The Ghosts of Our Past.

A grandfather & his grandkids sit around a campfire on a cold winters night. The grandkids ask their grandfather to tell them a scary story. The grandfather takes a deep breath, knowing this story could have a huge impact on his grandkids. In the distance, a coyote howls into the deep silence of the forest.

The flame flickers

The moon shines into the cold night

As the grandfather tells his tale

His grandkids hearts drop

As they listen carefully to each word

Our past is not our past

If we refuse to let it go

The wise grandfather proclaimed

The ghosts of the past are real

They are dark creatures

More powerful then any demon

For they torment you

Day or night

They even follow you into your dreams

They steal your joy

Bring endless suffering

These ghosts

Lock you in a jail of regret

“How do you get out of this jail?!”

His grandkids screamed into silence of the night

“It’s simple but difficult” the grandfather proclaimed

The key to your freedom is the power of letting go

If you let go of the attachment, regret, and sorrow of your past the ghosts will disappear into the nights sky

Only to be seen time to time

To guide you on a different path then what led you to your own sufferings

Do not fight the ghosts, that is their fuel

Accept your past with compassion

For the past is gone

This exact moment is what matters

The grandkids slept good in their tents that night knowing that they are not helpless to these ghosts. The grandfather knew his grandkids would most likely have to learn the same way he did, through clinging to his past mistakes of infidelity, lying, and addictions. They will find their own way.

The Creature of the Dark Forest.

One breath at a time

One step at a time

I ascend up a steep mountain

A forest so lush it blocks the sun

As I reach the summit

A sudden storm appears above

Rain & wind torment me to no end

I start to run as fast as I can

Anything to escape this dangerous storm

A dark creature appears from the darkest depths of the forest

What do you want? I shout

It doesn’t answer me

I begin to move towards the creature

Fear filling every ounce of my soul

The creature runs away as I chase it

I hear its painful screams echoing within the forest

I finally catch this creature

What…. I can’t believe what I’m seeing

The creature is the darkest part of me

He was banished to the depths of the darkest forests

Suppressed, ridiculed, & beaten the creature laid wounded on the ground

Sobbing uncontrollably

I extend my arm to him

Picking up the creature I was astonished by how frail & weak it had become from my neglect

Yet so powerful to cause such powerful storms

I carried the creature back to my home, letting him rest and repair from all of the abuse

Thank you, said the creature as it gained consciousness once more

Anytime, I replied.

I’m so sorry that I banished you to the dark forest

You are part of me & always will be

I promise to shed light into the darkest part of the forest

Vulnerability: Our Biggest Strength.

Aloha,

Today’s blog post is about being vulnerable. Vulnerability is humanities greatest strength. It takes courage to be completely open and honest about our struggles.

Instagram & Facebook show us highlight reels of other people’s lives, which makes us feel like we aren’t living our lives to the fullest. There is a reason that studies show that heavy social media use is linked to depression, anxiety, and loneliness. We only connect at a surface level in sharing our highlights. Full transparency allows us to connect at a much deeper level.

Everyone has hardships but we rarely (if ever) share them on social media. Why is that? Are we scared that others will pity or judge us? From my experience, others will support and open up to their struggles once we break the ice. Connecting with others in this way is special.

For the past 6 weeks I have been traveling New Zealand on a working holiday visa. I haven’t started the working part of that yet though! LOL. Its hasn’t been perfect though. I spent way more money than expected on my first month of traveling which has caused me anxiety. At times, I have felt lonely in my travels, even when many others were around. Lately I have been having a hard time dealing with boredom and lack of purpose with no job. Lots of self judgements and worrying about what others think of me. Slowly I’m excepting the fact that this is a sabbatical and I will find work in the new year. I need to show some faith in myself once more and enjoy my free time.

Our society could benefit from being more vulnerable with each other. It helps us feel more connected and compassionate to others. Vulnerability takes true courage and strength. We all share the human experience together, let’s help each other live the fullest life that we can.

What have you been struggling with lately?

Namaste,

Johnny Hoffman

Big Egos.

The ego whispers “you’re right”. Unchecked, our ego will lead us into hatred of anyone who different than us. Hatred cannot be stopped by more hatred. It’s a vicious unstoppable circle of ego, fear, and hatred. Without the light of peace, the circle is infinite. Apathy & fear fuel the ego. I believe compassion and love can bring humanity true peace. Does humanity really want peace though? That’s a million dollar question. If we truly want peace we have to be mindful of the ego and its tendency to label everything as “right” or “wrong”. Labeling is the first step to hatred and violence. Labeling isn’t always bad (foods, streets, colors, etc) but when we label our fellow humans we put them in boxes; which we then label “right” or “wrong”. This distorts reality and makes peace difficult.

Understanding is the first step towards peace.

Without understanding peace is not possible. This is why mindful listening is so important in peace talks. Understanding the suffering inside another is a skill we can develop with compassion. Understanding, compassion, and peace are intertwined at their core.

Do we truly want peace or to be right? 

I see this in my fellow animal right’s activists. Well-intentioned people who let their ego blind them. They care more about being right than understanding meat eaters. They end up pushing their meat-eating brothers & sisters further from plant-based living; causing more violence in the world. We all have been guilty of letting our ego take control of a conversation. I intend to show true compassion to all living beings, even those who believe the exact opposite of me. How will they know peace if we don’t show them? MLK, Gandhi, Jesus, Buddha, and Mother Theresa all preached this message of peace.

Let’s start today by mindfully listening to others instead of allowing our ego to lead into hatred. If we truly want peace in this world we must live peacefully with all living beings. By living this way, we leave the world a better place than we arrived.

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

images (3)

What’s Your Dream?

This blog post is about the new American dream and my perspective on it. This post is not to demonize the traditional American dream or to tell you there is a “right” or “wrong” way to live your life. There are many different paths up the mountain.

 

Every decision leads to another. Even the smallest of steps can lead to a big decision in our life. Much of our lives are spent preparing, enduring, and recuperating from changes in our life. Suffering occurs when we resist the inevitable changes in our inner or outer environment. Our dreams change as well. Many achieve celebrity and find out they are even more miserable than before. We must adapt and change with our dreams.

Complacence and stagnation is the easiest route but in the long run, they often lead to disappointing results. Often the more difficult route leads to joy, contentment, and freedom. Freedom, in my opinion, is the most important concept for humanities overall happiness. Freedom is the American Dream. More importantly, freedom is the dream of all sentient beings.

I distinctly remember at 12 or 13 years old learning about the reality of the American dream. At this point in my childhood, I realized that the American dream sounded like a nightmare!! The American dream was not my dream. To work a job I disliked for 40 plus years and buy a house that would take 30 years to pay off sounded horrifying. I couldn’t believe that most people wanted this out of their one life. I wanted something different out of my life; to experience true freedom. But as the years went by, I slowly accepted my fate and forgot about my dreams of freedom. By the time I was 17, I wanted to be a millionaire with a wife and kids by the time I was 30 years old. In retrospect, I just wanted to fit in with societal norms. Societal norms are taught to us at an early age by family, teachers, commercials, tv shows, and movies. They shape our perspective at an early age. We end up accepting these norms to fit in so we don’t feel like an outcast. It’s ingrained in our DNA to want to be accepted so we are cast out of our tribe, which would end in our death. In our modern society, we have the freedom to question all societal norms and seek out like-minded individuals who share similar values.

In the past 3 years, I have questioned much of what I learned as a child/young adult about what success is. Is success having a career, wife, and two kids? Do I want a life blanketed with security or a life flourishing with freedom? Luckily my immediate family did not reinforce societal norms and thus allowed me to have an open mind. It was much easier for me to break out of the societal norms with a supportive and understanding family/friends. The biggest realization I have had was that my true dream is similar to what I enjoyed as a kid. I was mesmerized by maps, globes, and open space; now my dream is to travel and works remotely around the world. In many ways, my journey has allowed me to embrace my inner child. The child who was curious and open to new experiences. The inner child was just suffocated by fear, doubt, and worry.

I value freedom over security. I value love over fear; curiosity over indifference. With a shift of perspective comes a shift in our dreams. New possibilities can bring joy instead of fear. Your American dream is whatever you want it to be. Just remember each decision is ours to make and ours to take responsibility for.

Do you truly want freedom? Whats your dream? What must you let go of for you to live the life you want to live?

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

1c5d9dbcc694b1b729502bd38d7db31d