Why I took the red pill


The other day I was going through a bunch of old photos and found myself surprised by what I saw in some of them – specifically, the old photos of me.

I lived for many, many years very differently that I do now. I lived deep in the forest or jungle, or on the beach, in little rainforest shacks or tents; by myself as much as possible, but sometimes with a few others.

I avoided civilization and stayed immersed in mama nature.

Coming out into “the World” and having to meet all the challenges it has brought, not to mention being married to and living with my wife, Irene, has catalyzed a HUGE process of transformation and healing. I’ve managed to change old, deeply held patterns of depression and social anxiety that I didn’t even know I had, back when I was in my cozy bubble removed from the world.

Now I’m physically, mentally and emotionally healthier than I ever have been, so it was a huge surprise to look at these old photos and see just how genuinely happy and at peace I looked back then!

What the heck?!

Here’s the thing, looking at those photos I realized that I actually was happier in general back then, but I was way less joyful.

My happiness was like the surface of a still pond that, under the deceptively peaceful surface, was filled with translucent, poisonous fish.

I didn’t know that I was containing so much suffering because I had cleverly made such a nice bubble for myself. So yes, I was happy, but that happiness was only a few inches deep. Underneath the surface I was sick, but it was well contained and invisible.

This is what those of us who are carrying around unresolved trauma have to do; we find creative ways, both internal and external, to manage and contain our suffering. And this can work really well… for a while. We can create lives that are actually ok, even pleasant, but eventually the body will break down.

I am certain that if I had not met Irene and moved into the world to be with her so that I could face my poisonous fishes and transform myself into who I came to this planet to be that I would have, in five or ten years, gotten really sick.

Cancer probably, since there’s a predisposition to that in my genetic makeup, but it could have been anything.. fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, chronic pain, or any of the many other ailments that can take root when our nervous system, and therefore everything else, is compromised – which is what happens when we are carrying around unresolved trauma; our nervous system gets whacked and, even more than our brain, our nervous system runs the show, so then everything gets whacked.

Back then I was happier, it’s true.

But I was also unfulfilled, stuck, addicted and, if I left my bubble for a more than a few hours, I would become depressed or incredibly anxious.

Now I’m less “happy” in general but I am living a life that deeply fulfills me and is full of connection and intimacy. I’m WAY more healthy and I feel aligned and in step with my purpose on this Earth.

To me this all adds up to something even more gratifying than mere happiness…. it adds up to Joy.

It’s a tough path though.

Honestly, sometimes I feel like Cypher from the Matrix… “why oh why didn’t I take the BLUE pill!”. But, deep down, I think we all want to be Neo – to take the red pill and live the hero’s journey, even though it may cost us everything we thought we knew about ourselves and our world.

To be triumphant.

To be Joyful.


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