Dear Joe (Joey? Joseph? Giuseppe? You’re right – let’s just stick with Joe),
You don’t know me and you probably never will. Odds are slim that you’ll ever read this, but that doesn’t matter.
I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. Let me explain:
I once hated you Joe Rogan. The sound of your voice. Your shiny, bald head. The fact I couldn’t watch a UFC highlight without hearing your screams of astonishment and excitement. I hated all of it. I brushed off the people who talked about your pod-cast or stand up comedy. I assumed they were the same borderline retarded individuals that spent their week nights watching Fear Factor (which I hated you for as well). I hated idea of the very stench of you, which assumed would be like stale cigarettes and cat faeces.
This was the kind of arbitrary, empty hate people have towards the Yankees or Lebron James. It transcended reason, and was something in the very core of my being. This was something deep seeded and toxic. You weren’t the only one who I felt this way about, either.
At the time, it didn’t even dawn on me how absolutely ridiculous it was to have such judgemental and negative thoughts towards another person, especially someone I was in a one-way relationship with. I was so lost in my life that I would blindly project my negativity onto someone I didn’t even know.
A few years ago I left my home town and began a journey of self discovery. Like many who begin a journey to find themselves, I’ve come across various Eastern philosophies regarding the self.
It led me to a Buddhist practice of compassion. In this practice, one thinks of someone they love, then move onto someone they are neutral about, and then finally someone they hate the most. They love, forgive, and find compassion for each one of those people. The practice is designed to get harder with each progression in order to put us outside of our comfort zone. It is a powerful process that allows us to let go of useless and destructive negative energy.
I had slowly become a different person over my travels, and was truly learning to let go of harmful negativity that I had always accepted in my life. When I discovered this practice of compassion, I immediately committed to doing it every morning. Eventually the practice resulted in a painful revelation.
I had slowly worked through the people in my life who I had been holding a grudge against, or had a bad history with. My options were running out. This particular time I had to think of someone I hated, it was you, Joe Rogan.
I couldn’t understand it. It actually bothered me. Why did I hate you so much?
Finally, and somewhat reluctantly, I found the answer. Facing that answer brought a certain peace, and taught me something very important about all of us.
I realized that there was nothing at all that I hated about you.
Your bald head bothered me because I had spent countless hours in my vanity worried I would go bald before I turned fifty. It didn’t define you like I thought it might define me.
The sound of your voice was not unlike my own, which I had always hated for its raspy sound. I hated mine because it was unique. Your voice captured people’s attention, and I was too ashamed to have mine heard.
Being a sweaty athlete as a child and a young adult, I always had a fear of being the smelly kid. I assumed I didn’t smell good, and you were again a reflection of this.
I started to realise you and everyone else I felt negatively towards had always served as a magnifying glass for my own insecurities about myself. When I thought about a person that I hated, whether it was you or my arch enemy from high school who popped into my head, I was actually thinking about myself.
You were chasing the things that knocked your head back. You were exploring all the wonders that caught your eye. You were completely indulging in the authentic you, and I resented that. I hated you because I knew, deep down, that for the past twenty something years I wasn’t doing me. You weren’t anyone but yourself, and I was everyone except myself.
I realised that hate is a reflection. The things we think we loath the most serve as our greatest mirrors. The hateful things we say tell us more about ourselves than they do about the person we say them about. Nelson Mandela once wrote that we must learn to hate; I would add that we must first learn to hate ourselves.
I was afraid to turn my lens of observation inwards, so I projected my hatred onto you. This realisation has been the single greatest catalyst for the vigorous campaign of self-love and acceptance that I’m on today.
So I also wanted to thank you, Joe Rogan. For in my desire to find love and compassion for you, and everyone else I felt negatively towards, I found it instead for myself.
Love and respect,