I died in 2016.
It was 10pm and I was at my house getting ready for bed when I got the phone call.
My great grandmother, my grandmother’s mother, called me. It’s incredible how sensitive human intuition is.
The timbre of her voice in the very first syllable of the very first word communicated to me everything I needed to know before my brain could even begin to parse the information and turn the sounds into intelligible words.
Four words, to be exact.
“Your grandmother died tonight.”
There was absolutely no warning, sign or symptom to let us know she was going to pass.
This was the woman who helped raise me. Herself a young woman when I was born.
I shut myself in the bathroom and felt myself crumble to the floor in a tide of deep and unrestrained emotion. I felt my heart palpitate in my chest and stop as a searing pain ripped through my entire body.
I experienced the shell of my physical body crack open and become an empty husk as my soul exited like mortal mist from a gaping wound.
And, I died.
This story isn’t about what she meant to me. Because she meant much more than I have time, or care, to explain. Everybody has somebody in their life who will evoke this type of feeling when they pass. It’s a certainty.
I broke down over the next 18 months. Some would call it “healing,” but if you’ve even been in a bad accident, you know that some scars can heal ugly. Some injuries leave a permanent reminder of a specific moment or memory you want to forget but never will.
For instance, when I bend my elbow, I can very clearly remember the first time I got arm barred in a jiu jitsu tournament and that fucker popped right out of the socket. Still hurts. The memory is stored in my body.
What I learned from that immeasurably treacherous experience was a very important calibration of my human instrument.
See, before that day I thought I’d known pain. But I’d only really known sadness or frustration. I thought I’d known empathy, but I’d really only known sympathy.
Now, I know that only through comparison do we have a reference point for any state. Summer creates context for winter. Light creates reference for dark. Warmth gives us a framework for cold.
On the meta level, it’s the space in between the stars that creates the reference point for the universe as a whole. The space between tones creates the song. This is easy to overlook, but it’s the essence of existence.
This is the Tao, and it’s represented perfectly in the yin yang symbol — this is masculine and feminine. Dark inside of light and its inverse.
My grandmother’s death taught me the Tao because it was my first frame of reference from which to view the significance of life honestly.
And during that time in which I was completely depleted, my identity was deleted. I tried to find it again. But I couldn’t.
No matter what I did, I couldn’t generate momentum within myself to engage with anything in a real way. I was breathing, and that was about it. For two years, I lived a forced existence. I put myself on autopilot while I went inside to hide. I was a functional fragment of a self that no longer existed.
You wouldn’t have been able to tell just watching me on social media. And that’s the point. All of this was happening entirely internally. Like a movie set with nothing behind the false walls.
It took a tremendous amount of strength and force to maintain this façade. To carry on when everything inside of me had been set completely ablaze. I spent years at my breaking point. I was absolutely exhausted just by the experience of living.
Carrying on this way was not a possibility. I wasn’t going to kill myself because there wasn’t any use in beating a dead horse. You can’t kill a murder victim twice.
I needed something more than strength to get me through this. Something more than force.
I knew that if I was to repair myself and be of any use to those I cared about, I had to evolve. I began searching for the inner resources that would take me out of pain and into a life of security, resilience and abundance.
I was on the Path of Power.
The journey has there required going deeper into myself than I’d ever thought possible.
I’m still on the path.
As it turns out, the journey inside has no destination, only realizations along the way.
More of my philosophy on business and life can be read on my regularly irregular newsletter.