judgment, negative consequences, painful failures, and disappointments than most people. The natural consequence of bringing a flash of inspiration into the world is that "reality" hits back like a cold shower.
The great ideas we chase are often completely rejected or they fail miserably. The inspired works of art we create are often criticized or, worse yet, ignored. The relationships in which we invest our energies often fail to meet our needs in return. On top of that, we all face financial / economic realities, we get older, people around us pass away...life happens. And, when life does happen, we feel it more severely than most because oftentimes we are coming-down from a state of being that is really fucking great. We know how great life can be because we touch it, feel it, experience it all the time. But nothing lasts forever. It goes in cycles.
My conclusion: all of this is natural and completely unavoidable. Nobody who attempts to be or do anything extraordinary can experience life any other way. To avoid these ups and downs is to live in a way that isn't worth living at all.
Still, there are things we can do to make it better. I find that, when I am taking care of my health (eating well on the slow-carb diet, exercising, not drinking too much, and getting enough sleep), then my low-points are not as low. Also, my wife and daughter bring a great deal of stability and contentedness into my life and keep me sane. My highs and lows simply aren't as extreme because they are put into the context of this amazing, loving relationship and the responsibilities that come with it. Finally, I find that it is really important to be a generalist; to pursue many different passions and interests at once. You can't invest all of your hope, dreams, and expectations into one thing or you could crash in a really big way.
In the end, I don't regret how I live or how I am. I think back on the overwhelming number of experiences I've had and wouldn't change anything. My somewhat ridiculously high hopes for the future get me out of bed each day. That said; I also know that it isn't easy to love me, to live with me, or to understand me. I don't mean to hurt or disappoint anyone. This is just how I am and, like all of us, I'm doing the best I can.
The great revolution will come when people simply decide to do exactly what they want to do.
We are told that we are free. Yet, from the youngest age, we are forced into educational institutions that are designed only to produce obedient behaviors and conformist thinking. It isn't that we aren't hungry to learn by nature, but true learning isn't something that flows from being locked-up in some institution from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day of our precious, young lives. This educational system takes away our passions and our individuality in order to prepare us for an adult life that is even worse. But alternate educational models are emerging. I will be exploring everything as my daughter starts school in a few years.
When we finally survive our school years, we stare into the abyss of a job market that should terrify anyone. If young people do find a job, it certainly pays too little. What today's jobs ask of us is nothing short of everything. We waste all of our days doing everything but what we would choose to do if we were free. We work because we are scared. In return, we are paid just enough (maybe) to find a place to live, buy food, and transportation. Oh, and then we can try to enjoy some leisure activities with whatever energy we are left with after a work week that leaves us depleted physically, spiritually, and emotionally. All the while, we worry about debt, health care, our children's education, and so much more. It would be silly for me to argue any further about how shitty the job market is. In Europe, in particular, massive numbers of young people are choosing not to work normal jobs because they are refusing to accept it.
For those of us who do accept it, this is how we live. Days drag on like years while the years somehow fly by. We desperately find ways to cope with an entire reality that is, by any measure, unacceptable. We are screaming inside as our hopes and dreams are lost. When we walk the path we were told to aspire to, we are stripped of all that is good and beautiful as the true potential within each of us fades away and ultimately dies. This is the path we are directed toward. This is what the corporate-controlled world wants for us because it is good business for them. I want you to know that all of it is entirely unnecessary. There is a different way.
For most of my life, I walked this conventional path as well as anyone. At age 30, I left it forever. I won the battle with my inner-voices of fear. I started doing what I wanted to do. I want everyone to know that you, yourself, can start a revolution by doing nothing other than by doing what you want to do. This revolution doesn't happen overnight, but it can happen if you shift your thinking and change the path you're on.
I know that you have interests and you have some sort of skills and talents. So you have value. When you find a way to get paid for what you are good at, you will earn a better living than by doing only what you are told to do. Ultimately, you will end up making more income than you do today by working only a few hours a day. Anyone can do this. I highly recommend reading the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. I began living this way years before the book came out, but his entire approach and philosophy puts all of this into focus. It will change your life.
As you begin to free-up more time and grow your income, you start to rediscover the person you are. The goal isn't leisure. The purpose is not to sit on some beach forever (only until you are bored). As you discover your freedom, you do more of what excites you. What do you so badly want to to do or to become? It will haunt you until you do it...so just get it over with. Turn your dreams and fantasies into realities. If you like the reality, hold onto it. Otherwise move on. But if you don't experience something you badly want, you will never grow beyond that dream. Experience is the process of becoming more than you are today.
Why do we keep waiting for a revolution when it is right there within our reach? We have the power. We have laptops, we have smart phones, and we have infinite imagination. While your personal revolution can start tomorrow (as it did for me at age 30), the real break-through will happen when we collectively realize our power to live as we want to. We don't need to drive to work at some corporation to earn a living. I have spent the past 10 years inventing a system that will revolutionize the way we live and work. I am starting the process of raising funding and bringing-in the right partners to build what will become an alternate economy on-line. Opposite of today's corporate economy, this will be a people economy -- where we are everything we need.
This system will connect people based what we want. It is a more efficient form of capitalism whereby we quickly and easily meet all the right people to exchange with and work with just as we also meet all the right people to help us fulfill our hopes, dreams, and fantasies. I know it will work and I know it is the ultimate purpose of my life to launch this revolution.
Who am I to attempt this? I am a musician, writer, entrepreneur, an expert in sales, and so much more. All of these aspects of my being will continue as I also move in the direction of making this idea a reality. I want everyone to live as I have over these past years, but even better. This system will revolutionize the world because, finally, we can be everything we need. We don't need to fight anyone to win this revolution, we just need to do what we want to do. Anything worth doing also involves connecting with others. So we need a better system to connect us with the right people.
So this is my big, revolutionary idea that I will move forward with as fast as possible. But, in truth, there's no reason to wait for the revolution. Work hard doing what you are good at (or want to become good at) and find people who will pay you for it. Do it on your terms. Work the hours you want to. Or find a job and work from home (3 hours a day not 9). Or travel the world and find odd jobs along the way. There are options.
All of us are free, so why do we continue listening to the echos of teachers, parents, friends, bosses, or the pundits on TV. Why watch films that steal our imagination by presenting a false picture of normalcy? Reality is, indeed, what we make of it. We are free to do what we want with our time, our relationships, our thoughts, our words, our art, and our experiences. Hard work is necessary and good, but we have to direct that hard work toward something we want. This is the great revolution. It will change everything as today's institutions begin crumbling.
I am surrounded by youth. In my 4-year-old daughter, I see the potential of life before it gets muted by self-serving institutional agendas. What if this unique happiness, passion, and desire to learn...what if it could be nurtured and developed properly? What could she become after the revolution?
Also, as I spend time with the guys in my band and many other 20-somethings, I clearly see their value and potential. Yet I see many young people working in jobs that require none of their best skills or talents. Worse yet, many young people are choosing a life of dependency or poverty. It doesn't have to be this way.
We can believe in ourselves, take our freedom, and with everything we are...just do what we want. Imagine.
To be oneself is to express one’s individuality and eccentricity without shame. It is to know that, as a well-meaning person, there’s nothing wrong with what you are saying, doing, and being as long as it excites you and makes you feel alive.
The excitement that is stirred-up inside of us in a stimulating conversation, in a lover’s kiss, on a walk to a beautiful beach, or in a work of art is nothing other than nature nudging us toward the path we are supposed to walk. We feel pulled in certain directions simply because those are the right directions!
Outside of our necessary work and responsibilities, life should not feel so boring and dull. Conversations should not come with such great effort. Impulses to do, to say, or to create should not be stifled for any reason – not for acceptance and not even for love. Most of us have become so well-adjusted to the inevitability of feeling stifled that we have come to accept it. Yet, to accept it is to accept a state of living death.
We live among the living dead. There are the people in our lives who bore us and who return nothing in exchange for the generous offer of our time and energy. We care about and love these people partially for what we see in them (or what we want to see in them). We bend and adjust who we are and what we do. We so carefully monitor ourselves in order to earn their acceptance. Yet, when we actually earn that acceptance, we feel no reward and we are left only with exhaustion. In a state of boredom and exhaustion, we offer nothing and have no non-economic value.
The extent to which a person is living dead is the extent to which they offer nothing. There is nothing in their words but a muddled-up echo of the establishment media, the corrupt governments, and other self-serving institutions. To live among the living dead is to attempt to say and do, in practical terms, nothing at all. The unspoken and unarticulated ideal, which is unknowingly held so dearly by the living dead, is to say, to express, and do nothing. The purpose of their lives is to leave the world just as it was...to leave the world as though they, themselves, never existed at all. So our definition of “living dead” is complete. What do we do about it? We let nature work.
The burden is not on us, we the fully alive, to carefully select the people in our lives. We need make no decision. No effort at all is required to change the people we love and care about. We need not beg or plead for them to become more like us. We simply need to live openly and according to our nature. We simply need to openly follow the path that excites us and makes us feel alive. The choice is actually theirs to make. The people in our lives need to decide whether to accept us for who we are. If they cannot, they will make the decision to disengage. In doing so, we can be grateful because our time and energy is freed-up to become fully alive and to live among the fully alive.
May we all find the courage to follow the path of that which excites us; even as we whole-heartedly and willingly take-on all of life’s responsibilities, challenges, and burdens. Life can be exciting, beautiful, and simply great.
Last week, we finished work on the music video, “I Created”. The video will be premiering in the coming week or two. We organized a private screening for all of us who were involved in the project. It was a really special evening and I wanted to share my perspectives.
I’m actually surprised about what a profound impact this project has had on all of us. This was actually my first opportunity to meet and to talk with some of the couples featured in the video. I wasn’t in the room during the day of filming. My wife, Eva, directed the video. The whole thing was her idea and the band let her run with it.
From the beginning, we really believed in this idea. We would ask 10 couples to strip and to simply express affection for each other the way they naturally do. The result would be something completely opposite from today’s videos on MTV. People are fatigued by all the glamour, the bling, the image. People are becoming tired of “fake”. We wanted to show something real. No actors. No fashion. No cool image. Only authentic love and affection. These are real people, in the flesh, against a simple white background.
The biggest challenge was to find couples willing to take part. So we began asking friends and friends-of-friends if they would be interested in celebrating their love and affection in this way. I was skeptical that anyone would agree. Even if they did, would they show up on the day of filming and go through with it?
To our credit, Eva happens to be quite persuasive. There’s nothing she can’t do when she sets her mind to it. In the end, filming was a huge success. There were kisses, smiles, laughs, even tears. So here we are; the long process of editing has come to an end. All the while, our couples kept asking us, “When will the video be ready?” They were so genuinely excited, that some of them asked about it more than once per week!
Now they have finally seen it. During the screening, the room was quiet. Looking around the room at the 20 or so people who turned up, I noticed that each of them were having a deeply personal experience. They smiled. They shared knowing glances with each other. Everybody felt good. We were filled with positive emotions and we were simply happy.
What touched me most were the conversations I had after watching the video. Even though most of us had never met each other, we all felt like we had known each other forever. Within minutes of meeting, we began talking in the most intimate ways about our relationships, about love, about our feelings, and about our aspirations. We somehow felt so much trust for each other and we felt free to open up and connect. Age didn’t matter. Life experience didn’t matter. We felt connected because, deep down, all of us either feel (or want to feel) the same way about love. We all want to be madly in love. We all want that love to inspire the life we dream of living. We want to be loved, to be accepted, and to be understood. We want to commit to that one person but to feel free at the same time. We want to have a career, maybe a house, and children and yet still be able to chase our deepest dreams. We want to do all of this with a person we love by our side.
I don’t remember ever feeling as in love with Eva as I did that night and as I do these days. We met nearly 22 years ago, yet today our relationship is completely new and exciting. Despite 20 years of marriage, despite the challenge and wonder of having a 4-year-old daughter, we have finally come to a place in our relationship where we are able to consistently treat each other with so much respect and tenderness. We have learned how to allow each other enough freedom to live our dreams. We have come to live the ideal that I sing about in the song. What matters most in life is what you create with the ones you love.
This has been a wonderful opportunity to talk about our love, to celebrate love, and to experience so much newness. What we have with the person we are with…that is the most important thing in our lives. This is what makes us either happy or miserable. Yet, far too often, we couples find ourselves bickering, fighting, battling for control or power, lost in a jealous rage, or simply bored. But, if we engage, if we offer our best selves to our partners…if we are capable of unconditional love, openness, and excitement…if we are unashamed to talk about our feelings, our needs, our dreams, our fantasies…then life is beautiful.
I can only hope that this is the start of a life that is filled with friendships like the ones we have formed through this project. All of these couples are truly brave, open, remarkable people who have given all of us a sacred piece of themselves. They are all truly beautiful.
When it finally came time to do our very first music video, Abscondo decided to do something radical in it's simplicity.
We asked 10 couples to undress and to express affection toward each other in the most natural way possible. It seemed like an interesting idea, but we had some concerns. Would any couples agree? Would they show up on the day of filming? Would they be too shy? Our friends told us that it wouldn't work, that Slovaks are too modest and that our video project was sure to fail. But the idea behind this video felt right.
The Abscondo project has always been about authenticity, purity, and love. For a long time, it has felt to me like the pop music world is littered with glammor and bling. Everyone seems to be competing for who can be more extravagent, more over-the-top, and more boastful. All of that feels fake and distant from the reality we all know. So we have this song, "I Created", which is all about celebrating what is built, what is created, with the people we love. It is all about how this is the meaning of life, not religion or whatever else. We felt that there was no better way to visually show this idea than to feature the physical expression of love between real-world couples.
Well, our couples did show up and filming the video was a success. In truth, the one person who brought this project together is my wife. Not only did she provide much of the creative direction, but she also produced the video, brought-in several couples, and organized everything about the shooting. Our other key to success is that we partnered with the very capable Altway creative team in Kosice, Slovakia.
I've come to understand in my years here that Slovakia is a romantic country that is ruled by love. Nobody could have demonstrated this better than the couples that will be featured in our video.
The video will be released later in May, but for now you can check out the "making of" behind-the-scenes video:
Here are a few pics from our shoot.