My first idol outside of my Mother and Father was Michael Jackson. I wanted to be everything that he was and have everything that he had; Copious talent, fame, money, success and power. On the other side of those attainments, I swore, was my fulfillment and happiness. And so my quest began…
5 years old = Professional Dancer. Won dance competition and met Michael Jackson.
7 years old = Became Michael Jackson’s “friend” and protégée.
9 years old = Moved to Hollywood. Professional Dancer and Actor.
11 years old = Professional Recording Artist.
12 years old = Professional Dance Teacher.
14 years old = Professional Dance Choreographer.
16 years old = Professional Stage Director.
17 years old = Professional Song Writer and Music Producer / Famous for being a celebrity Stage Director and Choreographer.
18 years old = Millionaire. Bought a million dollar home.
20 years old = My own dance show on MTV.
Talent, fame, money, success and power, accomplished.
22 years old = Professional Commercial and Short Film Director / No longer a millionaire.
24 years old = Emmy Award Winning Choreographer.
25 years old = 2 x Emmy Award Winning Choreographer.
26 / 27 years old = More of the same.
28 years old = Became a Father / Professional Hollywood Feature Film Director, momentarily, until = Nervous Breakdown #1.
Four months later = Back to work Stage Directing for celebrity pop artists.
29 years old = Nervous Breakdown #2 = Disclosed for the first time that Michael Jackson sexually abused me as a child = Everything Changed.
Year after year, achievement after achievement, I swore my fulfillment and happiness were on the other side of each. But year after year, achievement after achievement, I could not find them. So again and again, I set my sights higher, believing that the achievements were just not large enough yet, and that was why I hadnʻt found fulfillment and happiness. But on that quest, I never found them. On that quest, I eroded and eventually crumbled.
I knew for many years that people said all the time, “Success and money will not make you happy.” But that was really hard to believe until I myself had achieved multiple successes, fame, money and power and was still not happy. I actually became more depressed, the more success I achieved because time after time, the expectation of fulfillment and happiness was not met. It felt like climbing a mountain and every time I looked up to the summit, it had moved further out of my reach. Nothing was ever enough.
The crumbling forced me to question all that I believed to be true. What if there was no achievement or bundle of achievements that could ever make me happy? What then would be the purpose of work? What then would be the purpose of life? Thus, my next quest began…
In summary, I left most of what I had always known; my dance, film and music career in the entertainment business, Los Angeles and my immediate family, packed up and moved to Hawaiʻi with my wife and son to start a new life. I dove head first into psychotherapy, Vedic Meditation, spiritual and psychological literature, spiritual studies, nature, parenting, volunteering, and new friendships. Slowly, film came back into my life in a new way, with a new purpose and new people, music came back into my life mostly as an avid enthusiast, and last but far from least, after about five years of painful aversion, dance finally found itʻs way back into my heart and body.
My current relationship with fulfillment and happiness is as follows.
I no longer allow myself (for any considerable length of time) to look for them in anything outside of myself; Not in what I do, not in what I have, not in what I want, and not in my relationships.
Iʻm constantly looking for how I can bring fulfillment and happiness to what I do, and to my relationships.
I try my best to engage with my wife Amanda, our son and all of my relationships from a baseline of, "You are not responsible for or capable of making me happy. Therefore, I want to be with you, purely because I enjoy being with you. You owe me nothing.”
I try to keep my material possessions and desires much more minimal. I like nice things but I will no longer allow myself to need them. If I desire and am able to acquire something nice, I try to soak in gratitude for my privilege and release attachment to it. I now deeply understand that the nature of all things is that they come and go, theyʻre shiny and then theyʻre rusty, they’re relevant and then theyʻre not. This also being the nature of all experiences, thoughts, emotions, you name it. The only permanence is impermanence.
My definition of success has broadened tremendously. The focus has shifted from what can I get, to what can I give? I try my best to gauge a projectʻs success based upon how honest, courageous and vulnerable I was able to be, how it makes me feel, and do I feel it contributes to humanity in a positive way? Rather than whether other people think it is good or not. Which really always meant, do they think I am good enough?
I try my best to no longer engage in comparison; gauging my worthiness based upon how my activities, achievements, and state of being stack up against John or Jane Doe. We are all on our own journey and our own timeline. I can look to others to be inspired but comparison is an irrelevant activity that delivers absolutely no positive outcome.
I no longer believe that I, meaning this brain and body are the authors of what I create. I believe we are all particular windows through which the universe expresses and experiences itself; Each window offering a slightly different view and each view of equal importance. When I am able to get my ego out of the way and joyfully surrender to what wants to manifest through me, everything naturally falls into place at its own pace and there is a profound absence of fear, pressure, friction, and anxiety.
All of these are constant practices for me that when engaged in consistently, I feel a sense of contentment, no matter the inevitable ups and downs of life. Pleasure and happiness come and go, but I now feel more deeply connected to something larger than my body, brain, thoughts and emotions, which carries me through this human experience with trust and purpose. No longer will I (for any length of time) search for fulfillment and happiness where it is not located; over there, when I achieve this thing, when I make that money, when Iʻm with that person, when Iʻm away from that person, when I change that person, when that person loves me, when I buy that thing, or when they tell me, Iʻm good enough.
Let us not act in order to be worthy. Let us know that we are worthy, then act.
I wish you all health, love and contentment. Happy holidays.
Dec 22, 2017