Team Eckhart

I just finished reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The New Earth”. It’s a significant event, because I rarely even venture into the land of New Age books, as Borders would undoubtedly classify this, and as such this book would long have stayed out of my purview were it not for life’s intervention. In this particular case, I have my wife, my sister, and Oprah to thank for conspiring to put this book in front of my face… Powerful women, all, so it’s no wonder that, after reading & reflecting on E.T.’s work, I too feel more “powerful”.

Here’s why.

His life, as explained in the book, is not what you & I, the unenlightened might call “life” at all. His consciousness has evolved. In his world, life is a series of things. Things that happen, things that you consume, build, lust after, chase, get, don’t get, etc. It’s literally all clutter. This is not Life, a separate definition that is hard to denote with any letters, even a Capital L. As he would express it, Life just is. The things of the lowercase life are all constructs, are all structures created by our dearest friend & most insecure friend, Monsieur Ego, in a constant & desperate effort to justify his own existence. We do not need Ego to accomplish our purpose in life. Ego actually runs counter plots to this true purpose by convincing us that he is the one in charge & that his desires are what matters. Our purpose is to simply live Life, the Life that Oprah would call her Best Life, by realizing we are all Beings, and as such we are all connected to a higher Being, which E.T. describes variously with apropos but loaded words like Truth, Consciousness, Awareness, God, Self and Life.

He claims that we, before attaining consciousness (which he explains in such adroit fashion as to encompass and equalize most of the world’s religions), create and destroy in the futility of the act of defining ourselves & everything in our world on some meter or scale or reference point. My favorite part of this dialog is his discussion of how nothing is actually Better or Bigger until you decide it’s so. I totally can’t do it justice at the moment, since i only read it once & neglected to take notes. Just take it from me that this was one of the many aha!- like moments I had in the course of his 300 pages: every measurement requires a point of reference, and since society is full of Beings with independent points of reference, yours is the only one that matters, which simultaneously means that none of them do (let’s all stop short of spiraling down into the dystopic argument that society can’t function without some shared givens). There is no Good or Bad, but thinking that makes it so.

But consider that every Being is born and has a spark of life – and that, my friends, is where the similarities end. The only thing we “know” is that we are alive and others are alive. If we can realize that, accept that, and act as though it were the only Truth, everything else that causes us discontent melts away.

The most freeing section in the whole book is where he relates that to action and time. When you accept that the world and time are constructs in which you are forced to participate physically but do NOT define who you are, because YOU are more than your actions, all the risk to You/Self is moot and it’s only your Ego at play that makes you act differently. What you choose to do in any given moment is exactly the right thing to do if you are aware of the choice. Put simply, the only moment there ever is is Now, and the only Action required is the one you choose.

That is a concept that made me fall off the couch. That is some Ninja shit right there. I feel like I earned a blackbelt in like thirty different isms all at once.

Here’s where it can go a little sideways for those less introspective than even I am. Realizing that, accepting that, acting on that… In short, thinking about it (or anything for that matter) is still a lowercase life. Thinking is all Ego. Getting in touch with Life, though, is “simpler” than that. He gives us a few activities to try in the book, but my go-to kata is this: close your eyes and just feel the blood, heat & energy I your fingertips. (I learned focused breath in college yoga classes, so I take for granted that this is easy; I highly recommend learning this technique if for no other reason than it’s ability to quell anxiety & get me to sleep at night). Then let that awareness slowly creep out into your hands, into your arms, your shoulders, your core, the top of your head… that sort of trancelike state you enter when you can honestly feel that energy & not act or think about anything else… that is the Awareness with a Capital A that E.T. says connects us all. It’s the only thing that connects us all, but the point is that we are all connected. However you choose to manifest that Life, whatever God you choose (if any), whatever clothes you wear, whether you’re for Team Edward or Team Jacob (note from my Ego: I am the only guy who would even ATTEMPT to mix Eckhart Tolle and Twilight, and therefore I am awesome), all those decisions are yours and all of them insignificant in the pursuit of Life, Happiness, Zen, Nirvana, Heaven, or Valhalla (what up Nordic readers!).

All you gotta do is let go. The only moment there ever is is Now, and the only Action required is the one you choose. There is no Good or Bad, but thinking that makes it so.

I apologize for the heady meta vapors you’re now wafting in, but this post serves three purposes. First and foremost, to document my own thoughts on this book. It hasn’t turned me into Superman or Oprah or even Dr. Phil, but whatever potential I had that I felt was untapped or that I wasn’t “allowed” to tap, which caused me to worry I was wasting myself, or at least that others were thinking I was wasting myself… Well, none of that matters. And holy jumping Jesus in a jumpsuit did it make a difference in my life.

Second purpose of this post is to tell you about it. Spread the germs of consciousness, I suppose. Without becoming an evangelist, I will simply say that, if you can hang with his meta-analysis (or at least aren’t totally turned off by the words meta-analysis), you will get something of value out of reading it.

Third purpose is to publicly acknowledge and accept that I am more than the sum of my actions, and so is everyone else. That, inevitably, leads to forgiveness, which is a surprising word at this time in my life. I’m afraid that’s a horse of a different color, though, so I’m postponing further public exploration of that.

My thanks to the many different Muses that manifested that book & granted me the good fortune to be able to read it. Hopefully at least one other person will choose the same experience.

The Universe is Expanding & All I Got Was This Lousy Haircut

Okay okay, catch your breath – I know it’s a shock that I’m FINALLY writing. It really shouldn’t be – I always wait months in between posts on a blog that I claim is updated “regularly.” It’s a simple formula really – surprised you haven’t figured that out yet. Hmph. I thought you were supposed to be a nerd.

I am currently undergoing many changes. So many changes in fact that it’s like puberty at 28, with less hair & more schadenfreude. Lest you stop recognizing me amongst all the other oh-so-recognizable Bay Area actor-comedian-blogger types, here’s the run-down of all the things that are in flux or that have just recently come out of flux, or that are about to change so rapidly that I’m just gonna call them “what the flux?!?”

But rest assured that none of these change the fundamentals of me. I’m still the only Bay Area actor-comedian-blogger type that can directly reference Freud & then a split sentence later obliquely reference Spielberg, whose name is of course German for “storied jew”, and bring that circle to a close.


Flux Element #1: I’m about to be a father. May 3rd is the official ETA, but any daughter of mine would totally wait 48 hours to join us on Cinco de Mayo & let the world enjoy all the pinata jokes. So let’s call Cinco de Mayo de Diez the day my life changes. FOREVER. And more than in the way everyone’s life changes everyday blah blah existential hooey blah. A FRIKKIN’ FATHER. Buckle up.

Flux Element #2: I’m way more productive these days… and my focus is somehow able to spread over multiple areas without stretching thin. Working, husbanding (not the animal kind), running, acting, prepping for Baby Girl Hansen, and let’s see what else OH YEAH being awesome. I’m like Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, without the accent, abs, orange skin, or pathetically under-developed vocabulary. Wait… so… the only thing left is the fact that he nicknamed himself “The Situation”. So I should mention that heretofore I shall be known as Brian “The Current-Set-Of-Circumstances” Hansen.

Flux Element #3: My nickname is Brian “The Current-Set-Of-Circumstances” Hansen.

Flux Element #4: There may be a marked shift in my creative efforts underway; I’ve been considering the ‘writing’ part of drama/comedy a lot more often. Aside from my ill-fated attempts at using the word schadenfreude in the world of blogs, I’m usually WAY more capable of being funny in writing than I am in person. As proof, here’s a recent email survey that a beloved friend & sometimes-mentor asked me to fill out about my thoughts on bilingual education, which is to be used for one of her MBA projects. Note my oh-so-effortless use of racial profiling, stereotypes, and things that could be offensive but aren’t because I’m Brian “The Current-Set-Of-Circumstances” Hansen. (Hmm… that’s getting annoying to type. Can I abbreviate that CSOC, pronounced “sea sock” or potentially “seize hawk”? Is that legal? Wait, what am I asking you for? I’m frikkin’ CSOC.)


(1) How old are your kids? Negative 2 months… she’s still baking.
(2) What language(s) do you speak at home with them? The only two I speak – English and Bad English.
(3) Do you have family members / an au pair / nanny who speak in a foreign language with them? @#$* no. Those people are @$&*ing expensive.
(4) Are you interested in your children being bilingual? Yes!
(5) If so, why? (And, if not, why not?) Because a) I truly believe learning two languages expands the mind’s ability to think critically and recognize patterns in analysis mode; and b) this world ain’t gettin’ any smaller, and it’s unrealistic to think that US hegemony will continue much longer – meaning English may soon pass out of the “major” tongues of business & political discourse; c) I want her to be able to order off the Five Dollar Menu when McDonald’s sells out to China and becomes McKimCheeWongHsuTsong.
(6) What products (if any) do you use for your children to learn another language? (Example – teaching materials used at home like workbooks and DVDs up to immersion school or special classes). None yet, other than my spotty understanding of Dora the Explorer’s teachings of Spanish culture (“Always abra la puerta when you go to the potty!”) and what I’ve learned from my disco lessons – disco’s totally a different vibe, sheila.
(7) How did you select which language to teach your child? I declared my Aladdin puppet the “Arabic & Middle Eastern tongue” representative, I threw Miss Piggy in the ring to represent Hebrew (I heart irony), and drew some slanty-eyes on a stress ball to represent China (the irony there is that the stress ball was made in Taiwan… HAH!); I threw all three into a death match together – Aladdin strapped dynamite to his own chest, ululated a little, and then threw himself on the the porcine princess with only a three-second fuse. The stress ball survived the explosion because it was bouncy.


See? Funny. And I came up with that in ten minutes (all except the ‘English & Bad English’, which is a credit to my man-crush Bruce Willis in ‘The Fifth Element’), much like I used to write my Movie Quote of the Week (MQotW) emails. More often than not, I can sit and make up funny stuff. I haven’t learned how to tell a funny story with plot points and characters to save my g-d life, but after talking to my screen-writing sister & her acting boyfriend, I’m convinced that’s a skill I can learn. So learning & honing that skill may soon come into laser focus for CSOC.

Flux Element #5: I’m back on the roads, running regularly & loving it. Several contributing factors, but I’d say the biggest one is that I finally bought into the idea that setting goals will create the motivation to accomplish them. In November, I set a goal to run 50 miles before Thanksgiving. I had 8 days. I did it. Then I kinda stopped – I recently realized it was because I had no goal. I also believe that actually publishing those goals outside of the whiteboard in my brain doubles down on that bet, so: last Monday I laid out an albeit ambitious but still realistic goal of running 200 miles before Tax Day. Two months to run two century bike races. It’s been a week and I’ve already logged 24.5 miles. Almost entirely on pace – would be AHEAD of the game if the weather had cooperated yesterday. That’s right. That’s how we do it… CSOC style.

Flux Element #6: I’m doing less. That’s right. LESS. I recently read & highly recommend the book “The Power of Less” by Dr. Leo Babauta. I’ll let you ferret it out for yourself, but my biggest take-away was the power of purposeful planning. So I now set up each work day with THREE (and only three) Most Important Tasks. I get those three things done at work, and everything else for the day is 100% gravy. I’ve also used it on the personal side of life, but with less success – because I always make extremely grand plans for all my free time, and can’t seem to limit my lists to only three things – but that’s mainly due to the fact that I haven’t really applied my ‘Set A Goal’ philosophy to most of my activities other than running. I’m not worried about claiming to do less at work – because my productivity has actually soared in the last month or so. I’m no longer overwhelmed, my sense of direction & motivation at work is no longer changing every day, and I get far more frequent doses of a sense of accomplishment – when none of those things were true, it frequently meant a frustrating & unrewarding day at the office. Yes, I still think there are other jobs that would be better for me out there, but at least my approach to THIS job is no longer a liability. That makes this job, ANY job, way more tolerable, because I’m no longer relying on other people to give me that sense of direction or that sense of accomplishment. Seriously. “The Power of Less.” Check that sh*t out. CSOC style.

… That’s six fluxes. That’ll do.