What I Learned a Year After Moving to Philly: How I Became Spiritual & Began to Love Myself, or “Why We Exist & How to Return to Self-Love”

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Why did you move to Philadelphia?! You would’ve been so much happier in Austin—a place you know—a place you love! Now you’re away from your friends and family, why would you do that to yourself!?! 

These were things my ego bickered in my head after moving to Philadelphia, trying to convince me that I made the biggest mistake of my life, and to be honest, I agreed with these thoughts because I missed my friends and family and experienced major isolation that I never expected. But my higher self would always prevail and assure me that anyone who moves to a new city has to feel this way, that no one has a perfect life nor is there a city that can make you happy because happiness comes from within.

So I kept this attitude up and continued moving forward, unaware that I would stumble across a spiritual path. But it wasn’t Philadelphia that made me spiritual, it was the opportunity of moving somewhere new, being alone and asking myself, “Who and what I am really?” This is my one-year anniversary post and I’m very excited to share it with you because it’s been a unique and eye-opening journey so far that’s resulted in the best version of myself.  

A Glimpse at the Unconscious Person I Used to be

Years before I became a wanderer, I was a materialistic person who was influenced by the clothes and gizmos I saw people wearing in magazines and on social media. I had to have said bougie things and show them off at the coolest, hippest new restaurants and bars in town.

On top of that, I wasn’t religious or spiritual. I studied various religions to be informed and “cultured” but I definitely was not spiritual. I also believed that unhappy people who were cured by spiritual ways could easily be cured by Western pharmaceuticals. I never considered looking at someone’s underlying life situation as needing to be treated, like if someone never healed from past trauma, those prolonged thoughts could be making them physically sick. That’s the thing about tunnel vision, it doesn’t seem like tunnel vision when it’s the norm, when the positive, immediate effects of psychoactive drugs are marketed everywhere and possible long-term effects aren’t made easily visible.

Then I became a wanderer and I began to experience the universe through new places and people I made a connection with. I would vibrate at such a high frequency that nothing material mattered, only connection. I went from being someone who used to plan everything to being someone who surrendered to the possibility that anything could happen. And my life became better. What I didn’t realize was that the universe had been calling me for a long time, trying to get me back to my soul, and when I moved to Philadelphia I finally answered that call.

The Mr. Miyagi Who Showed Me a New Path

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My move to Philly was a spontaneous one, therefore, I wasn’t prepared for the extra in-state expenses that I incurred. In order to save money and live like a normal human adult, I had to remain put and stop wandering. This was torturous for me because I felt caged in and like I lost my main sense of identity, which I took quite hard. My higher self told me, “If you can’t explore the outer world then the only thing left to explore is your inner world.”

So I read many motivational books, listened to health podcasts, and watched many TED talks, but nothing really changed. Then about three months later, I was on my lunch break one day, working a remote job that I hated; I just finished watching a TED talk when YouTube’s Autoplay feature showed me a video that came from London Real: People Worth Watching, a website that interviews some of the most fascinating people on the planet. Brian Rose created and hosts the site. In his TED talk, Why I Left Millions in Banking to Inspire Millions Online, Brian discusses leaving his successful investment banking job to establish his website, not an easy or fun journey.

Anyways, in the episode that played, Brian interviewed Gregg Braden, a New York Time bestselling author who bridges science and spirituality. Gregg, who looks like a rockstar and has cool gray hair, discussed how modern humans didn’t evolve from Neanderthals or ancient human species like we’ve always thought, but that we suddenly appeared 200,000 years ago. This is based on DNA analysis from early bone samples, which scientists are still unable to make the connection before this time period. Our neocortex and certain chromosome markers at that time were so advanced that there’s no way we could have evolved from early humans in such a brief amount of time. So if we didn’t evolve from other human beings, and we just suddenly appeared in history, then where did the hell we come from?

Gregg shared two theories on this. The first theory aligns with the Big Bang and how evolution occurred naturally but there was a tweak along the way, resulting in us. Therefore, we’re the result of a conscious and intentional intervention. But who or what caused this? God, the universe, an advanced alien race? Da fuq anyone knows! This is what humans have been trying to answer for centuries.

The second theory I find a bit more fun and interesting: We’re living in a simulation—a “virtual reality,” if you will—that was created by a unique and supreme intelligence. I like to think of it like this: imagine there’s a big arcade outside of our universe that’s filled with all these 8-bit video games. One day, a new video game comes along called Earth and it has unimaginable graphics and technology that everyone wants to play it. The line lasts forever but once you get inside our universe you enter as a character (the person you currently are) and can play/live as long as you adhere to the rules. We chose to enter this simulation to learn certain lessons and experience this world.

It’s a pretty absurd world when you stop and think about it: dogs, cats, white puffy clouds, rainbows, fireflies, dinosaurs at one point—you’d think a toddler made this stuff up! And that’s our dilemma, we have nothing to compare to our world to so it seems perfectly normal to us but may be WTF! exotic to an 8-bit Wreck-It Ralph character in the arcade. Here’s another interesting idea: We may be able to reach outside our simulation and ask our “guardian angels” for help when we need it most. These angels could be deceased loved ones, a higher version of ourself, or even beings from another place entirely. *Cue mind explosion sound effect.*

After watching Gregg’s interview, I picked up his book The Divine Matrix and this  marked the beginning of my spiritual path. I indulged in books, podcasts, connecting with everyday people all to expand my knowledge. While I don’t resonate with everything or everyone I’ve encountered, it’s been an interesting and memorable journey, to say the least. Change is never a comfortable process, remember that, and fun never resulted from doing anything “normal,” remember that, too.

Learning to Love Myself: Tapping into My Inner Child

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I’m going to switch gears and talk about a type of love no one really talks about: self-love. This is an important characteristic to master, along with unconditional love, because no one can love us as much as we can. Even more scary is the thought that we’re stuck with ourselves and all our shit until the day we die, so we really have no choice but to work on this aspect of ourselves if we’re to remain sane for the rest of our lives!

One of the best ways to achieve self-love is to tap into your inner child and embed it into your daily life. I don’t mean become a three-year-old with a temper tantrum, I mean re-embody your characteristics that once originated from a place of pure love: being curious about everything, holding no judgements about anyone, finding joy in the simple things, treating every place like it’s a new world, and playing every chance you get.

We embodied these qualities so well, then we had to grow up. Some of us endured unfortunate circumstances such as abuse, homelessness, segregation, or displacement, and had to forget these qualities in order to survive. For those of us who grew up fortunate, we may have adopted less-loving and conflicting habits from people around us or the turmoil we saw in media and entertainment, believing the world was set this way and could never be better.

I was fortunate enough to rediscover these qualities when I became a wanderer, then I settled into my new life in Philly, became a sheeple, and my qualities fell back into its grave. I didn’t know how I was going to resurrect them without wandering, but I knew I had to get out of my remote job because the isolation was killing me. It took me eight months but I was able to land a contract job at the University of Pennsylvania doing Technical Support for their 13 libraries.

Thrusted into one of the largest communities in the state, I took advantage of this opportunity to connect with as many people as possible and made it a daily ritual to make the staff members I had to help laugh. On the days when I don’t feel like interacting I still give my basic genuine self because that’s all I can offer, and I’m content knowing that I made someone’s day that much easier. 

To reinvigorate my curiosity factor, I attend speaking events from various departments and have fallen in love with the Kelly Writers House. They feature some of the best writers in the nation like Christine Gross-Loh, who made us choke up when she read her NYTimes op-ed piece, “I Could Face My Own Mortality, but My Son’s Was Another Story” Listening to these writers gives me the energy and inspiration that I need to keep writing

Even more inspiring are the friends I’ve made through Meetup groups (by far the best way to make new friends). I’ve had many days when I’m hanging out with a new friend or friends and I say to myself, God, I’m so glad I’m here right now. I feel like I was meant to be in their lives, just as much as they were meant to be in mine.

I was never able to say out loud how much I loved myself until I met the girl I dated and wrote about in my last blog, “My Thoughts About Soulmates. I still remember the first time she asked me what I’d like to change about myself, a weird thing happened: all the lessons that I’d learned in my life flashed before my eyes, like I was dying, and after a moment of reflection, I simply said, “I wouldn’t change anything. I love me just the way I am.”

You don’t know how liberating and heartbreakingly amazing it is for me to say that. I used to hate the way I looked, wishing I had a muscular body instead of a skinny one. I thought the only way I could ever overcome my insecurity is to go through therapy sessions, self-help seminars, or trek into the Himalayas and live with monks to rid myself of personal judgment. But once I moved to Philly and tapped into myself, into my inner child, I realized I had all the love and knowledge I ever needed to be myself. And that was a really great discovery.

Making the Most Out of This “Reality” That We Live in

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Every morning, I ride my bike to work. Halfway through my mile and a half commute, I hit a steep hill that inclines at about 30° (really feels like 85°) and I’m forced to stand on my bike and do a StairMaster to reach the top where it flattens out. What I love about this climb is how at the start of the hill, I can see the crowns of skyscrapers located downtown (~2.5 miles away), and as I climb higher and higher I can see more of their glassy aqua bodies. Once I reach the top, though, I can’t see below a certain point due to elevation, distance, and houses and buildings in my way.

I like to think of my daily view as a reminder from the universe that I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what all this is and that there’s more to discover. When I first began my spiritual journey, I often questioned myself, What if all this spiritual stuff is wrong? Now I don’t give a fuck. Even if I’m wrong, I’m still going to live my life as if it were true because I’d rather live in a world that’s meaningful instead of meaningless, connected instead of disconnected, magnetized instead of polarized. And that can only begin from the inside out.

With the hustle and bustle of daily life, especially with the distraction of technology, it’s easy to forget that we live on a small rock that swims in a deep dark ocean. We forget that we have to make the best of our situation because the only other alternative is death, which is either infinite nothingness or the time when our souls return back to the place where all souls originates from (and we discuss what lessons we learned, toy with the possibility of returning back to Earth to overcome said lessons, getting amnesia in the process so we can start anew—if you believe in that stuff).

So, will you have the courage to become your best self while you’re here? Will you make our “reality” (whatever that is) better than what it is? It’s an overwhelming task that can’t be accomplished in a day—it’ll take the rest of our lives—but it’s one of the greatest opportunities we can be presented with. It just takes takes some uncomfortable courage to begin, which lies deep within you. But you and your inner child already know that.

Kendall


“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” -Joseph Campbell


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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Great blog shitsilí (my little brother)! If I may “chime” in with a Diné perspective:

    The Navajo people came from the soil, and the worlds beneath it, which is why our feet is reddish-brown. The skin color is proof of origin, made from the earth and its contents.

    The Holy Beings gathered tiny particles of debris left by water and wind and the sacred mountain soil to make us. The earth chose us and took sand in the shape of round sandstones and made it into our bodies. We are the children of this earth, which is our mother, and the sky is our father.

    We were given the Holy Wind (probably known as a soul in English terms) and a body of flesh and skin, which is our outer clothing until it returns to the earth. People often wonder, “What makes us live, where did we come from?” It is the Holy Wind that stands in all the vital parts of our body that keeps us alive. All humans live like that. The Holy Wind lasts forever – Nothing happens to it.

    Our hand itself is filled with teachings. Looking at our fingers, they aren’t the same size. They grow at a particular rate to be a certain size. There is nothing that we can do about it. In the same way, we cannot control when people die. Not everyone reaches death at the same time.

    Everything was created spiritually before it became a physical entity, that the Holy Wind inside each of us plays an important part in our lives before it leaves us in death, and that the ceremonies taught by the Holy Beings are there to bless people during earth life (I think this would be considered as divine intervention for Navajos).

    Ethnologist Klara Kelley and Navajo David Brugge have said that the absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence…so keep that in mind. Look forward to reading more of your writing!

    (Credits: John Holiday and Robert S. McPherson)

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    1. Love it! There’s so many fascinating things to comment; many cultures have said the same thing as above but in their own ways and illustrations. I like the part you said about “absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence” and I think this is where other factors that go beyond our basic senses come into play, a “knowing” like our intuition, when people say, “I had a bad feeling something was about to happen” and it does. Reminds me of a story about an 8 yr-old girl who received a heart transplant from a 10 yr-old girl who was murdered. Well, the 8 yr-old started having nightmares about the murder and could clearly see the details about the murder and where it happened and worked with the police to actually find and convict the killer. There’s just so much that we don’t know about the world YET at the same time the answers are right in front of us (things our cultures have been saying for thousands of years). We’re just too busy running our thinking minds to notice it. Anyways brother, I definitely appreciate your comment and insight! Much love.

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