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I was walking home from work, shortly after coming back from Dad’s funeral, which was not surprisingly an excruciating affair. Aside from all the details and official stuff, Mom was acting very weird, disoriented and unfocused. That freaked me out almost more than dealing with Dad’s passing. As much as we’d mostly been at arm’s length to each other all our lives, she suddenly seemed older than her years, her trademark confidence sapped, her actions hesitant and awkward.
We’d never been close like some families, and she seemed almost insultingly relieved that the divorce had never been finalized, so that she inherited Dad’s money; she would be independent of me. Not that I wanted her to be dependent, but I still felt the chill as she dismissively sent me back to California. I’d lost my father, and my mother had pulled back even further into her cocoon of self-absorption. Who was there left for me to turn to in this world?
I found myself thinking almost constantly about life and death and all that, thinking about cosmic consciousness, from whatever book I’d been reading lately. I read them all, believe me, everything from past lives to time travel, Buddhism, Krishna, you name it. From the weird, the flaky, the scientific, the historical, the erudite, to what I could only classify as the “woo woo” stuff. I wanted something to make sense, something to explain all the pain and suffering – the world’s, yes, and much more specifically, my own.
I could hardly sit still for the platitudes the preacher spoke at Dad’s funeral. One thing had become clear to me in my reading, and that was that we must keep recycling around, life after life. Simply from a logical point of view – at least my own logic – I found all the other belief systems eventually brought me up against a wall. Like you just had to accept that life was “…solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short…”, As Thomas Hobbes so depressingly put it. The idea of people getting only one shot, when so many obviously are born into a world where they have no shot at all, made me want to blow my brains out.
But that wasn’t for me, either. I’d tasted, too fleetingly, but too many times, that “more”, and it drove me crazy that I couldn’t get it back on demand, like premium cable. Maybe I was just too normal. Maybe the divine wasn’t interested in someone like me, good intentions, occasionally foul mouthed, wearing my doubt like some cloak of invincibility against getting screwed yet again.
I’d lived in Boulder, Colorado, which was chock full of weirdos, space cadets, aging hippies, all kinds of people who claimed to know the meaning of life. I was (more or less) from Texas and the conservative South, and it always grated on me, that dreamy, far-out façade I saw people wearing there. Just like I always found myself really annoyed by the implications that Truth could only be had by going somewhere else, preferably somewhere exotic; India, maybe, wearing weird clothes and spouting quotes from some guru who solved all your problems with a few platitudes.
I was annoyed.
I wanted Truth, in the worst way, but I no more saw it coming at me in orange robes, than in a slick suit and pompadour hairstyle on the Christian TV channels. Through it all, part of me kept believing there had to be another way, had to be something real and true, something that made sense in a way that a regular person could grasp. Something that I’d just know was right. But damned if I’d been able to find it. Or it, me.
But then, there I was, walking home from work that evening. It was cold and foggy, as usual. The street was oddly quiet; the few other people on the sidewalk made no sound, like phantoms moving through the mist.
And suddenly, all around me, just like that, I ..saw it all. I looked and I was seeing how everything and everyone was …respirating to that singular cosmic breath, in and out, in and out, the whole planet, or maybe the whole universe, expanding and contracting and everything and everyone in it as ONE, rising and falling with one overarching breath. And even within that, I could see the cycles within cycles, like the mechanics of the universe, the in-and-out breath of each human, the living respiration of me and every other pedestrian walking this fog-bound street, we all moved as ONE, the mist itself pulsing with that cosmic rhythm.
And, even more oddly, this didn’t strike me as odd. Not odd that I was experiencing the kind of deeply mystical moment I secretly always wanted to have. No, I simply walked through this altered reality and knew this …way of seeing… was natural to me.
Like the fog itself, this awareness lingered in little wisps, all the way home. I wandered around my kitchen, in a kind of giddy state of wonder, finally popped open a beer, unwrapped the sub sandwich I’d bought earlier, and just sat smiling to myself. I felt… happy. Content. Like I hadn’t in so long I couldn’t even remember. Like I’d seen that all was right with the world after all.
It was all in your angle of view.