The longest newsletter I’ve ever written. I can already feel it before I even start. So here’s my promise. If you’re willing to stick with it, see it through its ups and downs, ins and outs, non-sequiturs and seeming diversions, I think it is likely you may find that this is the best thing I’ve ever written. I haven’t actually written it yet. It’s just a feeling. And by best, I mean, most meaningful and useful and universal and memorable and nice and honest.
So, to start off with, I’m back in Los Angeles and it seems I might actually live here now. Like a normal person, who actually lives somewhere. The story of how that came to be is really the story of this month and it involves many twists and turns and near-death experiences on hippie buses in border towns in Mexico en route to sacred gatherings for 2012 ascensions and a bunch of realizations and endings and stuff like that.
The theme of this month is completion. I call it “On Completion.” It’s a theme relevant both to me and to our world, if I do say so myself.
As I hope most of the people reading this know, I set off in mid-July to travel around the world street performing for a few years. That was the idea. This idea came to me in 2005 and I always wanted to do it. It was like “MY BIG DREAM™.” I never did it cuz life always pulled me into something else. Jenny and I got in a really big fight in February and it ultimately led to me thinking… oh, now is the time to actually live “MY BIG DREAM™.” So I started. I was scared but I started.
I had a great summer wandering around, getting ready to perform, doing a little performing, and mostly just living MY BIG DREAM™. The time came in December to up the ante–until that point I had been with friends and in places I was familiar with and in my country of birth. I had long felt the call to be in Mexico’s Mayan country for the winter solstice of 2012 and the stars seemed to align to push me in that direction. I crossed the border on 12/12/12 and found myself in May-hee-coh.
But let’s back up a moment. Because before finding myself in May-hee-coh, I found myself in Sedona, Arizona, trying to get across the border. The opportunity that presented itself was a bus full of hippies heading to Palenque (a Mayan temple) for a Rainbow Gathering to celebrate the BIGGEST DATE IN THE HISTORY OF THE EARTH™, December 21, 2012, the end/beginning/cycling of the long count Mayan calendar.
All seemed well. The adventure was beginning. The trip, in true hippie fashion, kept getting delayed but I stayed calm and upbeat and finally on December 10, we packed the bus and got ready to depart. The cast of characters went like this. There was a young Canadian girl crust-punk Anarchist kinda girl named April from Regina who had only recently left Canada for the first time, a young über-hippie couple named Whitney and Flutterby, who had been touring with the Grateful Dead (they apparently still exist) and Phish and making beaded jewelry and trimming marijuana to get by, a young man with missing teeth named Sam from Missoula who was a spitting image of a very dirt-covered Huck Finn (and who serves as the image for this letter on the website), and the couple who owned the bus, Jason and Amanda, who as far as I could tell by the end were fleeing the country to hideout in Central America, though I’m sure they would beg to differ.
I had just met this motley crüe and was getting ready to put my bicycle in the bus when the first disaster struck. As I lifted my bike (from my knees no less), I felt a pain unlike any I have felt before and fell to my knees, almost unable to breathe. I could hardly believe what was happening to me. My back was in such pain and was so immediately immobilized that it felt like some kind of surrealist dream. In a strange twist of fate, the house the crew minus me had been staying at was owned by a massage therapist who attempted to control the spasming of my back and got me to a point where I could almost stand unassisted.
It seemed like a mighty ominous omen but I checked in with my inner guidance and was told that I must get on the bus and continue. There was no turning back. I have long since learned that it’s entirely a no-go for me to try to go against my guidance, so I hobbled onto the bus, which fortunately had a bed in the back, and I laid down and subsequently found myself entirely unable to sit up. I could not move. Temporarily paralyzed. Truth stranger than fiction.
Perhaps not surprisingly considering my companions, it was both suggested and encouraged that I eat a small piece of a pot brownie to dissipate the searing and throbbing pain to which I was trying to become accustomed. I was told the thing was very potent but I was literally handed a few crumbs, not even a chunk. I thought oh well I used to smoke a lot I’ll give it a shot. But damn I wish they were a little more generous than a few crumbs…
Well, within an hour or so I was tripping. Like full on entheogenic experience. And that’s when the trip became shamanic.
Into the Abyss
I realized very quickly that this was my first real experience with mortality. I realized almost equally quickly that a lot of my enthusiasm and care-freeness was predicated on having been sheltered from death and from injury. I had grandparents die and was in a serious car accident but walked away with but a crick in my neck. This was very different. This pain was immobilizing. And I was tripping.
Steve Jobs came to me in a vision. He said to me that this was the part that they don’t tell you about. You get to redefine business and release a series of revolutionary products, but they don’t go into the details of the pancreatic cancer that eats away at your body. The pain of that experience. The doubling over. It was all very scary. I sat there in the back of the bus silently sobbing, alone with a group of strangers heading to cross the border from Arizona into Mexico.
It then dawned on me in true one-thought-leads-to-another-psychedelia-style that my mom’s brother had died in his early twenties, in a van of hippies. The door had come open and he fell out. People inside were drinking and smoking which was definitely going on on this bus as well. I got very scared and felt death creep closer. I also felt a newfound empathy for my mom (mentioned as foreshadowing device).
The whole thing then went over the edge when a very clear voice, the same voice that told me to go to Bali with no money, that told me to kiss Jenny the day I met her, and that told me to give away my possessions in 2007, told me that I was going to Palenque to die. And that there was nothing that I could do about it. I could get off the bus and I would die. I could stay on the bus and I would die. But either way, death was in my future. I began crying more. This was it. A random guy on a random bus in Mexico. I pictured people saying to each other “well it looks like old Otis’ look finally ran out.” I couldn’t believe the physicality of death. I understood why near-death experiences changed people’s lives so deeply. It’s so physical, so embodied. It had always been nothing more than a mental concept to me. And my God it’s intense.
I called my parents right before I crossed the border and I cried and I cried and I cried. I apologized. I forgave. I hit reset. I realized what an intolerable prick I can be. So righteous and holier than thou. And how mortality puts a big fuck you on notions like that.
More than anything, I just felt like I’ve been so so arrogant in my life.
From that point forward, the ol’ bus was just one shitstorm after another. Breaking down, the hippies running out of money, dischord among the riders. And I realized that this is the reality of traveling. I remembered being in Israel trying to get to Egypt and all the hassles of visas. I remembered being in Amsterdam unable to get a hostel and staying up all night delirious in the train station. I realized that in my romanticism of the vagabond lifestyle, I had neglected to take into consideration what the actual realities of low-budget international travel are. And my God. No Whole Foods. No superfoods. No kale. No quinoa. No USDA Organic. The mind reels.
The whole thing became almost comically bad as one disaster overcome led to another much larger disaster hours later. I fortunately stayed in good spirits for the most part and kept telling people I loved them as the imminence of death felt so close. And then I decided that it was over for me. I was living the dreams of a 25-year old version of myself. The dream was dead. The dream was over. Long live the dream.
And my thoughts returned again and again to Jenny. To the meaning of our relationship. To the fact that it actually meant something to me. It had depth. It was real. And that no matter what I did, it was going to be shitty. The relationship would probably not get any better. Jenny would probably never become any better/nicer/more-like-I-wished-she-would-be. But this life was shitty too. Wandering around the world for no reason in particular. It had its upsides and wild adventures, seeing the sunset over Tpotzlan, but it felt hollow and empty. It didn’t feel like actually living. It made me understand why people have children.
So I finally got into Mexico City and called Jenny. I felt half crazy at this point, my reality so intertwined in the insanity of the drama of this stupid little bus, and I wondered if I had gone a little mad. Maybe Jenny would wonder why the hell I was calling her. Otis, you said you’re gone, so go! Otis, I’m quite happy without you here. You shouldn’t have eaten the brownie! Deal with it! Figure it out for yourself! I didn’t know… So anyway, the phone rings, she picks up, I get all emotional, blabber on and start crying, she starts crying, we start crying, we’re in love, happily ever after, wait for the sequel!
I buy a ticket and I fly home. December 19. Just 2 days before the solstice. The END DATE OF THE MAYAN CALENDAR. DUNH DUNH DUNH (cinematic score)!! I was there. In Mayan country. I made it. And I left. I died. In Mexico.
Jenny gave me this channeled reading upon my return about what we could expect around the time of the solstice. You can Google Tom Kenyon and the Hathors if you’re interested. In the reading, Tom gave this exercise that he said could be useful in looking back over your life and returning to stillness so that you could make a deep choice about who you are and who you want to be as we cross this galactic threshold.
The exercise was fairly simple. Close your eyes and look at your life from an overhead perspective like a timeline… As I began to do that, BOOOM immediately I saw myself in my car accident at age 20. I could feel IMMEDIATELY that I had actually DIED in that car accident. It was so visceral and unexpected. A different me had been created right then and there. Interestingly, this “accident” was only a month or two after I dropped out of college and had the LSD experience that led to me becoming a dancer.
As I thought back to the accident, I remembered how fucked up the car had been. The firemen who responded to the call later told me upon seeing the car, they were 100% certain the driver was dead. Little did I realize, they were right! I also remembered multiple people telling me that when I talk about my 18 years of childhood in Maine, it sounds to them like I’m talking about another person. Little did I realize, I am talking about another person!
Several other dramatic events of my life quickly showed themselves later and I could see that at a few points in my life, something had switched. I had actually died in one parallel reality and rather than physically dying, had continued as a different person in another parallel reality. And this is when I realized I HAD died in Mexico. It just wasn’t what I thought it would be.
I would encourage you to try this exercise for yourself. You might be surprised at the results. Here it is excerpted from tomkenyon.com for your reading pleasure:
Imagine a line in front of you. Sense this line in whatever way that feels comfortable to you. This mediation is in no way a visualization, and it is immaterial whether you see anything or not.
You will naturally tend to sense this imaginary timeline in your own primary sensory modality (meaning the sense you use most often when remembering events in the past or imagining events in the future). For some of you this might mean that you “feel” the timeline in some way especially if you are a kinesthetic processor of information. Others (called auditory processors) might have an internal voice that describes the timeline, while visual processors will tend to have a mental impression of “seeing” the timeline. Just go with how you sense the timeline when you imagine it.
Next, imagine that at one end of this line is your birth and the portion of the line directly in front of you is the current moment of your life. The other end of the line, not yet defined, is your death. For some people, their births will be off to the left while others may sense it off to the right. It doesn’t matter where the birth point of your life is.
Then as you contemplate various incidents in your life, locate them along the line in your imagination. Thus, if something occurred that was significant when you were five years old, it would be closer to your birth point than say something that happened when you were forty, and so forth.
The goal of this contemplation is to sense your life and the choices you have made from the vantage point of your expanded nature. In order to accomplish this change in perspective (or vantage point), imagine that some part of you floats up above the timeline that is directly in front of your physical body. You might find that this “floating part of you” is just above you, or it might be very far above you. Let the “part” float to the position it wishes to, and then observe your timeline and your personal history from this location outside the constraints of your physical body.
One result of this perspective (i.e., outside and above your timeline) is that you become less identified with the specific events of your life and more identified with the expanded aspects of your nature. This expanded sense of yourself transcends the stories of your life—your personal history—and connects you with an aspect of your consciousness that is unfettered by the circumstances of your past. Through the shifting of self-identity from “your life” as it is experienced in your timeline, you can make contact with your larger Self that views your personal history quite differently than the “you” that is living your life as a human.
This shift of perspective brings with it a greater sense of self-compassion (or self-love) as well as a type of grace that often eludes those of us living our lives as embodied beings.
So yah kids. I went to Mexico and died. I think you’ll like the person I came back as better. I like him better. More humbled. I think that’s the main thing. Less obsessed with fame and skill and stardom and rightness. More desiring of finding a way to be of service and be creative and find a place in the world.
While on the bus in Mexico, I kept getting the words of Voltaire coming back to me at the ending of Candide:
“Tend yo muthafuckin’ garden, Otis!” (that’s a liberal translation from the original French). So that’s become more important to me than almost anything. Our beautiful garden in LA with 25 fruit trees, our kale forest, our chickens and dog Tippi, Jenny’s daughters, our frequent guests and residents, my parents, my friends, my colleagues. The Funkmeyer Show. This life that I worked so hard to build. I want to keep building it. I’m ready now to watch years turn into decades. I release rushing. I release the fruits of my labors. I release holding people to my standards of how I think they should live. I mean, the guy that died wrote a book called “This is how you SHOULD think.” You know how this new guy thinks you SHOULD think: however you want man. However you want.
I do so love you. I do so wish you the best in everything. And I do so hope that you and I realize and remember that no matter what you achieve, there you are. Tpotzlan and the fifth dimension and world superstardom all have their challenges and their days when all is not well in your world. So good luck out there in 2013.
To sum up, I completed a phase of my life. I have no idea what the next phase looks like, but I think it will be nicer and more tender. Other than that, let’s discover it together.
The Funkmeyers are back. I am not going to make any big proclamations about what that means but our first video together in about 10 months comes out today at youtube.com/funkmeyers. There are already videos on Youtube, scheduled to be released weekly, for the next few months. So a new phase of an old thing begins. May it live long and prosper and bring much joy to us and to the world 🙂