Seven Minutes

There’s a lot of talk about mindfulness. People are striving to be in the present and enjoy the moment.

There are certainly effective ways to make it easier to be in the moment. Remove distractions.

When you are spending time with someone, for example, switch your phone to airplane mode. Or turn it off. There. That’s a whole portal of messages, notifications, and pings that you close. And keep it that way until you’ve said good bye to the person or people with whom you had committed to spend time.

Now the only thing that will distract you from what someone in front of you is saying is something the person next to him is saying. And notice the organic ebbs and flows of conversation. They say conversation naturally slows or pauses every seven minutes…

Live powerfully,


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Keep On Going

Why is it that making a change for ourselves has to involve everyone else we know and love?

Because what you do, I care about because it affects you. What I do, you care about because it affects me. And we all have ideas about what is good and what is bad for us. And we don’t want each other to be hurt.

So when we try to do something new for ourselves, especially in terms of health or wellness, we get a lot of resistance. It hasn’t been tried much. Media hasn’t caught on fire with it. Doctors wouldn’t approve of it. Or just don’t know about it. So naturally, our loved ones are going to question, bug, and all out resist what we try.

Sometimes, the clash ends well. We reach agreements, understanding, and most importantly, we see positive results. And the new stuff becomes commonplace, and we all return to eating egg yolks.

Sometimes, it’s not going to end well. We are just too deeply rooted in something. We’ve been told for so long one way, and we can’t begin to accept the other way. And we end up divided, some eating breakfast as the most important meal of the day, and others skipping it. Hopefully, everyone still sits together at the table to talk.

I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum. And sometimes, I make compromises. One of the most effective diet changes I’ve made was to eliminate wheat for six months. Depression, mood swings, and joint aches all just vanished. I treated bread and pasta like rat poison. This caused surprise, anger, arguments, silent treatments, awkward situations, and all sorts of emotional turmoil for me, my family, my friends, and even my coworkers.

I spent hours thinking of what to cook, how to cook it, and how to pack food for lunch at work. Lunch with my boss and coworkers became less frequent, and lunchtime became a solitary ordeal. Visiting family often involved heated talks about food. It took a lot of work, a lot of effort, some pain, and tons of thinking to make a wheat-free diet happen. And the results were priceless. Just from that strict period of avoiding wheat, my mind, my body, my life changed for the better.

I still eat bread and desserts once in a while, knowing it’s gonna hurt. And it does. I know my limits. In the long game, I know where I’m headed. And I have to avoid wheat for my wellness. But it’s my decision moment by moment, even after the struggles I overcame. So I move forward.

Here’s the thing. Change comes when you try something new. Or when someone else does. And then, a dialogue opens. One person expresses interest, disgust, excitement about what the other is doing. And from there, it can be a long road to mutual understanding. For that to happen, you’ve got to be willing to share. What are you doing, why, and how.

Sharing means to open yourself up to critique. People get the chance to say things about what you’re doing. And you might feel vulnerable. But it’s the catalyst for change. And if you really believe in what you’re doing, because it’s changed your life, or it’s brought real benefits, or it’s made you a better person, remember the utmost important thing.

To keep on going.

Live powerfully,


Let Grow And Shape With Intention

The best shaves happen after letting hair grow.

The effect is more pronounced. Closer to the skin. Smoother. More hair cut off. You make a bigger difference, a bigger contrast. You feel a higher level of appreciation for the shave. The before and after is great. Plus, if you shave too often, your skin starts to get irritated. The excessive grooming is abrasive rather than satisfying.

Same goes for creating. Write, draw, let it come out, then edit. The finished work is more pronounced when you cut the full flamboyant bush. Snipping at developing art limits the final vibrancy.

Same goes for planning life. Brainstorm like crazy. Pour it all out. Don’t be afraid to explore with your mind every impossibility. Leave reality checks, trimming, and logic to the end. Let your mind print it first. Be amazed by what comes.

Same goes for physical training. Take long breaks in between strong improvements in strength. Rest. I let myself unravel from the stress of training for four months, and its seems to have spurred a new itch for training.

Same goes for relationships. Not every interaction with a new acquaintance needs a beginning, middle, and end. Movies set that in my head. So did the corporate workplace. It just felt awkward when people didn’t introduce themselves, get to know a little about each other, and then say a nifty phrase to get themselves out of the situation.

I realized a lot of this is due to ridiculous time constraints. When you have two minutes to meet someone before you end up working on a high stakes project with them the next week, you try to dig down into the relationship.

Traveling with time taught me these things don’t have to be so concise. Just like a beard, new relationships should be allowed to slowly flourish before any major efforts are made to shape them. Trying to squeeze all the essentials in at the beginning can squelch a natural interaction.

Even at hostels and guesthouses, where it’s important to get to know the host and other guests to some degree, I’ve realized that there’s no need to rush it. Some of our first interactions with hosts have been simple, heartfelt hello’s. There’s not a lot to say with fourteen kilos on your sweat-drenched back.

And having stayed in over fifteen places in the last couple of months, I find that there’s plenty of time for learning about each other. Where we are from, what personality types we have, and how much of the local language and customs we understand are all eventually seen. What time we wake up, when we leave and when we return, and what our room looks like are little things that say a lot too.

A short stay of one night can be ample for a deep connection with the host. But over the course of a week at one place, people can get very close. We have developed fond relationships with many of our hosts. Usually not more than a few sentences are exchanged at each interaction. But trust builds, respect solidifies, and love grows amongst people who share good intentions and a common philosophy.

That philosophy is one of camaraderie between travelers and hosts. It is one that believes in the good of travel. The mindset that the world belongs to no one, that we are at the mercy of our own and each other’s actions, and that sharing leads to fortune. The belief that money represents a fair transaction, and that trust and love earn more than what is paid.

It’s not base to feel that payment is necessary to begin a relationship between host and guest. Payment is healthy. It is the established form of beginning a relationship beyond one’s own family. It’s the language we can speak with strangers before opening our mouths. It tells the recipient that you have earned, through your own creation of value, the means to stay at their place. After money, the rest is art.

People exchange performances of communication that express and request respect, dignity, beauty, mastery, and ultimately, love. This isn’t in the form of a dance or painting, although it could be. It’s in the subtleties of interaction. The words, the facial and bodily expressions, the presence, and all of the actions that communicate are designed to establish a relationship. They may be intentional, and they may not. The difference can mean the divergence between a lasting connection and a sorry waste of life.

No one wants to waste life. But so few of us act to build on life. So the key is, from my observation of myself, that I have intention. Because when I consciously tell myself that I’m doing something, it is almost always something good. Not to say I’m a saint, but that most evil actions come from my lack of initiative or motive or creativity. If I intend to be a good guest and build a positive relationship with my host, I avoid the haphazard experience of oops’s, maybe’s and sure’s.

Let relationships develop naturally, give them time. And be intentional when it’s your turn to assert your beauty into the world.

Live powerfully,


The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

On time and money and other things after Bali

Coconuts, toasted, grated, milked, creamed, oiled, or in other form, are best not bottled in plastic. The younger ones have delicious juice but not much flesh, the older ones are very fleshy but the juice is thrown away.

Quality in Ubud is measured in terms of purity, simplicity of process, and closeness to the natural form. This is true for food and also all other products. Pricing reflects this quality. Scarcity holds less market power because things that are not readily available in their natural form are not sought.

The Balinese respect Bali and they are proud of Bali. Individual Balinese will look you in the eye and tell you so.

The town of Ubud, Bali’s center of crafts and dance, embraces tourists. They will stand up for a foreigner if something happens. That was a decision by royal leadership. I don’t know if Los Angeles feels that way about tourists.

It’s difficult being an Asian American man from the U.S. traveling in a third-world Asian country. Imagine the implications of someone who looks like you but is not held to the same cultural mores, norms, obligations, and economic limitations. Some men just simply weren’t happy with the contrast. I’m very sensitive to this. By meditating on it, I’m learning to get past the dog stares on the street. And to concentrate on the friendly faces. And to be a friendly face. Traveling is like visiting a home of a friend’s parents. Be your best, roll with it, have a good sense of humor. It is not easy for me.

The closer one gets to poverty, the more explicit the exchange of time for money becomes. You can use a food processor to get spices ground down into paste within ten seconds. The Balinese use knives, mortar and pestle to do it. It takes over an hour. A food processor doesn’t cost much. But the Balinese choose to spend their time to make food in a way that is right. Think of how much we spend on kitchen appliances and tools but how little time we spend cooking. It is possible to have too much money, if it doesn’t complement how you spend your time.

Time is not money. They come from different dimensions. Just like currencies of two different nations, you can exchange one for the other. But sometimes the rate changes. Depending on the wisdom with which you spend either, the rate could be in your favor, or against. Figure it out and you hold the keys to a rich life. I’ve got a lot to learn, join me!

Live powerfully,


The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily