What They Told You Is A Lie

by Chris de Serres

I remember the first time I heard his voice.  So full of energy.  So optimistic.  He told me I was selling myself short.  He said the things I wanted in life were achievable and I believed him.  His mantra was “live with passion” and I felt that he really believed it.  So did I.  So I found his audio cassette series at the local library and did something I had never done before.  I told the library I lost the cassettes.  It was the only way I could afford it.

This is how Tony Robbins became my first guru.  I bought his book, Awaken The Giant Within.  This was quite possibly the first, and maybe only, self-help book I ever read all the way through.

It was a painful process trying to “live with passion” because I didn’t think I deserved it.  I was a victim of childhood abuse.  So I didn’t think much of myself.  This made me the perfect customer for Tony Robbins.

I learned alot from this voice on a cassette tape.  I couldn’t do all the things he asked me to.  So I got frustrated and quit listening to the tapes.  Then a few months later, I started listening again.  Then I put them down.  Then went back.

This, in a nutshell, was my self-help experience.  I found other gurus.  Stephen Covey.  Miguel Ruiz.  Krishnamurti.  Alan Watts.  Joseph Campbell.

I was trying to figure out life.  My life.  I couldn’t make sense of the world and who I was in it.  I remember Obama saying once he did alot of dumb things when he was young.  He was trying out different versions of himself to find out who he was.  I tried to be the ladies man.  The athlete.  The player.  The selfish asshole.

I joined the Army and met countless other young men who had no clue either.  We were all very good at destroying things around us.  Physically, emotionally, and verbally.  We destroyed each other.  We were also loyal to each other.  We defended each other.  We turned on each other too.  It was a sick dissonance, but I kept on learning.

It’s important that one be able to choose who they surround themselves with.  Only when that choice was taken away did I truly understand it.

The Army was the closest experience to prison that I will probably ever have. I had almost no control.  I did what others told me to do.  I not only did them, but I did them without questioning them.  The worst part was when someone I had no respect for had total control over me.  I discovered that  I was capable of doing things that I didn’t want to do because they needed to get done.  Even if following orders created a detriment to my health, to my life.  I did them.  I didn’t know that it was in me to follow an order truly.  Like a robot.

There were no gurus to worship in the Army.  Just some people I respected and others I didn’t.  No one existed unvarnished.  No matter how they presented to me, they were all fucked up in some way or another.  Just like me.

After the Army I went to Alaska.  I took a trek for a week alone.  It was my one opportunity to see what version I became without the complications of civilization.  I guess I needed to figure out if I liked who I was, and if I didn’t what that meant.  When things got very quiet, and it was just me and the mountains, I began talking.  And listening.

I made alot of mistakes in life.  I hurt those I loved the most, and I would continue hurting them.  This is life.  But, we can forgive ourselves.  We can be easy on ourselves.  It’s necessary to be sad and to fully grieve our losses.  To honor our accomplishments.  To not be embarrassed by the attention we receive.  It’s okay to accept help.  To ask for help when we need to, though i’m still working on this.  It’s okay to not believe in God.

There are no gurus who can do for you what you were meant to do yourself.  Breakthroughs don’t happen after you pay $3000 for a weekend of Personal Power with Tony Robbins.  Personal breakthroughs are wiggly.  They don’t adhere to rules of time or space.  We can’t plan for them or add them to a calendar.  Often they involve a deep loss or a horribly irreversible mistake in life.

They are not guaranteed, nor are they necessarily dramatic like a scene in a movie.  They are most definitely not in a book or known by some charismatic preacher.  They are the sole property of you, in the time in which they were meant to appear.