BE STILL, DIVE DEEP. #7 Continuing my personal story and the discovery of the myth that defined my life, we find our little “Paddle to the Sea” ( a canoe in a childhood story book) out of college and teaching English in Loudoun County, VA.
The years 1965 to 1968 are impossible to define, both culturally and personally, because the events in these years transformed my life in ways that could not be imagined. Just as the chick cannot image how its life will change once it leaves the shell. I was in a shell, to be sure. And my discoveries of Thomas Merton, the diving and surfacing in the great Ocean on my submarine, the Romantics and Transcendentalists in English Literature, and the struggle of philosophers to touch the truth of existence were all my little beak pecking, pecking on this unseen shell that enclosed me.
The first crack came when I met Lee, a new teacher in the high school with me, who was to become my life long friend and my immediate Rasputin to my Czar ego. A great winter blizzard hit the East Coast my first winter in school, and we spent our snow bound days with Lee where he cooked fabulous dinners and expanded our horizons in other tastes, in music and thought. Boundaries to my know world began to fall and I was hit with great existential doubt. Who was I? Was I the “surface skimmer” I thought I was (a reference to what submariners called fleet sailors)? I was overpowered with the heartfelt feeling that I could be anything I wanted, and that my boundaries were only as permanent as the snow drifts closing our front door.
As a high school teacher I followed the manual, teaching grammar and literature, but I was not creative in my work. It was just a daily struggle to keep from being killed by the 8th grade students I taught. I had no passion, because you cannot have passion unless you can cut the rope. Thanks to Lee I had met Zorba the Greek, the movie and the sound track LP, which I played over and over. “A man must have a little madness to cut the rope,” said the grizzled old guru Zorba. I was the English intellectual, Lee was my Zorba who taught me to dance.
In my third year, I had transfered to Percilleville to teach 11th grade, I only remember those last months. JFK had been assassinated and Hate Asbury was in full bloom in San Francisco. We made good friends with a new Presbyterian minister, who would later give me a key to my next adventure. Students were dividing into those in rebellion and those who followed the orthodox path. One student ran away to Hate Asbury and she came back as a Hippy Queen with a shoe box full of pot. Change was rippling in the air like static from a lighting storm. I tried this “magic dragon.”
I still remember my reaction: “Damn, this stuff is good. They are wrong!” All that had been said was false. I had grown up in San Diego going to the reefer movies in downtown theaters that were made in the 30s to scare youth of the dangers of this evil weed. All these movies did was excite youth with the flashes of skin and forbidden sex. But here I was actually smoking the devil’s breath. Another crack in my egg splintered off Zorba.
Then came the break through. A friend gave me a tape of J. Krishnamurti and I listened to it while going to sleep. I awoke the next morning totally out of my previous personality or Ed identity. The shell could not even be seen because my whole life before I awoke that morning had been a dream. I looked in the morning mirror and laughed in a joyous whoop. I knew who I was looking back at me. It was like discovering one’s long lost twin or one’s long lost home. Energy was rippling through me. There seemed to be no division between me and the external world. The world was in me!
I started doing complicated yoga postures, never having even seen them. I love standing on my head. I went to school and before me in the hall of hurrying kids was eyes, glowing deep eyes, as if I could see their very souls lit up. In class I through the text book in the trash and began to teach spontaneously the teaching of Krishnamurti. Half the students formed around me down front furiously taking notes, while the other half hung out in the back of the room, looking at me askance. I showed them that everyone could stand on their head, and they did, with the administrators walking by my room looking at me askance.
I had a honda motorcycle and I began riding it fearlessly. The road, the bike and I were one. When I picked up the Bible and read the words of Jesus, I was speaking those words as he spoke them. Time had collapsed. The same with Walt Whitman. I was the Song of Myself. Students began to congregate at my house. I seemed to have cut some rope. Was I mad?
I had too certainties: I knew I was a Son of God, for my Father was the source of me. I felt closer to God than to my self. When I saw a horse for the first time, I was Adam before the fall, before I named it horse. All animals and children were wondrous beings. I was able to communicate with them from a being space instead of a head space. The whole world was undefined, with extraordinary beauty in the ordinary.
The next certainty was that I wanted to find a master, a teacher who could, well, affirm my enlightenment and assure me that I wasn’t mad. What was I doing to do with this new found energy? I knew I could not teach in Loudoun because what I wanted to teach was awakening and not the accepted grammar of the orthodox life.
In a few weeks the “awakening” became a waxing moon, and its intensity began to fade. I wanted to find the path or the method that would bring it back. She, my muse, my inner self, left like my beloved saying, “I’ll be back.” I would later learn to call her my Shakti, or creative energy. She has an androgynous aura about her, neither male or female. But she was calling me on a journey to God and to my Self.
We left Northern Virginia when school ended, going to Miami where a principal of a new high school I had met had offered me a job. What he had said was come on down and apply, in a off hand way. But we packed up, motorcycle in our van, and headed over the horizon, following a star we could not see.
Posted under personal story
This post was written by ed on September 28, 2011