“The Shine On Experience”
“The Shine On Experience…”
We’ve all had experiences in our life that shape us in some way, that have a powerful effect on who we are. Today I’m writing about one I call “The Shine On Experience.”
Like songs that evoke memories and emotions about specific times in our lives, this era of my life, and specifically this group of people, has had a tremendous impact on me.
Where to begin…
I think it’s important for me to realize, since I’ve had almost a year to discern a large part of what I’ll be discussing both literally and metaphorically, that our life goes through a series of very important stages.
From our origins of early childhood, the three years we spend in middle school moving into adolescence, and finally four years of high school, followed by college for many… all of these eras involve collective groups you work with and grow close too during these times of our life. All of these eras shape us in some way, and with hindsight I think even in the ones we struggled through, we end up seeing deep lessons, and intense growth.
Many of us struggled to find an identity in high school for example, but I for one still remember the night of graduation, don’t you? I can go even further back in time and remember silently looking around the walls as I strolled alone with Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There For You” playing, reflecting on the era I was leaving behind, and quietly excited about what lie ahead.
The powerful feeling of leaving behind friends in each of these eras is part of the sorrow, part of the sadness that we experience… and with that, knowing that a handful will always be there is a mix of emotions that we all go through, and can relate to on some level.
Somewhere around 2008 I met a good friend of mine, we’ll call her Malinda. It was through an Eckhart Tolle Facebook page that we met, and an instant connection was made, a friendship I cherish up to this day. Somehow, through the viral aspect of finding like-minded individuals with Facebook friend suggestions, grew a group I would nickname the “Wolf Pack.”
It was a time of my life when my previous marriage existed with a painfully wide gap in it, and I was very lost in many areas of my life. This is where the power of social networking really began to take root for me, particularly in feeling “part of” something, being “understood” in some way that you felt in your 3D life you were not able to achieve. Facebook opened us up to a new world, and doors that felt so welcome at first, after years of feeling misunderstood.
This led to the birth of a wonderful Facebook group with spiritual leanings as its ethos, but quickly became, even more importantly, a “family” in most every sense of the word. What most of us had in common was a distance to so many in our every day lives, allowing this virtual family and the emotions that came with it, to feel intensely real.
What I have learned about the “Shine On Experience” is lessons about me, and a more objective and appreciative view of “periods of life” and their impact on us. Particularly what these people and relationships actually mean to us.
A friend of mine in a thread this week made some really valid points as I was describing this blog that I had been thinking about for a few weeks. As we all go through these phases, periods of life, some of us…me in particular, tend to create intense social bonds, and as we grow and change it can be incredibly tough to move on past them if we are changing. These “bonds” can become ‘bondage” that prevent true liberation of the human spirit within us.
I need to make clear my gratitude that is equally weighted in observing this era, and to make a couple points very clear I need to say that in that three year period there were moments I was so near the end of the rope, that with the virtual assistance of people in there, they helped me tie a knot… and hang on.
Metaphorically at least, the power and presence of these people during my drowning periods was strong. We were a group of, in my opinion, slightly off balanced, deeply empathic, loveable folks, that certainly were driven by a need to be needed. I know I was, and I can own that aspect of my role in the group dynamics…
Talking to my wife today about her observations of me in the group during the end of it I asked “Was I really that bad? LOL. “You were worse Jared,” she said with a laugh. I like to think that I the same way that I was in real life. Funny, sad, caring, codependent, crazy, dedicated, loyal, open, authentic, unbalanced, etc.
Looking back. I don’t know whether to laugh at how random and interesting I could be, or sad at how desperate I was for you to need me. I was lonely, I was hopeless, and I was confused. I think of the core group within this Shine On Experience and they in many ways mirrored who I was at that time, and I think you can relate this to any collective group and era of your life. My memories are good ones, my reflection with a year to discern, is very objective and with a more balanced love.
Where things started to get uncomfortable for me, or interesting may be a better word, is that when I left Texas, and found a genuine soul mate…a love like no other in the world, that finally saw every facet of me, people started to leave my life.
I actually uprooted myself from Texas, moved quickly across the country, and flew to London to ultimately meet the love of my life who quickly became my wife. Baring my soul and healing and changing along the way…not all, but most of my core friends from this group seemed to evaporate during this period.
Why would people not “resonate” or suddenly have a desire to leave when you are doing so well? I pondered this for months. Reaching out to individuals who I felt so close to was an important part of my new journey. Through Skype chats, direct messages on Facebook or any way I possibly could, I went to them, not to their best friend, or a circle of friends, but to them. It was hard for me to understand why people were letting go, or fading away as we were rising in this new love.
Much like any marriage goes through a series of friendship changes, I suppose when you have a large group of people who knew you both, (Sunniva and I) you are going to naturally have some who fade away that perhaps had crushes on either of us, some that didn’t see the union as right, and others that may have been intimidated, or blinded a bit, by the surreal changes and successful way that we were facing our fears, dealing with struggles, and growing!
I think it’s a blend of all this and more. With a year to discern my own behavior I know that it’s very hard to “see” what you aren’t “seeing” in your day-to-day life. For instance, when finally in deep love, finally facing things I had not wanted to, it’s human nature for those around us not ready to see either the power of that type of love, or have the desire to dig deep into these fears and would naturally move away. I really get this concept, and can’t stress that enough. Human behavior and psychology is something I find naturally interesting.
The lessons and observations that I think anyone can take away from this, whether you are leaving college, high school, a job you’ve had four years, or a collective group you shared friends with is this; When lonely, in empty marriages, codependent, or confused…you WILL find solace with people who are lonely, in empty marriages, codependent and confused. When authentically happy, facing fears, in love, and willing to bare your soul to the world you’re going to find yourself around people who are authentically happy, facing fears, and willing to bare a bit of their soul. It just works this way man…
What has happened near the end of this era of my life is that family and really close friends, a handful from this large group I am speaking of, are part of that loyal pack we cherish in life, is that they celebrate your success as well as being there for you when you fall. In many ways family and the deepest friends fade to black until we tend to appear more stabilized, or elevate as they find pride, not insecurity from our evolution. It’s taken me a few years, and lots of balance gained to see this and appreciate the depth of it.
Fearing letting go of some of these friendships echoed my tendency to hang on too long. This includes past relationships, friendships, and even family. I’m not sure if it’s part of this guilt I am engrained with, a loyalty aspect, a fear of letting go even when it’s apparent I should…. to be honest I’m not entirely sure, but it’s certainly a character defect I’m really dissolving slowly, and proud of this change in my life.
I think if there is a single lesson to take from this story, experience, and era of my own life and apply to yours, it’s this…. We are constantly mirroring others as we are mirrored back. What you put out there is what you will receive. If you want authenticity in your life you have to be authentic. One can be so codependent on the emotions or feelings of others that we end up being in relationships where we base ourselves not on WHO WE ARE, but who we are PRETENDING TO BE.
From 2008 until now I’ve changed a lot. The real intensity of my evolution, however, has been this last year. This blog is a true homage to “The Shine On Experience.” If there is a college like metaphor for a period of my life that involved so many close friends in a four year window, it was this group.
I felt safe enough to share during a period of my life when I had so much to bare. Some would say too much, but on the other side of this I have gained a few truly great friends.
Interestingly enough however, I have unfortunately lost a ton. Many of these, I am still not sure of why, and I have finally accepted this for what it is. I certainly have shed tears over the loss of some that felt and claimed to be real family, and others I let go with zero emotion.
Writing this a year from the time I detached from the group, so to speak, it’s easier to process the experience. While I am proud of my efforts to mend any fence that I could, I am still human and I’m sure made some errors along the way. So it is with life, eh?
“The Shine On Experience” with hindsight has been one of the greatest teachers of my life. A wild, and crazy blend of folks who disbanded for reasons many of us still can’t pin down, but as I told one friend privately, it’s not important why. What is important is that we focus on what is real in our life today, continue to challenge our inner growth and never forget the power of freeing the “bonds” that turn into “bondage” so that liberation is the result of the process.
Yes, eras of life, periods in time, they are all there to help remind us where we’ve been, celebrate things we’ve accomplished, and more importantly. …show us where we want to go in the future.
I have nothing but good feelings about every person in my junior high class. While I felt like an outsider in my own high school at times, I have some cherished and very deep friendships to this day that help me never forget where I came from. Each company I worked for was an era of life that left me with deep lessons, intense growth, some stumbles and faded relationships, and a few of those that to this day are some of the ones I care about most deeply.
I grew immensely during this phase of my life. I experienced a gamut of emotions; love, pain, loss, laughter, camaraderie, longing, friendship, hurts, loss of friendships, loyalty, deceit, devotion, codependency, confusion, and everything that we see in the real world around us.
Is there a reason that presidents and mayors have four-year terms? Is it the same reason we have four years in high school and college? I don’t know for sure, but something about this window and the thoughts of my past, show me that we have these intense phases of growth and change.
Closing the chapter on “The Shine on Experience” and opening the page that is the next story of my life. I thank everyone who crossed my path. You all taught me more than I can ever repay you for. Life, if anything, is about realizing that you guys are the teachers and I am the humble student.
Shine on you crazy diamonds…