"It's your fault! You wasted all their money!" screamed the man. "You are spoiled, egotistical and conceited. Your mind has led you to believe that you are the second coming of Jesus Christ, but you have done nothing. You are nothing. All you have done is failed, and cause this family more stress than we could have ever imagined. You don't respect authority, and you think you are above it. You have this delusion that you are better than everyone else, but the truth is, you aren't. And in reality, this delusion is what makes you worse than everyone else. You think you can change the world by yourself, but you are sadly mistaken. You need all the help you can get, you are young, naive and insecure. Instead of hiding these insecurities and fears, why not embrace them? Let the world know that you are human. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't to be afraid to ask dumb questions. Remember, we are all humans and we are all the same species. Most likely, there are millions of people going through the same struggles as you. I beg of you, let down your guard, let go of your ego, let go of this mighty image of yourself. You may think that this image is saving you and at times it might have. But in the long run, your ego will kill you."
My hands trembled as I tried to pick up the cup of coffee. I am speechless and in awe. I look around to see if anyone else heard what I heard. Nope. Not a single reaction, no one is even paying attention to me. I am dumbfounded and confused. I begin to think, "how on earth did noone hear those screams?" I begin to panic..."Am I crazy? What is going on here? Where did that voice come from?" My frustrations grow as no answer appears. I look for comfort in my black coffee. I slowly sip the coffee. The coffee has a bold rich flavor. Not many people enjoy the bitter taste of coffee, but I love it. My morning cup of coffee is my go to routine. It gives me comfort and energy. When that first sip hits your lips, all the stressors in the world melt away and the world seems content. Then the second and third sip bring a feeling of ecstasy, I can feel the caffeine running through my veins waking my body up. I envision my cup of coffee like Winston Churchill addressing Britain during World War II. Churchill's words are powerful and motivating:
"I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny”
Their are some mornings when I feel defeated, but my cup of coffee swoops in and saves the day. As I drink the black liquid gold, Churchill's words fill my body, adrenaline increases, and I am ready to take on the day. Just as I push away my chair from the table to stand up, a man appears in front of me. The man looks very familiar, as if I am looking in a mirror. He doesn't say anything, he just sits there. I turn to the person next to me, but she is no longer there. In fact, the Starbucks is empty. It's just me and this stranger who looks just like me...
"Who are you?" I ask. The man replies, " I am the voice that you heard, I am the man who screamed for your attention. I have been screaming for many years now, 23 years to be exact." My confusion and frustration grows..." What do you mean you have been screaming for my attention?" I questioned. The man looks at me directly in the eyes and calmly responds, " I am you and you are me, we are the same but we very different.I am the experienced you, I have been trying to get in touch with you your whole life, for we have lived many lives. And in my life, a man just like me came to me in a dream and spoke those words to me. Those words saved my life and lead me on a path to true happiness. I spoke to that man and asked him if I were the only one and he responded no. He told me there were thousands before us and thousands ahead of us. The cycle never ends." The man exhales and waits for me to respond.. I sit in silence and try to take his words in, but I am lost. He sees this and responds, " it has been my job to show you the way, to show you your true purpose, just like the man did for me. I was lost and he saved me. You too are lost and you need saving.You are not alone though, millions of humans, just like you, are lost. And there are millions of people just like me trying to save them." I don't know what to do or to make of this situation. I turn to my coffee and hope that an answer is in the cup. I drink until satisfied and put the cup down. Churchill's words ring through my body, and a question appears. "Why are you here right now? My anger rises as I badger the man with questions.. "Why didn't you come to me when I needed you? Where were you when I was sad? Where were you when my heart got broken into a million pieces! Where the fuck were you when I laid in the street wishing it all to come an end!" My anger doesn't arise any change in him; he doesn't react nor show any type of emotion. He is stoic, calm and confident. This angers me more and I beat my chest harder. " I demand that you tell me! It is my right to know!" Nothing moves. Even the air feels like it has stopped moving, the coffee shop doesn't seem real. I sit there mentally and physically drained. Tears come down my face and childhood memories of pain, fear and insecurity fill my body, The tears continue to run down my cheeks as my memories become more attached. I feel my insecurities all over again. I feel the pain of loneliness and despair. My mind takes me back to myself at the age of 18. I see myself standing in the middle of the street. A heavier version of myself, more muscle, more apelike. I see myself holding a cup in my hand, and hear myself screaming to God. "Who Am I! exclaimed the ape. SIlence. The ape becomes impatient, as if he is expecting an answer. The ape's frustration grows and he demands to be answered, " What is my purpose! Why did you bring me to this place! I have nothing to give anyone and I don't want to do this anymore. Please if I have no purpose then please end it for me. I don't want to live this life anymore, please end it." Tears roll down the apes face and places his drink on the street. The ape joins the cup and lays down next to it. He closes his eyes and waits for the end. I stand there in disbelief.. My mind screams to me, "what is he doing! Tell him to get up!" I inhale deeply, and the feel of the oxygen running through my nose makes me feel alive. I scream as loud as I can, " get up you fool!" " You do have purpose, you have so much to live for! You are loved by so many people, you are not alone in this world!" The apes eyes are opened by a bright light and the ape jumps to his feet. He looks to see a car, but instead finds a flickering street light. My flashback is interrupted by the man at the table.. "I have been fighting every single day to save you, I have given you my all and at times it worked. Are you egotistical that you want the credit for all the good times, but none of the bad times? The reason you can hear me is because you have finally stopped talking. You have learned to embrace the silence. You have learned to listen to the silence. You have finally learned the first step in mastering yourself. You have quieted the ego, but you do not fully understand it yet. Your ego will try to convince you that you are ready, but you are not nor will you be for a very long time." I look down at my feet, and slowly meet his eyes with mine. I breathe deeply and exhale. I stare at his eyes and they are exactly the same as mine. I breathe deeply again and finally ask, " what is my purpose then?" " Why am I here?" My heart beats faster as silence fills each second. I can hear the thumping of my heart, and it feels like it is about to jump out of my chest. Minutes go by and the man finally answers, "You aren't meant to change the world. Your only purpose is to become the best version of yourself and to help as many people as possible. We both have the same goal. My purpose in life was this conversation, my purpose was to awaken you and to show you the secret to life. You are now the holder of this secret and it your purpose to share it with the world. You see, I cannot share this secret with the world because I am not them. I am only you and this secret to life will only work for you. But you must share this secret with every person you meet because your story will bring them one step closer to a conversation with themselves. I am no one, I don't exist anywhere but here. I am your higher self and you now know your true purpose. But remember, we bathe daily for a reason and just like bathing should be a daily occurrence so should this conversation. We humans have fragile minds, and tend to run on emotion. If you forget to have these conversations, eventually you will forget your purpose and I will have to scream again. But each day that goes by, I get older and weaker. As I get older I lose the ability to scream, I lose the ability to get in touch with you. And that is my greatest suffering because I am left to watch ego consume you and take over your soul. You will change and forget about everyone else except for yourself. In the beginning, this path will seem desirable and you will be tempted to take it. You will be tempted to use your ego to rule over others. Your ego will motivate you to do great work, but the work will be done in jealousy and insecurity. This will lead to devastation and emptiness. You will live a life in continue search of something better. You will fall in love over and over again until the end of time. But in the end, you will find yourself alone, dying as an unhappy man." My mouth is left open and my shoulders hunch forward. I pull my shoulders back to crack my back. I don't even know what to say. I am left speechless. I try to muster a sentence..."So what do .." The man looks at me and pulls out a piece of paper and a pen. He puts it in on the table and draws two paths with a fork in the road. In one path he writes out the letters: E-G-O and in the other path P-U-R-P-O-S-E. He flips over the paper and begins to write for several minutes. He slides me the paper and tells me to read..
The paper is filled with a poem, one that I have never forgotten. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
The poem is not the only writing on the paper. The paper asks me a question, "The path doesn't determine your results. You determine whether it was the right or wrong path. You have all the power to change that path. You are not stuck to one path. You have the ability to turn around and admit defeat. You are not giving up, just like one battle doesn't lose the war nor will one battle win a war. There is nothing wrong with admitting defeat, unless it is without action. When we get defeated we must respond accordingly. Learn from the path you take. Most likely the first path you choose will not be right answer at first, but if you learn from that defeat then you are that much closer to the right path. The external outcomes do not matter, it is the experience and the process that is the most important thing. As long as you learned a lesson then your goal was accomplished. Evolution did not happen overnight and neither does success. But just because we can't see evolution occurring doesn't mean it isn't happening. And the same thing can be said for success. Take your time and examine the path. Just because the path is filled with obstacles doesn't mean you can't take it. But, be smart and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself the question, "am I ready for those obstacles?" or " do I need more practice?" They will be hard to answer, but you know what the answer is. Do not let fear and impatience scare you. Take your time and enjoy the journey. Your life doesn't always have to be filled with challenges, there can be times of pure bliss. Don't be afraid to leave your work to find someone to love. Remember, love is the greatest power on this earth and it is needed to bring out the best in us. You must be vulnerable, do not fear the unknown heartbreak. You will deal with it when it comes and the same can be said for all fears in life. Do not worry about them, just focus on your process. Trust that the process will have you ready for them when they com. And be grateful everyday that they don't come. Eventually they will, the sooner you can accept that nothing in your life is permanent the happier you will be. This mindset will allow you to be grateful for every moment that you experience because you know your time is fleeting away. Your time on this earth is very short and you owe it to yourself to happy for every single second of it. You are so lucky to have a loving family, one that would risk anything to see you succeed. You are so lucky to have two older brothers who looked out for you and did their best to teach you life's lessons. You are so lucky to have all the friendships you experienced. You have met so many amazing people that brought you pure joy. You must never forget these things because at times your life is going to beat you down and win. You are going to have those days where it feels like happiness doesn't exist, but we must remember that those days exist because so does happiness. Everything in this world is made in a delicate balance and so are our bodies. You must continue to be optimistic but realistic. You need to have purpose and not passion. And you must only do it if it brings you pure joy, if it fulfills your purpose. Now it is up to you to choose which path will you take. I can not answer this for you, for this is your journey to complete. Nevertheless, I have taught you what the answer is, it just depends if you are courageous enough to find it.
Don't forget about me
I flip the paper over and take the pen and choose my path. I fold the paper and put it in my pocket. The man is gone, and he is replaced by the noises of people eagerly ordering their coffee. I turn to get up and accidently bump into the person next to me. Her iced coffee goes flying through the air and she falls backwards. Luckily she is caught by a stranger. She looks at the stranger and they both smile. I try to apologize but neither one hears me because they are already lost in their own conversation. I clean the mess, buy her a new coffee and head out the door. I go home and fall asleep. Years go by and I continue my daily conversation with myself. My practice has been hard at times, but each time a lesson has been learned. So I continue to it and this is when my story comes to an end.
I wake up in my bed and begin to start my morning routine, but I am reluctant. I don't know why but I just need to get moving. I decide to do my morning meditation as I walk to Starbucks. As I arrive to the door, I finish my meditation and enter. As I open the door I am greeted by a familiar face.
"Hey! You’re the guy who introduced me to my husband!"
"Ahhh! Summer come here!" screamed the girl. She sees my confused look and responds,"Hi, I'm Jessica, the girl you knocked over in the coffee shop. Do you remember?"
I think for a second and the memory hits me. "Oh ya! I am so sorry by the way," I smile, blushing.
"Oh don't be! I ended up marrying the guy who caught me," she laughs.
"Wow, talk about destiny" I respond, and as I do I am distracted by a beauty like no other.
"Jessica, you can't scream for me in Starbucks." Summer looks at me and chuckles, "Sisters can be so embarrassing sometimes, I am sorry if she bothered you.”
Jessica smiles and responds, " Oh I am embarrassing? Hmm Yeah, I agree and I love making situations awkward, so Summer, why don't you and..." Jessica directs her attention on me, "hat is your name by the way?"
"Erik," I reply. " Jessica looks at both of us and says, "Go get coffee you two, if I found my love here maybe you can too."
Jessica smiles and leaves. An awkward silence fills the air between Summer and I.
"So coffee? My treat, I promise I am only a little bit weird, but based off your sister you might have me beat. My name's Erik, it's is a pleasure to meet you.”
“Summer laughs and her cheeks are reddened and lifted by a smile. Her smile is beautiful and infectious. I can't help but smile back. Her eyes pull me in deeper. They are beautiful, like an ocean blue, one that is calm and inviting.
Summer looks at me, “ I'd love a cup of coffee."
I hope you enjoyed my story. I want to thank Tim Ferriss' Podcast and Ryan Holiday's Book 'The Ego Is The Enemy." If you take the actions recommended in the book, then you too will have that conversation with the higher self. It is an uncomfortable one but it is needed. Again, thank you very much for lending your time to read my story. Now it's your turn, go write your own and share your purpose with the world.