Posts tagged Reflection
Faith, Hope and Free Dessert

by: Amanda Kay Holstien, Sr.

Today is my first day on the road. I'm heading how to Texas and Louisiana to do 2 weeks of shows (come check them out & say hi!). 

I'm sitting in a cabin with my dog in Virginia, smoking a spliff (naturally). 

Sometimes it feels like my life is a dream - everything that has come together to bring me to this place here, now: the death of my father, my divorce, moving to New York on my own. Sometimes it feels like my life has already been written. Sometimes it feels like I'm the one who writes it. 

I'm turning 30 this month, which is significant in some symbolic way. Age is ultimately an arbitrary number used for measuring and categorization, but if that age ends in a zero, it somehow feels significant. I'm not bothered about turning 30. In some way, I've always felt like an old soul - studying the Bible instead of going to parties in high school. 

I don't believe in God in the same way I used to believe in God. I now believe that God or the Universe or Whatever is much bigger than our limited consciousness allows us to imagine. If there does exist some Divine Good far larger than the Universe itself, then surely that Infinite Being is much more complex than the dogma & rules we ascribe to It.

What I do believe is the Universe is inherently good. I can't explain in some analytic, logical way why or how evil exists if the Universe is inherently good, but I do know that with every struggle comes an opportunity for growth. With every road block and time things don't go perfectly, there also exists a chance to gain wisdom, insight and gain a deeper insight into the beautiful complexity that it is to exist.

It has taken an immense amount of faith to bring me to this cabin with my blind dog, smoking a spliff, but I have come to trust that the Universe is on my side the more I seek goodness, truth and authenticity. I'm aware what I'm saying might come off as hoakey or like Oprah's episode about The Secret, but stay with me as I explain.

Think about it this way: reality exists outside of our interpretation of it. For example: Let's say I am with a friend at lunch. At the end of our meal, the waiter brings us a free dessert. My friend loves dessert, and is thrilled at the blessing of chocolate cake without a fee. On the other hand, I am upset by the free cake because I am on a diet and the cake is a temptation for me, and if I eat it, I will gain weight and thus be unlovable (or something like that). The reality that exists outside of our interpretations is: the free cake given to us. In this situation, my friend and I have two totally different ways of interpreting the same reality: my friend is positive and grateful, while I am annoyed and riddled with anxiety.

Reality exists outside of our interpretation of it. There are multiple ways for us to interpret any given scenario of our lives: positively, negatively or with indifference. Ultimately, however, we have a choice on our interpretation. 

I recently decided to get rid of most my shit, buy a car to go on the road, tell jokes, sell art & smoke spliffs. After breaking up with my boyfriend, I was faced with many ways to interpret my life: who am I and what do I want for my life? I could choose to live in fear and play it safe, or I could choose to take a leap of faith and believe that the Universe is on my side.

What do I have to lose?

Since deciding to make the move & go on the road, so much goodness has come into my life. I've been booking a shit ton of road shows. Friends have offered me rooms and couches to sleep on. I've sold art. I've made money doing standup. 

It reminds me of the teaching of Jesus from the book of Matthew: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself."

Putting aside gender being ascribed to an Infinite Being, I can still find a valuable interpretation of this teaching: seek goodness first and goodness will follow. Inevitably, things will go wrong, but inevitable things will also go right. I can interpret the world with negativity and anxiety while living in fear and doubt, or I can have faith and seek goodness, truth, honesty and authenticity.

There are multiple ways for me to interpret this moment in a cabin smoking a spliff with my blind dog, and there are multiple ways for me to see my future. I am not destined for a life that is out of my control. I will not sit passively by and just let life happen to me. Rather, I choose to have faith and trust that God or the Universe or Nature is inherently on my side. After all, I know that I have made it this far in my life through my 20s: through a divorce, the death of my father, moving to New York. I've made it this far and have come out stronger and wiser at the other end. Struggle is inevitable, but with every struggle is a blessing, and I will choose to be grateful for the free cake. 

My Flashlight
amanda holstien philosophy

I realized my flashlight was actually blinding me from seeing what was beyond its stretch of beam. My flashlight only allowed me to see that which was in its light and blinded me from that which was outside it. My flashlight made the dark, darker.

As much as we believe in certain truths about the world, often times, these truths are not the full story. Our truths are informed by our experiences, but these truths are only one way of interpreting the world. We get within a limited box of beliefs about the world and who we are, and we miss out on the opportunity to see the world more broadly, calmly, with a clearer awareness. If we let go of out limiting assumptions, we are opening our eyes to that which lies outside the beams of the flashlight.

Though flashlights serve a purpose, when I turned off my flashlight, I was able to see the stars.

Fear and the Future
Amanda Holstien Philosophy

By: Amanda Holstien

The future is uncertain. We can try and predict what's ahead, but change inevitably comes.

I’m sitting outside a cabin, looking at the stars, thinking about what has brought me here, and what is ahead. My boyfriend and I just broke up, and while on tour in Texas, I decided I would buy a car and go on the road. For a long time, I’ve known I wanted to buy a car and go on the road to sell my art and do comedy. I wasn’t sure how seriously to take those thoughts until it hit me a few days ago, while floating along the river in New Braunfels: what if I actually buy a car and actually go on the road? What if I actually do the things I dream about?

So many times I said to my therapist, “I just want to buy a car and go on the road,” but never really took those dreams that seriously. There are so many unknowns when you make a big decision like letting go of a relationship, buying a car, and selling most of your shit to live the life you’re passionate about. I could name so many reasons to doubt, “What if this?” “What about that?” but those doubts are not necessary truths about the world. Doubts are rooted in fear of the unknown. Doubts are rooted in fear. While fear is good for protecting us from harm, fear is also limiting; fear can also keep us from trying new things and ultimately, growth. 

Often times, we take our doubts so seriously, but why should our doubts carry more weight than our hopes? “What if something goes wrong?” Well, what if something goes right? Inevitably, things will go right, and things will go wrong along the way, but one of the primary philosophies behind the way I live my life is, “What would I look back on my life and wish I had done?” I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to grow. I want to meet my potential. I want, when faced with fear, doubts, uncertainty, I have the courage to push beyond them and live life, not based on fear, but on my own terms. I accept that the future is uncertain and change is inevitable, and I persist regardless.