These interviews are meant to bring inspiration from ordinary people who live their life simply, but fully. My main message through these stories is – you do not need a million dollars to live your dream! All you need is to have a dream and simplify in order to redefine your life. Figure out how and what works for you. Let these stories from my amazing friends around the world inspire you and take your steps to live your dream!
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This interview is about how:
‘We are all onions and our life is about peeling it – it is our choice if we do it ourselves or let other forces to do it.’
Story conducted and recorded by Crystal Ra Laksmi. Edited by Crystal Ra Laksmi and Sonny Davis.
All the pictures are from Sonny Davis’s private collection if not stated otherwise.
You are a Canadian, who has travelled the world, lived your dream in so many ways and aspects despite your degenerative neuromuscular disorder CMT disease. If you look back into your roots, what or who do you think was most influential to get you to where you are in life right now and who you are today?
Where do I begin? I have had so many different types of teachers and role models in sport, self development and music. Each of the heroes I’ve looked up to have had different body types – some able bodied, some in a wheelchairs, both males and females. I have been blown away that they have all found personal freedom within themselves and defined themselves in their bodies amidst their so-called “limitations”, through the limitation and as the limitation itself .
Each of my heroes have carried this as a similar message – To ‘Know thy self’; which is an ancient teaching that has been passed on for thousands of years, is of a supreme importance during this time of human expansion and evolution. To become intimate with all that we are, the light and the dark, in order to experience wholeness as our true being and in turn, offer our journey of discovery to the world as art.
Someone who was a shining example of that for me has always been Terry Fox, a Canadian icon, who passed away during his grande opus carrying a message of hope for cancer patients and all of humanity. As an amputee; running on one leg on the # 1 highway across Canada; he fell many times but found fortitude within himself to get back up and keep going.
He would mark his progress moment to moment, aiming for the next lamp post as his goal. Eventually he would reach the halfway mark at Thunder Bay Ontario, where he would fall for the last time and not get back up. The cancer had spread to his lungs. His courage and bravery inspired me at a young age and my mother would let those stories sink in and take root as to foster the belief that I could climb or sing or do whatever I set my mind to.
Another childhood hero for me was Michael Jordan, captain of the Chicago Bulls. I admired him as an athlete, and as a man with great skill and superpower; a man who could fly. I got into playing basketball and other sports because of him when I was young. I also had great skill and sportsmanship as I did my best to follow his lead. I trained and tried out for the school team many times but due to my condition I never made the cut. It was really hard to be excluded like that, every year a disappointment.
However, that just made me stronger and more stubborn to truly improve and go after those things I desired no matter what.
Someone else that would have a deep impact on my life was another Canadian icon: The Man in Motion – Rick Hansen. Rick took his disability to a new level. After he broke his back, he became so inspired to raise money and spread the message of disability awareness and inclusivity by pushing his wheelchair the equivalent of one lap around the world. It took him just over two years to complete that monumental journey and today sits as one of my most admired human beings.
Clear, noble, present with everyone. Not someone I look up too, but see eye to eye with. Later I would be given the opportunity to travel with Rick and his team as they remade and celebrated 25 years to the day of the Canadian leg of his original journey with a medal relay coast to coast kicking it off from where he started – the easternmost point of Canada: Cape Spear Newfoundland.
After two heart surgeries in 1995, I began training towards becoming a professional athlete in wheelchair racing and was on the road to the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. Again however, due to my condition, I was reclassified amongst Team Canada where I had the professional athlete card I needed for Beijing revoked. I was devastated, as history repeated itself. I was so close to living my dream and becoming a paralympian. I was cut from the team…again.
After much soul-searching I figured this was not my life path. Afterall, I really wasn’t after medals. It took me time to be at peace with that and truly begin to investigate who I was beyond the wheelchair and the label of being “disabled.” What came from that whole situation was what started to bloom within me and was nothing short of some real deep truths of what and who I was and what I was not. All the labels which I had placed on myself or others or what society had put on me, all began to fall away. An awakening.
Life is like an onion and all about peeling back the layers. We have the freedom to choose to do the work or it will be done for us; organically or by force. The choice to grow and expand as humans is ours for the taking in this one life. What an adventure!
It is really important to look into what causes us to feel open or closed. Allowing or resistance to something is a great teacher in disguise. Thoughts in our mind begin to swing like a pendulum, which swing from one side to the other. It is the law of rhythm, which states: to the degree a pendulum will swing to one end; it will always swing to the other.
Today I have learned to give thanks and mitigate the extreme highs and lows, the elation and depression that can be experienced in life and relax more into this moment. In this discovery I have also learned how to go from each moment fully alert and awake in the now, not getting overwhelmed or seduced by past events or future dwellings. In this, I believe we can practice dying to each moment – something we should all learn to consider at some point along our journeys.
As a musician I have also had many music teachers who have inadvertently taught me about life. I learned that with music I can be not just the musician but also the hollow reed by acting as a conduit, allowing the power of the creator to channel sound and music to reveal itself and know itself through me, musicians and artists alike.
When I create art or music I ask myself if what I am creating is considered “acidic” or “alkaline” in nature.
Through the wisdom of creation; does the music sound harsh to the listener or is it more like medicine to the ears, to the soul?
Every teacher I have had, has been a representative of the healing journey we are all on towards finding, knowing and loving thy self. If we allow ourselves to heal, then we have a responsibility to share that with others and perhaps be the teacher for them along route. Others will discover that there is light inside of them also. We are but beautiful mirrors to each other. I have encountered many of these “angels” in my life who carry a certain type of soul-medicine. I offer deep gratitude for every one of them…including you Crystal Ra.
I also had a spiritual guru – Sri Chinmoy. I always loved how he drew from spirit – the most gentle and beautiful music and art and way of being. He too was also an athlete with source-creator or God as his coach.
His example and light were the qualities I have carried with and inside of me and his life is what sparked my light and inspires me to share it with the world.
I must not forget my mother. I owe my whole life to her. I can get along with her, live with her – she is just an amazing person – and hopefully we can all say that about our mothers. It may sound like a cliche – but she truly is the wind beneath my wings or, the air in my tires.
What is the biggest dream in your life right now?
I found much inspiration through Rick Hansen and his epic journey around the world with his wheelchair. After being cut from Team Canada, I at last, set off to fulfil a childhood mission – on my 30th birthday I wanted to begin pushing my wheelchair/handcycle from the west coast of Canada to the east coast. The trip began but I had to stop along route for several reasons including radio and television interviews, light speed fundraising and the unfortunate and sudden death of my father.
Running way behind schedule; I called journey’s end in Thunder Bay Ontario right at the Terry Fox memorial statue. That 3 month and 9 day push used a lot of chi energy; on top of experiencing a neuro-degenerative disorder. These days I find it difficult to walk and after an expensive stem cell treatment I have been able to recover some of the strength I had.
The year after my “Half way to Thunder Bay” marathon, I joined Rick Hansen and completed a small chunk of country pushing from the east. Now sits this space in between Thunder Bay, Ontario and Fredricton, New Brunswick that I still have yet to conquer.
My dream is to finish what I started and to make a documentary film and compose the soundtrack for it too. The first time I did it by myself with a small crew on a wing and a prayer. I need the right team in order to do it right and make that a reality this time around.
What is your key or keys to live your life on your terms and as your dream as you like it?
I have to mention here one of my dearest friends and teacher, Satyen Raja once said to me “Be frameless”, that every key needs a door. But when there is no door then there is no frame. He was speaking about opinions and preferences. Having no label. Being frameless as a way of being. It offers a certain depth of freedom.
If you live a meditative life you become more free. My body has been my greatest teacher on how to do that. How to live alongside my breath, intention, freedom, calm, gratitude, acceptance and surrender as close companions. These days, I do not find myself thinking or dwelling in many other realms other than those.
If too many thoughts run through my mind – gratitude is the key to coming back to center. Whenever I feel distant from that, then I am not in gratitude or in the frameless mindset. Every opinion creates or generates a physical feeling within us and we should all contemplate and consider these sensation experiences. Relax and meditate. Observe the pendulum nature of the mind. What is it bringing up in me and why is it coming up for me in this moment? Return to source. Follow the thread without becoming your own opinion. Be frameless.
It is of supreme importance to discover who we are deep inside and to ask that question ceaselessly. It is in the asking where the answers will show up over time.
We need to understand the mellow drama of life, especially when you begin to believe it is real. It seems real, but it is the theatre of the mind playing tricks. My body, my legs and arms and all the organs inside are but a subtle shade of what we all consist of – light and energy. I have a name, I am not my name. I have a body, I am not my body.
Surrendering to the metaphor; be “downstream” in your going on the river of life. Not hanging on to the branches or wondering where the next turn goes. It isn’t about oscillating back and forth with your mind, but to stay centered in the here and now with your breath and attention.
What was the hardest moment of your life? How did you get through it?
For me, a lot has to do with inclusivity and exclusivity, because of my disability. I am down here in my wheelchair and you are up there – when standing of course. These are actually some hard facts of reality I have had to learn to accept. Barrier free and wheelchair access have improved tremendously due to awareness but still has a long way to go.
Relationships and romantic love have been a benevolent teacher also and some of the hardest lessons I have had to learn as we are very much like mirrors to one another.
Intimate relationships and romantic love bring up everything that is in the shadows out into the light. Meditation and the frameless practice prepare us for the thrilling challenges of two becoming one. It’s like standing in the fire of purification. Be true to yourself no matter how hard the process is. I have had to end relationships that were not aligned with my own truth. Harmony, balance and a healthy self respect are but some of the rewards.
The challenges lie in our response or reactivity. I have every reason to think the stronger, more able-bodied dude will be chosen over me. I think a lot of people in my community feel this way at some point and have to learn a wider level of acceptance when it comes to relationships.
Until we start choosing ourselves first; we will never feel whole or complete.
I know I can be very sensitive. In relationships I have felt the deepest awareness of the self through the pain and joy of another. They bring the shadow and the light out for us to see and we must commit to working with it as it arises and as the pendulum begins to swing.
Throughout my youth, teens and twenties I was still walking but used my wheelchair on and off to get around. I get tired quickly and would fall down…a lot. Often times I would twist an ankle or scrape my knee or got a bloody nose on my way to the ground. I began to feel nervous walking. I used canes and walkers, but now, even after a stem cell treatment I am mostly in my wheelchair.
I remember so clearly; it was my freedom of choice to either fall into pain tragedy and damn my life or find a way to get back up again and be grateful for the legs I have been given.
My legs and hands have been kind of like my catalyst to personal freedom as I learned to rest in the gratitude of blessings which brought me to my knees. I took it as a lesson for the ego. I tricked my mind into being thankful for each fall.
What has been the most inspiring moment of your life? Why and what happened?
I put myself through some major initiatory exams. Life changing challenges that would reveal an aspect of myself that was a fearless warrior. When I was 25 I probably experienced the most painful burn yet the most soul-enlivening inspiration I have ever received. With support on both sides – I walked on fire. Because my steps are not with the whole foot, my feet were burnt to the 3rd degree and it took me several weeks to heal. Others that made it were able to roll their foot and step quickly over the hot embers. This experience seered very deeply into me and forced my being into a new level of expansion, where I left my body without dying.
I have had surgeries and experienced all sorts of discomfort and pain but this took the cake. The blessing came in the form of an native Indian shaman who sat by my side and sang me medicine songs and played his flute after the fire walk to soothe the throws of agony I was in. Soon, I entered the hidden world of shamanic trance, healing and magic. It showed me my true self, my soul. I got in touch with the soul embodying my body. I started a dialog and is still with me today.
It was from that experience that I share the healing I received through my stories and the music I play. That inspired my soul, as well as the “soles” of my feet. I do not call myself a healer or a shaman. I do not call myself anything. I do wish to live my life as an example of grace and hope for the sake of all beings.
What do you consider as your biggest accomplishment in life?
I have had some pretty amazing experiences and if it wasn’t for my mother I would not have been able to do any of it.
It is not about a name or label, or a trophy or a medal, but one of the greatest ongoing accomplishments we can give ourselves is to get in touch with ourselves and become intimate with all that we are – the light and the dark in order to become whole. Discovering who and what we are has got to be the single most important accomplishments for a lifetime. It never ends! It just allows for more and more personal freedom along route!
The art of personal freedom lies in the ability to consciously feel everything and at the same time dissolve any negative charge we are carrying about something or someone or ourselves. I believe it is the greatest gift we can offer each other.
What relation do you have with money?
Once upon a time, the way of this world was about trading and gifting. Right now, money is the currency of this world that is used to pay for experiences down here on earth.
Money is akin to water; a form of life force. Life force that is earned. Free life force and of course life force that can become stuck if misused or abused. It can nourish but it can also poison.
Imagine money as the flow of a river, allow it to flow. The river-banks guide the water downstream back to the ocean. Do not hold on to any branches, do not cling to the banks of the river as this may cause bankruptcy.
We have to learn how to bring in this life force and use it appropriately; to find any leaks and be more conscientious and responsible with it. To have more awareness of the plants we water with it and how to share it with others in an enlightened way.
I consider myself having a healthy relationship to money. I do not spend too much, but I keep it flowing. Money that sits too long in one place begins to stink. It’s like fertilizer – spread it around! It allows me to take care of myself and to help others when I can.
Money is also a reflection of how we are doing on the inside. It tells a story. What does your story sound like?
Could you define what is financial independence for you?
I am working towards that myself. I have several great examples to look towards. Teachers and friends that have designed and created the life of their dreams that are working it everyday. They have a level of personal freedom to do whatever, whenever they wish and live comfortably enough wherever they go. Comfortable and enough is what I desire.
If it is not too personal to ask, how do you maintain yourself and live your dream life and lifestyle right now?
At this time in my life I surrender to the natural flow of the river to bring to me my right livelihood and enough to live comfortably and sustainably, and within that are many riches: happiness and contentment.
Some years ago I gave up for looking for a job. Body was not into it, heart was not into it. My physical stamina was falling behind and I began finding it difficult to maintain anything steady. My last “job” was a limousine driver and after causing some wedding parties to be late for their photoshoots; I had to ask myself if my body could handle it anymore. I thought maybe I wasn’t supposed to have a job and summoned the creative entrepreneurial spirit within.
I needed to create something myself from my art and music. Something that would cause my soul to sing.
I went through a big change. I surrendered to the flow and initiated a huge life/career transition. I left my job, my apartment and my girlfriend of 5 years and hit the road. I would soon discover many resources and support for the disabled. I looked over and made adjustments to all my spending habits. It has taken me five years to fully lighten my load and simplify my life.
Today I am blessed to be able to do what I love and play and perform music. Here in Mexico I get to play percussion for the legendary local musicians of the Tatewari Flamenco Band for the winter months.
I also just recorded and produced my own album of devotional music called “INVOLUTION” which is a dream come true! With a little cash from gigs, tips and free meals, I am so grateful for the experience of living light and free and working my passions. Making money online is something I put to work also with my art. Check out ‘Hidden World Soul Portraits by Sonny’ on Facebook!
I had done a lot of charity work and projects for others but when it came time to record I needed more money. Studio time isn’t cheap. I also needed extra money for the stem cell procedures that would help my hands to play my instruments better and for longer periods. I put together a crowdfunding campaign that would enable me to do it all. It was weird in the beginning to do it for myself as it felt a bit selfish but I know the message contained in the music would carry me through and reach listeners for the good of the world.
When your actions are for the sake of all beings, magic happens.
On the 20th of March I have my first CD launch here at the Octopus’s Garden in La Cruz.
I am really grateful for the people who supported me in making it possible and who supported me through that online platform. Before that, people needed to do it more in person. Now the internet gives us so many more possibilities to create abundance remotely and globally. You can find all my music for sale online.
It has been an interesting involutionary process of navigating life in a wheelchair. I have found what is most meaningful to me, brought me the most joy and happiness, as to ripple out to others, and to focus on only that. Why create suffering? Folllow the path of your highest excitement and doors will open for you. We were never meant to struggle.
What is the message of your recently released album ‘INVOLUTION’?
The name itself. Which isn’t anything new. But I think people sometimes forget about involution and the hidden world journey inwards. Evolution is all we ever hear about and how we as humans have evolved. Spiritually they are two sides of the same process – growing in and out. Becoming whole and better versions of ourselves.
It is like standing on the shoulders of giants – taking from the past what has worked and propelling into the future towards an evolved, enlightened way of being.
Whether or not you go in to heal or to take a leap of faith, at some point everyone does and this starts the involutionary process. Sometimes it’s a solitary path.
Other times, the support of community slingshots our personal growth and freedom to soaring new heights where we are truly seen. Pain or sorrow may initiate the journey in, but will spark new insights into life and our purpose here in time. Maybe you ended a relationship and sat bravely with the heartbreak.
The key is to eventually alchemize the hurt and make art out of it.
Whatever it may be. Take that leap of faith. Look within. Ask and remain open to receive answers.
This album represents periods of my life where the essence from who I was was gathered together and compiled into beautiful, hypnotic music. It is a contemplative, meditative and spiritual album serving people, inviting self inventory, growing closer to source and musical medicine for the ears. I call it psychic folk music.
In many ways I’ve been able to take all the “shit” from life and tell my shadow-side that I’m going to spread you around and turn you into fertilizer so I could feed my new garden with it. Not to get extremely depressed on the lows or too elated on the highs of life. To take a leap of faith and make art out of it all. That is my role. Pain encourages us to be adaptive and innovative. It takes us deep if we allow it too and it can offer us gifts which we can then share with the world.
How do you know Crystal and for how long? What fascinates you about her?
We were introduced about a year ago and have seen each other here and there around La Cruz. We have discussed many interesting topics and share similar views on life and spirit. The healer in me sees the healer in her. It is very reassuring to know that there is someone else with conscious mind and heart here in this little ‘pueblo’ practicing some healing art for herself and for others. I sense the reflection of otherworldly courage and goddess warriorship.
Wantra’s personal floating session with Crystal Ra, gently guiding my body, allowed me to sink and surrender into infinite space and the comfort of nothingness. I was softly held and turned in that underwater realm. It was a feeling of pure weightlessness and physical freedom. My body yearns for freedom and it was so amazing to experience the loving zero-gravity. Alongside her bright light, friendliness and unique Estonian accent; I am so happy that we have met. It shows we have some good work going on in this little place.
I know there are more light workers out there flying under the radar. We are needed! Come!, My teacher Satyen Raja says: “The gift must be given!”
How can people contact you and hear more about you?
Facebook: Search ‘SONNY’
YouTube: Sonny Davis
Website: A downlaodable version of my album is available at www.sonnymusic.net
Additional FB site: “Hidden World Soul Portraits by Sonny’
Most of Sonny’s photos are done by his sister Tiana Davis. Check out her page by clicking on her name.
Thank you for your time dear Sonny and all the wonderful ideas you shared with me and my readers. I wish you a wonderful journey! Let the art and music always be the wind in your sails!
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