There was a moment in my life when I was at my lowest, feeling unworthy of anything good, surrounded by anxiety which led me to eat a lot. I became 220 pounds, obesity level 1 by 2011, but I didn’t stop there. I also started drinking insane amounts of liquor on a weekly basis. I was abusing and poisoning myself to a degree where I considered stop living. I was always making jokes to my mom and friends that I wanted to be part of the 27 club - you know like Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin and Cobain. And almost my idol, Heath Ledger, who died at 28.
I kept blaming my mom and everyone for my “unhappiness” at the time. Growing up without a father figure gave me a bitterness. I thought I was a terrible person to not have that in my life. I focused on that instead of looking at the bright side and admiring and loving my mother for being a warrior who took me forward by herself. Also, I wanted to study music and my mom refused to support me, so I ended up studying Law for 6 long years until I graduated. That accumulated anger on top of the unbalanced lifestyle that I was living at the time led me to the most transformative event of my life – Halloween night of 2012.
I was partying, and I drove home completely wasted (something I used to do very often. In fact, I saved myself twice before from crashing drunk). Unfortunately, that night I fell asleep and crashed on the highway. Thank God, I was asleep because I didn’t tense any muscles and therefore didn’t break any bones. I don’t remember any of this. I just woke up around 8am in the clinic to doctors sewing up my right eye.
That moment is something I can’t explain with words, but I just felt a compelling energy inside of me (you can call it God, the universe, whatever suits for you) telling me that I needed to do something meaningful with my life. The doctor came to my clinic room after to tell me that I should be grateful about this miracle. In the rooms next to mine, there were two guys who suffered a smaller accident and yet one of them was not going to be able to walk again and the other one in a very critical condition.
When I saw pictures of the car after the accident, I couldn’t believe I survived. The car was a total loss, and I left the clinic the day after without any broken bones and only a few stitches.
Inevitably, I took that experience as a catalyst to pursue my dreams and fight for them. That’s been my motto ever since. I graduated as a lawyer, started auditioning back home for projects and months after I started my journey on national Television in a TV show that changed my life forever. I quit drinking, dropped 50 pounds and after years of saving money, asking some bank loans and selling all that I had back home I made to Los Angeles to become an actor.
That spiritual journey has made me very aware of the small things of life - to appreciate things that maybe we take for granted and are truly gifts. The fact that I have air in my lungs, that I’m using my fingers and eyes to type this story is something very powerful and something that I’m eternally grateful for.
Gratitude is the key to finding light in those dark times. When I find myself complaining about something, I stop for a second and ask myself what I should be grateful for instead. I tattooed the alchemy symbol of AIR on my body as a reminder to breathe and be present.
I also have the Latin phrase PROVEHITO IN ALTUM tattooed on my chest. It has several meanings in my life. It translates as “March on into higher grounds”. It is a reminder of that epiphany in my darkest moment, to reach for those higher grounds and fight for my dreams, not only in terms of success or in life, but also spiritually. It reminds me to reach up to that Headspace where everything’s possible.
- Paul Guerra