Podcast

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

By July 7, 2014May 24th, 201918 Comments

“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,

RR-SIGNATURE-FOR-WEB 110

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

*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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MindBodyGreen Course

18 Comments

  • Michelle says:

    Sounds like the two of you had a great time!

  • lanmandan says:

    Sounds like you guys really bonded. That’s awesome, I felt like I was part of it.

  • Jane says:

    Listened to your podcast with Sharon Palmer, RD yesterday. Heard you mention you are hoping to go to next Vegfest in Marshall, Texas. I believe it’s been held in January in past years. In 2015, it’s being held March 27th-29th. I’ve never been, but I hope to go next year. They already have some speakers lined up and I think you would be a fantastic addition. Hope you can go! Thanks so much for your podcast. I have learned so much from you, Julie and your guests. Jane — Austin, TX

  • Jane says:

    Rich — Was just looking (more carefully) at Marshall Texas’ Healthfest 2015 site and noticed that you are listed in the Speakers section! So glad that you will be presenting! Your picture is not shown on site’s main page, so that led to my earlier posting. They need to get your photo on the main page. Maybe while you are there you can interview the mayor and his wife for a future podcast. Thanks again for your awesome podcast. I’ve been a fan since the beginning! Jane

  • Anita Erdelyi says:

    Thank You Rich! Another great podcast , I didn’t want it it to stop….please keep the candle burning !!! Peace love

  • Kelly Mahoney says:

    alternative lifestyles like Slomo’s or Rich’s are inspirational, but at the same time I am proud of my 8 to 5 career and don’t feel the need to abandon it to follow some dream that I don’t even know that I want. I’m happy that I have the ability to provide for my family.

  • Joanne Verkuilen says:

    I’ve been really touched by Slomo! A few questions that maybe you were able to ascertain that didn’t make the Podcast: do you know how he originally started getting into the Zone? What came first, the knowledge of the zone, or the skating? And second, less esoteric and more out of curiosity – what is the kind of music he listens to when he gets into the zone? Is the music he has listed on his website? I think music that he has created? Thanks for all you do Rich… “peace + plants,” Joanne

  • Ann says:

    Great interview Rich! The second time through, I’m hearing Slomo’s conservative-sounding views less jarring, and more as a part of not just his era and upbringing, but from his meditative state where human activity is not perhaps as important as we think. He’s a very interesting person, and you did a great job teasing out his story and perspective.

  • Ann says:

    p.s. And I’m totally digging out my skates!

  • Michael Thomas says:

    many hours running/training in PB, Slomo was there on PB, I never new the story, but always sensed there was a deeper story, but can relate to that zone.Thanks Rich.

  • Andy says:

    That was a great podcast. So much stuff that resonated with me on various levels. Except the skating – I’m useless at that 🙂 It was also good hearing Slomo getting a lot out of the conversation too.

  • Nat says:

    Whilst I find my zone through trail running, I couldn’t help but relate the Zone to my sons Autism and Absence Seizures (Epilepsy) staring and zoning out. Through this discussion with Slomo I have found solace in my sons condition and his ability to be in this state frequently through the day. This is the ‘Tip of the Ice berg’ in relation to Autism. I found it to be a very powerful insight into the mind and finding your ZONE. Thanks Rich, Podcast by Podcast you are supporting my transformation:)

  • Stephen Conti says:

    My takeaway from this podcast is that real the gift you give us, Rich, is you. Your ability to put things into words is beautiful and inspirational.

  • Monique says:

    Just awesome. The state of mind that Slomo talks about – seeing the pure perfection in everything around you, sounds like the states of mind that only advanced meditators achieve through decades of arduous practice. It´s amazing and wonderful that he has achieved this through skating!!

  • Trail_Tripper says:

    Wow.. I’ve always enjoyed your podcasts but this particular episode/interview really resonated in my soul! Thanks for the encouragement to do what makes me/us happy. I really needed to hear this right now. I can’t afford to quit my career right now, but am now prepared to stand up to others and say no to requests for actions that don’t bring peace to my life or work career 🙂 Thanks so much to Rich and Slomo!

  • Dave Ball says:

    I came back to this episode to re-read “The Zone” but it seems Slomos site has expired, and the link doesn’t work. This was a great episode. I hope he’s Ok.

  • Rick Robb says:

    Maybe another way to look at this is not to REinvent ourselves, but to UNinvent. This podcast certainly hit on a lot of the things that have consumed my mind of late. Fascinating stuff.

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