Category: Young Icons

Thank you for the Dream

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This has been a long time coming and while the (crowd) dream-funding platform isn’t officially available (to the public anyway,) it’s currently in what I guess I’ll call, beta. That being said, behind the scenes, there are some pretty amazing dream campaigns being created and by some pretty exceptional dreamers. These dream campaigns are being tested and the dreamer’s experience is being followed prior to opening it up to the masses so that I can perfect and ensure the platform is ready for a larger release. There’s still a great deal to be done as I tweak and perfect things based on their recommendations and I suspect these sorts of adjustments will have no end.

Nevertheless, today marks a significant milestone for No Years Lost. The journey and creative process leading up to this earliest release has been, well, long and difficult, yet, I don’t wish to cover that here, because it’s not only been well-documented over the last year, but also, because much of that can be found in the deep corners throughout this site. For a deeper look into the platform and service I would recommend reading this.

As it goes, with any significant journey, there are those who’ve contributed, and or, influenced it, prior to, throughout, and in most cases, well afterwards. As such, I wanted to take a little tine to thank and acknowledge the many people in my life who have offered support, or at the minimum, whose influence in my life might never have resulted in the completion of No Years Lost. The concept of team, family, or in the case of No Years Lost, tribe, is deeply imbedded in the No Years Lost platform. I did this because aside from ones own passion and determination, there’s perhaps nothing more valuable to the dreamer in seeing their dreams through to fruition than the support they receive from those closest to them.

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It’s likely that the following list is incomplete. I’ve even had simple interactions with complete strangers throughout the last few years that have impacted my journey, and so, if I’ve forgotten anyone, I offer my sincerest apologies. Moreover, each person listed below could each have an entire piece specifically dedicated to them, however, I’ve tried to stick with the basics and tie in at least one memory that was special to me. Regardless of acknowledgment or lack thereof here, there’ll always be a piece of you that lives on with No Years Lost.

Before beginning this journey, I hadn’t touched a line of code and I knew nothing about building a web or mobile application, today I’m a little better versed in all of it. That’s the how, however, and in reality, the less important part of the journey. Why I built No Years Lost is substantially more important and that came from the years of life experience, lessons and opportunities I’ve had because of all of you. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart, for 30 incredibly blessed years.

The last 3 years of those 30 have been my darkest yet, and if it weren’t for the light in all of you, I might never have found my way here.

You can certainly read every mention below as it forms a complete narrative, but if you’d only like to read what I had to say about you, just click on your name.

My Tribe

[toggler title=”Rebecca Andrews” ]

First and foremost, I need to thank my loving partner without whom No Years Lost might never have been possible. She’s provided unending love, understanding and support, during a time in my life that was mostly devoid of those things. All the while, she endured some of my darkest moments, ridiculous work hours, expansive geographical distance, and a variety of personal turbulence that perhaps, only the two of us will ever know. She’s witnessed first hand, every obstacle and setback this journey has presented, and more importantly, stuck through it all to have been a part of overcoming those things.

I’ll never forget very early into the relationship (about 3 months in,) the two of us were having dinner at a pub in Oxford, and she asked me to explain what No Years Lost was since I’d only ever really briefly and topically spoken of it with her. I did so, at least what little I knew of what I wanted it to be at the time – it had still yet to fully take shape. While it was nothing more than an idea back then, she not only understood what I wanted to achieve with it, which was very rare, especially since it was still in an otherwise infantile stage, but also, more importantly, she believed that I could pull it off. That was a year and a half ago now and it will be a moment that I’ll hold onto for the rest of my life.

In such a short period of time, she’s grown into everything I knew she’d be and more. At only 25, she oddly resembles much of what I’d originally envisioned in an ideal member for the No Years Lost tribe. She follows her heart, her dreams and she’s been highly successful at both. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

She’s proven time and time again to be my counterpart and there’s no other person with whom I’d want to have so close with me on this journey, for now and forever. She truly is the first lady of the No Years Lost tribe, which I’m certain would’nt exist without her and I couldn’t love anyone more than I love her. She’s my soul mate and the greatest gift this life has ever given me.

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[toggler title=”Spencer & Krista Shaw” ]

For as long as I can remember, it’s been the “Shaw Brothers.” My brother and I did virtually everything together while growing up and we’ve always supported one another, no matter what ridiculous thing we were going through, and or, undertaking at the time. We’ve seen the upsides and downsides of those things, in fairly equal amounts, and from about as close a perspective as one can get when having to do with another person’s life. Without a doubt, it’s been one of my life’s greatest joys being his older brother.

I always keep two books near my desk that he gave me in his second year of undergrad, so, about 8 years ago now. It was during a time in my life when I had just started exploring the notion that perhaps the traditional educational pursuit and subsequent career was not for me, and instead, wished to explore some different endeavors with my life – in other words, my dreams. The books are of course related to those dreams, which is special, in and of itself, however, inscribed inside each cover are the following two notes:

For my brother,

The creator.

Love,

Spence

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Steve,

Some dreams are worth pursuing.

Love,

Spence.

Between then and now, life’s had its geographical pulls, placing the two of us in different cities, and often at great distances. There’s been heartache, loss and incredible sacrifice, but, throughout that time, we’ve both achieved our dreams. Dreams, I believe, or at least the prospect that we could do something a little more with our lives, has always been embedded in our relationship and at the heart of who we are. We’ve journeyed the world together and having had one another on those journeys has always offered dual perspective. Because of Spencer, who is so much like me, but also so different, has allowed us to in a way, live two lives, which I’ve always thought was such a unique blessing.

I look at him now, alongside his wife, Krista, who has many times been roped into our journeys and endeavors throughout those years, and I couldn’t be more proud of the two of them. They each have managed to achieve their individual dreams which give back greatly to society, as well as, their combined dream of being together despite all odds being weighted against them. They’re in my opinion, the apical modern couple, and my life would be very different without their love and support.

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[toggler title=”Clyde Shaw” ]

My father holds a unique place in the No Years Lost story in that its very concept was initially built upon a tragedy that befell him several years ago and has since taken over his entire life. Having dreamt of flying commercially as a boy, he indeed lived that dream for his entire life, until he was suddenly diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s disease. He had a lifetime left of flying to do and then one day, he was simply told he couldn’t do that thing he loved anymore. As a young and able-bodied man, it’s hard to imagine what that helplessness must feel like, I can only observe.

Every year, the observing becomes more difficult as the disease slowly takes over more of him, and while he remains optimistic that he might fly again, it’s witnessing the loss of even the simplest freedoms that becomes ever more heartbreaking. I find it difficult not to break down in tears every time I’m with him now.

His life has had a doubling effect in my own. First, teaching me to pursue my dreams at nearly any cost. I watched him live his own dream for most of his life and I’ve known few men who were as happy or proud. It was a hard thing to comprehend when I was younger, flipping burgers, slinging fries and the like, how a man could be so happy going to work. However, now that I get to live my own dreams as an adult and those dreams also provide my livelihood, I get it. He always pushed my brother and I to pursue our dreams and offered support wherever and whenever he could. Second, through his tragedy I learned the harsh reality that there are a handful of things in our lives that really are outside of our control, which can literally take everything you’ve built in a lifetime from you, and all in a single moment. In that, all I can ever see, which in some ways ironically, is what my father always encouraged in me – make the most of every moment and take care of your own happiness.

While No Years Lost has grown beyond its initial walls, which were first constructed to pay homage to my father and that very legacy. That being, life is short, its journey hard and unpredictable, but by all means, own your place in it and pursue your happiness, inasmuch as possible, and for as long as you can – this is the path to fulfillment and happiness. I’ve tried with No Years Lost to create an environment that might help more people be able to own their lives and pursue their happiness so that less years are lost. I hope this aspect of No Years Lost, its roots, are never forgotten as it branches out.

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[toggler title=”MaryCatherine Poste” ]

I probably don’t give my mother enough credit sometimes with regards to just how much she’s influenced the man I’ve grown up to become and the man I continually strive to be. There’s this temporal division that occurs in life, especially as one grows older, wherein things begin to fall into stages, the earliest ones often being forgotten or diminished. I do try as often as possible to let her know how much I love her, but I certainly fail at times in letting her know just how much I appreciate her.

My mother gave me my humanity, which is perhaps the greatest gift of character I’ve ever received. Throughout my childhood, and even now, I’m still softened by her influence. Life is this really tough place sometimes, and it’s easy to become jaded, if not hardened. I can be a bit of hardliner with a flair for the dramatic once in awhile. I suppose that’s partly due to my creative passion but I’m also confident in who I am and what I believe in. Nevertheless, the reason I’ve been able to get there’s because I was able to always approach life with openness and understanding which allowed me to navigate many circles and experience many different things. She taught me to love unconditionally and to be empathetic. As a result, I’ve developed open networks, which cross many borders wherein I’ve developed many strong relationships.

It’s hard to truly understand the world without having an open heart and attempting inasmuch as possible to approach every situation with compassion. I’ve experienced much of the world and its many sides, I’m stronger for it, but I never would’ve made it through to the other side without my mother’s love, as well as, the way she taught me to openly love others.

The core of No Years Lost is comprised of compassion, understanding and love. It’s nurturing the very best in others, while accepting their worst. Even if I’d managed to build a similar product without having had my mother’s influence in the man who I became, No Years Lost would be a colder product and the worst off for it. My mother has this expression which I laugh at occasionally, and shouldn’t, because it’s true, especially here in the west, which is, “my glass isn’t half full, it’s overflowing.” I think we could all think about that for a little while, be thankful for how much we have, and perhaps allow a little of what we each have to offer, to spill into the glass of another.

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[toggler title=”Andrew Poste” ]

Divorce is this kind of awful thing, but there’s almost always a silver lining in everything. In my case, I was fortunate to not only grow closer with my brother, but also, gain an exceptional stepfather through divorce. I accredit much of my creativity to Andrew. Before he came on the scene I think I was relatively one-dimensional. Andrew’s quite creative and talented in many ways himself, so witnessing him engage in those activities, opened up my eyes to new things. It also taught me that it was okay to be creative as a man. He always included me when I wished in whatever he was working on at the time, he never forced anything upon me, and he helped facilitate the tools or tutelage when I wished to pursue my own creative interests. It was complex stuff too. In high school, we built a one-man hovercraft from scratch.

One of the things I appreciated most throughout those experiences is that he didn’t baby me. He would teach me the basics and then push me to create and follow through with something on my own. I think that approach really made me feel confident in my abilities and helped me to discover new methods of problem solving.

One moment that I’ll never forget was one particular Easter Dinner. I’d just announced to the table that I was dropping out of university to work for Janet Jackson, and fairly, my mother protested that decision. Andrew on the other hand, told me that life is about exploring unique opportunities, and more importantly, that he believed in me. Then, speaking on behalf of the whole family, that they would be supportive of my decision. That’s a very special memory for me.

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[toggler title=”John & Judith Andrews” ]

John and Judith have already given me my life’s greatest gift by raising an incredible young woman and love of my life. Neither her, nor a loving father-in-law and mother-in-law, were ever something I thought my life might be blessed with. Such things, felt like such a distant possibility for me, not only because of what I’d learned from my previous life experience, but also, because the wild pursuits I often engaged in, including No Years Lost, took such a toll on everything else around me. As such, I thought there was no way in which I could healthily include those things. As it turns out, I was wrong. Finding out that a basic assumption you’ve made of life, especially your own life, is not only wrong, but also has a shockingly positive outcome, is miraculous.

While I think of John and Judith as my parents and they offer me the kind of love they’d offer a son (which they have,) they tend to treat me more like a peer, which I greatly enjoy. Because of that treatment, I’ve always felt completely at ease in their presence – I’m never fearful that John’s going to chase me off the porch with a shotgun so to speak. They’ve bent over backwards to make things happen for Rebecca and I, in addition to, looking out for our happiness at every juncture. I’m so appreciative of this.

I’m a very observant person and I try to learn from others as much as possible. I wondered from the onset, how two people could not only raise three incredible children, but also, maintain a healthy marriage, which to be sure, is a rarity. As it turns out, the answer is pretty straightforward. I think it’s hard for others to understand and I’ve fallen to the same false premise myself, in that love wasn’t enough to keep it all together, but it is. The problem I believe is that most people don’t really find love, only a false understanding of it. When you have true love, which they have, it prevents you in a sense from not acting a fool. In essence, you love another person so much, that you don’t act on your own self-interest, but instead, look out for your partner’s interests. What I learned from them was that if you take care of your love, it’ll take care of you.

I try to do this in every aspect of my life and relationship with Rebecca as we begin our own family, and I’m so happy and appreciative to be a part of theirs.

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[toggler title=”Scott Lemke” ]

If you’re very lucky, life offers you friends that more closely resemble family. Scott is the very embodiment of this. Throughout nearly every stage of my life, Scott has been more like a brother to me than anything else. We’ve had the great fortune of being classmates, teammates, colleagues and even roommates. In high school, I wore his jersey number in hockey when he was injured one season. In university we played varsity lacrosse and studied for the LSAT together, he went onto law school while I pursued other things. Through youthful break ups and turmoil he lived on my couch, and I on his. We gave heartfelt advice and encouragement. He’s been there when I’ve needed him and I’ve tried my best to be there in return. Ultimately, we’ve experienced a great deal of life together, and much of it’s just been absolute fun.

He’s this kind of larger than life personality and definitely the kind of guy you want in your corner. I’ve witnessed him go through some hardships, as he has with me, and I’ve little doubt, in likely the same way he feels about me, that we’re on the right path toward great things. Back in high school, he used to tell me he wanted to be an undertaker, well, the owner of a funeral home, possibly many. I always thought that was unusual, if not morbid, but it’s definitely a business with an unlimited customer base. I guess what I like when thinking back upon that is that while our friends at the time were always focused on the sorts of things you might expect of kids at that age, he was already seriously considering the next steps in life, his success and uniquely, non-traditional ways of getting there. I believe he’d have done a great job helping the dead, but I think he’s doing an even better job helping the living.

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[toggler title=”Jeremy Pleasant” ]

I was fortunate to meet Jeremy through Scott. They met in law school, became roommates, and when they graduated, the two of them moved to Toronto and the three of us got a house together. JR has always been a bit of a mystery, which I quite like. It isn’t in the sense that he’s a closed book, in fact, I’d say he’s very open, but more in the sense that there’s depth to him, that as a friend, you have to unveil, if not earn, if you want to get to it.

I was at his place a few weeks ago, I’ve been busy with No Years Lost, and thus, haven’t had much time to really stay caught up. We were doing just that, and he tells me he might take the exams to become a chartered accountant. Why I thought, he’s a successful lawyer. Turns out he’s bored and feels he needs to be learning something new. In that same conversation, he tells me he wishes to visit 30 countries before he’s 30. A few weeks before that, he tells me he bought a house back home for his brother to live in.

We’ve about two years between the two of us, so occasionally, I have to stop myself from getting that older brother feeling, but I must say, in the same way I get proud of my own brother, I tend to do this with JR. Many people make it their life goal to become a chartered accountant, and to be sure, it’s a very difficult thing to do. JR, if he follows through with it, will no doubt do it with a certain kind of ease and it’s mostly for his personal growth and enjoyment – a kind of lossless entertainment.

For several months now, I often joke with him, that I am holding a position for him at No Years Lost, hopefully, the first position. As much as that’s a bit of joking around, I couldn’t match his salary right now, nor could any amount of equity in an unproven startup likely sway him away from his firm. However, I also like that a lot about him, it isn’t that he isn’t a visionary or can’t see the potential in No Years Lost, he is and he does, he just isn’t an idiot and knows his worth. The fact of the matter is that he deserves a matched salary and then some, as well as, the equity in a PROVEN company. Hopefully, one day I might be able to offer that to him and he’ll accept. We’ll have to wait and see.

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[toggler title=”Matthew Castel” ]

I’ve known Matt since I was 10. He’s two years younger than I, and he and my brother have been best friends for just as long, so for that reason I always think of him as a little brother. I think Matt’s probably the first friend we made when we returned to Canada from Sweden, and like Scott, has been around for just about every stage of my life. Like many of my other friends, he’s a bit of a renaissance man, and certainly, multi-talented.

He’s always been an influencer, even before I knew the meaning of the word. I listened to Kanye for the first time in Matt’s car before Kanye had ever released an album. Most of my other friends were still listening to Blink 182 and the like. Remember Blink 182? Perhaps. Remember Kanye? Thought so. Because of his early adoption however, in high school, when different isn’t necessarily accepted, and certainly not praised, people occasionally attempted to go out of their way to give him a difficult time. I always snuffed that out as much as possible, because I not only thought of him as a little brother, but he’d already opened my eyes up to the possibility that different is good, and more importantly, something to be valued. I’d little tolerance for bullying and I’d zero-tolerance when it came to my loved ones.

Matt always did well in school, better than most in fact, while also managing to balance a variety of interests and succeeding at those things as well. When I was making preparations for higher education, Matt, my brother and I, had come up with this fanciful plan, that I’d go to Trinity College in the University of Toronto, and they would follow me there soon after. As it turned out, Matt, always being his own man, developed an interest in Huron College at Western University. For my brother’s part, he didn’t get accepted into Trinity, but did get accepted into Huron, so he went there as well.

As such, our paths deviated away from another for a time, and I actually think, that was a dramatic turning point in my own life with regards to my interests as I moved away from a school-centric approach to that stage of my life. Nevertheless, we still found ways to link up every few weeks, which I think were some of the best weekends of my life.

In essence, my life might have looked a lot different without some of the decisions Matt made in his own life. I’ve always appreciated how he’s his own man and he’s typically one of the first friends I go to when I need advice because he not only approaches things differently than most others, but he’s also very honest with me. Uniquely, special thanks are in order for Matt, because when I was seeking a name for my new endeavor, 3 years ago now, it was Matt who came up with, No Years Lost. I believe it embodies the company perfectly and never would’ve existed without his unique insight.

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[toggler title=”Luke Willms” ]

I met Luke through another longtime friend (also mentioned here,) sometime after university. Luke’s something of a modern renaissance man, which is the sort of person I tend to gravitate towards. He’s a musician, a philanthropist, an entrepreneur, an athlete, and really, just an overall good-natured person. Moreover, he’s sincere and passionate in everything he engages himself in and that kind of character’s not only infectious, but is also, increasingly hard to come by.

In many ways, Luke was the one who really allowed me to not only have my first crash course in coding, but also, pair that up with a lifelong dream of being involved with a charitable organization. I’ll always be thankful for that experience and look back on it fondly. It’s another one of those unique opportunities in my life, that without it, No Years Lost might never have come to fruition.

I don’t have many, call it, later in life friends, or people with whom I’ve met in the last few years or so and then formed incredible friendships with. Most of my friends are kids I grew up with. Luke fits in wherever he goes and I genuinely appreciate how easy and uplifting his presence is. Just turning 30 this week, he’s already given back so much to the world, and I’m excited to see where he takes his leadership and diverse set of talents into the next stage of life. Without a doubt, his journey is just unfolding, and it’ll be an exciting and benevolent one.

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[toggler title=”Ian Graham” ]

Several years my senior, Ian’s always been like an older brother to me, and someone whom I’ve always looked up to. We get along on just about any front and carry ourselves in a similar manner, in that we’re confident being ourselves, and know very well who we are.

I’ve learned quite a bit from Ian over the years. He’s very entrepreneurial in nature, and also, highly creative. Basically, he has a lot of interesting things going on at once. I tend to be like that as well.

Two years ago, I was seriously considering moving back to Los Angeles, but I’d be between places for a few months. Ian opened up his doors to me. I had a great friend and mentor for those months and at a time of need. I also came to some unique realizations about No Years Lost through Ian who’d been supportive of it since the first time I spoke about it to him a year earlier.

Admittedly, those months were heavy for me and I was going through a lot, in many ways, I got off track. Ian, like a good older brother should, gave it to me straight, basically, “you need to move out and get your shit together.” It was the best thing anyone could’ve done for me at that time. I decided to stay in Canada, moved up to my cottage, taught myself to code and got back on track. I think more so than at any other point in time, I was about to give up on No Years Lost, he saved me from doing so – he saved No Years Lost from just being another idea.

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[toggler title=”Chris LaRoque” ]

Chris moved to Toronto from Paris nearly a decade ago now. We’ve been friends basically from the beginning of his time here. We became really close under the most unusual of circumstances, I’d opened up to him about a relatively serious manner, and he felt as though I’d been the first person in Toronto that had not been shady with him.

He’s several years my senior which makes for an interesting dynamic sometimes because even though we treat one another as peers, occasionally I go to Chris when I need some older brotherly advice, if not even, fatherly advice. Importantly, without fail, he’s always there for me.

Perhaps that’s because he’s one of the best and most sacrificial father’s to his actual children that I’ve ever encountered. Life throws us all kinds of unique circumstances and Chris always seems to just allow things to easily roll past. He’s an incredible talent, and also, one of the most well rounded, intelligent individuals I’ve ever known.

In some ways, Chris was a kind of first investor in No Years Lost, and I’m sure in the future, he’ll become more heavily involved. Chris, like Jeremy, has believed in No Years Lost and my ability to finish it since day one, but wants to see results. I like that a lot about both of them.

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[toggler title=”Patryk Pawlowski & Paul Tran” ]

These Australian fellas right here are my mates. I met Patryk first, then Paul sometime later through Patryk, and under the most unusual of circumstances. Patryk had just moved to Canada and was looking for a place to live, he needed something immediately and I was a few weeks out the door from the place I was living in at the time. We managed to work it out that he’d stay there at the same time and because of that, we were able to get some valuable time together right from the onset.

He and I hit it off immediately on a variety of fronts and found that we had similar creative interests. Patryk is a graphics designer, and a great one at that. I took a keen interest in it, so he showed me the initial ropes. Without Patryk, I’d never have learned graphics design, which is such a huge part of my creative output now, as well as, a form of therapy. Moreover, I think it’s the shift in my creative life that started to swing my interests in the direction of beginning to learn code. Patryk did a lot for me in fact and really helped with the initial tools I’d later require for No Years Lost.

Sometime later, his best friend, Paul, made the move to Canada as well. He fit in with our group of friends just as easily as Patryk had before him. Both are very interesting guys, but mostly, extremely generous and caring. I tried my best during a relatively tumultuous time in my life, to give back to them as much as they gave to me, but I know I fell short of the mark. They were really there for me and in a way I don’t think anyone else will really ever know.

I’d taken Patryk home for thanksgiving weekend with my family the first year he was in Canada, and then again with Paul, the following year. Looking back on it, I think that weekend in fact, was the bleakest and hardest transitory point of my life. The guys took me out of the house, we road bikes on the trails near my mother’s, got drunk, swam in a nearby quarry and just generally acted like teenagers. I’m really not sure where I might’ve gone or what I might’ve done following that weekend had they not been there for me when no one else was.

I haven’t seen either of them in a long time, Patryk moved back to Australia last year. I really hope one day, now in a much better place in life and largely having to do with them, to tell them both in person, just how much they mean to me, perhaps, even balance out the score.

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[toggler title=”Josh & Christine Cairns” ]

Josh was my best friend in high school. He was my go to for everything and we did mostly everything together. He’s in my opinion, the very embodiment of what it means to be the best kind of human being. I get such a kick out of recounting the many special memories and early life experiences I had with him and he always had this profound ability to make you laugh, just being himself.

University was a particularly special time for me in our friendship. I helped him move into his first home, my brother and I, through the oddest of occurrences, helped bring him and his future wife, Christine, together, and just after graduation, I helped get him an interview for his first job, which would become his a career. Despite all that, Josh has given far more to me than I’ve ever given him.

There are few individuals whom I respect more than Josh because in a world so filled with ugliness and temptation, he has consistently through his adult life, managed to be the best of everything. That’s a very hard thing to do. His ability to lead by example is unparalleled.

He was the first of my friends to get married, and it was such an honor, to be in his wedding party, as he became, the first of my friends to really grow up. I don’t think he’s ever looked back, nor should he, because he’s on such a great journey. I always feel like he’s years ahead of me in everything he does.

A few years ago now, he took an opportunity to move out west and start his own business. Since then, I haven’t been able to see him that often or be exposed to his leadership in the way I used to take for granted. Two weekends ago, I got to see him and Christine, for Josh’s older brother Mark’s wedding. As the best man, Josh was mostly detained, but I did get caught up a little with Christine.

That being said, they’d just recently given birth to the most beautiful baby boy. In what’s perhaps one of the most special moments I’ve had in a longtime, I held this perfect little creation in my arms for about half an hour alongside my future wife. He was all smiles and giggles the entire time, and as I looked down on him, all I could see were my two perfect friends and what they’d given to the world. So, as it goes, Josh still gives to me in ways I can’t return, and for those perfect moments, I’ll be eternally thankful.

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[toggler title=”Ryan Williams” ]

Oh, how I fucked up this friendship! I don’t really have what I’d call regrets in life, and admittedly, had any part of my life been different, so too would my current position. Because of that, it’s hard to say that there’s a certain portion of your life or a certain decision you’d made in it that you’d wish to omit. Nevertheless, what I did to Ryan’s one such time I wish I could turn back the clocks on.

We first met in in our second year of university. Abercrombie & Fitch had just come to Canada, and we were hired to be those shirtless monkeys you’d see standing at the front of the store who you could take pictures with. I’d say for the next four years of our lives, we did everything together. He was my best friend. There was one year in that mix where he basically lived at my house.

We were on a roll, I’d been picking up momentum in my endeavors, and we felt unstoppable. One of those endeavors had to do with film and television, which suited Ryan just fine because he’d aspirations of becoming an actor, and I obviously wished to include him in that. As it goes, young men who fly too close to the sun with wax wings, fall suddenly back to the earth. I was ill prepared for my new responsibilities, and worse, I’d become arrogant about them, and unlike this journey with No Years Lost, I’d selfishly forgotten, not only to remain the person that had gotten me there, but also, to not forget the people that had helped me along the way.

That being said, I landed this beautiful person, a perfect friend, a most devastating blow, one that would not only rip apart the friendship, but one that would effectively kill what we were working on at the time. In one swift move, one poor decision, I’d lost my best friend. There were a lot of lessons in that and a lot of growing up to do. More so, Ryan’s dream of being an actor had been sidelined for a time.

To his credit, he’s stuck with his dream, and I’m so proud of him for that. He’s always been a bigger man than I. He taught me forgiveness in its truest sense, and while, I’ve asked for forgiveness many times, and he’s given it, I don’t think the weight or guilt of my actions will ever truly subside. We remain friends, but will likely never return to how things were.

As it’s been for 7 years, I’m truly sorry, and I’ll always be grateful not only for the years we shared as best friends, but also, for showing me what it means to be a bigger, better man.

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Gil was really my first mentor. He opened the door for me to explore my dreams. He taught me the ropes of an otherwise hostile industry. He guided me in both business and personal matters in much the way an older brother would. I don’t think I ever really knew who I was until I met Gil. He allowed me to enter a really diverse world and gave me the security to find myself there. I’m certain that without having Gil in my life, it would look dramatically different than it does now.

I learned so much under his tutelage over the years. He’s easily the most creative mind I’ve ever met, and I will be forever thankful for the many late nights we shared talking through just about everything – I was like a sponge in his presence.

Because of Gil, I found my creative voice, and realized that like him, I was a part of what I would call, the “fuck you” class of creative directors. Gil has given so much to me, whether he knows it or not. I still hear his voice or see his vision in much of what I create today, and I know, I would not be a creator had it not been for his influence.

I try wherever and whenever I meet a young creator, or even those who are unaware just yet that they are creators, to help them uncover the real potential within. When doing so, I always hear Gil’s voice in the back of my head. Sometimes it makes me cry just thinking about it and I often pull on it for myself whenever I’m experiencing self-doubt. It’s this kind of, go do you kid, you’ve got this, fuck what they say, silence it, hear your own voice, learn it, now go out and shout it.

I think if there was any kind of ethos behind No Years Lost, it’s just that, that last sentence, so again:

Go do you kid, you’ve got this, fuck what they say, silence it, hear your own voice, learn it, now go out and shout it.

I think the heart of No Years Lost belongs to Gil.

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I met Keith at the same time I met Gil. He’s perhaps the coolest guy I’ve ever known. Most creative types don’t like to admit it, but each has someone, or someone’s style they look to for influence or inspiration when creating their own work. For me, this is Keith. EVERY SINGLE FUCKING THING he does just sings to me.

Much like Gil, Keith has been a mentor, and was largely influential in helping me find my creative self. I love whenever I get to get see Keith, but also like Gil, that doesn’t happen that often anymore, and while his influence remains, it’s generally from a distance.

That being said, two years ago, it was a conversation I had with Keith that directly and dramatically shifted No Years Lost into a different heading. I’m not sure he would even remember it now. We were in the sound booth at a concert, there was a lot going on, but as he does when he gets in the creative groove, he gave me his full attention. His clarity and excitement with regards to what I should do, and how I should do it, cleared a path for me to finally and wholeheartedly pursue it. It made sense when he said it, it wasn’t terribly different than what I’d envisioned, but it was different enough that it would set the destination for this journey.

Now that I’ve arrived, he was right, as he always is, and I’m so thankful for it.

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I’ve always been so thankful for my own brother, as previously mentioned, and to be honest, never thought I’d have any more siblings in my life. Nevertheless, I’ve been blessed with two. Interestingly, they are both much younger than I, around a decade or so each. This distance in age makes for a unique relationship and I’m fortunate to have a long look back on what it means to be a young adult of that age. Topically, I’m thankful that my long-shot prediction that there were in fact young people worth bolstering up was proven to be true in each of them, because until they came into my life, I was losing a bit of hope. Most importantly, I’m thankful for their love and acceptance, and for my beautiful growing family.

I don’t give either of them advice unless they ask for it, in much the same way, I wouldn’t force opinion or judgment on my own brother. He’s an adult, and in most cases, makes better decisions than I do. Yet, between the two of us, there’s only 2 years difference, and so, he’s lived much of the same life I have. As such, given the age difference between myself, and the two of you, I’d like to pass along some older brotherly wisdom. Some of these things I managed to figure out on my own, sometimes someone had to tell me, sometimes I had to fuck up, either way, the revelations always seemed a half-second later than I would’ve wished. Regardless, you are you, and what you are is beautiful, so take it with a grain of salt.

Embrace your youth because it vanishes quickly. While you’re young, fuck up often, but don’t break the law. Always acknowledge when you’ve fucked up and swiftly apologize. You should fuck up often because it means you’re continually pushing boundaries. You’ll fuck up outside of your known boundaries because you don’t know better yet. Sometimes the results of fucking up will feel heavy, they aren’t. You have no real responsibility yet. I’ll repeat that, you have no real responsibility yet. Nothing comes easy in life, but that’s why it’s important to fuck up often while you’re still young, it’s how you’ll figure out the world and your place in it. Ultimately, it’s how you’ll discover where to focus your efforts when you do have responsibility.

Time is the most important thing in your life, now and forever. Don’t give it to those who don’t respect its value. There’ll be many people in your life, even those who appear close to you or those who appear to have your best interests at heart, that’ll wish to take it from you, but don’t let them. Anyone who doesn’t value time, doesn’t understand life, and will not only detract from the total sum of your present self, but also, and more importantly, your future self. As such, spend your time with people who really want to share it with you. Make every minute count. This is a hard one in today’s world. Challenge yourself everyday. Push your boundaries. Push your knowledge. Self-improve. Every minute is an opportunity to grow or positively impact your life. Be self-aware so that you don’t miss out on the opportunities.

Travel as much as possible, and to culturally different places as well. The rest of the world is so very different from the one you know. You’re spoiled in every possible way. Go to these places with an open heart. Go to these places for more than entertainment or your personal enjoyment. It’ll affect you. It’ll change your life. It’ll make you want to change the world, you can and you should.

You’re both incredibly talented and in so many ways. You’re smart and savvy, more so than I was at your age. Use it, but use it effectively. Don’t be anything less than your full potential. You’ll want to give up sometimes, don’t. Pushing through the hardships, life’s valleys, and there’ll be many, is the only way to transcend from average, to excellence, neither one of you should be anything less than what you are, and that’s excellent. If you’re feeling low or discouraged, call on others for help. Help will come without judgment, and yet, don’t be afraid of judgment. The fear of failing is life’s greatest hindrance. There’s no such thing as failing, only, one step not taken toward success.

You’re both beautiful inside and out. External beauty, however, quickly fades, so take the time everyday to foster the beauty within. Surround yourself with people who do the same. Tell the people you love that they’re beautiful everyday but do so for the beauty inside, you’ll find you’ve a lot more love, and a lot more “I love you(s.)”

Take care of your happiness because no one else can do that for you. If you depend on another for happiness you’re destined for letdowns, if not, heartache. You should however, experience heartache. Allow yourself to go through it, mourn, but not for too long, because believe me, there’s opportunity afoot. The longer you mourn, the more you’ll miss out on life-altering experiences and opportunities. You can and you should make others happy though whenever you can. A simple smile can change a moment, a day, or even a life – perhaps, your own. Smile a lot.

In case you missed it, my first true mentor, Gil, passed along the following advice and encouragement:

Go do you kid, you’ve got this, fuck what they say, silence it, hear your own voice, learn it, now go out and shout it.

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Special thanks are in order to Sara Rusell, Guilliume Viau and Matt Faskhoodi who’ve been supporters of No Years Lost since before it even launched.

No Years Lost probably won’t be for all of you, and that’s fine, but I’d encourage you to look around and see what you’ve helped to influence and build. There’s a bit of each of you in all of it.

Currently, there are several ways you can participate if you wish to go further than just browsing, you can sign up for the web app, and also, download the iOS app – the two are not connected and do different things, so don’t get it twisted.

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Additionally, you can write for No Years Lost on the yet to be released publishing platform, and also, if you have a dream you wish to have funded you can do so on the yet to be released (crowd) dream-funding platform. So, if you have any interest in either of those things, please talk to me and I’ll get you set up.

Publishing Platform

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(Crowd) Dream-Funding Platform

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From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all of the years, the love and the memories.

No Years Lost

Resurrection

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The other day I stood on my balcony and raised my right hand; I was about to smash it down on an otherwise defenseless table. I was on the verge of screaming obscenities at the top of my lungs. I needed to channel the intense pain I was feeling somewhere, anywhere. The pain endured in completing this dream is very real to me, it’s both physical and mental, and at times, all encompassing. I know that No Years Lost will be terribly helpful for a great many people, and one way or another, it needs to get done. Still, when you’re facing such paramount problems on your own, there’s really no place to vent, things build up and eventually you need to find someway to get it all out, or simply, succumb to the weight and give up. I stopped myself before bringing down my hand and embarrassing myself in front of my neighbors, though, inside I was dying.

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I kind of stood there silently for a few moments before actually asking for a miracle. Do I believe in such things? Perhaps, there’ve been many times in my life when the pleasantly unexpected has occurred, sometimes it takes months or even years before understanding why one thing led to another. I wouldn’t necessarily say this falls into any sort of religious sense. Nevertheless, if there’s some place like heaven where good souls go after death, I’m fairly confident (after a stern lecture at the gates) that I’ve lived a life worthy of slipping in. If your behavior on earth is in anyway indicative of your final position in such a place, then that’s fine as well, because I’d rather not bake alone in a golden mansion with 72 sex toys anyway. Not only does that sound awful, it’s more than attainable while in this life. Give me a cabana next to the pool alongside the amazing woman I came up with, a sledgehammer to send my phone to that other place and I’m good to chill into forever.

Do things like miracles and the afterlife exist? I don’t really know, but then again, who really gives a fuck? If you live your life beholden to a set of rules that some other men, emphasis MEN, wrote many years before you, who possibly knew even less than you do about the matter, then you’re well deserving of the small and restricted life that those shackles will afford you. I’m by no means wishing to take a piss on religion. If it seems that way, I offer my sincerest apologies. As previously noted, perhaps I’m a believer as well, I just don’t believe with any certainty, because how can you?

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I do however, know a little bit about this thing called, “resurrection,” which as it turns out, isn’t all that different than this aforementioned concept of the afterlife. I know this because I’ve died many times in my life and been reborn into another. When I speak about, “youth and eternity,” sometimes, “Eternal Youth,” in relation to No Years Lost, and I do so often, this is exactly what I’m referring to. The dreamer literally has to venture to the end of the line with their dreams, if they get there, then they are reborn into a new world where they also become creator. Occasionally, I forget this. The longer the journey to completion, the harder it becomes to remember. Of course this is figurative, life is linear, but while here, we have as many opportunities as we do seconds to be reborn.

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I don’t generally discuss such things, let alone put it out on the Internet for everyone to sink their hungry teeth into. Yet, one of the reasons I created No Years Lost was for that very purpose and I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t use it in the same manner for which I expect others to do so as well. I built No Years Lost to help every imaginable hurdle a dreamer might face, one of which, is venting by sharing the journey, the creative process so to speak, and to be able to do so, amongst a tribe of fellow dreamers that are understanding and encouraging of those things. Why am I feeling so defeated at the moment?

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Well, you see, I’ve got these two large glass doors in my house, like, 10 x 8, and both are covered in things I needed to get done before a June 24th soft-launch date, which is also written somewhere on one of those doors. There are probably a hundred things written on those doors, that list was put up about a month ago. There were lists before it whose items had been crossed off and then erased upon completion. The hundred most recent things are simply the larger all encompassing titles of grander problems, which are themselves, comprised by many less spectacular problems. In addition to that list, I keep a notebook on my desk next to my computer. In the last month I’ve probably added 40 pages. Juggling all of these problems in one mind, let alone coming up with solutions for each, and then executing, is an enormous and daunting endeavor. I missed the date. I felt myself slipping. I could sense a lifetime of judgment against myself.

For as long as I can remember, even before this dream, I’ve worked long and relentless hours everyday of my adult life. Today’s Canada Day here in Canada, a national holiday, and while my friends are running around the 6ix enjoying their day off, I sit attached to my computer (this kind of writing however is me taking a break.) My own life’s responsibilities don’t cease to exist just because I’ve chosen to pursue some dream that also has additional responsibilities. I often forget to eat, call my family, respond to friends, take days off, and so forth and so on.

The hardest thing in any of this, is being courageous enough to let your current life slip into the next. Letting go is generally the hardest thing any person can do. How can we know what’s next? It seems so fucking scary right? But here’s the thing, when you’ve created what’s next, you know exactly what’s coming, and exactly what you’re leaving behind. That list I’m staring down is simply the last of what I’ve got to let go of. I felt like dying the other day, because I was. I’m on the verge of stepping into this next world, the one I created, and I’m standing on the threshold, wiping my feet of the remaining shit from the previous journey before I step in. I’m nervous to enter this next life, but I’m also courageous enough to do so. I might already be there and my eyes are simply adjusting from the long and dark journey behind me.

What is it like being reborn? What does it mean to be resurrected? It’s hard to say, you’ll have to get there yourself, and I hope you do. Mostly, I promise to help you along the way, but before I can, there are just a few things left to do – today I’m working next to the pool, alongside the woman I came up with.

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Once more into the fray.
Into the last good fight I’ll ever know.
Live and die on this day.
Live and die on this day.

Dreams are Forever

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This past Friday we were forced to effectively kill our beloved “Crow Logo.” That logo was originally conceived, created and first used nearly three years ago, to be emblematic not only of my father whose dream of flying was dismissed by Parkinson’s disease, but also, because of the crow’s symbolic connection to life magic and the mystery of creation, to destiny and personal transformation, to higher perspective and fearlessness, and of course, as a friend of death.

All those years ago, we set out to create something that would allow young dreamers to more easily confront and overcome the many obstacles along their journeys, so that more dreams might come to life. In many ways, our own journey toward achieving that dream has become more symbolic of the very thing we wished to overcome for others than we ever could’ve imagined. We couldn’t begin to recount the many obstacles we’ve faced thus far, and this one, will surely set us back another few weeks.

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Nevertheless, the dreamer knows that their dreams aren’t easily achieved, and that there’ll be many naysayers and bullies along the way, but most importantly, that intelligence will always win over brute force. The bully acts out of fear because they’re too weak to envision a future in which they’re needed in a world of change. As such, their entire existence becomes a suppression of progress, in order to, for as long as possible, maintain an untenable position of fleeting power.

Our legal counsel was split, in that, some offered we fight the matter, while others offered we leave it behind us. We decided to leave it behind us because that’s the nature of those who cause progress – we’ll not be held up for years in court by fearful bullies. As of now, we’re an otherwise yet to be launched tech company, so to cause that kind of fear in a multinational fashion company whose business has nothing to do with ours, would indicate that they’re aware of the progress we might cause. I guess we’ll take that as a feather in our cap (pun intended.)

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Unlike, fast-fashion whose whole business model is dated and built upon the exploitation of child laborers and human insecurities, we wish to hold up the people, allowing them to better themselves, and also, the world. I suppose that’s something to be fearful of. So, if there’s any similarity between our logo and theirs, they’ve done us a favor in encouraging us to separate any confusion of our brand over theirs.

We’re not beholden to the past, nor are we fearful of the future, because we’re inventing it and our place in it. In the end, we’ll not be narrowly defined by a logo. We believe we’re far bigger than that, and that you, the people, have not only defined the brand that we are, but also, the brand we are yet to become. As we revision a logo that might be as powerfully symbolic as the crow once was, but more importantly, what you and your dreams mean to us and the world, we will proudly make our position known on the matter by actually ripping off one of youth’s most symbolic interpretations of what dreams might become.

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“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.”

Walt Disney

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GRAVITAS IMPETUS : : WAS IT WORTH IT

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I often imagine my life as something illusory, not because it is in itself unreal, but because the life which surrounds me, appears at times, to not be alive at all. It moves of course and changes and adapts, in just the same way you might think a living thing should, but how much of it’s really living after all, living in its truest sense at least, not just simply here as a reactant caught within some grand experiment? With every passing year, I tend to remove myself more often from my own experience to watch from a distance, those around me, those other agents in this larger thing going on that we call, humanity, to observe their own experiences and interactions with it and how these differ from my own.

In doing so, there are times when I can’t help but wonder how much, or perhaps more fittingly, how little of human life’s lived consciously, because almost inanimate, like fallen leaves caught in the current of some raging river, it seems to react only to the happenstance of its force and its ebbs and its flows, and as each of these continue downstream, racing toward some unknown end, rarely is their direction questioned, ostensibly less so, is the source. And if it is, these lives, they tend to say, well, I’m here because the current took me here, and then they throw their arms in the air and ask almost rhetorically, where else could I be, as though they never had legs to kick or a brain to think.

There’s conceivably no other time in any human life when one is more an outsider to this experience than as a child. I remember this age in my own life fairly vividly. It was interesting watching all those big people doing big things, those fully grown lives moving about in a world far larger than my little mind could comprehend, and I’d think, they’re free from all of these confinements I feel as a child, they have so few rules, they know so much, they have so few limitations, and yet, here we are in a bank or a store or in the car yet again, there’s a line, we’re queuing for something, we’re always queuing. So much was outside of my control then, but I would create, venture, play, discover, if even in my mind, because I knew that moving around in this way that I was being forced to move in, something like cattle being herded for slaughter, there was very little value in it, and if I was going to be forced to do these things that I didn’t wish to do, I would have to create value or venture off from the herd. I think most kids think like that, but it’s soon forgotten.

Now that I’m an adult, I better understand some of these things, there’s a necessity for such things, but I never forget that we have invited these things into our lives. Why did we do so? Well, for more control of course, not for the kind of control that offers personal freedom, but because we as people, individuals, can’t be trusted with our personal freedom, so it’s control of the collective that matters. We think we’re free, but we’re not, not unless we choose to be at least.

The problem is that we wait our entire lives for that moment of freedom. We say things like, well, when I can drive, I’ll have so much freedom, I’ll do whatever I like then, but we soon learn, to drive requires gasoline and gasoline requires money, so what do we do, well, we get a job, but it’s a hard job and it doesn’t pay well, so we say, I’ll go to college then, or university, and I’ll work hard for just a few short years, only four more years and I’ll have that long awaited freedom. So, we do that, we put in those years of hard work, we succeed where we’re told to succeed, and then that brilliant day comes, graduation day, we’re finally there, but we’re not, because soon afterwards in pursuing some course of career, we quickly discover, and this is even if we can find a job, well, it’s a hard job and it doesn’t pay well, something like that which was available to us in our youth. This time however, we not only have to pay for gasoline, that is if we can afford a car, but we also need some place to live, and we need food to eat, and we need to pay down all that school debt we acquired, because as it turns out, those four short years, ended up being quite long and quite expensive. So what do we do, well, we go back to school to become more specialized, because we need more money than we thought, and also, because the kind of work available to us is just as awful as that which was available in our youth.

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However, we are told, those who are specialized, they’re the ones who really make the money, and well, it’s the money that will solve all of these problems and will ultimately provide you with that freedom. So we do just that, we are close though, we can taste it, just a few more years now. We trudge along like this, and then suddenly we are in our mid twenties, but that’s okay, because now we are specialists, life can finally begin. And it does, but by now, whose life are you living?

You got that job, that specialized job, you are making more money and the work is slightly less awful and it starts to feel like its finally coming together, like the freedom is just a few short steps away, though it doesn’t quite feel like freedom and you can’t quite figure out why. Time, things, life, it all moves more quickly now. You have less of it to think about or to pursue that freedom you had so desperately wanted all the way back in your childhood, but when you do, you think, well what’s still missing?

So you revisit the playbook of the collective instead of now utilizing the shred of freedom you have fought so hard to obtain, and you say, well, I need a partner of course, this journey is meant to be shared, and yet, you are busy and your time is valuable, so you search within your sphere of convenience, and you’ll probably find someone quite easily after a few missteps with others, because, well, you are in that sphere of convenience, and your new found partner, they have lived the exact same life you have, and now they too are rushing to find a partner of convenience. Now that you have found each other, you decide you should get married, that’s what people are supposed to do right? So you do this, and you probably have a child or two, and now you discover, inviting all of these things into your life has only caused the loss of what little freedom you still had.

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Suddenly, you are in your forties and you wake up one morning and realize you still don’t have that freedom, and you are angry, and you search for answers, and you say, perhaps I took a misstep in choosing the career that I chose, maybe I will switch careers you say. But upon giving this further thought, you realize, you are far too specialized now to be doing anything else but exactly that of which you are doing, so that likely isn’t an option. Besides, you have so many financial responsibilities by this point, you couldn’t possibly risk cutting off the supply of money. After all, it is the money that provided any ounce of freedom in the first place. So you keep thinking, and you think, well perhaps it is this partner, we always seem to be doing things that they wish to do, and they came into my life right around the time I was beginning to taste freedom, so it must be that, there were so many things I wanted to do over the years, and couldn’t when I finally could, because I was committed to my partner and this family, and so now you say, I think I want a divorce.

And this will likely be easier than you think, because opposite you, your partner who has been living the same life is thinking the exact same thing you are, they want a divorce. And both of you are under the disillusionment that you might actually be able to do the things you want to do with all that new freedom you will now have as a result, because the wealth at this stage of life, provides a false blanket of security that makes it feel as though it is a safe enough thing to do, but this is also what makes it so destructive. You will both fight terribly, almost animalistic in nature, over the most minute and stupid and silly little things, because you are so far outside of your own control at this point that you will fight for even the smallest shreds of it.

A few years later, you find yourself full of bitterness, unable to do those things you so wished to do with all that freedom, because now you have doubled your financial commitments and you must work twice as hard to upkeep all of the things you have invited into your life, because your body moves at half the speed it used to, because you never faced the problem, the actual problem, because, well, you never at any point chose to live your own life. Beaten down by all of it, worn out, you will at last, throw your hands up to the sky and give up because you know it is already over, this is the end, and you have barely lived out half your life.

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Perhaps you will get remarried, once, or twice. Perhaps your kids will come visit you on holidays, a quarter with you, because they must spend another quarter with your former spouse, and also, a quarter each with the divorced parents of your children’s newly acquired spouses, and you will find they don’t have much time for you, well, because you raised them to be like you, they are busy and their time is valuable.

So, then, several lonely years later, nearly half a lifetime later, you will finally, truly meet the end, at least the end in the sense of breaths and heartbeats and flesh and bones, because you were long dead well before this moment even arrived. You will know the last years, were the worst years, that loss of control, of freedom, during the fading years was inevitable, and that you wasted the years where freedom was even remotely possible, and that you slept through the entire experience, even if at times it felt as though you were not sleeping at all because you were conscious weren’t you, you must have been conscious, you were working so hard. And so, as whatever disease you were misfortunate enough to have been inflicted with makes its final assault on whatever part of you that is still barely alive, a few small tears will form in the bottom corner of those eyes, those beautiful human eyes that were meant to take in so much consciousness, and you won’t cry because at last you can see, but because you are a stubborn non-thinking thing and you are simply satisfied that a lifetime of suffering and herding has finally met its end. The end, the end must mean something right? If you made it this far, it couldn’t have all been a waste, could it have? You made the journey. You did everything they said you should. And so, you will ask that all-important question, was it worth it? But you will never know, and it is of no matter to you anymore anyway, because in death, it is too late to be asking questions about life, and that right there, that is the problem.

This kind of life, this cattle life, is not life at all, and you might wish to argue against this, and that would be fine because I am not attempting to sell anyone on the notion that their lives are not valuable, indeed, quite the opposite. Still, we could likely agree the sort of life I am talking about, is visibly unhappy. And I think, well, of course it is, anything, even non-thinking things are unhappy when they are outside of their own control, in the same way a tree first withers then dies if its roots have been obstructed from growing freely. What if we could go back to the beginning however, and relive the journey, would anything be different?

So then, let’s suppose that you could go back to the beginning and start this journey all over again, only this time, you would know from the onset, the journey that you were about to undertake, at least insofar as your present journey had previously taken you. You could not go as far back as the source of course since we must imagine ourselves somewhere within the finite set of possibilities that derive from our own personal experiences. You would however, arguably, be in a much better position to navigate the journey ahead in knowing the direction and possibilities that lie ahead. And in knowing such things, how might you make the journey this time around? Would you have pursued different people or let some others go? Might you have ventured down some tributary to explore or to expose yourself to experiences you had previously not been exposed to? I believe you would.

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Now imagine you could do this as many times as you wished, go back to the beginning that is. Each time you did, you would be able to keep every experience from the previous journey. Presumably, you would get better and better each time, pre-empting the bends in the river, the rough bits, and the like, however, each time, you would go just little bit further, and then just a little bit further more, because within the finite amount of possibilities the river could present, you would have experienced everything the river could offer up until a certain point, so you push on each time.

Let’s imagine then, that you did this an infinite amount of times, until your legs could no longer keep your head above water, and you had truly come to the end, now holding onto those few final breaths of this world. Presumably, tired and having experienced every imaginable possibility your life could have presented, you would concede to the force and let yourself go. However, even in this, as a human, you will inevitably ask yourself right before you do, was it worth it? Having known everything there was to be known and having experienced everything there was to experience, I am inclined to think and you might disagree with me, that your answer will still be no, it wasn’t worth it after all, because no matter what you did, if you ended up where the river carried you in the end, you never really did find that freedom you sought after all, did you?

The fact is if our lives are truly like leaves, and they are, when we hit the surface of the water, we had already begun to die. So, in knowing that and in knowing we get one shot at this, why would we simply go where the river takes us? Kick, swim, struggle, do anything you can to make it to some bit of shoreline to call your own, and when you get there, free of the flow of the river, don’t stop there, dig, dig with your hands if you must, to carve out the land, to divert the flow into a calm pool, a pool that is your own.

The dreamer already knows this, only they are often too afraid to open themselves to the possibility that they are the ones who are conscious and not everyone else. Will you wait until the end to ask yourself was it worth it, or will you take that risk now?

No Years Lost,

A Young Giant

THE DIVIDED LINE : : NONLINEAR BEHAVIOUR

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Imagine the world as if it were a raft adrift at sea. Billions of people upon one raft, each with one oar, each with one contribution to the direction of all of humanity. As it is tossed about by the elements, it remains stationary, because every man, woman and child rows for himself. With every stroke, they only add to an already turbulent sea. Each person never really sees their true reflection here as the wild splashes of the person next to them obscures their vision and because of this, they never really know where the ripples of their actions have travelled, if they have travelled at all.

Over time, the currents bring debris from far off places alongside this raft. Every piece within reach is brought aboard because they do not know what they are looking for, only that they are looking for something they have not yet found. Some of this debris proves valuable, though most is junk that only crowds and weighs down the raft.

Now, imagine a second raft. This raft has very few people aboard, those few who were at one time brave enough to test their strength and fortitude in the turbulent seas to make the crossing. Once there, in calmer waters, they were able to see a true reflection of themselves for the first time. On this raft, they discovered if they rowed together, in the same direction, that they were able to control their direction, their destiny. As such, this raft is able to travel to far off places and even though each passenger is heading in the same direction, they never lose sight of who they are and are able to watch the course of their actions because their wake is strong and congruent.

And yet, as a result of their travels, they only ever pass the other raft from time to time. However, it is those aboard this raft that have loosened valuable debris from other places, as well as, placed things in the water that might aid the other. Those aboard this raft have always wished to help the raft they left behind, but are fearful that if they tie up with it, too many will board too quickly and sink their own, thereby, ruining everything they had risked so much to achieve. Occasionally, as this raft passes the other, few will again risk the waters to swim back and convince others to make the return crossing with them.

Then, imagine this circularity has occurred since the beginning of time until the most recent passing, where the latter raft had finally discovered the tools to create the machinery that would allow them to set a long line to tie off with the other. In doing so, they would be able to tow it, so that it was no longer going nowhere. More so, while the two would still be kept at a great distance, it would create a linkage at all times, which would offer continuous passage. Of course, the crossing would still require the brave, the strong, and the fortitude, those still willing to risk the waters, only now, they would have clear direction. Then, when they were within sight of the lead raft, those aboard could jump back in the waters and offer the final encouragement, in some cases, even carry them the final distance.

Finally, imagine this had already been done.

Two years ago, I began building the basic machinery and braved the waters one last time to tether the line between these two rafts. This is an invitation to those who have been looking for something their entire lives, who knew endless possibility existed somewhere just beyond the horizon, but had been too afraid to leave the safety of the raft. No Years Lost is a promise to those of you brave enough to swim the waters between where you are and where you ought to be, that we will guide you there, that you will discover your true self there and along your journey, that you will become a part of something greater, that you will guide the world in a better direction, and perhaps, be one of the few who might change it – you might just move mountains.

You have been a dreamer your entire life. Our dreams are perhaps the one thing every person on any raft has in common. Share those with your fellow man. Believe in our dream now, that we might change the world by helping you achieve yours, as we have believed in yours since before your journey ever began. We wait on you, hand outstretched, all you have to do is jump in and follow the divided line.

No Years Lost,

A Young Giant

FIVE LESSONS – THINGS YOU ACQUIRE WHILE FULFILLING YOUR DREAMS

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Throughout the years, I have always attempted to make the most of every moment, or at least as much as my current situation would allow (dreams still exist in the realm of reality after all.) Nevertheless, it wasn’t until I was twenty-four that I really set out upon my first real journey towards fulfilling my dreams. Since then, I have written a screenplay for a feature film and rewritten several others, created a television show, appeared on television several times, been involved in a well-known musician’s world tour, been involved in another’s two North-American tours, helped build a successful clothing label, as well as, written and created for several others, created four businesses, worked in philanthropy, travelled the world, lived in other cities, and even absurdly, been a guest at a prince’s birthday party.

Why mention any of this? Well, as you will see when you arrive at the second lesson, I am not gloating. Rather, I am wishing to simply express that these were my dreams at the time they were pursued and I was able to achieve them. Everyone dreams differently, which is such a beautiful thing, and in many ways, what I am attempting to illuminate here. The things I learned by walking these many, but similar paths, would eventually lead me to discover my own truth. So, in many ways, they were only precursors to revealing my true dream. That being said, had I never begun the pursuit of each of those in the first place, I would likely never have arrived at that dream, which is of course, No Years Lost. In essence, to create something that would allow others to more easily pursue their own dreams because what I had discovered while pursuing those earlier dreams was that what I really loved most was helping others achieve their dreams through creativity.

As for me, I wouldn’t change a thing, because had one thing been different, I would never have arrived at that truth. I made many mistakes over those years and many times over, which if I had been able to avoid, would have made my own journey much less difficult. These lessons are implicitly built into the functionality of No Years Lost and in many ways became its foundation. Nonetheless, I believe it is important to think consciously about such things, and so here are those lessons.

1. Live Your Truth

This is perhaps the most difficult thing to do. At present, and throughout most of your journey, until you near the very end, you will have few believers, if any. This is especially true at the beginning of your journey, where you will likely discover you are the only one who can envision what you are trying to achieve. More so, you will encounter many naysayers, those who wish to see you fail or are perhaps too narrow-minded to share your vision.

Do not get discouraged. Do not deviate. Believe in the dream and envision yourself already there. I am not talking about some new-age voodoo shit, which by its very existence is necessitated by the unreal. I am talking about confidence. There is nothing more attractive. The more confidant you are, not only in yourself, but also, your dream, you will experience an almost gravitational pull of likeminded individuals, supporters, and believers. Ergo, you must believe in yourself first.

This leads to one final point; make sure you are doing it for yourself. If you are pursuant of something, simply to prove yourself or something to others, you will be exposed immediately. More so, you will be incapable of achieving it anyway for lack of belief. If you find yourself here, go back to the beginning.

2. Show Humility

The lesson is old, and yet, easily forgettable. If you will remember previously, I said, “confident,” not, “cocky.” You might have forgotten this already. In Greek mythology we are told the story of Icarus, who with wax wings, flew too closely to the sun, inevitably, they melted, and he was swiftly returned to the unforgiving ground beneath.

The journey to fulfillment is long. Subsequently, it is easy to get carried away with those first gains. Ego has this nasty tendency of getting in the way of clarity, oftentimes clouding ones motivations when making important decisions, and to be certain, every decision along the path to fulfillment is an important one. A misstep here can take you years off course and away from your destination.

Moreover, cockiness to most people is generally off-putting. When you arrive at the next lesson, you will find it will have been especially important to have shown humility along the way, because you never know whom you might encounter that you might need to call upon at some point.

3. Ask For Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The saying is old but as true as the first time it was uttered, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.” Most people, or at least most people that are worth calling upon for help, will understand that whatever dream you are undertaking, regardless of scope, is personally very difficult.

It is easy to assume, nobody will understand, or that since it is your dream, you are the only person that could possibly have the answers. This would be false. Sometimes we are pulled so deeply into the pursuit of the dream that we get tunnel vision and are unable to see things that others might.

Additionally, going back to ego, if we are struggling along the way, we are often afraid of being exposed as a failure. This is untrue. You will find there are many willing people out there, so long as you follow lesson two, that will make themselves available for help without passing any judgment. If they belong to the sort that do, you shouldn’t be asking for their help anyway. You should be able to separate between the two. You might even find, through collaboration and community, that you gain a new believer.

Lastly, you needn’t even ask for help that is specific to your dream. The journey can be very taxing in ways that are mentally, physically, and financially draining to the rest of your life, obtaining help in alleviating any of these pressures, will make your journey much less difficult, and therefore, much more rewarding.

4. Be Dependable

Pursuing your dreams takes a considerable amount of time and energy. It is easy to find yourself overburdened as it were. In such cases, it is best not to take on more commitments. Those close to you will have more leeway than those who are not, either way, a simple, “no,” is always more respectable than an unmet, “yes.” You would be surprised how much respect, “no,” carries.

Sometimes, the belief is that you might be missing out on an opportunity of sorts. Use your best judgment as this may be true. Still, if you have the slightest doubt that you will be unable to fulfill the additional commitment, whether you think it will be valuable to you or not, do not do it, it will be a net loss, for that particular opportunity, those involved, and importantly, your dream.

The caveat to this of course is that you still need to enjoy the moments along the way, take the time to do so. Whatever you find fulfilling, even if it is outside of your dream, is of great value. You might even find that such a departure provides new insights or ignites new fires.

5. Find A Mentor

This is perhaps the most important lesson. As I mentioned earlier, everyone dreams differently, which is not to be taken as, everyone’s dream is different. You might think you are alone in this. That no one ever could possibly see or understand your vision. That it is so unique. That you are so unique, that it is impossible anything like it ever existed before. Don’t be stupid. Everything comes from something. There has at one point in time existed at least some variation of the world you are wishing to create.

A strong mentor will not only provide many narrower lessons that I could not outline here because they are more specific to your dream, but also, provide inspiration, insight, and challenge you to go even further than you had previously thought possible or considered. You will wish to outgun them as it were, and they will not only be okay with this, but will encourage it.

As you will see, the relationship tends to become equally rewarding for the mentor. They will benefit from you in as many ways and for someone who has walked a similar path before you, having arrived at that beautiful end; they will have great contentment in helping guide you there. You will also learn from them that once they reached that end, they found they could not stop, they wished to go further, and ultimately, wished to have companionship.

Beware however, the imitator. You might encounter those along the way that appear as mentors, but have little interest in mentorship. If you sense an ulterior motive, then run like hell. These people are only there to take and exploit. You will know if you have found an authentic mentor or not, when all they wish to do, is focus on your dream or shared interests.

Lastly, your mentor needn’t be alive, or necessarily within reach of a personal relationship. Learn about these people, understand them, unearth their journey, their beliefs, their challenges, and then, one-up them. They would have wanted it that way.

I would have loved to get pissy on some Moët and Alizé with Biggie and talked about his process and inspiration behind Sky’s the Limit, but some things, really are just outside of the realm of reality. Either way, he left this behind for all of us, and isn’t that the dream?

Sky is the limit and you know that you keep on,

just keep on pressin on.

Sky is the limit and you know that you can have

what you want, be what you want. 

Notorious BIG

Good luck on your journey and when you meet that beautiful end, let us know what it looks like from there.

No Years Lost,

A Young Giant

IMMORTALITY : : HOW TO LIVE

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As humanity pushes deeper into the technological bulge, it continues to obscure our reality of the world around us. Never before has figuring out “How to live?” or more importantly, “How to live meaningfully?” been so important.

Our world is becoming increasingly complicated despite humanity’s greatest efforts to create tools that would make it less so, yet, never before has it been so connected as a result of this seemingly singular goal. No Years Lost was created in the face of this paradox, to exploit this new world that now made its very existence achievable, not to make life less complicated, but to make life more meaningful.

It was our belief from the onset, that by building a community of young dreamers, or specifically, those who were following their true purpose in life, and by allowing them to do so through the aforementioned tools that they were already familiar with, but that were in fact making their lives more complicated, that we might uncover the answer to that all important question, “How do we live a meaningful life?”

The answer of course differs for everyone, though most live the entirety of their lives fearful of unreal things, things that never existed, like perception and failure, always asking the wrong questions, how will I be perceived, what if I fail, what will tomorrow bring, so forth and so on. These questions of course only ever getting in the way of the one question that truly matters.

Eternity is perhaps the problem in and of itself, and is in so many ways what most of us seek, though will never find. By observing, connecting and supporting the lives of the dreamers who are positively changing the world by living life and not questioning it, we knew that we would send less dreams to the grave, and ultimately, make the world a better place. At the minimum, we would make the lives of those individuals a better place.

As humans, we must live everyday as though it might be our last, because in doing so, we will never have a last, everyday will have been our first. Our hope is that your existence might continue on sometime after you expire, if only, in the memory of others, in a fleeting moment, in a triggered heartbeat, in the simplicity of a whisper, and that is our dream, our only dream, that by helping you live out and realize your own, that you might leave a beautiful and lasting impression in the wax of eternity.

The following is an excerpt from Glen O’Brien’s How to be a Man. He is perhaps one of the most interesting men still alive today, who has indeed witnessed much of this rampant change, in addition to having lived out many dreams throughout the course of his life. Sometimes looking to the lessons learned by the dreamers before us is the best approach to understanding how to live today. Here is what he has to say on the subjects of life and eternity:

According to a poll by ABC News, eighty-nine percent of Americans believe in Heaven think and that they are probably going to end up there. Most believe that Paradise will house their spirit only, although the resurrection of the body is old Christian doctrine and part of the Roman Catholic creed. Among Americans it is mostly very religious Protestants, the demographic that also tends to see Heaven as Christians only, who believe that their meat puppets will rejoin them in the future when Jesus makes his encore.

A smaller percentage of the populace believes in the existence of Hell, only fifty-nine percent according to a 2008 Pew Forum survey (down from seventy-one percent in a 2001 Gallup poll). The Catholic Church also preaches the existence of Purgatory, where those not sufficiently pure for Heaven will suffer temporal punishment until their sins are cleansed. For centuries this tenet was a tremendous source of revenue for the Church in the form of indulgence marketing. The Roman Catholic Church also posited the existence of a fourth state of afterlife known as Limbo, where the unbaptized reside until the Last Judgment. Actually there have been two Limbos. The Limbo of the Fathers was where Old Testament patriarchs resided until Christ “descended into Hell” and opened the gates of Heaven to them. Then there was the Limbo of Infants (which has been considerably de-emphasized in recent years), where the souls of dead, unbaptized infants are held; their ultimate fate remains unspecified.

The current pope, Benedict XVI, authorized the publication The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized. Authored by the Pope’s think tank, the International Theological Commission, it holds out some hope that the unbaptized will eventually enjoy the beatific vision. Church authorities have denied, however, that the current Pope has “closed Limbo.” Still, the specifics of even Heaven and Hell have become very sketchy.

Culturally we still seem to be living with a sort of Dante’s Inferno view of Hell, while Heaven remains a mix of Renaissance paintings of angelic aerial maneuvres around God’s throne and New Yorker cartoons with clouds, harps, and halos. With 3-D production taking over Hollywood, a new model of the afterlife is overdue. Heaven will probably look a lot like the saccharine 1998 Robin Williams vehicle What Dreams May Come, and Hell like the wretched John Cusack vehicle 2012.

But more and more of us are abandoning traditional Christian scenarios and going Far Eastern on the issue, taking up with enthusiasm the reincarnation beliefs of Buddhists and Hindus. I think its hard for hedonists to imagine bliss without a body. For some reason, Americans and Europeans who become interested in their cycles of incarnation generally find that they were Egyptian royals. But try as we might, we tend to wind up facing the facts that we just don’t remember past lives, do they really matter anyway?

Personally I’m hoping for reincarnation in a good-looking body, but I’m not holding my breath. There isn’t much one can do to prepare for a possible afterlife, aside from entering the void with an open mind and a cheerful disposition. Attachment to a world in which circumstances will not allow us to remain can only spoil our enjoyment of experiences to come, if any.

The best we can do is to make ourselves immortal the American way-incoporate. Our flesh may shrivel and die, but our corporate beings can last…well, forever-ish. We can’t all be Fords, or Edisons, or Jack Daniels, but hopefully we can leave something behind-a stack of books, a company, maybe a dynasty. And hopefully what we have left behind will continue to enrich the world and enrich our family, friends, and well-wishers. Who knows? Maybe we will ourselves move on to some reward or punishment and find amusing companionship among the blessed we encounter, or the damned, as the case may be. But if we are extinguished, at least, we have left behind something of a fan club of family, friends, and well-wishers and move on.

Should you find yourself floating above your prone body, hovering somewhere around the ceiling of your boudoir or hospital bed, you may be on the way out of this present sphere. This is no time to panic. It happens to everyone. We have all heard stories of “going toward the light,” and undoubtedly in such circumstances one has little to lose by following the conventional wisdom. However, perusal of the Egyptian and Tibetan books of the dead, as well as the traditions of Greek mystery cults, provides certain clues that might help. If the light happens to be accompanied by noxious smoke, its best not to go in that direction. You might wind up right back where you started. Or in Detroit.

Should you find yourself before the Halls of Judgment, the best policy is probably to follow the advice of Orpheus as channeled by Robert Graves: Avoid drinking from the black spring on the left, which is Forgetfulness; go to the clear, goldfish-stocked fountain on the right guarded by the big snake-that’s Memory-and tell them that you’re very thirsty and Persephone sent you.

And if that doesn’t work, tell them Groucho sent you.

Glenn O’Brien How to be a Man

Presumably, if you are here reading this, you have not yet had to face the Halls of Judgment, in the afterlife at least. So, in the meantime, we would suggest staying thirsty and taking a piss in fountain of Memory, let the others drink.

Oh, and tell them No Years Lost sent you.

No Years Lost,

A Young Giant