Enter the Matrix

Do you feel like there’s something more than GTO to poker? Do you feel like solvers are only a piece of the puzzle? Looking to add another element to your poker mindset? Here’s your opportunity to expand your consciousness and enter the matrix with me, LuckyChewy, and explore what I’ve found exists beyond the logic we already know to love and trust in poker.


When I wrote The Yoga of Poker it was in many ways inspired by these ideas. 5 years later I feel I have a better grasp and ability to articulate what happens during my in-game poker thought process. I enjoy utilizing these more abstract ideas when relevant, which I feel has in part led to my success – coupled with GTO conceptual ideas which are, undeniably, very valuable foundational baselines with which to work from.

This isn’t an attempt to dismantle GTO and dance on it’s grave. Game theory, logical thought processes, and sound poker fundamentals are all integral to becoming successful in poker and I won’t claim otherwise. I do however think there is an imbalance of GTO information publicly available relative to what I intend to share here and, furthermore, that there are only so many people who have any interest in or feel compelled to share it. There may be a lot of ideas in here that seem foreign, challenging to parse, or that you simply disagree with. I imagine, and hope, that in the years to come there will be more information uncovered regarding these ideas and look forward to more light being shed on these topics. What follows is what I have to work with right now though, and is in many ways a philosophical guide to what goes on inside my mind in general life and when I’m playing poker.

“There is no mystery whatsoever –

only inability to perceive the obvious.”

     — Wei Wu Wei

The words that follow may be truly useless once you are able to perceive that which cannot be understood outside of your own direct experience. It is simultaneously elusive, yet also very clear. I cannot explain why other than to say that paradox is a powerful mechanism.

Intuition, flow, and present moment awareness

What is intuition and how can it help us in poker? The way I would describe it from my own experience is: spontaneous understanding which pervades logic. It is some aspect of truth that comes to us when we need it, in the way we need it. We can and should apply logic to these truths regardless of how they reach our mind. I think the foremost issue in seeing them clearly is that our biases can creep in and prevent us from seeing what is an intuition and what is merely thought based on negative beliefs. The more we are able to dwell in that space of present moment awareness, where we are in a flow state, and our mind and body are at ease, the more easily we can identify what our intuition is telling us and work with it to make decisions.

There is no shortage of instances where people seem to know things at the right place, right time, right moment that perhaps you can even relate to. Yes, it will not always be the case that these are accurate but, in my opinion, there is enough anecdotal evidence here that something may be happening which we can consider more deeply. Part of what I think may play a role here is that our stomach possesses a myriad of neurotransmitters, similar to what we find in our brains, such that we quite literally have a brain in our gut. In recent times it’s been shown that our gut health is important and I would posit that it’s not only because digestion and physical well being are important aspects of a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life. The cliche of ‘going with your gut’ likely has some relevance here. Sometimes the simplest answer is the best one, and over thinking things is not the way to go.

Now, as previously mentioned, there are important distinctions to be made internally between accurate and inaccurate perceptions of these intuitive ‘messages’. Acknowledging and accepting our biases, or really any negative beliefs we may have, are integral first steps in being able to see these intuitions clearly. The next section discusses how I think our body’s physiological impulses can further help identify what sort of situation we may find ourselves in, but let’s first further discuss the ideas of thought, intuition, and biases/beliefs.

I think the distinction between thought and intuition needs to be made. After all, both are very personal, internal ‘messages’ in our brain. Intuition, as mentioned, will not always show itself in ‘thought’ form. Think about things this way – if you were in a video game as a character, but also playing the video game as yourself(yes we’re going here) and you wanted to share information with yourself, you would do it in the most practical and efficient way possible. This is my perspective on how intuition takes form. Irrespective of your views on spirituality or any derivation thereof, the idea of intuition has been appreciated and utilized by many of our greatest minds throughout time such as but not limited to Einstein, Tesla, and Edison. The thing I like about this idea is that whatever is going to most effectively grasp your attention and help you in the moment, would be the most sensible form it would to come in.

You can begin to ‘bridge this gap’ of knowledge by creating a thought experiment at your own leisure along the lines of, ‘If I was going to help myself, how would I do it?’, and see what comes of it in your life(or what is already there), in and outside of poker. I recall the first time I began to consider that life was speaking to me in a myriad of ways all the time. I was hanging around with friends playing ping pong and at the very moment I had the thought pondering this idea, one friend blurted out to another, ‘OF COURSE!’. It was enough for me to further consider and it’s been nothing short of life changing since then.

This expanded view begins to encapsulate a variety of different ideas such as parallel realities, alternate dimensions, and the nature of the self and reality as a whole. At the time of writing this, I personally believe that reality is an infinitude of still snapshots experienced at incomprehensible speed such that it feels continuous. If this were the case, what would happen if we broke continuity? Is it even possible? If time is non-linear and only experienced as such, must all possible ‘futures’ already exist? If so, it’s quite empowering to imagine that no future is pre-determined and encourages us to choose wisely which we deem worth of stepping into.

The ideas of cause and effect are interesting to consider as well. The chicken and the egg, what came first? Perhaps they simultaneously come into existence. Why does this even matter in so far as poker goes? Well, something I find interesting is when I get an intuition that I’m going to lose a particular hand after we’re already all-in. I’m not sure if my proverbial ‘video game player’ is alerting me ahead of time to an inevitable outcome or testing me as to whether or not I can shift to the ‘future’ parallel reality where the outcome is different. I prefer to believe the latter as it’s more exciting but either way, thinking outside the box is fun for me.

I think the element of human bias is very relevant here in so far as how it pre-disposes one to feel when certain situations crop up. For example: Player A has an irrational fear of being check-raised and so they are reluctant to bet in a variety of situations where they would be theoretically inclined to do so. This player should trust what they perceive their intuition to be, less, when discerning whether or not to bet in position. The most sensible way to proceed would seem to be to identify and subsequently eliminate, to the best of your ability, biases as they pertain to the poker table. Something you may ask yourself is: Do you single out certain hands or situations and place preconceptions on them before allowing yourself to feel what is going on in the moment? I can say that I certainly have at times. Whenever you find yourself thinking(important distinction here from intuiting) things that are distractions or representative of biases – you have a place to start dismantling them. Simply bringing conscious awareness to them and identifying them as illogical and unhelpful is enough to move past them. If they recur, dig deeper and explore further why they are there and what they can teach you about yourself.

Honest self-investigation and introspection are the foremost relevant tools in order to begin to utilize these concepts. You have to take action to get more in touch with yourself and deepen your connection to life. The more you are able to have this experience, either through meditation or simply following your passions in life and finding a flow state, the more you will be able to perceive these intuitions accurately. If intuition can teach us how to live more fulfilling lives and be a tool to play better poker, why would we turn down such an opportunity?

Body technology and the logic of emotions

Sticking with our analogy of ‘character’ and ‘player’ within the video game of life – sometimes our ‘character'(our human-ness) may get intuitions through physical sensations. Sometimes, for me, these come in the form of increased heart beat. Other times it may come in the form of tightness in stomach/chest or, vice versa, complete relaxation and bliss. It’s important to note that the outcome of a particular hand may not always be determined by the physical sensation or ‘intuitive message’. In my opinion there is more to this life than we know and it may be the case on occasion that it is in your best interest to lose for some unknown purpose at the time. It also wouldn’t necessarily be fun, or fair, if someone always won every time they played poker. Some of my best lessons and realizations have come after losing sessions. It’s extremely helpful to not let circumstances determine your state of being but instead choose to remain in your preferred state irrespective of the ‘external’ experience(s). If it’s possible for us to remain joyful no matter what’s going on around us, why wouldn’t we?

Diving more deeply into what these physical sensations can tell us about the situation we are in, it’s important to identify what exactly we are looking for. Primarily at the poker table, we want to understand how we should proceed in a hand – should we call, raise, or fold? Sometimes I’ll hold the possibility I’m considering in my mind before taking an action and seeing how that makes me feel physically which has at times been a very helpful indicator of what action is most beneficial in that specific situation. This approach becomes a fairly zen-like experience of precise focus and awareness of the situation at hand, the mental on-goings, and the bodily sensations. I also find it helps me to take some deep breaths and continually check in with my breath so that I can more easily tap into this awareness. What works for some may not work for others but I think if you’re reading this you’re open to these ideas – so play with them and see what comes of it. At some point there will likely be ‘aha’ type moments and the signs may already be there if you choose to look for them. All I can do is share what I find valuable and see if it resonates with others.

Sometimes there will be profitable, sensible deviations from a GTO strategy that I can’t foresee until they occur – and most great players abide by this understanding, albeit for different reasons. The funny thing about these deviations is that as previously mentioned, your intuition will have logic to it. It’s not that you’re going to start trying to feel out whether or not you can play 53o UTG(or maybe you will, I don’t want to limit anyone!) but more so that you give close decision points more consideration in a different way. Probably the most common one I find myself in is a flop spot where I bet or check when the default is the inverse. This is besides the fact that we are, at least at this stage, all doing our best to implement GTO concepts and don’t really fully understand what the full scope looks like – and there’s a reason those that have come closer than others in understanding it are justly considered the best in the world. With that said, I won’t sway so far from what I’ve identified GTO to look like so that I start to play super erratically and attempt to ‘re-invent the wheel’. I think there is great benefit in understanding this balance in the dance of poker.

Theory our basis

Illuminating the dark

Intuition guides

I have the most fun playing poker when this balance is eloquently expressed. The logical and emotional worlds blended into one through the implementation of intuitive insight. To further touch on the idea of intuition itself having a logical aspect to it, I think it’s helpful to look at how these intuitions occur and what they look like. Often times they are situations where, in a pure GTO approach, a mixed strategy would be recommended – but the mix therein may be derived through pure randomization. Perhaps intuition can guide some of our mixed strategies.

Occasionally though, these intuitive hits will be more abstract and could be said to be quite ‘off the rails’. These cases are by virtue of the frequency with which they occur, fairly rare, but it’s nice to know that the more practice you have in engaging intuition, the more likely you are to make the right deviation at the right time. One of my biggest pet peeves in poker is when I go against my gut in a big spot and get punished for it – or better put, let my logical thought processes override my gut feeling(s) in a situation when there’s sufficient evidence to justify the veracity of the intangibles.

Empathy the collective consciousness

It’s been my understanding that more than half of our interaction and communication with others is non-verbal. If that’s the case – where is the bulk of our communicative interaction coming from? I’ve read about the idea of our heart having an electromagnetic field which is an underlying factor in this component of non-verbal communication. It is also my experience that there is some sort of less understood component to reality that is the main contributing factor to this idea of non-verbal communication. If we work with this assumption when we are, at a live poker table, immersed in each others ‘heart webs’, there would be a lot of on going communication. I obviously can’t speak specifically for others, but I think this is something many people have some degree of experience with, particularly as it pertains to loved ones in our life. Sometimes you can tell how someone close to you is feeling without them voicing it. How? Why? Beginning to explore this more deeply is an option to see for yourself where it goes and what you discover.

I think there are a lot of similarities between mind coherence and heart coherence, not to mention the synergy they bestow when coupled together. The next section will discuss a bit more about positivity and functionally why it is helpful to achieving our goals. If we want our human ‘machine’ to operate to the best of its ability then it would seem that we would be wise to focus on the ‘parts’ of our machine and have them perform as best we can get them to.

How can the collective consciousness and idea of non-verbal communication change our perception of human interaction? The way it looks to me is that if we are theoretically capable of tapping into this collective consciousness and, not exactly ‘reading’ anyone’s mind, but feeling what they’re feeling or thinking the same thoughts at the same time, this would be a valuable tool. I think about this more like tuning my receiver to the same signal as someone else, such that the broadcast will be the same. If we’re both watching channel 7, we’re both getting the program that comes from channel 7. I perceive this element of empathy more gently than a more ruthless infiltration of someone’s mind or something of the sort.

The way to go about doing this is to simply practice developing more empathy and letting that be the driving force in your ability to ‘read’ other people’s feelings and intentions. I think of empathy in this sense as the ability and accuracy with which you can ‘tune’ your frequency dial, at will, to match someone else’s. When you match someone else and are effectively having a very similar experience for the period of time that you are matched with one another it’s really quite amazing. It may also make you more emotionally mature when you can feel what others are feeling and respond accordingly, which is quite a nice benefit outside of the poker table.

Positive thoughts and good vibrations

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the law of attraction since it has some relevance in this context. It’s certainly a topic which has been, understandably, widely critiqued by many skeptics. In that same respect though, there have been some who have found benefit in the ideas it seeks to share. I think I can help bridge the gap between the two groups by taking from it what I find most valuable and letting you decide for yourself if the ideas resonate.

The first thing I find value in regarding the idea of a ‘law of attraction’ is the premise that vibration precedes manifestation. What this means to me in a practical sense, is that when you are able to generate a particular state of being, you are then opening the door to have a particular experience. The key to the law of attraction that I think a lot of people miss is that it is not possible to unlock the desired experience without some degree of action. The inner work of aligning your mind and creating a coherent emotional state whilst eliminating fear, doubt, and whatever other limiting beliefs stand in the way of your success are what I believe are at the core of this ideology.

Good vibrations, to me, mean uplifting and reframing things for the better. I feel that negativity and positivity both exist a spectrum where there is a central, neutral balance point. This can be a powerful place to perceive from because it is stoic, unbiased, and perhaps ironically, even slightly positive due to its potential. Neutrality is effectively a blank canvas which can be painted over each moment anew. No matter what happens, it’s all up to you in each moment to make of it what you will.

Positivity feels better for us to experience as it’s integrative, connective, and wholesome. Negativity is separative, dis-connective, and isolating. Exploring our thoughts and beliefs to see what they align with and how our experiences may or may not reflect them is very helpful, especially at critical moments within our lives, in and outside poker. A few examples where I’ve found the most value in observation are the moments before we move all-in, during all-ins, before big calls, etc. There is that sweet spot of quiet equanimity where, irrespective of possible aforementioned esoteric factors, we stand to give ourselves the best chance of success by maintaining this mindset. Everyone has experienced this mind state to some degree – just think back to peak moments of your life and feel now what you felt then.

Creativity, fun, and balance

When I play poker it’s very important that I’m having fun. If it begins to feel too much like laborious work then my results and happiness invariably suffer. I like the idea of playing, and especially so with the way that I play poker. I find it to be an effortless dance of creativity and joy when I’m in my flow state. If I play too much and ignore other areas of my life I run the risk of falling victim to that feeling of monotony where each decision feels heavy and clunky. I lose my connection to the game without contrast from other experiences which effectively serve as preparation. In the recent past I’ve taken up a few more creative hobbies which have dramatically helped my mental approach to poker. In no small part I find this to be true thanks to the ability to express oneself more fully and freely creatively in mediums where there is no ‘risk’ in the same way that we know risk in poker. I’ve had the experience of the metaphorical dam being unable to hold back the desire to have that creative expression which results in sporadically spewing off chips in ways I know, in hindsight, I would not do in my right mind. Some few years ago I realized that balance in poker is not as challenging, nor as important, as balance in life, though both are necessary for success.

I think a critical turning point in my ability to find equanimity came when I made, for all intents and purposes, a bad call in a relatively non-interesting poker hand. I felt some degree of shame, frustration, and anger. I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed and this instance was no different. What was different however was that while I was drenched in my own negativity, I had the inspiration to accept my mistake and direct compassion towards myself. A lot of times I think we are harder on ourselves than we would be on loved ones or even acquaintances. In part I see why this can be valuable because we are responsible for our own actions – but on this day I realized that in making mistakes we give ourselves opportunity to learn. It may sound inconsequential but the timing and way it hit me was profound.

I’ve done a lot of seeking and searching in my life for answers. I thought, at times, that there was some sort of ‘perfect’ or objectively correct lifestyle or approach to life. Eventually and fortunately, I realized that the most important thing is just to be yourself and to honor, express, and act on that in whatever way is truly most authentic. This perspective for me has been fun and makes life fun. It doesn’t mean life will be void of challenges or ups and downs but that’s not really the goal. It’s like a game of poker, if there’s no challenge it isn’t really very fun. Sure, running hot and holding over the table is an amazing feeling, but in part that feeling comes from all the times when you’ve been running poorly.

Although I can only speak for myself, I feel that something which is somewhat pervasive amongst most humans is that we like some degree of routine but don’t like when consistency turns to monotony. I’ve worked to combat this by employing routine in a way that is healthy but allowing myself the freedom to sway from a rigid approach if it feels right. Seems simple but lots of people are challenged by optimizing their lives and most efficiently using their time – ultimately you just have to figure out what works for you.

My Recent Journey into Nature – Part 2

After resting up for a few days and getting some time off from roughing it in the campgrounds of Oregon, the enjoyment and gratitude of the life experiences that come with living in a world with modern amenities again was a great pleasure. When we eventually ventured back out on the road towards Black Rock City we arrived around 8 hours later when we cruised into our designated camp area at 11PM on Thursday. We came a few days early to help out with the process of setting up the infrastructure to host the ~30 people that would be staying at our camp. 7 other campers in our group had arrived 15 or so hours earlier and spent the majority of the day beginning the setup process, without any sleep after driving up from Vegas, they were naturally exhausted. We all got to sleep within the next hour or so and got up early the next day to have our first ‘real’ day at burning man!

The day began, and continued on, with a lot of awesome and exciting team work and collaboration. It was so much fun to have different tasks naturally allocated to smaller groups within the team and then have other people come to help and then break off once a task was sufficiently underway. The organic way that the setup proceeded was really enjoyable for me as were the added elements of creativity to decide how to most efficiently utilize the materials that we brought with us and strategy to decide where and how to place them within our camp.

By the time Sunday had rolled around there had been 3 full days spent setting up, excluding the day we missed driving up, and by then lots of our other camp members were arriving at the camp grounds and able to offer more hands which was very helpful. Once Sunday night rolled around nearly everyone was there and the majority of us decided to venture out into the depths of the ‘Playa’, which is basically the massive open desert area that is designated for exploration of the space in which various artists creatively express themselves in whatever way they so choose. Primarily on the playa you will see, in greater numbers as the week goes on, art installations, art cars, lots and lots of music and even more lights! As it were, I got lost almost immediately from the group on our first night out which I’m glad happened early in the week and taught me the value of closely following my friends whilst navigating through the initially crowded places on the way out into the more open playa area. I did however run into some other members from our group and spent the majority of the night exploring with my good, longtime pal, Dan Smith, chatting about life, the unknown, what burning man is and what can be learned from it.

Although there is no ‘normal’ anything, let alone day, at burning man – most days involved getting up sometime between 10-12 and helping out with the breakfast service our camp was offering to the city. Beyond the basic camp duties, much in the same way that I enjoyed my experience in Oregon, I loved spending time with friends and getting to know new ones. With very little exception, it seemed like everyone I encountered was embracing the openness of life and community and friendship etc and enjoying the week with the understanding that many of the ‘rules of the game’ we experience in society are lifted in this environment. Exploration of the city was always a fun part of the day, and even more so at night, as there is so much to see and so little time before it is all deconstructed by the end of the week.

I really appreciated the artistic inspiration and creative intelligence that was so pervasive throughout the city, specifically the playa where it is really showcased, but it is everywhere, and this was really awe-inspiring for me. There are two particular things I experienced out on the playa that I would like to share:

  1. There was a, roughly, 20 foot tall hourglass looking thing that may have been a representation of the ‘tree of life’ which was designed beautifully with precious geometry, lights, and speakers embedded within its structure. It called itself ‘Illumina’ and was a representation of the collective heart. There were 6 seats that were meant to measure each individuals heart coherence which would then be reflected in Illumina’s light and sound display. After speaking with one of its creators I learned that the catch is that it would only ‘level up’ in it’s display of light and sound if everyone participating had the same level of coherence, bliss, wellbeing or what have you. It was a truly amazing piece of art and by far the most profound thing I saw all week. I returned every night to hear the beauteous harmonics and positive vibrations that it bountifully exuded and poured out through its light and sound display every few minutes as its ‘game’ began anew.
  2. Stationed just outside of a common meet up spot, where our camp would often reconvene out on the playa in order to allow people to wander off for some portion of the night and then find their friends and group to meet back up if they so chose for the remainder of the night, there was a ‘Talk to God’ pay phone. Feeling like I couldn’t pass up the chance to talk to god, or anyone who might feel confident enough to play the role of god, I got in line and waited my turn. When it came I picked up the phone and a gentle sounding female answered. She began with, ‘I know something is on your mind, what is the question you want to ask me?’ In all honesty I was just in awe of my surroundings and responded by expressing this sentiment. We got to talking about the artistry that is so ever-present in this environment and my own relationship to art. A brief side-note: I have over the last year become more interested in ‘re-tapping’ my artistic spirit and had, in the two weeks before burning man, two unrelated conversations about calligraphy that had piqued my interest. So, as you might imagine, God promptly brings up calligraphy as a possible option of exploration for me. I was excited, awestruck, and motivated. She also mentioned that I have had a tendency to be quite hard on myself(great read God) and that I should be especially mindful of this possibility in my experience of pursuing new endeavors, art in particular. All in all, a profound conversation and interaction that I very much enjoyed and won’t soon forget!

Another interesting experience I had was signing up to and participating in the ‘Zendo project’. Zendo is a psychedelic harm reduction service that is sponsored by the non-profit group MAPS(Multi-disciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies) founded by Rick Doblin, Ph.D. My experience volunteering with Zendo entailed a 2.5 hour introductory seminar where they explain what their philosophy is and how they believe help can be efficiently delivered to the people who come in asking for it. This intro was preparation for two 8 hour shifts I served as a sitter. It was a really cool, very unique experience and felt good to give back to the community, by sharing a gift I feel I have been given which manifested in this instance by ‘holding space’ for the people who come to Zendo looking for someone to be there for them and listen to them, care for them, and appreciate and accept them just the way they are with non-judgement and compassion. One particularly notable takeaway was how many moving parts there are in human interaction and how crucial mindfulness is when dealing with someone who may be having a traumatic or deeply introspective experience. At the intro seminar they spoke about ‘micro-expressions’ which really resonated with me and turned out to be a very helpful thing to keep in mind during the sitting. A micro-expressions was described as the brief rolling of ones eyes, raising of an eyebrow, pursing of lips, flaring of nostrils etc and are oftentimes, either intentionally or perhaps subconsciously at times, correlated to what has been said by the other party during an interaction. To remain mindful of these during the sitting sessions kept me aware of the fact that people in a vulnerable state can be easily affected by anything, especially if something catches them off guard or makes them feel insecure or unworthy. It was a worthy challenge to be as much of a reflective mirror and presence of loving-kindness as possible but in the end I feel I was able to help, support, and add value to the community by just being myself and offering my heart to those in need of a human connection free of judgement.

After it was all said and done and we broke down our camp to leave behind no trace except the dust of the desert that was there when we arrived, I was left with mixed feelings on the drive out. It was a lot to take in over the week and I loved the experience in it’s entirety – specifically, the initial shock of what the city contained in all of it’s uniqueness, the diversity of creative and honest expression and what it means to be an individual as a part of it all – but most of all the friendships that were strengthened as a result of coexisting under unusual circumstances and the new ones that were born touched my heart most deeply. There is something magical about the coming together of so many people to just enjoy life and be present with each other and their experiences in a way that is admirable and worthwhile to repeat in day to day life, although not having cellphone access for a week and a half seemed to be a big part of it!

I had a thought on one night that was something along the lines of how burning man was a micro of the macro in which is our lives or our universe or our cosmos all begin as a blank canvas and it is the creative spirit, intentions, projected meaning, and evolution of the mind which are the proverbial paint brush that make them what they are, and that was very touching for me as well while observing the scenery and artistry. I was, however, unable to entirely reconcile the burning of so much wood and the message that sends practically as well as environmentally. I understand it is meant to be a ritual but, to put it succinctly I would ask – ‘is the juice worth the squeeze?’ Ultimately that is a choice for each individual and it would seem that if the experience is positively life changing and enhances life in transformative way which encourages a productive and sustainable way of life to be brought back to the ‘real world’ then maybe it is. It’s a complex question and maybe it misses the point of burning man all together – or maybe there is no point except the point that each individual gives it.

As it were though, I will say with certainty that it was the craziest experience of my life, in a great way. There is truly nothing I’ve experienced like this and I am very glad I attended. Additionally, just like life, there seemed to be good and bad elements within the event, dark and light components, but the freedom and ease with which self-expression was encouraged and made comfortable really made it clear to me that the experience is entirely what you make of it. I would recommend it to most people from the point of view that it is so unique and, despite my best efforts, indescribable.

In summary, my greatest takeaway from the entirety of these experiences is that only you know who you are. No else knows who you are or who you should be as well as you do, especially because you are an ever evolving being continually discovering more and more of your true self, moment by moment and day by day. Furthermore, I realized that truth can be a dynamic, very subjective, thing although in certain cases it clearly shows itself objectively. A simple example which seems to underline this idea that comes to mind while writing this is that if someone believes they are afraid of heights, they will be absolutely terrified when they are on top of a mountain – while people who mountain climb and base jump will revel in the experience. The elevation or altitude are relatively static without a perspective ‘lense’ to experience them through but with different perspectives the experience changes all together because beliefs really do shape our lives in a large way, specifically with regards to how they shape our emotional responses. An interesting point to note is that it seems that our beliefs are re-affirmed by reference points based on life experiences where the belief was associated with a tangible event in our lives.

In all of life however, it is my opinion that this uniqueness inherent in our existence in all its different forms and expressions is a beautiful thing which should be embraced and encouraged, not shamed or shunned in any way, for if we deprive our lives of contrast we deny ourselves of what is one of the greatest gifts life can give to us.

My Recent Journey into Nature – Part 1

Greetings everyone. I’ve always been someone who has appreciated nature and my place within it. Over the past couple of months I had the opportunity to go on a few camping excursions and experience the great outdoors in all its glory. What follows are some of my takeaways and perspectives on the experiences I had.

Part 1:

In August my girlfriend and I traveled up to Oregon to attend the Eclipse festival in Big Summit Prairie where we then went to Burning Man in Northern Nevada the week after. I had never been to a festival or been camping in the true traditional sense so it was definitely a step outside my comfort zone. We took a couple days to drive up and eventually we met up with some friends we have from Vegas in Prineville(the last ‘real’ town in Oregon before you venture out to the festival grounds). We all departed in a row of 6 cars around 8PM so that we could camp together as there is no cell service inside the camp grounds and communication would be quite a challenge if we didn’t arrive together. It turned out that there had been at least 1 crash on the 20 mile road from Prineville in to Big Summit Prairie and we ended up waiting in line for around 10 hours to get in to the event. I was rationing nap time in between the 30min-1hr stop and goes that we experienced while traffic was held up. Upon arrival I thought I would be exhausted but it turned out that I was just really excited to be there and shocked at what the festival in and of itself was. I really enjoyed the experience and challenge setting up our camp presented us with. The feelings of community and positive vibes were quite pervasive and much appreciated. The amount of musical acts, workshops, yoga/meditation/sound healing classes, artists/creations, food vendors and lectures they had on going during the week were incredible!

I spent the first two days in shock at how unique an experience it was and how enjoyable the atmosphere was to be in. It was a funny situation for me because while our basic needs were barely being met, the thrill of just being alive felt clearly more present than it, usually, ordinarily does. I suppose it was an exacerbation of the clarity that minimalist living and a lack of materialistic mentality can in some sense bestow upon humans.

It was a nice time to relax and deepen human connection with friends and meet some amazing new people as well. The majority of our time was spent hanging out together and just enjoying the uniqueness of the experience and the simplicity of being together, telling stories/jokes, being nostalgic, appreciating the moment while being happy and not over thinking or worrying about the future at all.

On the day of the eclipse it was a truly incredible feeling to see and be a part of ~40,000 people peacefully gathered around a lake together to view the cosmological rarity. The event itself was breathtaking and I was specifically shocked that if you took off the eclipse glasses you couldn’t even see the moon’s shape until it had fully eclipsed the sun because of how bright the suns rays are! Once it did fully eclipse the sun the rays vanished and all that was left to be seen for the next 2-3 minutes was a black ball in the sky with a ring of fire surrounding it. Definitely one of if not the most unusual natural phenomena I’ve ever been witness to and a most utopian circumstance to enjoy with it.

The Oregon Eclipse event was described as a ‘Transformational Festival’ and I liked the idea of this being about a consciousness expanding experience as opposed to being purely a party experience. Obviously everyone approaches it differently but I intended to better myself and looks for ways to self-improve as a result of this vibe and generally safe/welcoming atmosphere. A few main takeaways I had were:

  1. Sometimes standing back and being a witness to things is more enjoyable and more fulfilling than immersing yourself in whatever that thing may be. This message came to me quite clearly when viewing a few different pieces of art which ended up being more profound when I was 20 yards away as opposed to getting right up close to them. Perspective really is everything.
  2. Balance is such a crucial key to an enjoyable life. I have at times been someone who explores extremes in different areas of my life which eventually leads me to find balance thereafter. It’s a funny way to go about self exploration and discovery/realization but this message was quite evident to me in my experiences in Oregon. In particular I realized that I had a hesitation to plan ahead for, perhaps, fear of not allowing myself to be spontaneous and free flowing in the moment. After reconciling this it seems obvious that planning ahead has value and forgoing any plan for the opportunity of spontaneity in every moment can also have value.
  3. Gratitude, appreciation and trust in the flow of life are essential to personal well being and long lasting happiness. Feeling grateful for our experiences and finding contentment in them, which for me is often accentuated by being vulnerable with my emotions, is a gift to others and a gift to oneself. It is, in my opinion, a catalyst for life to continue to leave you awestruck and provide you with what you need.

After the eclipse finished up we got some food and left later that day to avoid the mad rush out of Big Summit and give ourselves a few days to rest and re-up on food supplies before we headed out to Black Rock City to help our camp set up for Burning Man. The first night back in Bend, Oregon I slept 15 hours straight, lol. It was definitely a reminder of how nice modern amenities are and how grateful I am for them as well!

This will conclude part 1 of my camping journey, I’ll post part 2 in the near future 🙂