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October 1, 2016

It was almost eight years ago to the day when I decided to leave a thirteen year career in the finance industry and try something different. At the time I was living in a nice neighborhood in Silicon Valley, I had a good job, was driving a new car and had all of the material things that would probably signify success to many people. And on the outside, I probably did look successful. However, on the inside, I was experiencing something completely different.

During my time in the finance industry, I worked as a client manager for a financial planning firm, as a trader for Smith Barney, as a trader for an institutional fund company, and in client services for a financial group at Morgan Stanley. I learned quite a bit during those years, including how easy it can be to lose oneself and lose sight of who you really are.

I got out of the industry right before the financial crash of 2008, but in many ways I had a front row seat to everything that led up to it. Even though I didn't personally recommend any mortgage products to clients, I was still a participant in many of those offerings through the financial group that I worked with. And although I didn't create the wild excesses that were seen during the dot-com bubble, I did trade quite extensively in those securities during that time.

So what was my exposure and responsibility in those events? That is a difficult question to ask, and perhaps an even more difficult question to answer.

Captain and Crew

In attempting to answer the question above, I kept coming back to the idea that it is "we" who are actually the ones that are at the helm of the ship, and that it is up to us to steer the boat in the direction that we want it to go. While it's true that a good captain can help to make a good ship, it's also true that a bad captain can just as easily help to make a bad ship (even when it has a good crew).

In maritime law, mutiny is usually seen as a grave offense. However, I would suggest that there is no greater offense than one who blindly and boldly follows a captain and crew who are clearly steering the boat into dangerous waters. On a ship, the concepts of loyalty and duty are often used as tools to help keep a crew in line. But how much value is there in loyalty and duty when it exists outside of sanity?

Creating Change - Philosophication vs. Actualization

When it comes to creating change (internally and externally), it is often much easier to philosophize, visualize and rationalize than it is to actualize. Circumstance sometimes plays a role in this, however, I think that more often than not it is our comfort in the known (and our fear of the unknown) that keeps us residing right where we are.

Granted, not everyone has the luxury of dropping out of society for eight years in order to contemplate, research and write. There are responsibilities to consider, right? For example, what if I had a wife and kids, a mortgage, car payments and all of the other things that go along with the "American Dream"? Could I still have done what I did? Probably not responsibly.

However, I think that there is another side of "responsibility" that is just as relevant, and that is what happens when you get trapped in a job that is sucking the life out of you? Having enough money to live comfortably is important. But what if you are working so hard for that money that you never see your wife and kids? Or what if your job makes you so stressed out that it negatively affects you and your relationships? Or what if your job is providing good income, but is in conflict with your moral and ethical principles?

This is where the idea of doing what you are passionate about and what you believe in comes into play. It's not always possible to find employment in a field that we want to right away, but we can take steps to try and work our way towards it. Switching fields can sometimes result in a loss of income, however, when it is done for the right reasons, I think that the future dividends that come from making such a move can more than make up for any initial lost income.

Comfort is good. And stability is good. But too much of either can sometimes lead to stagnation, and that isn't good.

Is Money Evil?

I'm actually not one of those people who thinks that money is evil. Nor do I think that the stock market (or other financial markets) are evil. If it wasn't for the financial markets, there would be no way to raise sufficient capital to build all of the factories that make all of the wonderful things that we enjoy today. It isn't the markets and money that are evil. Rather, it is the greed, corruption and manipulation that's driving them that is the problem. What is the solution? How do you remove pathological darkness from the world? With the light of awareness, understanding and action.

Architects, Engineers and Laborers

Originally there were the architects of the system. Then came the managers. Then came the workers. Now the system has grown so large that it is almost a living entity in itself. But what is actually the true nature of the system? Isn't the system us? Aren't we the ones who get up every day, stoke the fires and do all of the things that ensure that the machine continues to run as scheduled?

I think this brings us back to the question of who is the captain of the ship? Is it really up to elected officials to change the course of things, or is it up to us? Are "they" really the architects and drivers of the system, or are "we" the true architects and drivers of the system?


My answer to that question would be that "we" are the true architects and drivers of the system, and it is for this reason that I have decided to risk the potential hazards associated with re-entry into reality (or un-reality) so that I may have the opportunity to help create change in a more direct way once again. The solitude was good for a while. Even the poverty was good to a certain extent. Greater perspective helps lead to greater understanding. But I feel like I have reached the limit of what I can accomplish while living here.

When I started out on this journey (or leg of the journey) at age 42, I had an apartment that was packed full of material items, but a mind and a heart that had begun to feel empty. Now at age 50, everything that I own nicely fits into a compact car, and my mind and my heart feel like they have become full again.

What can one person do to help change the world for the better? Anything that they choose to do. Personally, I don't think that it is so much about how much we do, but rather it is about having the desire and confidence to know that we can make a difference, no matter how small or how large it may be.

Hypocrite Alert

As I was getting ready to reenter the workforce again, I began to think of how easy it could be to be labeled a hypocrite. What kind of job will I end up getting? Of course the logical choice would be to go back into finance. That is where most of my experience is and that is also where the money is. And in a good job market, I could probably get a position in finance fairly quickly. However, the question is should I follow logic, or should I follow what my heart is telling me?

Although it might not seem like it today, believe it or not, there actually is such a thing as thinking too much. For example, there have been quite a few times in the past where I have contemplated things for so long and tried so hard to do the right thing that it ended up being the completely wrong thing to do because it ignored what my heart and my intuition were telling me. Logic and intellect are there for a reason, but so is our heart and our intuition.

I think there is a reason why most everything in nature has symmetry, including us. Could it be that nature is trying to communicate something to us?

Effective Communication

I tend to be very direct in the way that I communicate. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. It has the potential to either come across as honest and sincere, or as harsh, uncompassionate and confrontational. I also tend to explore certain topics and subject matter that aren't always addressed by other writers. And as a result of this, I sometimes get accused of saying too much.

Maybe there have been times when I have said too much or stepped too far outside of accepted boundaries and belief systems. But I think that is the only way that true progress can be made. I have never asked nor wanted anyone to blindly believe what I say. Rather, it was my hope that they would openly and thoughtfully contemplate and consider what I had to say and then come to their own conclusions regarding what they think is right and true (beyond the programming and conditioning that most of us have been subjected to over our lives).

Yes, saying too much can sometimes get you into trouble. However, I think that there is something that is potentially even more troublesome than saying too much. And that is not saying enough or staying silent and then regretting it afterwards.

Ebook and Off-Grid Living Tips

I am still planning on doing an edit of this series and combining it into a free Ebook. However, it may be a little while before I get it done because my energy and focus have been concentrated in other areas recently.

I would also like to create some posts on practical tips for off-grid living such as converting vehicles for off-grid use, installing solar systems, building cooling systems for the desert, off-grid gardening on a budget, how to make an electric-powered shower, how to make an efficient wood burning stove for cooking, as well as information on many other projects I've done over the years. I also thought that I would post some pictures of my off-grid campsites as well (I'll probably add them to the bottom of this segment in a couple of weeks).

I think that's all for now. Time to hit the road.

Peace to All


Entering Slab City


Question Everything


Leaving Slab City
Caution - Reality Ahead (or is it unreality?)



No Ceiling
(Eddie Vedder)

Comes the morning
When I can feel
That there's nothing left to be concealed
Moving on a scene surreal

No, my heart will never
Will never be far from here
Sure as I am breathing
Sure as I'm sad

I'll keep this wisdom in my flesh
I leave here believing more than I had
And there's a reason I'll be
A reason I'll be back

As I walk
The hemisphere
Got my wish
To up and disappear

I been wounded
I been healed
Now for landing I been
Landing I been cleared

Sure as I'm leaving
Sure as I'm sad
I'll keep this wisdom
In my flesh

I leave here believing
More than I had
This Love has got
No Ceiling 


Carry on Wayward Son

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion
I was soaring ever higher
But I flew too high

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreamin'
I can hear them say

Carry on my wayward son,
For there'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Now don't you cry no more

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man
It surely means that I don't know

On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune, but
I hear the voices say

Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Now your life's no longer empty
Surely heaven waits for you


Eight Miles High
(The Byrds)

Eight miles high and when you touch down
You'll find that it's stranger than known
Signs in the street that say where you're going
Are somewhere just being their own

Nowhere is there warmth to be found
Among those afraid of losing their ground
Rain gray town known for its sound
In places small faces unbound

Round the squares huddled in storms
Some laughing some just shapeless forms
Sidewalk scenes and black limousines
Some living, some standing alone


(from Rush's 8th studio album titled "Moving Pictures")

Living on a lighted stage
Approaches the unreal
For those who think and feel
In touch with some reality
Beyond the gilded cage

Cast in this unlikely role
Ill-equipped to act
With insufficient tact
One must put up barriers
To keep oneself intact

Living in the limelight
The universal dream
For those who wish to seem
Those who wish to be

Must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation
The underlying theme

Living in a fish eye lens
Caught in the camera eye
I have no heart to lie
I can't pretend a stranger
Is a long-awaited friend

All the world's indeed a stage
And we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each another's audience
Outside the gilded cage

Living in the limelight
The universal dream
For those who wish to seem
Those who wish to be

Must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation
The underlying theme


Foreplay/Long Time

It's been such a long time
I think I should be goin', yeah
And time doesn't wait for me, it keeps on rollin'

Sail on, on a distant highway
I've got to keep on chasin' a dream, yeah
I've gotta be on my way
Wish there was something I could say

Well, I'm takin' my time, I'm just movin' on
You'll forget about me after I've been gone
And I take what I find, I don't want no more
It's just outside of your front door

Ah yeah, it's been such a long time. it's been such a long time

Well, I get so lonely when I am without you
But in my mind, deep in my mind
I can't forget about you

Good times, and faces that remind me, yeah
I'm tryin' to forget your name and leave it all behind me
You're comin' back to find me

Well I'm takin' my time, I'm just movin' on
You'll forget about me after I've been gone
And I take what I find, I don't want no more
It's just outside of why our front door, yeah, yeah, yeah

It's been such a long time. it's been such a long time, yeah

It's been such a long time, I think I should be goin', yeah
And time doesn't wait for me, it keeps on rollin'

There's a long road, I've gotta stay in time with, yeah
I've got to keep on chasin' that dream, though I may never find it
I'm always just behind it

Well I'm takin' my time, I'm just movin' along
(Takin' my time) oh, just movin' along
(Takin' my time) ah, just takin' my time
(Takin' my time) oh, yeah
(Takin' my time) oh, oh


2008 = The beginning of the journey
If you remove the 0's in the middle of 2008, what is left over? Two Eights. 


2016 = The end of the journey
If you add up all the numbers in 2016, what do you end up with? Nine

Does the journey ever really end? Or does it just move on to something new?


A complete index of all segments in this series
can be found here:

Journey of Awakening - The Spiritual Gatekeepers


The most recent posts in this series
can be found here:

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