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How Things Work

December 29, 2013

(I cut this piece from Live Your Truth because it didn’t fit the narrative arc.  It’s 100% true.)

I don’t remember when I first started reading James Altucher‘s blog, but I clearly remember the first time I met him.  San Francisco, Thanksgiving weekend.  Sunday.  He and his wife, Claudia, were in town and we’d set up a breakfast meeting; them, myself, and a few others.

Except I didn’t show up.

I’d recovered from being sick, but my body still wasn’t at 100% yet.  I’d often get tired and sleep and sleep.  And that morning – one I’d been looking forward to, excited – I slept right through my alarm and the texts and the phone calls.

I don’t want to remember how I felt when I finally woke up, realizing I’d missed out on meeting someone I admired, someone whose written words had meant so much to me.  And I’d put the meeting together, I’d made this happen, and now my friends got to meet him, talk to him, the guy behind the words, and I’d slept through it.

I sent him apologetic emails, groveling tweets.  He responded kindly and rescheduled.  This one, I was not going to miss.

We met at the lobby bar at the W downtown.  I got there extra early, had a coffee, ate, and there he was through the revolving doors, in the flesh, and beautiful Claudia with him.

When you’ve admired someone’s work from afar, had conversations via email and comments on his blog, you wonder what they’ll be like in person.  He’s the real deal.  If you read his blog and close your eyes and imagine what he’d be like, you’re right – that’s him.

I was so excited, I talked and talked.  I told him about being sick, about loving myself.  He said immediately that I should write a book on it.  I put the thought aside.  He’d brought a few of his books as gifts and autographed them for me, including his latest, I Was Blind But Now I See.  In it he wrote: Kamal, now you have to publish your book, James.  He underlined “your.”

We met again five months later, this time in New York City.  I was there for a day and he took the train in and we had breakfast together.  Once again, he mentioned that I should write, follow the creative path inside me.  I put it aside, but this time, a little less.

Few months later, I wrote the book and published it on Amazon’s kindle platform.  James wrote a blog post on it and the book took off.  I got emails from people all over, sharing with me the impact of the book.  To say it was humbling is an understatement.

A month after, I was skyping with a friend, and decided to pull out one of the books James had given me, show her his autograph.  I opened, I Was Blind But Now I See, showed her what he’d written – I’d forgotten that by now – and said, “Ooh, that’s cool,” continued talking, flipping through the book, the chapters I liked the most, to the back cover, then the page before the back cover.

“Look,” I said to her, “he must have used a print on demand service.”  I was thinking about using one for a paperback version of my book.  “It’s got the date of publishing on it.”  It said this:

Made in the USA

Lexington, KY

24 September 2011

And then I stopped.

“What’s up?” my friend asked.

I ignored her.  I knew that date.  It was burned into my memory.  It was the day when I couldn’t take it anymore and I stumbled over to my journal and wrote the vow to love myself.  September 24, 2011

I pulled out my journal, flipped to it, and there it was.  I’d dated it.  I held them side by side, showed it to her.

“What’s the odds,” I said out loud.

1 in 365, I know.  Maybe.  If you factor in years, then odds get higher.  But still, this isn’t about statistics.  Not for me.  I’ve learned to expect magic.  What’s behind the magic, what causes it, I have theories on it.  And that’s all they are, theories.  But the magic, that is real.

Photons collide in the atmosphere in their lazy trip from the sun, butterflies flutter their wings in Tokyo, causing a thunderstorm in Ohio.  A man in New York City writes a book, which then gets published in Lexington, Kentucky, while at the same time, another man in San Francisco, unable to take any more misery makes a vow that changes everything, and months later the author meets him, bringing along that book as a gift and writes in it that it is the man’s turn to publish a book, and months later, the man does, and a month later, the man sees the same exact date on the back of the book.

He smiles, accepting it.  Who knows how the whole thing works?  But he knows that there is magic.

He sits and writes it down.  Somewhere, a butterfly flutters its wings…

Live Your Truth

July 10, 2013

I set out to write a very different book – what I’ve learned about productivity, health, fitness, creating.  How to be your best on the outside.  Instead, this book rose.  About discovering and living your truth, the foundation within.  If you work on that, the outside is a natural byproduct.

More so than the last book, this one, I’m scared to put out to the world.  It’s personal.  It’s vulnerable.  A deeper dive.  But it’s helped those I’ve shared it with.  And it helped me.  So, as James Altucher taught me, I must publish.

I worked very hard on this book, gave it everything I had.  I hope that it serves you well.

Available on Amazon on Kindle and Paperback.

(If you want to read the ebook version, you don’t need a kindle device.  Amazon has free Kindle apps for Mac/PC/iPhone/Android/Windows/Blackberry.  You can download them here)


February 14, 2013

Hard Rock hotel, late night, walking back to my room.  Pass photos of famous musicians, stop and stare at them for a while.  Kurt Cobain.  You can see the pain in his eyes.  I look at others, similar.  Do all artists have to suffer?


Part of me resists when I ask the question.  I don’t want the answer to be yes.  But I let go, and the answer, instead, is of a different sorts.  They have to experience.  To live and experience life fully because when you create art, if it’s not true and real, you know.


Hemingway, Cobain.  Both killed themselves.  But what if they hadn’t?  What if they’d gone with the experience, whatever they were feeling, whatever they were fighting, knowing that it too would pass, and left behind would be the knowledge, the gift they could put into their art.


With the wisdom of age, what else could Hemingway have written?  And Cobain, perhaps he might be a poet today or even just another burned out rocker.  But whatever he’d created, as long as he stayed true to his experience, it would have connected and changed lives.  Just those two, what could have been…it’s sad, I will never know.


I’m old enough to have lost friends.  Random deaths are tough.  Suicides, the worst.  I’ve also lived long enough to look back at those gone and know that whatever they were dealing with, it passed.  They didn’t have to.  They could have been here, wiser and stronger and better.


No matter how smart we may think we are, no matter how committed we are to our truth, we can lose our way.  We’re human.  Made of flesh and feelings, not armor.  And knowing that, there is one thing we can do to help us, guide us back to the light when we’re fighting it the most.


Set the ego aside.  Reach out, share your truth, tell someone you love, “this is who I am.  This is what I stand for.  Hold me to it.”  Be accountable.  Often, we’ll do far more for another than we will do for ourselves.  Use that to your advantage.


Once, while meditating, I saw an image of my parents standing in front of me.  Behind them, their parents.  And their parents, and their parents, and their parents.  An unbroken line of lives so long that it faded into the horizon.   An unbroken line of lives that ultimately led to mine.


Then I thought of those who have touched my life.  Minor and major ways.  And all the lives that were lived so that just these few could exist and walk the Earth with me for a brief spark in time.  Lines upon lines, connections upon connections, ripples spreading across time and generations.  Humanity doing its dance so that you could be here, reading these words I just wrote.


Even if we may feel like it sometimes, we are never alone.  I write this, expecting that others will read these words.  I write them with the hope that they will improve your life.  I am giving you my all.  My truth.  That you will read it is a gift to me.  I may never meet you, but that’s ok.  I smile, knowing that we are links in a beautiful chain connected in ways deeper than we can imagine.


Whatever you experience in your life, choose for it to make you grow in amazing and unbelievable ways.  You owe it to yourself.  You owe it to those who came before you.  You owe it to those connected to you that you’ll never meet.  You owe it to those who have yet to come into your life.


February 1, 2013

The tools have changed, but the process hasn’t.  You sit, an empty page in front, whether it’s pixels or paper or parchment, and you fill it with feelings, with emotion, with life.  There is magic here.  Real magic.

The world quietly asleep outside the window, the clickity-clack of the keyboard, whatever music I’ve got on – chill, classical, lounge – and the white of the screen slowly filling.

You dive deeper, you strip away the cleverness and the words become more important than your ego and that’s when you know it’s real, when it’s good.  Light spreads out over the hills, dawn comes and passes, and a new day begins.

The feeling of when you step away, finished, and you look at the page and you know you tapped into something bigger than yourself to produce this, that feeling is, dare I say, spiritual.


January 9, 2013

He does not exist anymore, except in my imagination.  Memories arising when I least expect them.  Sometimes, I catch a glimpse of him and I feel such a fondness.  I wish I could spare him the pain I know he’ll experience. But I also know the love he will as well.  The amazing things he’ll see, the adventures he’ll have.

At the same time, I, who has experienced all that he will, I so often forget the lessons.  So I write.  A guide, perhaps, to the future.  To the self that I will one day look back to and nod, knowing.  Smiling.

Love Yourself

May 28, 2012

I wrote a book.  Something simple, something true.  Something I learned that has been beautiful and transformative for me.  I put it on the Amazon kindle platform and  priced it low.  There is a paperback version as well.

It’s about sharing something I believe is important.

I hope you read it.  I hope you try out what I share.  It works.

The title of the book, “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It.”

(Since I’ve been asked this by a few people, you don’t need a kindle to read the book.  Amazon has free Kindle apps for Mac/PC/iPhone/Android/Windows/Blackberry.  You can download them here)


October 24, 2011

I finish at the gym, walk outside, and sit on a wall by the driveway.  Indian summer evening in San Francisco.  Breezy, cool, fog above downtown.  Delicious.

I love my life, I find myself thinking, I love my life, I love my life, I love my life.  The thought flows as naturally as the wind.  I watch the skyline – people ask why I let my long hair fall in front of my eyes…it’s for moments like these, when I watch the world through wisps of silver – I love my life, I love my life.

Clouds move above, the thought shifts: I love myself, I love myself, I love myself, I love myself.  I’m smiling, then grinning.  All I am, my hopes, dreams, desires, faults, strengths, everything – I.  Love.  Myself.

If you can reach this point, even if it’s for a brief moment, it will transform you – I promise you that.

The key, at least for me, has been to let go.  Let go of the ego, let go of attachments, let go of who I think I should be, who others think I should be.  And as I do that, the real me emerges, far far better than the Kamal I projected to the world.  There is a strength in this vulnerability that cannot be described, only experienced.

Am I this way each moment, nope, but I sure as heck am working on it.

Thousands of years ago, a Roman poet wrote, “I am a human being, therefore nothing human is foreign to me.” I believe it to be true. So if  this is possible for one human, it is possible for anyone.  The path might be different, but the destination same.

Key is being open to loving ourselves.  Once we do that, life casually takes care of the next steps.

Remain open to that one possibility and you’ll experience the beauty of watching the world around you dance its dance while inside, you fully accept this marvelous amazing human being you are.  The feeling is, for lack of a better word, magic.