The story and inspiration behind writing Autobiography of a Naked Yogi.
When I look at this photo, the story of that boy is far away from me. As the years have passed, I just can not believe my life sometimes. That little boy in those boots seems so young and innocent. His little life was so small yet his imagination was so large. I am amazed at the life I have lived since then. Did these things really happen to me?
As I worked on my autobiography, I asked my sister to send me photos from my baby book and when I received this one, I immediately knew that this photo had to be the cover of my book. This photo says so much about who I was. In a funny sort of way it also represents for me that my feeling that, in order to be successful in life, you need to step out of the box of who you think you are.
I remember as a child feeling how ordinary my life was and sensing that there was nothing spectacular about me. I was a regular kid, growing up in a regular home, dreaming of a regular life. I’m not sure when I realized this wasn’t the case– that my existence was not going to be “normal.” I remember occasionally stepping out of the box, and then being told to go back into the box – dressing up as a girl or wearing makeup, asking questions about “boyz”- all at a very young age.
I believe in my heart and with every fiber of my being that each of us is extraordinary–here on earth to fulfill a unique purpose. We all experience struggles, pain and sorrow–and hopefully joy–equally. What we do with it all, both the good and the bad, becomes our story.
“Autobiography Of A Naked Yogi” is my unique story.
Interestingly, this story is my own. I made it what it was. Even though many of my peers told me to go back into the box they envisioned for me, my mother always seem to support my imagination and, later in life, my stepfather always supported me–reinforcing continuously that I was the master of my destiny.
I believe that encouraging a child’s “fantasy” world is one of the most important, loving things a parent can do for their child.
For years my students have asked me about my ‘story’. I think they were curious to know more about me. In those years I kept many aspects of myself guarded. Not because I was ashamed of who I was. Not because I was acting secretly. Because I wanted to keep their focus on themselves. I wanted to keep their focus on the practice of Yoga.
Around 2005, my publicist encouraged me to start blogging. He actually joked that blogs sometimes turn into books. I laughed it off, but eventually I heard him and started to explore my life– little bits at a time.
I think it was about 2008 that I started to realize that I wanted to write my life’s story. There was so much that had happened to me. It was around that period that I knew my life was about to take a sharp turn and if I did not get some of what had happened to me chronicled, I feared I would lose it for ever.
As I started work on this book, I realized that to understand the end, one has to look to the beginning and see the story to understand it. Many of us look at someone really famous like Gandhi or Mandela with awe and wonder. But when we step back and look at the whole picture, we realize that each of them had a childhood that was ordinary too.
People have said to me over the years–Aaron, you are so lucky. What a great life you have. Yeah I have lived a very interesting life and have had many blessings. But at times it definitely did not feel that way. I struggled a lot. I suffered a lot. I have had to overcome wall that have blocked me just as everyone else has to do.
Just writing this story has been an enormous challenge–a wall in its own right to overcome. From those first moments when I sensed that my life’s story needs telling–if only for myself–it is finally finished almost 10 years later. There is the saying, ‘It’s about the journey not the destination.’ In writing “Autobiography of a Naked Yogi”, that saying could not be closer to the truth. Writing this book has been a deep journey into myself, my past, and an opportunity to try to fully and honestly understand myself: who I am, where I came, from, and why I am at the place I am now.
I hope you find inspiration in my story– it might resonate with some gently or challenge others more deeply to open all that is possible in your life. Many have suggested that the successes in my life are due to good luck–of being at the right place at the right time. But luck had little to do with it. The reality is that doors opened, I made a choice, and I walked through them.
Various possibilities are there for all of us, but often we are forgetful. We forget what we are capable of: how to dream and how to have the courage to take the next step in our lives. We just forget our childhood.
In reading this, I hope you remember all that is possible for you.