How One Man Reinvented Himself Wholesale — Ruminations On Simplicity, Life In the Zone & The Great Iceberg of Consciousness

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“I think our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re run by maniacs for maniacal ends. I think they’re all insane. But I am liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.”

John Lennon


I started this show because I truly believe that too many of us are wasting our lives in a reflexive daze. Disconnected from who we are, what makes our hearts beat and what we truly need to be happy. Just trying to make it through the day intact. Pay the bills. And make ends meet so we can numb out to Dancing With The Stars. Living for the weekend, we celebrate by getting drunk and then do it all over again. You know what I’m talking about.

It’s no way to live. Believe me, I tried.

Remember when you were a kid? No older than 11 when the world was wide open. Everything was amazing. Even the tiniest of things could provoke endless fascination. Pure joy in the simplest of activities like running around in the yard with a garden hose; jumping off a diving board into a pool or riding your bike around the neighborhood with friends. The effortless ability to be truly present in the world. Gifted with an innate sense of wonder – and a moral compass that naturally understood right from wrong, good from bad.

Then we grow up. That child falls by the wayside. Drops away. Or simply becomes repressed as we morph out of that natural state of what it is to be fundamentally alive, only to step into the objective, material fear-based world of ego, status, and comparison that leaves us obsessed with the past and maniacally pre-occupied with the future yet never fully present in the now.

This is the chronic collective human condition today’s guest calls being lost in the rational world. A state of being that all too often leaves us anxious, afraid, depressed, isolated, lonely and sometimes even desperate – resigned to a life we’re not sure we ever really even signed up for.

I know what that’s like. I’ve been there.  And so has today’s guest.

But there is a way out.  Because that inner child is still there – lurking deep down. We just have to find a way to access it. Tap in. Find a way to bring it to the surface. Unlock and unleash it.

This is the path to the authentic self. This is the path to wholeness. This is what it means to be alive. And happy – not in a blissed out unicorns kind of way but in the sense that your life has directed meaning – a purpose that brings true satisfaction.

SLOMO.

That’s right people. Slomo.

What the hell is a Slomo? It’s not what. It’s who.

I first became aware of this world class character when an award-winning short documentary about a very strange man by an enterprising young filmmaker named Josh Izenberg landed on the home page of the New York Times at the end of March.

What followed was 16 minutes of pure unadulterated awe-inspiring beauty about a man going boldly where most men fear to venture – letting go of all the trappings of his comfortable, previous existence to instead to pursue the simplest of lives. A life based on faith, purity, movement and the pursuit of what he calls “The Zone” – in his own highly unique and incredibly peculiar way.

I implore you – before listening to this episode, please watch this short documentary. The experience of our conversation just won’t be complete without it.

Born John Kitchin, Slomo is a spry and vigorous 71-year old dude raised on a dairy farm in North Carolina. He was a top student at Duke and Wake Forest Medical School before building an incredibly successful neurology practice in Southern California. The kind of wild success that begets BMW’s, Ferarris, multiple mansions and even a Neverland Ranch-esque exotic animal farm.

The kind of success that can, well, in the words of Slomo, make you an asshole.

And by his own admission, that’s exactly what John Kitchin was – an asshole.

Then something happened. A strange confluence of events that included a random encounter with a 91-year old patient and – quite ironically — the onset of his own neurological disorder that compelled him to take a long hard look at how he was pursuing his short time here on Earth.

Victimized by a rare and strange condition called Prosopagnosia – that weird thing you might have heard of where suddenly you simply cannot recognize faces anymore made famous by Dr. Oliver Sacks and shared by people like Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Stoppard and artist Chuck Close (one of my favorites) — Kitchin found himself in a twist of irony a novelist would envy.

Neurologically impaired, the neurologist became the neurology patient.

What could have been perceived as a disastrous turn of events instead became John’s moment of truth. His line in the sand moment. A door cracked open, he saw it as a sacred, divinely inspired opportunity — and seized it.

Unable to continue his former life, he quit his job. Then he sold all of his possessions.  The Ferrari and the BMW? Gone. The exotic animal farm? Bye bye. The mansions? Sold. Then he moved to a tiny one room studio apartment ½ block from the Pacific Beach boardwalk in San Diego.

But this was no mere downsizing or simple self-promise to slow down and start smelling the roses.  It was a decision to become an entirely new person altogether. A firm commitment to pursue the remainder of his days based upon one singular, fundamental premise:

Do what you love.

For John, this edict translated to one very specific activity: skating.

That’s right. Rollerblading.  All day.  Every day.

Exit John.  Enter Slomo.

Developing a unique and admittedly bizarre slow motion gliding style that looks like a flying Warrior 3 yoga pose, Slomo found himself inhabiting a rare state of consciousness he dubs “The Zone” – a deep meditative state where both time and objectivity become fluid, amorphous constructs. A certain sense of transcendence catalyzed by the lateral motion of his body impacting the tiny bones of his inner ear that dictate the body’s innate sense of balance. A self-styled moving meditation that allows him to tap into what spiritualist Eckhart Tolle would call  The Power of Now. Or as Slomo would put it, riding the tip of the great iceberg of consciousness.

It’s this practice that ultimately allowed Slomo to overcome his assholeness and become happy. Truly happy.  Some might even say too happy for comfort — or at least polite company.

15 years later Slomo is a Pacific Beach fixture. Most beachcombers likely assume he is some kind of crazy homeless guy with a mental disorder. Maybe a VA hospital cast away. But definitely a little nuts.

In truth, Slomo is a revered treasure of this idyllic beach community. Communal property, protected and beloved by all who call this seaside enclave home.

I like to think of Slomo as a boardwalk monk. A western version of the Hindi saddhus that inhabit the caves high in the Himalayas, deep in meditation. A now simple man practicing his spin (pun intended) on what it means to pursue a higher state of consciousness – or what some like to call enlightenment.

Sound crazy? Maybe. But according to Slomo — and John Lennon — it’s everyone else that’s crazy.

From lost in the rational world to the tip of the great iceberg of consciousness, it’s my honor and pleasure to bring you Slomo’s story. So let’s dive deep down this crazy rabbit hole and see where it leads.

I hope you enjoy the listen.

Peace + Plants,

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PS – The Slomo documentary seems to have catalyzed an interesting and relevant philosophical debate about the propriety of pursuing life based on this “do what you love” premise. For a counterpoint perspective, check out this opinion piece in the New York Times by Gordon Marino entitled,  “A Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love’.”

SHOW NOTES

Connect With Slomo: Website | Facebook

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