A Gift in Disguise

Hello again:

It has been an irritatingly boring day, which is a big danger signal for me. And at the heart of the matter was the simple email to Cousin Mary about anger. Our 12step meeting had a bit of a blowup this morning. After the email, I stared at the ground. I read every news article on the web I could find. I’d sit slump shouldered at the computer. I felt self-hatred and self-anger. Finally, I took a nap. I woke up and made a little progress, cleaning the kitchen, making a healthy dinner, grooming, and still no work. Go to movie? Snowing. Call someone? No one to call.

I was thinking about an agent in the new training class. She almost feels like a gift from the universe. I didn’t see it that way at first. I saw it through the eyes of judgment. I saw it through the eyes of “All About Me”. Here’s the first view:

I’m sitting next to her all week and trying to work & tune out her talking. On and on and on she talks never shutting up. The trainer is talking. Finally he snaps at her and sullen she quiets. But within a minute or two she’s at it again. “Like I was saying, there I was in the grocery line and my husband was running back to get some carrots, what were we thinking?, and then I realized I hope he gets the organic kind, and I said to the person next to me can you believe how expensive it is buying vegan all the time. I am totally vegan you know and then my husband was coming back and he didn’t have any carrots and he said, did you want the orange kind or the mixed kind and then big or small. Well he should know by now… yadda yadda”. She’s always talking about her amazingly good class notes and what a smart person she is and on and on and on and on and on and on. I’m irritated. Then yesterday in class we’re playing a game and she yelled out, “I know the answer” and got her typed-up notes and was reading off a litany of answers, when the trainer said, “No, that’s not right” about one of her answers. She lost it, defending herself, stomping around. She went home sick twenty minutes later.

Finally, tonight, clarity. Mom called and she was talking about her sister and what a rough life her sister had and was going on about another Uncle Was So Mean To Her story. And I saw. We cling, I cling, to these sad memories like they’re my friends when in fact all they are is angry poison. Yes, I get I’m really mad at myself. Super duper mad. Yes, I had absolutely everything going for me. Good looks. Great health. Good mind. Very smart. Talented … piano, language, people. Supportive, loving family. Stanford degree. Berkeley grad student. But my self-loathing around being gay was too much for me. I couldn’t let the self-hatred go. And drugs found me. And now, decades later I’m old. I’ve lost everything. My youth. My degree wasted. No lover. No home. Minimum wage (well $13/hr) job at an India-based outsourcer and I tell myself stories of how poorly I get treated some days. I live by myself in a crappy little apartment in the hood. I’m overweight. I’m lonely. My brain is deteriorating. I’ve been homeless, raped, had a gun pushed to my head, beat up, infected. How could I do this to myself? I’m so angry I don’t get another chance and that it’s over for me for all practical purposes and I just want to scream and jump off a cliff. There’s your honesty. There’s your anger.

And what does anger get people? They stomp out of a silly little twelve-step meeting because the chairman decides not to break our group into two discussion groups per the rules. The chairman starts yelling as he’s challenged. In anger after the meeting, he brings up a motion to be fired. Or he’ll quit. The coworker that made a tiny mistake full of learning opportunity storms off and goes home sick. A beloved Aunt spends day after day lamenting her life … I’m so grateful at least I can be an ear for her.

I’ve started channeling again. Last night, second time. I’m gonna go grab the relevant part and put on some pensive music. Here are both:

Behind the scenes, she’s actually a happy person…

If we think of the world as some form of energy and inverse energy – mass – in some sort of harmonic dance, a musical score if you will, then what is going on is that the instrumentalists are so busy lamenting their screetch from a few pages ago, or fretting over their solo in an upcoming phrase, or thinking about the post-performance party, or the squabble with the second oboist, or second clarinetist we had back in the  sixth grade – we are therefore not in the performance at the moment.    

Our moods and our countenance is like a musician who because of the fight, mis performs either intentionally or more likely unintentionally. Get into the moment then.

Now we are back to the symphony. It is playing. It began long ago and will continue long after and it continues in the eternal here-moment, the eternal moment of here and now, where we have always been and always shall be. There is no other time, no other place. This is the time. This is the place. We are its people. We are the voice and the way, and the time to join us is now. The past and the future are constructs that will unfold only in the context of the present moment. The goal is to play best be can from the moment we first come tim… “come to”. The time to awaken is now. Be awoke. The dance continues and no words describe the process of being the actor, the performer in an ongoing concert of now which unfolds according to the design of the construct and the collective will of its participants. The entire world, the history of time, and all that ever will be, ever was, or ever is in this eternal moment, is encoded in the very twitchings of our fingers, in the beating of our heart, the aches of our body and the infirmities of age, the sagging of the skin and the digestive problems. We are awoke, but barely so. Continue to move forward until the discovery is made that nothing was moving all along. Amen!

If all the world is a stage and each of us in the performance of a lifetime, then that fight with the clarinetist in 5th or 6th grade is over and if I get all worked up about that ancient history now, I’ll probably miss my cue. If I’m so busy wracked with sobbing and self-pity that my body is shaking in lurching fits, I won’t be able to finesse that glissando. What if life really is a giant musical, living art performance and that each moment in time the gift is to experience fully, participate fully, breathe deeply, enjoy the other elements of the play? What if we are all composers, actors, musicians, directors, audience? What if one moment our job is to turn over the lead role of some minor moment on a side stage to someone else? What if we are to be the drug addict? The Stanford graduate? The Valedictorian? The Homeless? The Man with the Gun to his Head? What if I am in the role of a lifetime? I’d hate to miss the next act. The next scene.

Am I really willing to truly change? To truly grow? To truly let go? To truly be the very best I can be in this, this the one and only moment that I have? 

That agent IS a gift from the universe. She helped me see my own truth. Truth is, she’s a beautiful person. Kind-hearted. Gentle. Sharing. Caring. And like all of us, awash in her childhood fears and angers and who can fault her for doing the best she can with what she’s got. That first inclination to judge is merely hiding my own judgement of myself. Now that I’ve experienced a brief freedom of self-hatred and self-anger, I feel compassion for her, for my Aunt, for my fellow twelve steppers, for all of us lost souls too busy focused on yesterday and tomorrow to hear the joyous symphony of the present.  “The entire world, the history of time, and all that ever will be, ever was, or ever is in this eternal moment, is encoded in the very twitchings of our fingers …” Even my fingers twitching now…


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