For most of my life I have struggled with whether I wanted to live on this planet or not. I’m not suicidal! However, the rules of the game in this illusion we call earth are simply not set up for someone who doesn’t buy into materialism. The irony of it all is that I have significant skills to “succeed” in the illusion, but I have never had the heart to take from others to provide for myself. The choices that I made to survive were not simple ones and the stress that I incurred directly affected my health. The conflict that I felt was based in the erroneous belief that I had to choose between loving myself and loving others. I had to die twice to learn otherwise.

As I write this I am coming up on the three-year anniversary of my first death. On April 23rd, 2015 I underwent open-heart surgery. Looking at the experience through the eyes of the machine mind, it was simply a plumbing job, but through the eyes of spirit it was a death and re-birth. During the procedure my heart did not pump for several hours. Coming out of the anesthetic in intensive care and scoping out the multitude of hoses and medical devices surrounding me, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to come back and deal with what I suspected was in store. It turned out that I had the choice – I was bleeding internally and if I was going to live, it was necessary for the cardiac team to open me up again – thus the second death.

The message was clear – it was up to me to actively…, once and for all…, choose… life! There was so much left for me to do, so many unfinished chapters in the tome of my life, so many unfinished verses.  There was my soulmate Ana, family members and critters that I simply could not leave behind. As I was wheeled once again into the bowels of the operating theater, it was as if I was being catapulted through a tunnel of light.  In that moment… that precious moment… a feeling of absolute and utter surrender enveloped me.  I was clear on what I wanted, but I also knew that it was now out of my hands.  So, with Creedence Clearwater Revival’s, “As Long as I Can See the Light” blaring through the enormous speakers in the operating room – I gazed into the surgeon’s troubled eyes.  In the sweet spirit of absolute surrender – I let him know that I was embracing and accepting whatever the outcome would be.  As a breathing mask descended onto my face I looked him straight in the eye and whispered what I knew could be my last words, “I am not ready to go – so please do your best!” I will never forget the way he looked at me in that moment… we connected soul to soul. I knew what I was committing to when I uttered these words… or at least I thought I did.

I survived the procedure (as evidenced by my now writing this article) but I must say that the last approx. 1100 days have not been easy. I have always been a quick healer, but this experience has proven to me just how fragile… in all aspects…, a human being can be.  Without going into the gory details, suffice it to say that after laying on an operating table for over 14 hours – I experienced some intense complications.  I lost a lot of blood, so my hemoglobin levels took many months to bounce back.  This greatly impacted my overall energy level. I had to learn how to breathe all over again because my lungs had been collapsed for an abnormally long time and stayed ‘glued’ together. For several months afterward, it would take half an hour to walk 100 meters; and then there was the excruciating body pain because of such an invasive procedure…  With every step, every breath that I wheezed into my lungs, I had to continue to actively follow through on the promise that I had made that fateful day.  The physical challenges that I endured in all of this were inconsequential in comparison to the emotional and spiritual challenges.  Regrettably, most of my friends and family did not show up or offer any support:  no visits, no correspondence, no phone calls.  For someone who has always endeavored to ‘lay down his life’ for others, this was a bitter pill to swallow… for it felt that in my time of need, I was forgotten!

Ever since I was a young boy, I have always been an intensely spiritual person.  I have enjoyed firsthand truly over-the-top cosmic experiences, and it was through these experiences that I developed an unshaking belief in spirit.  I could always feel it (especially in the heart chakra)!  However, maybe due to the heart-medications, maybe the copious amounts of anesthetic from the surgeries, or maybe the fact that my heart had stopped beating for those many hours (the energetic center of the body), it felt like I totally lost that sense of connection.  It was one thing to be abandoned by loved ones, but it was purgatorial to no longer feel like I could connect to the divine!

The challenge for me was facing the truth of my life:  that the work I had done, the relationships that I thought I had nurtured, were mostly figments of my imagination.  I became emotionally and spiritually dis-“illusioned”! I realized that I hadn’t been living for myself, but for others, and they hadn’t even wanted me to. Which brings me to what I stated at the onset regarding sacrificing myself and my needs for the sake of others. I felt that I was being more spiritual, more righteous in my willingness to serve but ask for nothing in return. I am writing this article because the lesson that I’ve learned in this process, is that the only relationship of true importance is the relationship that I have with myself. By ensuring that my own needs are met… by practicing “highest self-love” – loving others as I already love myself, I am practicing the truest and greatest love of all. This is what brought me through my deaths, this is now what brings me through my life!  By being clear on my truest motivations – I now believe that I can be of even greater service.