I thought I’d be enlightened by now.
I don’t mean that metaphorically as in: “I imagined that with age would come a certain wisdom.”
No, I fully expected the sitting in the lotus position-on-a-mountain-top type enlightenment, the mantra-chanting-vibrating-with-the-universal-life-force spiritual awakening sort. Maybe a little levitation or an apparition would be involved. Nothing too showy, you know, just one of the minor miracles.
I started meditating at age 18 in the ‘70s. Back then most middle Americans still considered such behavior weird, a hoax played on the gullible at best, and a sinister mind-control trick used by cult leaders at worse. To complicate matters, they were sometimes right. So I mostly kept quiet about meditation. But I continued practicing it twice daily year-after-year for decades with the exception of a few months after the birth of my second child when it seemed every time I tried to sit quietly and meditate I simply fell asleep. My world did not fall apart during that hiatus. But after a few months I returned to meditating. I felt better when I did so. My husband, who has never meditated, supported me in this endeavor. I like to think it’s because he loves me and respects my personal space but it may also be because, apparently, I got a little bitchy when I did not meditate. Yes, he frequently took full responsibility for the children for 20- minute stretches while I spent time with a mantra. And I reciprocated when he went on long bike rides, watched televised sports, or played league bocci ball which I found exactly as exciting as watching grass grow. In November. Our young daughters accepted their mama’s habit as routine and would sometimes come and sit in my lap, or “read” quietly beside me until the word didn’t need the quote marks. They grew up and eventually out. Through the years I occasionally met people new to meditation who spoke openly, and I thought arrogantly, of their imminent enlightenment. It didn’t matter if they’d been introduced to the practice through a friend, guru, Zen master, clergyman, therapist, new age enthusiast or the Dali Lama himself. I would nod knowingly and smile serenely and remind them of the Buddha’s wise words: The journey is the destination.
Yep, I was smug little snot.
But karma has a way of slapping one upside the head – hard -- so in recent years a different phrase has wormed its way into my thoughts. Instead of the ethereal the journey is the destination I hear an annoying Am I there yet? Am I there yet? No? How about now? Why not? And, most terrifying of all: What if this is as good as it gets?
Big, big, shudder.
I’ve been a seeker for a long time.
Before, and in addition to, the regular meditation practice, I also sought psychedelics, mediums, hypnosis, psychoanalysis, chemical and metaphysical healing, not to mention eight formative years at The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary alternately praying for miraculous proof of a God and begging the same deity for deliverance from a religious calling. My main reason? I hated those black habits. Ha! In the name of fashion I’ve since donned more black than a convent of nuns in mourning.
The point is, I was way back then, and remain today, a seeker of sorts.
I worked for almost 20 years as a feature journalist for a daily newspaper, and then spent two years as a managing editor of a small magazine. A few weeks ago, the publisher announced the elimination of editorial positions and the transition of the publication to an advertorial model. I was, as the English say, made redundant.
I’ve written thousands of articles over the years. My work has been published in newspapers and magazine nationwide. It appears on several Web sites. I’ve been lucky to have several short stories included in literary anthologies. I’ve been the recipient of numerous journalism awards and a few fellowships and grants for literary fiction. I’m working on a novel.
But I’ve rarely written about this sometimes awkward mostly ernest semi-spiritual path of seeking.
This blog, starting March 22, 2013, is my attempt to do just that.
Comments? Would love to hear about your journey. Or your belief that it is all a bunch of horse hooey.
Maybe it will be enlightening?