I wrote this on August 26, 2013. A letter to myself.
At some point, at some time, you will simply be amazed. “Wow” won’t cut it, but it will be all you can muster. Thoughts and ideas will become hollow in the face of the intuition within you. Surrender to it and unfurl the sails of your soul, letting those Divine winds take you to places you have never seen.
You begin a new leg of your fantastic journey. You believe it is fraught with trials and tribulations, with pain and suffering, but such fear is a bastard liar meant to keep you in port. Believe in no fear, for you shall not fall from the edge of this Earth, regardless of what others say.
Do not let the work that is necessary give you pause, for love’s work is no effort at all on the seas you were meant to sail. You’ll go about the business at hand with a smile, a laugh, a few tears, and some groans that will escape your lips with each drop of sweat that falls from your brow. If the seas become too rough, or the effort becomes work, check your compass and change your course. There is only smooth sailing on the seas you were meant to travel.
I’ve been fortunate, I’ve lived a full life. I’ve survived abuse, self-hatred, a morbid curiosity and countless incursions into my own abyss. I’ve felt hatred, intense and unending anger, depression, and a sense of loss I never thought I could overcome. I’ve cried myself to sleep only to awaken so that I could repeat my errors over and over again. I’ve been wounded both by others and by my own hand more times than I care to count.
I’ve hurt people in the fullness of my life. I’ve been horribly mean at times, allowing my self-hatred to pour out over those I feared the most. I was so lost in my own darkness I wanted to bring others into it. Suffering was my curse, and I often felt the need to share it as if it were some gift I should be giving.
I was also a good person. I always tried to offer a hand to others, to help those who would both seek my help and to those who had never met me. I’ve put my life in harm’s way to save lives, and dedicated much of my life to helping others in need. My body bears the scars of some of those efforts, and my mind shares in memories of haunting visions that have forever left their mark.
It was in my work here that I stayed connected to the part of me that was my earliest memory. I was a sensitive boy who loved everything around him. I loved the bunnies I saw in my neighborhood. I loved the trees. I love the people I came across, even the blades of grass I would lay on to study the clouds as they drifted by.
Later in life, much later in fact, I was to discover the greatest gift within me. Throughout my life I’ve been able to observe myself. Even in the times when I felt hopelessly lost, I was able to observe myself in the wrong turns and dead-end alleys. Even as I sunk deeper into the darkness, I always felt somehow separate, yet apart of, the experience. Even as I struggled to change into the man others wanted me to be, I was watching things unfold.
About five years ago I met a monk named Yatiishvarananda who taught me a practice of meditation. As I grew in the practice, he gave me a name, Gyandeva, which means “Lord of Divine Knowledge”.
“Isn’t that a bit much?” I asked him. He laughed and put his hand on my shoulder.
“You have always been a watcher and a seeker. Now, it’s your time to apply those lessons that you’ve learned. Your life has been lived for a reason.”
It took me some time, a divorce, (and the mighty financial struggles that came with it), as well as some life-or-death health issues, but I finally grasped his words. That meditation not only very likely saved my life, but it also uncovered many realizations I had learned over the years.
Then came a now-deceased Indian philosopher named Osho, the Four Agreements and deeper mediation. Then came a sudden, but long-sought move to Colorado. In between all of those came people who guided me onward and deeper.
One thing I’ve learned is that sometimes the beginning of things are in the middle of them. Sometimes the greatness we achieve is in the mediocrity we have surrendered to Sometimes the joy we feel is born after great sorrow. Sometimes acceptance springs from great resistance.
There were a few moments when hope was lost. There were some instances when the lows just seemed to deep to overcome. Yet they weren’t. Those valleys are there so that we can see the great summits, and those summits exist with an unmatched view because of the valleys that surround them. It’s part of the cycle of this life, with our choice reigning supreme over the every situation we encounter. Our choice to climb. Our choice to fall. Our choice to see things in a way that supports us. Our choice to create the very perspective we may have once felt powerless over.
I can’t wait to read this in a year, and see what peak I may be looking at it from. Yet, I’m content looking at it Now, and embracing all that is around me. What a fucking view!
THE HOMELESS MASTER
About 20 years ago, I worked in Center City, Philadelphia for an insurance company, and I’d take the speed line from New Jersey to a stop a few blocks from my office. Along my walk in, there used to be a homeless guy just sitting on the sidewalk. I’d watch people go by him, paying him no attention save the inconvenience they had either walking over him or around him.
I would often buy a large fruit bowl from one of the roach coaches near the train station. I’d eat some for breakfast, and give him the rest. Every morning, he’d say thank you with a “much love, brother” when I’d hand him the box of fruit.
One day, he asked me why I gave him breakfast so often. “Because I feel bad you are homeless,” I replied. He laughed, a belly laugh, exposing his missing teeth as his eyes lit up with joy.
“I take the box because I feel sorry for you,” he said.
“You feel sorry for me?”
“Well, yeah. Look at unhappy you are, working every day to make someone else rich. You’re so afraid of being free that you’ve put yourself in a prison you call a home and a cell you call a job, working for the man. You won’t see any bars around me.”
“Yeah, but you need charity just to survive,” I replied, feeling defensive.
“True, but don’t we all? Your’s comes from the man who signs your paycheck, mine comes from people like you.”
“But I provide something to get my paycheck…”
“How do you feel when you give me breakfast?” he asked.
“I feel pretty good. Or at least I did.”
“Then I provide you something to get my breakfast. Tell me, which is the more important service?”
I smiled. “I gotcha.”
“Beggars like me provide everyone a service. For some, it’s a reminder of where they could end up. It brings up the fear they have in being completely free, of being unlike their parents, their friends, their family. For others, I give them a sense of love. For many of those people they don’t feel love until they give me something. I think I provide a wonderful service, and it costs me nothing.”
He was truly a wonderful gift, wrapped in tattered clothing, dirty skin, and a rancid smell that shrouded his beautiful heart. 20 years later and I still remember him, his freedom, and his perspective.
“A beggars bowl is never empty. It’s always filled with love.”
I always thought you were beautiful. I would gaze at you from a distance, knowing you barely knew my name. I would admire your eyes, they curve of your mouth, the way your hair flowed just right. I’d listen to your voice, and I would hear it echo all around me.
I remember it. Clearly. I would think about you in my childish way, lacking both the confidence and the courage to do something about my thoughts. I’d meander about in fantasy, knowing what I’d have to offer, yet believing that you never would be able to see it.
Today, there you were, and my breath lost pace with the rest of me. I won’t mention the place, or the forum, or the way in which I saw you, but there you were. It doesn’t appear you’ve changed much over the years, but I know through experience that decades have changed us all. You’re still beautiful, with the soft eyes of a warrior that could both melt and sear through a man at the same time. Your mouth still curves in that way it always has, and your hair still looks perfect regardless of its intention.
I can’t hear your voice, but somehow it is there, echoing in my mind, Remembered are the insecurities of my youth, the frustration of wanting yet surrendering, of reaching and having the treasure fall just out of reach. Those memories contrast nicely with the man I’ve become. Strong, secure, a man who knows himself and has no fear in the desires of his heart and mind. If you only remembered my voice too, what a moment we could have.
There you are. I remember you, all of you. My breath finally catches up, and I just sit, gazing at the wonder of you. What are the stories you have to tell? Where are the scars, the wounds, and the empty spaces you’ve left waiting for the one? Who is the one you crave, the one you hold your breath waiting for?
So many things, so little time. Just know that I remember you.