With my two-month Japan sojourn at an end, I'm in Los Angeles preparing for my re-entry into New Mexico. One of the things I've created is comments from friends about "returning to reality," as if what I was doing in Japan wasn't real.
I understand that none of it is real in the hologram -- the only reality is my consciousness -- but for the sake of discussion, I am interested in examining what is being reflected back.
The underlying message seems to be, "Gee, isn't that nice you got to screw around on vacation for two months and visit a bunch of cool places and eat a lot of great food and hang with your wonderful son and have an inspiring adventure, but...." The "but" is, "it's time to get real, get back to business, find a place to live, settle down and conform to the 'reality' you left before, because you just can't do that. What you really want is back here."
It's not really about jealousy, at least I don't think so.
It's an unsettling feeling I have that I've done something wrong, like the slutty cheerleader in a horror movie who has sex with the quarterback and then 15 minutes later is chainsawed by the killer with the not-so-subtle implication being that you don't get something -- pleasure, and a letter jacket, in this case -- for nothing, and thus, she merits dismemberment.
I'm happy to report that I have not even heard a chainsaw, let alone been threatened with one, and that I'm processing my way through all the discomfort. Yes, I intend to return "home" for a time, look for work, get a place to live that has a street address and not a license plate number -- unless something else presents itself. I have no idea what that's going to look like or feel like, and at this point, I'll wait to be surprised. But as for returning to the generic reality envisioned by some aspects, I'm not so sold on that idea.
One thing I came to realize is that I didn't deserve the richly abundant life I've lived for the past two months, and I mean that in a good way. The origin of the word means to be entitled to something because of good service. Now good service can be interpreted in a lot of ways, depending on whether you're talking about a geisha or a gas station attendant. But lets just say there's a lot of room for interpretation of service and deserving.
It can be as simple as, I deserve a chocolate donut because I biked 10 miles yesterday. I deserve an afternoon of watching football because I pruned the mulberry bush this morning. I deserve to go on a Caribbean cruise because I worked overtime at the car wash for two years to pay for it. You've got to pay to play.
In Phase 1, returning to reality seems to be the payment or service I owe someone for enjoying myself for a few weeks in paradise.
But I find that "deserving" something is just another b.s. belief in the hologram. I don't have to "do" anything to merit a joyful life. The only qualification for experiencing my abundance is the fact that I'm a conscious being. It comes with the entry fee.
It feels different in another way, something more subtle. I've occasionally splurged on myself -- we all have -- with the implicit understanding that the new X-Box or BMW will bring us joy, or at least make us feel better -- and I deserve to feel good. But it's usually about putting power in things or people outside of ourselves to try to affect the hologram, and that, you don't deserve. You just open to receive what you already have. It's all just joy disguised as something else anyway.
So I don't plan to spend any time justifying why I came to Japan, or why I returned to the states when I did. I will simply focus on appreciating the great gift I created and gave myself and watch the time-released transformation and expansion that will be apparent over the coming weeks, months and years.
When I went to Japan, I told myself I wanted the trip to be disorienting to an extent, to shake up everything, re-order my world. It worked.
Learning to negotiate my way around a new city, trying to grasp a new language, eating strange (and wonderful) food, seeing only new sights, has given me new eyes (for about the same cost as laser surgery).
Now, I can't wait to see just what "reality" looks like back in familiar territory,
If Phase 2 is all about experience and feeling, my departure from Japan puts me in the thick of it.
I've relished the time I've spent here and the fact that I created this for myself. Most of all, I've cherished the time with my son, Teo. But now I near the dreaded time of departure, and I have to force myself to remember that my discomfort provides a great opportunity to invoke the Process.
Teo and I have a lot of leaving and separation to look back upon. At about age 12, about six years into our divorce, my ex-wife and I had to make a decision when her new husband was faced with the choice of losing his job or re-locating to Portland, Ore. Would Teo stay in Albuquerque with me or move with them to Portland?
My wife and I had made one vow when we divorced, and that was to keep Teo's interest first, ours second, in anything we did. But at first, the familiar crap came up. Who were they to take my son away from me? What had I done to deserve this? What had he done to deserve this? If only we'd never divorced in the first place. Yada, yada, yada. I downloaded guilt through a high-speed connection.
Teo has always been preternaturally mature and wise, at least we created him that way. After having him see a counselor, who agreed with us, we decided it best to leave the ultimate decision up to him. Some might say that was a dereliction of parental duty. I don't know. But it felt like the right thing to do at the time. As I realize now, there was no wrong decision. But we did not understand that at the time.
I still swallow hard when I think about the day he told us he had decided to go to Oregon. I felt bad for myself, but I felt worse for him for having to even make the decision.
During his years in Oregon, he came to stay with me for summers, and the occasional holiday. I visited Portland a couple of times. But for the most part, I watched my son grow up from afar and tried to maintain our bond.
Our relationship not only survived, but thrived, despite my position as a long-range parent. I don't know if we could have grown any closer, but we did not grow further apart. We settled into a rhythm and an intimacy. Our time together was sweet, but inevitably too short for my liking and the trips to the airport to drop him off were the emotional equivalent of a root canal, no matter how much practice I got.
After he went off to college in New York City, we saw even less of each other. His summer stays were curtailed greatly and we made do with weekly phone calls, holiday reunions and my rare visit to the Big Apple.
Although Teo mastered life in the city, he struggled through college, more than I even knew until recently. At some point three or so years in, he was ready to give it up. Or at least take a semester off and consider what he would do with the rest of his life. When he told us, it brought up a lot of judgments from both his mother and me and his stepfather. But we again decided it was his decision to make.
I knew this time that whatever he decided was right. No question. So when he decided to take a semester off, with the possibility that he might not return to school, I had no qualms. The fact that he returned to school later and graduated is nice in a Phase 1 sense. But really, I wouldn't have cared if he had gone off to live with Pygmies. I just wanted him to be happy and follow his heart.
Now when I see him at age 26, living in a foreign country like he was born here, I couldn't be prouder. I am happy that he's learned to figure things out for himself, and the biggest piece of advice he's asked me for is what kind of razor to shave with. You gotta thrown dad a bone some time.
I don't quite know what to make of our relationship now. As close as I feel to my son, he is still inscrutable at times. But he remains my best creation ever and my favorite reflection. His full name, Teodoro, means "divine gift" in Italian. I believe he's more than lived up to that billing.
I've thought about the way I played the Parent Game and about how my father played the Parent Game. My father was a good father, still is. But Dad came from a line of a stoic Italians (I know, an oxymoron) and didn't say much most of the time. It was difficult to know what he thought about me and my siblings. He worked hard and raised a big family. He'd show up at my baseball and basketball games to cheer, but rarely offered advice. He would acknowledge a good report card, then go back to watching TV before nodding off in his recliner.
About 15 years ago, I decided to write a letter to my father back in Ohio for Father's Day. I wrote to tell him that even though I had sometimes felt a distance between us, I appreciated him and loved him and I just thought he ought to know.
He wrote back a wonderful letter, the only letter I can ever remember getting from him. It's stored in a safe place. I think I will read part of it at his funeral, whenever that may happen. I haven't actually read the letter in years, but I distinctly remember him writing that whatever distance I might have felt, it was not for lack of love, but his desire to let me and my brothers and my sister find our own paths in life.
I have been at peace with my father (and that aspect of myself) ever since. I know that he gave me a great gift, and no matter how he passes, or when he passes, I won't ever have any regret about what our relationship was, is, or could have been. It's been just perfect.
I realize that I created my father to give me that gift of self-reliance, and I created Teo to receive it from me.
We can never truly know what we are to someone in their hologram, but I am happy to have passed my father's gift to Teo, and as I prepare for the long journey back and a few hours of sadness, I, too, hope my son is at peace with our relationship.
We often say or do things that we seem to understand at the time, but only realize later what it was really all about. Marriage and divorce and the fling with the waitress that precipitated the divorce would be prime examples.
Then there's this blog. While I'm glad that "others" have appreciated what I'm doing, I'm mostly writing so that I can understand things myself.
Which is funny in retrospect, because I think I may have missed the point of my own writing recently. I typed a piece
about why the promise of internet sales and multi-level marketing programs did not appeal to me. As long as I'm going to play the Human Game, I noted, I felt I should follow my heart and focus on my writing, blogging and filmmaking, because that is what I'm inspired to do.
And it's true as far as it goes. But something kept nagging at me. I awoke a couple days later and on a whim, turned on my Ipod and randomly chose a section from a program by Adyashanti,
and not coincidentally, there was my answer.
Listening to Adyashanti made it clear to me what is at the essence of this impulse.
We do not live to imitate others, he said. The people who inspire us are those who didn't do it the way everybody else did. That's at the heart of my disinterest in my creations of organized religion or multi-level marketing plans or anything that says follow my formula and you've got it made. And I will repeat, this is simply me in my hologram. I have no problem with any path that my creations follow, and I understand that limitations are part of the game. But it explains why I love iconoclasts like Robert Pollard
, Dave Eggers
, David Lynch
and Steve Jobs
As Adyashanti points out, what has made Jesus or Buddha such compelling figures for thousands of years is that like Frank Sinatra, they did it their way, and they were unlike anybody else. They bucked the illusory beliefs we are all subject to and found their own path to the Truth. By trying to do what Jesus would do, (especially the hanging on the cross part) or meditate like the Buddha, we are missing the point.
"They were pure undistorted expressions of life itself," Adyashanti said. "Each person has a gift. It's like reality or life is just waiting to express itself through each being in a totally unique way. Totally unique expressions of the one."
Thus, anything that reeks of following the herd (literary cliches included) is by definition not part of my unique mission and purpose, as Robert Scheinfeld calls it in Busting Loose.
Now, I'm a big believer in guidance. God knows I've sought enough of it in the last 30 years, whether it was the Sunday horoscope or reading chicken entrails or consuming the work of self-help authors like a crack addict.
But I immediately recoil when someone tells me they have the "answer." It's depriving me of the exquisite pleasure of beating my head against the wall until I get it.
That goes for Robert and Busting Loose. I admire Robert as one of the most important aspects I've ever created in this illusion. The wisdom he has imparted has changed my life. But I have no desire to live his life, or be too concerned about following his every suggestion to a T.
Guidance can only point us in the right direction, or to use a diving analogy, Busting Loose is the springboard, but only I can perform the reverse 3 1/2 somersault in pike position that is my life.
Busting Loose is a useful tool, an important stepping stone on my journey to awakening, nothing more, nothing less. But ultimately, I have no desire but to awaken to the truth of who I am. Whether I'm judged, or judge myself, to be faithful to the principles of Busting Loose is ultimately irrelevant, and I know Robert would be the first to agree.
I do not claim to be an authority on any of this subject matter, just an observer. I hope you will read something here that gives you an insight, or at least a good laugh. But if not, that's fine by me. If I stray from what you/me believe is the correct path, feel free to tell me, but more importantly, just be happy that in my "mistakenness," I've once again helped you clarify your own understanding.
A Native American friend once told me of an experience in a rez town. He was walking with another friend when they noticed a tribal elder passed out from drinking. My friend remarked what a shame it was that the elder was an alcoholic. His companion replied that the elder was just being a really good example to others of how dangerous alcohol can be.
So if it helps to think of me as that alcoholic elder, please do so. At this point in my blogging career -- and the rest of my illusory life -- I value the authentic expression of what I'm experiencing in Phase 2 more than whether I'm doing it right. I think I'll drink to that.