Thanks, Dad. A Valuable Lesson On Letting Go From Beyond The Grave.

As an old guy looking back, I can tell you we all have the same vivid sense of elation and depression haunting every day that we live. Have we done enough — Why can’t we do more? Relax. There’s lots of time to work it all out. Take it as it comes. Don’t worry so much about where you’re going. Enjoy where you are. “Go with the flow and ride with the tide.”

-Grady Lyda

In the process of writing a long reflection on today being 5 years since my dad’s death, I decided to look up one of my old blog posts from 2013 entitled “Restless,” in which he wrote a comment I didn’t actually read until a year or so after he died. It wrecked me then, and it very appropriately wrecked me again today. For some context, this post was written when I had just started to pursue a career in animation but was feeling horrible because art already felt like a “job” to me, just from the minimal freelance I had done. I was feeling absolutely stuck, and I came to the stunning realization that I didn’t know how to balance my life and that something must be seriously wrong with me. HILARIOUS. I wish I could go back to 24 year old me and tell her “It’s ok, you’re just bipolar! Watch these videos! Read these things! Start working on it now!”

In that post, I mentioned this podcast about Andrew Forsthoefel, a 23 year old kid who walked across America, and how jealous I was that he had gone on a true adventure that changed him forever. I felt like I was missing out and wanted to see the world, meet new people and hear their stories. It’s not like I’ve walked across America, but I have gone on some serious life changing adventures since then. When writing that post, I never in a million years could’ve guessed that I’d get married in Hawaii, meet Mother Ayahuasca in Peru, or sail through Drake’s Passage and have a chance to cruise around Antarctica. I also really have met tons of interesting people all around the world with amazing stories who have shown me that living an alternative lifestyle is possible, and that there can be another way to live your life.

But even after all the life I’ve already lived… This wise message from the great beyond will always bring tears to my eyes. Because life IS overwhelming, and no matter how much cool shit I do, no matter how much inner peace I manage to attain at times, I feel like that pressure to do it all will never quite go away. That feeling of needing to rush things because I always feel behind. And it’s because we’re human. And we die. Everything we are inevitably turns to dust. His words are validating, inspiring, and enlightening all at once. Reading a message like this at exactly the right time is proof that my dad’s spirit will always be here to guide me, and a deep reminder of the importance of learning to let go and live in the moment. When you think about it, that’s really the best option we’ve got.

This is GREAT! I love your commentary and all the heartfelt responses you received. I heard the same “This American Life” episode, and I was also touched by his discoveries.

It reminded me of one night when I was sitting at a Winchell’s in Santa Ana in the early 80s, innocently drinking coffee and eating donuts. A guy in his mid-20s came in with a big grin wearing a cowboy hat, and he looked at me and said, “I just walked across the US, from the East Coast to California. Now, here I am!” I said, “Wow, your feet must be tired.”

He was a cool guy, and the crowd in the shop was happy to hear what he had to say. He represented all of us who listened to his stories. Everyone wished they could have done the same thing. Actually, many of us HAVE done similar things. Life is a fantastic adventure that never ceases to amaze us. We make plans, but more often LIFE leads us into directions we never expected. The best we can do is be ready for whatever happens. Always be prepared to “go with the flow and ride with the tide.”

You have a wonderful list of goals and I hope you can accomplish them all, plus many more you haven’t thought of yet. Remember, you are in this for the long-haul. You might feel desperate to prove yourself and experience the whole world immediately. I’ve felt the same way, and I’ve criss-crossed this country several times, and visited other countries as well. It’s a fantastic planet and you have plenty of time to explore it.

As an old guy looking back, I can tell you we all have the same vivid sense of elation and depression haunting every day that we live. Have we done enough — Why can’t we do more? Relax. There’s lots of time to work it all out. Take it as it comes.

On my blog about my life 40 years ago, my younger self is always fretting about how nothing happens fast enough. Of all the entries so far, maybe this would be of interest to you:

http://truetimetravel.blogspot.com/2013_03_01_archive.html

Don’t worry so much about where you’re going. Enjoy where you are.

My dad had a blog he called True Time Travel Tales where he archived this journal my aunt returned to him from a trip around the country that he went on when he was 18 years old. I always meant to read it but never got around to it because I always found myself “busy” with something else. Then, after he died, I felt so guilty that I hadn’t been able to talk to him about it when he was alive I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. But then at one point shortly after his death I noticed there were a ton of broken images and contacted the hosting site to make sure they got it back up. Now, years later, I still haven’t read the blog, and again there are tons of broken images. Upon clicking that link, I had a straight up panic attack. I started shaking and couldn’t breathe, and completely lost it when I found out that the hosting site he had used no longer existed. The first time I had got the site back up, I vowed to myself I would save all the photos before this happened… but again… never got around to it… and now they’re gone forever.

My mom has a serious hoarding problem that was awful to grow up with, even getting to the point where me and my dad wanted to see if we could get her on the Hoarders show. When I was a kid I didn’t really understand it… I just thought we lived in a messy house. But as I got older and started seeing the hoarding tendencies within myself, it became clear to me that hoarding physical items represents underlying emotional issues of not being able to let go and move forward. Fears of the temporary nature of life and the inevitability that you and everyone you love are someday going to die. I’m not as bad as my mom, but I do take thousands and thousands of photos because my memory is so terrible and I find myself desperately clinging to certain moments of my life and not wanting them to disappear. I often have nightmares about losing all these photos somehow — in a fire, in a flood, in a zombie apocalypse, accidentally spilling water on my hard drives… I know this actually does happen to some people, which Eddy would constantly remind me of and make me more upset. Until today.

Clicking on that link in my dad’s comment was beyond upsetting. I cried and cried and cried. In a way it felt like losing him all over again… losing these parts of him that I really truly wanted to discover, but again, being so caught up in myself that I never found the time. Familiar guilt and shame crept back in, and I felt myself grieving like I had in the beginning. I thought I had come so far and healed so much, yet the wound felt as raw as ever.

But then Eddy reminded me that this is basically like my worst nightmare… and now that it’s happened in this capacity, I should see that it’s ultimately fine. I’m still alive, I still have the memories of my dad, and life will go on. He also reminded me that my dad was never the type to cling to photos or physical objects. He was throwing things out all the time! In fact, the whole reason he made the site was because he had thrown out this journal years ago, and somehow a man found it and tracked down my aunt who had returned to him. Considering he was already sick and died 2 years after he made this blog, he was no doubt already feeling the need to reflect on his life somehow. He was never the type to hoard, and he was especially put off by my mom and would always try to throw out her garbage because he knew she never would.

When my dad died, I looked frantically for this journal because I wanted it so badly, but me and my mom discovered that he had already thrown out most of his things. It became clear that he had planned his death, and in the beginning I was super angry at him for not leaving behind any of this stuff for me, or even a note explaining himself. I suppose he thought I wouldn’t care… and it’s taken me a while to get over the idea that I should’ve just asked him… that I should’ve shown some interest while he was still around. All these familiar feelings of self hatred and regret came back today when I found out his hosting went down, until Eddy talked some sense into me and reminded me what kind of person my dad was. How he was never the type to hold onto things and wouldn’t expect me to either. He would want me to just keep moving forward and enjoying life…

So when I came back to my senses and actually read the post he had linked to me, I couldn’t help but laugh. Even though the image was broken, it was literally just a blank page. Just like life. Just like this moment. He said that he wanted to preserve the beauty of the page before adding his thoughts onto it. It’s just like him to make this sort of point… and I started to see that this is an incredibly important lesson for me to learn. Even though he’s no longer around, he will always be here guiding me, helping me break through these walls that are such a natural part of the human condition.

From the March 29th entry: ONLY THIS PAGE WILL HAVE TO SUPPORT MARCH 29, 30, & 31 IN THE INTEREST OF PRESERVING ONE SMALL PORTION OF THIS BOOK AS IT WAS BEFORE I MARRED ITS BEAUTIFUL BLANKNESS WITH MY THOUGHTS AND DEEDS.

We as humans can’t help but be so deeply affected by mortality. I felt so terrible losing these photos that I know he had thrown out. There was a time years ago that I started to try and save all the photos on each of his entries, but it took so long I couldn’t see myself doing it for the whole year. I also see that a bunch of videos he had posted have already been taken down… which really hurt in the beginning, but thinking about it logically… that’s just the nature of the internet. All this important stuff is just located on the cloud, and once it’s gone… it’s gone. This was a way for him to reflect on his life when he knew he didn’t have much longer in this world, and I have to just be grateful that he at least created this website and I have his words to reflect back on. And stop thinking that losing all of this was my fault…

In the end, all we are is dust in the wind. Just because these images are gone doesn’t mean he didn’t live a rich life, and it doesn’t mean he’s no longer my dad. Life is just a series of moments and experiences, and the best we can do is live in the present and enjoy where we are. And if something is important to you… don’t WAIT like I did, or it may be too late. I am so sick of waiting, of avoiding, of thinking “I’ll do that thing tomorrow” and never getting around to it, the weight getting heavier and heavier… JUST DO IT ALREADY.

A fantastic reminder for a 5 year death anniversary. Thanks, dad. Maybe now I can truly listen to your advice. Everything does indeed happen for a reason… lesson learned. All of this will be over before we know it. Perspective is such a trip.

I close my eyes
Only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind


Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see


Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Now, don’t hang on
Nothin’ lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won’t another minute buy


Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Everything is dust in the wind.

Our First Day In Iquitos: Rapé and Kambo

Thursday: December 6, 2018

After not sleeping for about 48 hours, Amy and I arrived in Iquitos, Peru. We were on different flights and met up during a 5 hour layover in Lima, but spent all that time talking and eating awesome free food at the VIP lounge Amy had access to because of her credit card.

Dreamglade requires you to stay in Iquitos the first night you fly in to get some rest because you basically go straight into your first ceremony as soon as you get to the center. However, the way we planned our trip was that we would get into town at 7am, check into our room at La Casa Chacruna, then hook up with Victor, a jungle guide from Kambo Jungle Expeditions to go on an adventure until about 5pm. I always try to make the most out of my trips and schedule a shit ton to do, so I wanted to do a bit of sightseeing before spending the entire time at the retreat.

Elora Iquitos.jpg

As soon as we got off the plane in Iquitos, we were swarmed with people trying to sell us things. Much to our surprise, most foreigners in town are specifically there FOR ayahuasca, and the locals know how to take advantage of polite Westerners. It totally happened to us, with a guy immediately getting into our taxi with us on the way to town, trying to sell us stuff — ayahuasca, a jungle expedition at HIS retreat, things FOR ayahuasca ceremonies — he even tried to get us to come to his house that he claimed looked like “Jurassic Park”, and when we didn’t go with him he charged us double the normal taxi fare. SO PLEASE KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO. Don’t tell ANYONE where you’re staying, where you’re going, and what you’re doing. BE SAFE.

Amy Iquitos.jpg

Basically right after we made it into La Casa Chacruna, Victor showed up and took us by boat to an awesome butterfly farm and wildlife reserve called Pilpintuwasi, a really great floating restaurant where we did rapé for the first time, and monkey island where we got to play with a ton of cute monkeys 🙂 Hanging out with Victor was awesome because there’s not much to do in Iquitos without a boat and hard to communicate if you don’t know Spanish. After getting taken advantage of at the airport we were a little shaken up, so we felt a lot safer to be with someone who knew their way around. We learned so much from him and he was so kind and accommodating, even offering us Kambo which we spontaneously agreed to do.

We honestly weren’t expecting to do rapé OR kambo, but in my opinion this was the best possible way to kick off the journey. We were there to heal with sacred  jungle medicine and Amy said she would do whatever I was down to do… and I was desperate enough to do anything.

 

Rapé is basically jungle snuff that you inhale through your nose. It’s a combination of various medicinal herbs (Victor had us take 2 different kinds, one made out of 15 herbs, another 25) that helps focus and sharpen the mind, clear energetic fields for ayahuasca ceremonies, detox mind and body, clear sinuses of mucus and bacteria to combat sickness, and help with mental illness like depression and anxiety. It made us feel GREAT!!! 😀 Really awesome intro for the journey we were about to embark on.

Similar to the rapé, kambo is supposed to help clear your body of panema, the negativity that builds up over time. In that same vein, it’s a great remedy for mental disorders like depression and anxiety, making you feel more joyous about life. It’s also just overall great for the body and the immune system. He said he never got sick again after doing kambo regularly. Victor even explained to us how it even cured his grandma of cancer doing it twice a week for 6 months. He had told us also that he had done ayahuasca but he felt kambo was more in line with his own healing… how horrible his life was and when he did kambo for the first time, he had a vision of being surrounded by people laughing at him, then a huge frog appearing and embracing him. From then on he started to administer kambo and has seen miracles.

To me, kambo was actually more painful than ayahuasca OR sananga, and I think it’s simply because it’s mostly physical. I also had eaten so much that morning and also at lunch, so when my mouth started swelling, it was really gross to feel a ton of pieces of food come up and I couldn’t tell the difference between my skin and the food. The sensations are really hard to describe, and Victor explained that everyone reacts differently. I for example, was clawing at my legs a lot because I was so uncomfortable, to the point where Amy had to massage my hand and it was so helpful just to know she was there. It was SUPERRRR intense. She on the other hand mostly sweated on her entire body, and seemed to take it way better than me.

The pain only lasts about 20-25 min until it starts to subside, and you can feel it traveling up your body, from your toes to your face. I remember when it got to my torso area and went up my neck, I thought I was gonna die. I kept having to tell myself to breathe, and remembered that I had to live for Eddy and Han. It was also really helpful to have Amy and Victor there, because I knew that it would all pass and they were making sure I’d be safe. Victor had even said beforehand that sometimes people faint, but he knew how to bring them back (which was kinda a scary thought and I prayed beyond anything that I didn’t faint because he made it sound almost like your heart could stop? Haha)

After the kambo, I felt FANTASTIC. Although our faces were super swollen and made us seriously “one with the frog,” I at least felt like I had tons of energy and was positive to the point of taking on the world! This sensation lasted throughout the next day, and probably even into our stay at Dreamglade.

Regardless of how alive I felt, we still passed out pretty quick after the kambo for like… 13 hours, which ended up being the best sleep I got the whole trip so I’m really grateful for it. The next morning we felt refreshed and ready to head to Dreamglade! 🙂

Choosing Dreamglade For Ayahuasca: Great Vibes and Legit Healing

Deciding to do Ayahuasca at Dreamglade was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I swear I’ve watched every single ayahuasca video on youtube, looked into every center in the amazon, and spent hours and hours reading reviews. I couldn’t help being nervous setting out on the journey, but as soon as Stacy (the owner) picked us up from Iquitos, I knew I had made the right decision and couldn’t imagine doing it anywhere else.

dreamglade

The reason that research is important is because Ayahuasca is the main source of tourism in some parts of South America and there are a lot of people doing it for the wrong reasons. Ayahuasca is NOT a drug… it’s a medicine and needs to be administered in the right way for HEALING. It works best if you feel called to it, and have specific intentions about why you want to do it. It’s definitely NOT to have fun and trip out…it’s HARD WORK. People even say that your intentions guide you to the center and ayahuasca experience that’s meant for you. Here’s a tour video I took on the last day to remember what it was like walking around the place…I miss it SOOOO much. It makes my heart ache.

At Dreamglade we were immediately told that their main goal at the center isn’t a “light show for the Westerners” but legit healing. If not done right, it can cause people to have psychotic episodes and return home worse than when they came. Some shamans, called “Brujos,” can even steal your energy, or invite bad spirits in to mess with you. Also when you’re on the medicine, you are in a really sensitive, vulnerable state that continues post ceremony, even into integration, and I’ve heard about people being taken advantage of at some centers and even raped.

In my research I noticed that some places even sell tourist packages that include something like, one ayahuasca ceremony and then a jungle adventure or something, which seemed shady to me to begin with, but after actually TAKING the medicine I have no idea how people even do that. If you plan on using this to truly heal, you’re gonna need time to recover from this thing and process your experience. I’m not even sure how, at some centers, people can do ceremonies days in a row. At Dreamglade they actually require you to do 4 ceremonies MINIMUM, to give you adequate time to get used to the medicine, with the ceremonies every other day with rest in between. Those rest days were SO important. A LOT comes up that you just don’t understand, and I can’t imagine not having the right people around to help you through it.

Stacy, the owner, started up his center around 5 years ago and was really honest about the process of getting used to doing these ceremonies. We came at a really good time because by now, they REALLY know what they’re doing and you feel VERY SAFE the ENTIRETY OF YOUR STAY. I decided on Dreamglade because I felt, more than any other center that I’d come across, Stacy and Drew, his right hand man, are doing it for the right reasons. They recognize that the world is pretty messed up, and our only hope as a species is to heal ourselves, one by one, because only after we heal ourselves can that energy diffuse to others. The work that they do there is absolutely unbelievable… you can feel the power and love radiating from their shamans, Raul and Lidia. The entire staff is amazing because everyone plays such a specific role in taking care of guests coming in and supporting the great work of the shamans. So much sacrifice goes into running the place, and it can only be described as a labor of love for everyone there. To get a sense of what I mean, I urge you to watch the documentary. Here’s the link!

What immediately stood out to me was the general vibe of both the place and the people who work there. They’re not trying to sell you anything — they’re just very down to earth, genuine, amazing people, and it’s easy to get a sense of that from watching the video. Stacy really put his blood, sweat and tears into designing and creating the center himself, and when you’re there… the atmosphere is completely magical. SUCH great design, cozy spaces… thought put into every corner.

Something else I really love about Dreamglade is how picky they are with who they admit to the center, and how small they keep the groups (only 9 guests max at a time). You’re attending a retreat with a bunch of strangers with, in some cases a lot of emotional baggage, and that adds to the atmosphere of the whole experience. I was actually almost turned away from Dreamglade because of my bipolar diagnosis, and I immediately freaked out because they were my number one choice. Regardless of this, I still got a great vibe from Jann, the woman who handles their email correspondence. She explained that above all they were concerned about safety, for not only myself but their guests. When I signed up for the retreat I had been newly diagnosed and wasn’t aware that being bipolar was an issue, but she said that it could lead to manic or psychotic episodes depending on how severe the disorder was. I was clearly heartbroken in the emails, so Jann said she would run my case by Stacy, and she let me fill out their questionnaire anyway, which by the way is very extensive. I felt like I was writing a college entrance essay the way I responded to that questionnaire… and I basically begged to get in. I even sent them this video about the healing potential of ayahuasca for people with bipolar… it was literally my last resort.

I was sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear back from Jann and Stace about whether they would let me come to Dreamglade, and because I’m so impatient I actually emailed about 10 other centers while waiting, but none of them felt right for me.  Stace says that both him and Jann are very intuitive and have been doing it for so long that they can tell when something is a little “off” about a person, and they don’t hesitate to turn anyone away.

I can tell they do a fantastic job with their screening process because we were able to experience two groups of people while we were there and everyone was awesome, good vibes all around 🙂 I also had SO many questions and Jann was super quick and thorough about answering them all….the Dreamglade staff is seriously just top notch. They showed me the true power of collaboration, communication, compassion and love. Thankfully I was allowed to come…I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else.

I uploaded some raw videos mostly for archive purposes, but I might as well share them here. This is the first one that was supposed to be an account of my first ceremony but turned into going a bit into why I decided to do ayahuasca and Dreamglade praise 🙂