|Goal Posts of Life|
I was still in my early thirties when I packed up my wife, our three cats, some basic household necessities and headed off for Nashville, Tennessee to become a professional singer /songwriter. After about six months of dragging body and soul around Music Row, Printers Alley and to every other neon blitzed Holiday Inn and Ramada featuring a writer's night, I began to realize that it was definitely not the life for me. So one afternoon I found a glitzy little hair salon, walked in and asked the stylist to cut off my pony tail. She was happy to oblige and I returned to the streets of Music City looking like a young Kennedy fresh from a swim on the Cape. Within a week I'd abandoned my finely tooled cowboy boots, dropped the acquired twang and jettisoned the ever present bottle of Bud Light.
Dixie is known for Baptist congregations, sky splitting revelations and joyful, teary eyed Christian salvations. Perhaps the tenor of Davidson County rubbed off on me in a perverse way, for instead shaking hands with Jesus like most rock bottom country singers, I ended up in Barnes & Nobel searching the shelves for books on Buddhism. In the coming months I began to meditate, became a vegetarian and started to spend hours exploring the State Park system of Eastern TN, Hell bent on training to become a through hiker on the path to self-realization more commonly known as the Appalachian Trail.
I practically gave up penning songs and turned my attention to filling thousands of pages in hard covered journals with detailed descriptions of my metaphoric encounters with life; pithy stuff, like capturing the sublime in a conversation shared with a Pakistani grocery store clerk. Everything took on new meaning. Everything was part of the journey to my inner self and of course, enlightenment. I even gave up smoking pot. Did you get that? I gave up smoking P-O-T; something that I had deemed central to my identity and considered indispensable as a tool to demolishing the psychological barriers my formal education had erected between the right and left side of my brain, between ego and truth, between mundane citizen-cog and sensitive artist/composer. But you know what? Try as I might, I just wasn't ready. The joyful prayer flags might have been fluttering in the thin, crisp air of the Tibetan highlands, but half a world away, in the valley of Cumberland River, I remained an unevolved Occidental toiling for pennies within the meat wheel of life.
Then one morning, after about two years on the ethereal trail, I found myself sitting straight backed at the kitchen table in our rental home on Goodmorning Drive. My eyelids at the pre-requisite half mast, I was attempting to telepathically alter the position of a pair of shoes I'd left on the floor by the opposite wall. Mind you, I was only trying to move one, and only a millimeter or so. Nothing too grandiose or showy. You see, with all that acquired "I create the world" ripoche rhetoric circling in my satori ready mind and totally accepting that "reality is illusion and nothing is as it appears," I just wanted a sign. A tiny "at-ah-boy" from the other side, something from Carlos Castaneda's nagual, a nod from nothingness, a wink from anybody's heaven. I just wanted to see a shoelace drop or the leather tongue twitch.
So I sat there in a trance. For how long I'll never know. I became totally "one" with those shoes. I performed a mind-meld that would have smoked Spock. I emptied myself of every thought but the complete and total connection to the energy of I-Shoe-I. And guess what happened? Out of nowhere, like a fly-speck on the distant horizon, it began to form. Faint but increasing in volume ever so slowly, shaping itself like clay deep within the muscles of my distended diaphragm. A primal animal noise. A gurgling organic sludgy sound, rising from the core of my being, expanding like a balloon on a helium spigot. Soon this auditory vibration was taking on color; brilliant, crystalline prismatic hues brimming with intensity, forcing a way upward, like a striped beach ball held too long underwater, shouldering past my calm and practiced deep healing breaths, up through my tracheae between awed vocal cords and from there gushing forth like the blood curdling blat of a tortured and dying calf. My muscles re-coiled, my chair fell back, and in one seamless sound guided move I let my leg fly like the Saints' own John Carney, a kick so Zen that it sent those shoes right over the spiritual goal posts of life! "BY GOD BASTARDS, MOVE YOU SHALL!"
Enlightenment never felt so good.
Enlightenment never felt so good.