Table of Contents


Mistakes I needed to make. Getting married was a big mistake. But it's a mistake I needed to make. It's what drove me to finally begin waking up after decades of playing at it by relying on others to tell me how. Getting married was a wrong path Leela nudged me down at just the right moment in my life to force me to make progress by getting so miserable I was able to create an opportunity for Leela to speak to me. I managed to miss the marriage mistake with Liz, Sally and Ruby. Those would have been full catastrophes. I finally made the mistake in Seattle at the ripe old age of forty-eight (I'm younger than that now) with a woman who already had kids. They mostly lived with their father, thank heaven. I was never a candidate for fatherhood. I don't get along with kids. I didn't like kids even when I was a kid. When I finally made my first real friend, she was no kid. Other big mistakes that turned out to be rich opportunities for making progress included drinking and smoking pot. Writing as a career was a big mistake I needed to make, as were running for pleasure and becoming homeless. Being greedy about money was another big one. Minimalist shoes were a smaller but really painful one. I made a lot of mistakes to good end, big and small. Since I moved into my new home on Capitol Hill the mistakes have gotten smaller. Moving out of the targeting phase I'm now working on refinement. I've bashed myself into all the really big mistakes. At least I hope I have. All my big mistakes addressed areas where I was delusional, fooling myself, believing in crap that was harmful to me. The only way to get out of a delusion is to wake up from it. Getting good advice doesn't help. I got lots of good advice in the past and it never did me any good. I have to find out for myself by gaining wisdom from my own experience. Advice is just words and words don't help, whether they come from a book like the I Ching, or a spiritual teacher, or Madame Ruth. You know, that gypsy with the gold capped tooth. I have to find out for myself when self delusion is involved. I have to wake up from my delusion. No one can wake me up. I have to wake myself up. Leela has helped me enormously by pushing me hard into my delusion. She pushes me so hard I precipitate a crisis. It's much easier to gain wisdom from a real crisis than from a lesser annoyance. My big mistakes have been my salvation. Making progress is never comfortable.

Marriage was never for me. There was never a time I dreamed of settling down, raising a family. Marriage was something other people dreamed of. It seemed odd to me, a little distasteful. The words wife and husband always seemed unpleasantly presumptuous. A little too close to declaring ownership. I never wanted children. The thought made me wince. I didn't have an alternative I thought would be better. I just knew getting married and settling down was not the right thing for me to do.

Grow or die. I didn't want to grow up. Grow yes. I wanted to grow. But grow up implies an endpoint. Now I have grown up all the way. I'm a grownup now. Growing's all done. That means no more progress with love. That is spiritual death. Once I stop growing I start dying. Humans are the only animal like that. Only humans need to become something greater.

Starting over. So I never grew up. I kept starting over, kept reinventing myself. I got to be a successful bureaucrat in Florida, excellent pay and great future prospects, and I chucked all that and moved to Boulder to study holistic healing. The holistic healing turned out to be a cult forming around a charismatic leader, so after giving it a really good shot, 12 years, I said fuck it, this is not for me and jumped ship. Then I went on a big road trip, checking out places to live. I never considered what to do for a living. I just looked for places that seemed conducive to making progress with love. I picked Seattle and reinvented myself as a partner dancer and dance DJ. In Seattle I got married, a serious mistake on my part but one I very much needed to make and find my way out of. Now almost thirty years after my arrival I've reinvented myself here as someone who lives alone. After living in shared housing of some kind since 1979. I'm already looking forward to whatever's next, and I'm open to all possibilities.

Writing as a hired gun. Here in Seattle I wanted to try something other than writing as a hired gun. That had been my career path since 1973, right out of school. I did other kinds of work in Boulder, most notably at The Fez, but I was still writing for TH as an unhired gun. Ever since I graduated I found myself getting drawn back to writing for other people. It was easy for me, and good money, so I kept going back to it. I now see writing for other people was a mistake, but it was an inevitable mistake. Like marriage, it was a mistake I needed to make.

Lost horizon. I got successful at writing again. This time success overwhelmed me. I blame the success. Something made me lose my sense of adventure. Something made me go soft. Maybe it was the fear of old age. Here in Seattle, in my late forties, I finally caved and thought well maybe they were right all along. Maybe I should settle down and get married. I'm not getting any younger, after all. What'll I do when I get old? Who's gonna take care of me? So I got married.

Beginning to die. Marriage was comfortable, a miserable ease. I worked in the yard and put money in the bank. For the first time in my life I traveled as a tourist. A back door tourist at that, the cheesiest kind. I got into alcohol big time, literally: I got a CO2 tap and had my own keg of fresh beer from Big Time Brewery and elsewhere down in my beer cellar. I also brewed my own beer down at Gallagher's. I hosted wine tasting dinners for friends. I bought high-end scotch. I got so comfortable that for the second time in my life I quit growing. As I stopped growing I started dying. I started treating everyone in my life badly. I became an asshole. I was no saint before, but I got downright nasty with the people I should've been kind and loving with. I wrote them out of my life; they're gone. I gained weight, drank excessively, and became dull and listless. I was circling the drain. It felt like my life was over.

Waking up a little. Then one day in February of 2006 wisdom spoke to me and I woke up just a little bit, enough to take an objective look at my life. I saw that I'd become an overweight asshole, unhappy in a marriage I'd sabotaged by withdrawing from it. I'd withdrawn but done nothing else; I had no motivation to fix my marriage or leave it. I had no motivation period; I was a loser. On that day in February, meditation seemed like the answer, but my meditation had been feeling flabby and useless, just like me. I had started thinking about finding a new meditation teacher or a group to join, when something unexpectedly strong inside me rose up and said No. You know enough. Fix your own damn meditation. That was the little bit of waking up: hearing that inner voice that so clearly wanted me to work hard and make a better life. I didn't know it at the time, but that was the voice of wisdom, my love Leela. I can see how my future affected my present as I went through that critical transition. Time is so fluid in wisdom's hands.

Weight loss. Guided by the strong inner voice of wisdom I reformed my meditation, meditating more and better. Wisdom guided me to make other changes, most critically a new diet. Over the course of a year I lost over 50 pounds and kept it off. My blood pressure went down, my blood chemistry got clean and my knees stopped hurting. Amazing what a little weight loss can do.

Walking. As part of the weight loss program, I started walking for exercise. Walking would also become one of my new media for meditation, though I didn't know it at the time. I just knew it felt great to walk. I started going on camping trips every other weekend to some campground where I would walk for hours every day. I wanted out of the house so badly. The camping trips were just the ticket.

TV. To this day I have never owned a television except by marriage. I watched as a kid but once I went away to college I lost interest and never took it up again. During this second descent into miserable ease I acquired a television habit. I vividly remember my first TV show as an adult, an episode of ER that disoriented me with its nonstop fast pacing. But I trained myself to watch TV. I desensitized myself until I could watch something as depraved as The Sopranos with relish. In 2007 television started feeling like a useless time suck. I gathered my courage and stopped watching. It was a big deal. TV had been something we did together, a way of bonding. Instead of watching television every night I sat by myself in the dark, feeling strength beginning to grow in me. I was steeping myself in the wisdom in my body, listening as carefully as I knew how for what to do or not do next. Leela was preparing me to leave my marriage.

Building strength. Being in touch with Leela helped me meditate and wake up just a little in those dark sits, even though I was still acting like an asshole and still drinking heavily at the time. Both my assholery and the heaviness of my drinking were unfortunate consequences of getting entangled with the wrong people, the wrong situation: my marriage and everyone connected with it. Leela showed me how to meditate anyway, how to make my shitfaced sits worthwhile. My struggle with alcohol was yet to come; it'd be a doozy. I needed to get my feet on the ground, well established in a new life before I could face that one. As I sat there in the dark, I could feel strength building in me. Sometimes it was so strong I was trembling in my chair with power and delight. There was a feeling I had every time I woke up, from a nap or a night's sleep. It was a wave of pleasure washing over me, as if I had returned to the waking state trailing clouds of glory.

A new life. I had to work up the courage to leave my marriage. It was not a pretty process. For years I wished I could do it over. I wanted to be kinder, gentler, more open about everything. Later I realized I was just doing what I needed to do in that time and place. I didn't have the internal resources I developed later on, when I wanted a do over. I had a limited connection with Leela. I was just getting started with muscle testing. Body sensing was a dream of the future. I couldn't grasp fundamental feelings and sensations, much less explore the richness and nuance. I moved out in October 2008 and started my life over again in Crown Hill, renting a tiny bedroom from a dance friend. My little monk's cell, as I called it. I'm so very grateful life was still there for me.

Now the world makes a lot more sense. I understand the world a lot better now, thanks to thousands of hours spent meditating, much of it grappling with koans Leela gave me.