When I was a child, curiosity steered my day. The world was endless and my great rate limiter was that my body would shut down when my stimulus cup had been filled for the day. This, of course, meant lots of naps.
When I was a teenager, rules filled my day. The bus picked me up when it was ready. School started and ended when it wanted to. Dinner was at 6pm. Curiosity wasn’t around as much anymore and eventually, I rebelled with things that broke the rules. I only did harm to myself in the process.
When I was a young man, independence was my ruse. I made my own money and used it to get through school, get a place to live, acquire nice things, and eventually, see the world. It felt powerful to achieve, but lonely to have gone it mostly alone.
Today, practice is the road that I travel. It’s how I find balance.
As someone who has always been prone to extremes — in work, relationships, addiction — practice is how I find my way back.
And I learned it from one of the best.
I met my friend Michael in 2013. I was introduced to him as his speaker coach for his upcoming TED talk. It didn’t take long for me to see why he was special. He wasn’t just a teacher, or author… He was a north star.
Michael was a man who saw spirit in everything. He didn’t resent the material of this world in any way. He wasn’t trying to get up and out of his city, his body, this life. He saw all of it as a practice; from his family, to his garage. From his activism, to doing the dishes.
You couldn’t be around Michael without seeing the world the same way.
Now, when I look around, I see little practices everywhere that have been quietly baked into my day. Some are firmly entrenched, while others are fragile and new. Still others are maddeningly inconsistent, but they’re there.
Michael taught practice to people all over the world. And he taught it so well because he needed to. He was bi-polar. Practice was how he found his way back. It was how he balanced. If you ever sat with Michael, you knew that practice was not about dulling the extremities of life. It wasn’t about reeling them in. For Michael, practice was about feeling them deeply, inside of you, where the whole of life was also happening.
Now that he is gone, there is an incredible void in so many lives. But fittingly, there is also a practice — that of grief. And in that practice, we can still hear his teachings;
Michael is survived by a loving wife, three beautiful boys, and an unborn child. Please consider the practice of giving as you lean on his teachings in your own moments of need.