Preface, 10/12. While I still think there is some valid stuff in this post, it now looks pretty imbalanced to me. (Jesus, I am on fire with Spirit!) I think it is useful for tracing how gradual some elements of the “Waking Up” process can be. Its companion piece now – which I encourage you to read before or after reading this: “A radical reorganization of my relationship with rest.”
Since I “woke up” at 3 a.m. on June 26, I am no longer the person I was before. I am only gradually getting to know this new person – to find my true voice. But it is happening – relentlessly. I am clearly no longer a “nice guy”. Some of my behaviors may look “nice”. Some of my friends may cling to the obsolete notion that I am really a nice guy – in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. Some will say, “I liked the old John/Majo better.” Being liked is no longer of any importance to me. If I am liked by no one, that could be fine – as long as I have the connection to Spirit that is the only true driver to me these days.
Being this new person sometimes feels lonely: I nostalgically long for someone to “get” me – to understand what I truly am up to. And there are candidates for this role: Tom Kilby, my really good buddy and old/new housemate here in Asheville, is working heroically to hang with me. I have hopes for one really great friend from my 18-year men’s group. When we came away from our last Skype meeting, one guy had said “You really sound manic to me” – and I had the impression that maybe all of them were thinking that.
The next day, I sent them several text messages to try to help them understand what was really going on, including the Waking Up blog post that for me captures so much of it. This guy responded with a definition of “enlightened” from Michael Singer, in his book The Untethered Soul, which so many of my friends seem to be reading. “Unreasonably happy.” There’s no reason for feeling happy. It doesn’t rely on something good having happened – it’s just your baseline. That is exactly what is happening for me. Non-stop happy for now more than three months.
So where do I get my support? From Spirit. No question. As long as I am living out my mission – that path for which I have been uniquely sculpted over these 73 years – I will remain so solidly in the loving arms of Spirit that any other support will be really nice, but not really necessary. Certainly, speaking my truth to people is pissing a lot of people off. This seems to me confirmation that I am on the right track.
Some people will always be irresistibly drawn to me when they smell what I am up to – they know, even if the do not understand – that they need to be around me, that at least some elements of my path are also their path. They are like a moth to the candle flame – and, truly, contact with me may burn out who they used to be, who they and others think they are.
Some people, when they wake up – and I do believe this is no longer the province just of “saints” like Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie…lots of regular people like me and you are being called to a new path, are being scooped up in the irresistible net of Spirit – many of these people get “spiritual”, more loving, more peaceful, more quiet, etc. This seems not to be my path: I am the “bite me” cashier, the “bullshit!” friend, the “let me turn your life upside down” spiritual teacher.
A customer this morning at Earth Fare – a very cool 50ish white guy – went back and forth between the equally open lines of the the really very special young woman Damali and me. I tried to make his decision easier: “Damali is amazing – smart, competent, charming. If, on the other hand, you want a walk on the wild side, come on over here.” He chose the wild side, not knowing (nor did I) how prescient that invitation would prove – just how wild I would show up. Before his transaction was completed, a young woman (new) cashier whom I had never before met or worked with came over to bag my customer’s groceries.
Within a couple of minutes, she said something that I’m sure she did not think was racist – but that I immediately recognized to be very potentially destructive, very dangerously racist. And I absolutely blew! I screamed at her things like, “Don’t you ever, ever dare to say racist shit like that in this store again!!!” When things settled down a little bit, she was obviously very shaken and defensive – and my customer was fine. I apologized to him for all the drama, but in a very real way I was defending a beautifully insightful thing he had just said about racism, which she had ignorantly contradicted and attacked.
I myself was shaken by the totally unexpected and unbidden power of what had just flowed through me. It certainly was not the me I am used to being. While I am loved and admired by so many people in that store – including management – I knew that this kind of “inappropriate” display of emotion could potentially get me fired. Yet at no point in this process did I ever feel any regret: I knew that what I had just done, while on one level had been pretty rough, was totally guided by Spirit and “just right”.
But still I was shaken. The new cashier in question was still standing in front of me – maybe shell-shocked, I’m not sure …and my customer was still organizing his groceries to leave. I yelled to the supervisor Puppy, who is a friend and ally of mine and who had been just a few steps away for the whole thing, “Puppy, I have to get out of here! We need to have me not be in this store right now! I need to have my ten-minute break right now! I need to have a cigarette!”