I like doing lots of stuff

aug-14 aug-5

 

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Thoughts on Survival

Life’s funny.

I spent the last ten years pretty devastated emotionally, though I didn’t really show it in real life. I imagine most people saw me as a happy person, and that’s because I was afraid of being not happy around people. I guess perhaps because I didn’t love myself, I searched for it in others, and it caused me to be overly nice even when I wasn’t being treated well.

I used to complain about people – a lot. I used to complain that they did this to me, they did that to me, they were bad people because of xyz, but people are people, and I was playing the victim. I’m not going to be a victim anymore. I am responsible for my life, and I’m responsible for what happens to me.

Now, responsibility is a scary thing for someone who’s chosen to give it up to others for so long. Sometimes it feels like being in the middle of the ocean without a life preserver, responsibility. Like you’re out here, all alone, a pawn subject to the whims of a tumultuous chessboard. And with everything changing so fast in the world, it can be a scary place, even for someone like me who understands technology and can always get a job doing something techy.

I won’t lie: I worry about taking care of myself. I worry about the future. But I also realize that those worries are a result of who I was, not who I am. I’m projecting what my future will be like based on who I was before, and that’s like looking at yesterday’s news to find out what’s going to happen tomorrow (Stephens). Tomorrow WILL NOT be like yesterday, because that person doesn’t exist anymore.

The interesting thing about life is that I don’t know how I could have gotten here without being there, ya know? Like, being depressed, having anxiety, getting the head tumor removed, everything – it all lead here…so how could it be bad? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had friends who have committed suicide, so I’m not naive as to the dire consequences depression can hold, especially paired with substance abuse, but my life is my life – all of it.

All of it. All of it is my life. This is not reality television. This is not Facebook. Peaks and Valleys, homie. Peaks and Valleys.

But just because life has peaks and valleys, doesn’t mean we can’t cultivate a part of ourselves that is detached from it all. That sees it all for what it is. The world sighs to me in a long rhythm, bringing me the peace and indifference of immortal things (Camus). Whatever happens in this life, as Mike, is mostly NOT real life. Real life is my relationship to myself, and my relationship with the world.

I used to be afraid of the world. I guess in a lot of ways, I still am, but it’s not going to stop me like it used to. I’m not saying I have it all figured out, but I’m a strong muthafucka, and I’ve been through some shit, lemme tell ya. I’m thankful for the chance to have another go at it, and you know what? My bet is that things turn out different this time around.

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Hello Again

Dear Diary,

michael jagdeo 2

Confession time: I took you offline because I was embarrassed of you. I was embarrassed that I had the thoughts that I had.

But fuck it – those were my thoughts, and I’ve come to realize that as twisted as some of those thoughts might have been, and as hurtful as my thoughts might have been to the people closest to me, that those thoughts were simply products of a limited awareness.

So, I don’t know if I’ll write in here again, but I thought I’d let those who might still wonder what the fuck happened to that dude, know what the fuck happened to that dude.

Jagdeo

PS – Stand-up is going fucking amazing.

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A Really, Really Compelling Title

Dedicated to my homie who helped me see the truth.

Michael Jagdeo - high school - steel pan 2

I’d like to share another part of my life with you: my musical side.

Trombone in elementary, trumpet in middle, and trombone again in high school (I pretended I was a beginner to get a 93 in the class). I remember switching to trumpet because I wanted to play LEAD. I wanted to be HEARD. But damn, straining to hit a high note on mouthpiece the size of a dime? I wasn’t about that life…still wanted to be in the foreground, though. Somehow. I wasn’t a popular kid, and so maybe I was looking for another route into the spotlight?

Luckily, steel pan was offered as a credit course. I’d come in at 7:30AM and just LOSE MYSELF, playing the few songs I did know over, and over, and over, and over again. Sometimes another student – always the same guy – would hear me playing, take a seat at the drums, and we’d jam. I didn’t even know the dude’s name.

The Breakthrough

In the last 10 years, though, I kinda hit a wall skill-wise. You know what’s funny about that? I didn’t spend much time lamenting my fate. I figured I’d hit my peak and that was that. I was good – not great – good. And what of it? Happens to everyone, right?

Thinking back on it, that’s fucking scary!!! That I just let myself just, kinda, just, you know…blah?

But that’s all changed in the past 12 months. My progression came to a head yesterday, when I was able to work out the guitar solo to Waiting in Vain by Bob Marley, a piece that I always dreamed of being able to play. 0:23 is the specific part that just seemed…nope, not in this lifetime! But there I am, and those are really my hands, and I’m playing softly! Daaaaaamn, son! You know how HARD that is!?

What changed? Well, for one…marijuana. Indica taught me how to enjoy music on a whole ‘nother level, and sativa taught me to enjoy soloing and creating music. Say what you want, but nowadays I can hear chords, notes, instruments, and interrelationships that I NEVER knew existed.

But of course, there’s more to it than that. Much more. I’m practicing more than I ever have, but it’s like, a different kind of practicing…I’m like, tappin’ into powerful neurochemicals n’ shit

Flow: The Rise of Superman

Key points:
  1. 29:04 – How being in flow will fundamentally improve the quality of your life
  2. 17:50 – Flow as an elegantly addicting drug
  3. 30:00 – Stimuli that trigger flow
  4. 35:21 – Getting into flow by controlling your fucking BRAINWAVES, coolie…

From extreme athletes to battle rappers, Csikszentmihalyi (heretofore referred to as Csizzla) found that all top performers achieved the heights of human capabilities by regularly and systematically placing themselves in a state he coined flow. Specifically, The Rise of Superman by Kotler (heretofore referred to as Kalonji) taught me how to move from the Struggle/Beta Brain Waves to Flow/Theta&Gamma by introducing diaphragmatic breathing when I feel the Struggle/Beta stage coming on (35:21).

Flow Genome Matrix - Steven Kotler - The Rise of Superman

But that’s not nearly the full story. Csizzla and Kalonji believe that regularly entering into the state of flow is the veritable secret to happiness because it produces no-self (anatta), absolute presence, and by virtue of the challenging task required, promotes self-actualization. Oh yeah, and since flow produces the same neurochemicals as all of the drugs we’re addicted to (17:50), it feels UHMAZING. I’ve felt it, numerous times, just never knew what to call it.

Not to belabour the point, but over the past year I’ve asked myself over and over and over and over again, per Seneca, to what end do I toil? Csizzla and Kalonji might say that the end is in being in flow when toiling, thereby rendering toil a misnomer of sorts. Rather, the question might be worded, ‘To what end do I live?’ to which the reply might be to drink life to the lees by discovering our passions and pursuing them in such a way that tests our might without breaking our will.

To Identify or Not to Identify

So…what? Am I a comedian? Am I a musician? Am I a writer? As David Suchet and Patrick Stewart argue, perhaps I’m asking the wrong question. Perhaps I don’t have to choose at all.

The Challenge of Freedom

I used to assume that I knew what I wanted in life. The mantra I stuck to was: I want to become a killer comedian. But that’s just not the full picture. I love playing pan. I love writing. I love making people laugh.

So here I am, unclear as to my direction, but the lack of visibility isn’t painful like it used to be. Right now, I’m experiencing flow through music and writing. I wonder if I tried to bring my practice of flow to the stage? I wonder…you know what? That crowd work I was doing felt like flow

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Life Is Absurd

warrior quotes

Over the past four months, I’ve:

  • Dropped 40+ lbs¹
  • Overcome my anxiety and depression¹
  • Performed more in the past two months than in the previous four years COMBINED
  • Made more money in the past two months than in the previous six months COMBINED
  • Begun repairing the relationships that I’ve neglected over the past 12 years

So everything should be good, right? Not exactly…

RELAPSE

life is aburd - eating pizza

The adrenaline dump of finally doing the comedy competition after months of preparation, the exhaustion of two-a-day’s in the gym, and the carb-deprivation caught up with me this week.

Cue the $20-sack, four pizzas, and a half chicken dinner at Swiss Chalet.

It’s scary, man: I don’t wanna go back to the way things were. I CANNOT GO BACK to the way things were.

PERSPECTIVE

life is absurd - smoking and the munchies

Let me not go all old-Mike in this piece…this momentary relapse in my eating habits was inevitable, and once I overcome this round of cravings, I’ll be stronger than ever. As long as I’m sober, I can control how and what I eat. That means no more smoking during the week.

[That said, come cheat day? Yo, a smoke and a couple scoops of Roasted Marshmallow will serve as brunch! Judo know about Greg’s Ice Cream?? Dawg…DAWG.]

The hardest thing to overcome, however, hasn’t been my close proximity to Dominoes Pizza, ice cream, or divine inebriation. Rather, what’s been plaguing my heart has been the absurdity of life.

THE ABSURDITY OF LIFE

Albert Camus

Since the comedy competition, I’ve been reminded how absurd life really is². Consider the following:

  1. If anything could have satisfied us, we would have been satisfied a long time ago³.
  2. Therefore, the fulfillment of desires is simply an elaborate treadmill. For example, there will always be a new goal, a new client, a new book, a new restaurant, a new destination⁴, etc.

So in spite of the money, the comedy, the health and well-being, my relapse was dominated by a single question: what’s the point? What’s the FUCKING POINT??

THE TRUSTED ADVISOR

life is absurd - lakeshore and bathurst

I live close to the lake, and after my morning swim, I headed out for my morning meditation. There’s something about a large body of water that makes the human drama recede from the shores of my mind. I sat down, and immediately felt a sense of relief.

Then my hands began typing.

LECTURE FROM THE ETHER⁵

Albert Camus

You are part human, part divine. In this life, we must embrace and attend to both sides of our nature⁶.

The divine side is inherently satisfied; it has no cravings to quench.

The human side, however, is inherently dissatisfied. Haven’t you noticed that – no matter how satiated you thought you were – your cravings return anew, much like Prometheus’ liver? How awfully quick the highs peak!

The key is to attend to the human side by following a path with a heart⁷, and by keeping the body and mind fit through mental, physical, and spiritual exercise.

Though life is absurd from a human perspective, it is possible to find joy in progressing through the path with a heart, milestone by milestone, day by day. There is an inherent satisfaction in getting better and better and closer and closer to your goals…all the while realizing that the better you get, the more you have to improve, and the closer you get to your goal, the farther (and more juicier) the next goal becomes.

BE HERE NOW⁵

Perhaps that’s why all of the books talk about being present. If you can be present during your walk on the path, you can fully appreciate and experience the highs and lows and attend to the needs that your meat body craves. If you can be present during your meditation, you can, quite literally, satisfy your soul.

I wrote about the absurdity of life a few months ago, but it took achieving goals and reflecting on how full/empty they were, to really begin to understand how things really are.

And let’s be real: I probably don’t know shit about shit. But this is as far as I’ve gotten, and that’s OK. I’m satisfied.

For now.

ADDENDUM – BEING GRATEFUL

life is absurd - being thankful being grateful

Last night, one of my best friends pointed something out: I look at my life as a project, which means that I’m constantly in a state of non-attainment. Here’s what I say to myself:

  • (I didn’t drop 40lbs) I skipped HIIT last week and my lower belly isn’t going away very easily.
  • (I didn’t overcome my anxiety and depression) I didn’t work as hard as I should have today
  • (I didn’t perform a ton of comedy) I don’t have any new jokes
  • (I didn’t make good money this month) I have so much more work to do, and I really should be making a lot more.
  • (I haven’t repaired relationships) I’m still avoiding one or two difficult conversations

She said,

As good as it is to always find room for improvement.. all this “work” you feel you have is going to have you constantly looking at what you’ve yet to accomplish…you will always find something to fix and I don’t want you to put yourself in a place where you don’t feel good enough or up to par with your own expectations…Check off the wins. Write down all the amazing shit you do everyday and it’ll inspire more of it.

She’s fucking right! OK, yeah, life is absurd, there’s always gonna be another mountain to climb, whatever…but just look at that goddamn mountain I just climbed!! Remember when I scaled the northern face free-handed? Remember how cold it was, and how I never gave up? Just look at the resilience, persistence, strength, and never-give-up attitude I showed!! Damn, man! Aiite cool, yeah, the next mountain is there, and man is it ever gonna be an adventure…but let’s enjoy the view for now.

Cherish your friends, homies. Really cherish them.

RESOURCES & INSPIRATION

¹I wouldn’t have gotten better without the immense help of Dr. Ted, Naturopath, Naturopath, Visionary Health Clinics
²The Myth of Sisyphus
³Letters from a Stoic, Letter 15, Section 9
Tennysson’s Ulysses
Ram Dass Episode 12, Jump to 20:21
Don Juan on Following a Path with a Heart
Poem on a Norman Crucifix, 1632, Jump to 39:48


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