Reflections on the last decade.
(This was a post I shared to my Facebook before I started this blog, but I thought to include it for a little bit of context about who I am and where I’ve come from)
30... How about that...
Just a couple months after I turned 20, my dad, Joe, was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a terminal brain cancer. I think this played a pretty big part in the predominant story of my 20s being about finding myself. A journey of figuring out who the fuck I am in this world, when my two biggest anchors, my mom and dad, were gone and soon to be gone.
The decade that unfolded was full of challenges, but also full of so much beauty.
I spent two summers interning in San Francisco, falling in love with the city and in love with how much there is to experience in this life. I started exploring myself with psychedelics, meditation, and lucid dreaming. I met a plethora of new friends who I came to know as co-explorers in this life, and I began to explore new avenues of creativity and connecting with people. I also helped run hackathons and conferences at my school and I finished off my computer science degree, bringing that chapter beautifully to a close.
My dad died. I traveled for a summer, going deeper into psychedelics, community, experience of all sorts. I almost went to prison in Arkansas. I road tripped out to San Francisco, and I started my new job at Framed Data. I continued going to festivals, and discovered kirtan and ecstatic dance and so much more that lit me up in new ways. I went to Hawaii for an ecstatic dance retreat, and stayed for a tantra festival and to live on a raw vegan permaculture farm. I quit my job, and I left the tech world behind for a while.
I started traveling from transformational gathering to transformational gathering, then from festival to festival for a while. I found myself getting more involved in activism, supporting bernie sanders, caravanning to the democratic national convention, and taking a stand at standing rock and getting arrested, a few times.
I continued to hop around the country, to music festivals, transformational gatherings, on the mainland and in Hawaii. I even hopped to the other side of the world, to Bali, for more yoga and community and festivals and connections, which definitely gave me some fresh perspective on a lot of things. I brought that fresh perspective back with me and helped lead a traveling caravan community around the country for a summer, calling it Infinite Love in Motion, and the Rainbow Love Starfleet.
I experienced intentional community living in Hawaii, and then left the big island, not to return again for the rest of my 20s. The gatherings I attended started to take on a new form, focused less on transformation and fun, and more on purpose and collaboration. I began to find my way back into a more grounded perspective on what it was to contribute to the world and bring my visions to life, and I also found myself gradually entering the world of building technology again, both to create what I felt the world needed, but also to be able to generate an income and create some financial stability for myself again moving forward.
I eventually found my way into co-creating a social gratitude app Gratiu, allowing me to express my creativity through one of my most preferred art forms, app development. After some time, I closed the chapter on this, and opened a new chapter, starting back at school getting my masters degree, studying Ecopsychology at Naropa. And I started growing some deeper roots in one place for the first time since my dad died and I left Ohio. I planted roots down in Colorado Springs and lived there for a year.
I felt ready to grow even more stable and contribute in greater ways, and so I prepared to enter the realm of full time employment again. I applied to Google and got accepted, and I entered a fresh chapter of my career. After a year in the springs, I moved up to Boulder, to create a home for myself in a place that I have long loved, already deeply known as home, and felt excited to grow deeper and closer with. And in Boulder, I finished my masters degree, completing my Thesis entitled Radical Reorganization, exploring what it could look like to radically reorganize our human social systems such as businesses from the inside out, as we shift into a holistic and regenerative paradigm.
As I approached the turning point into a new decade of being alive, life seemed to be integrating and accelerating in new and exciting ways; and an opportunity arose for me to attend Burning Man, a gathering I have long since dreamt of attending. I was ready to say yes, and yes I did say. Burning Man opened many new doorways for me within my self and my experience, and even more so, integrated so much of what I had already touched over the years. By the end of Burning Man, I was ready to let go of a lot that I had been holding onto, so much of how I had been getting in my own way, and it only seemed fitting to chop all my hair off to ritualize the moment.
On my 30th birthday, as it struck midnight, I was burning my hair that was recently liberated from my head. At 12:04am, the time I entered the world, I immersed myself in the waters of Lake Tahoe, and let this new decade begin.
The 20s have been quite a decade for me. I can look back at me as a young 20 year old and see how I had only just begun to know myself, although even now, there are ways I am still at the beginning of that journey, a journey I suspect never truly ends. What this next decade holds is beyond me, although I have some glimpses into what seems to be unfolding for me now. Communication and creativity seem to be major themes; so many ways to explore the expression of what is emerging through me and through others, as I continue to grow in deeper relationship with all of it.
I'm grateful to be living this life, to be growing as a human being, and to be surrounded with such a diverse, beautiful and loving community of family, friends, and folks of all walks of life. There's so much more I could share, and I'm sure you'll see a few more posts from me soon, especially talking about my experience of Burning Man, but for now, I'll leave it with I love you and I'm glad that we're here together on this earth at this time.
~ Aaron Gabriel
Was great to read this and witness your journey on earth this past decade