Monday, August 3, 2009

Fifteen Years to Find This Moment

It took me fifteen years to get to this perfect moment.

Nobody ever accused the Bitter Spiritualist of being quick on the uptake. Nobody. Fifteen years ago I started to wake up, got scared, attempted to take a nap for the better part of a decade, and now am wide awake. Or I have gone off the deep end, made a complete societal break and will be institutionalized any moment. Either way I am going to share the beginning of my wake up call. My story, the story that landed me in this moment, the eternal bliss of the here and now.

I was the Bitter Performer for a long time. As talented and humble I am as a writer, I was tenfold as an actor. A shy kid, big imagination, teller of tall tales, a lover of movies and television,. They were, and are, a place of entertainment and comfort for me. It surprised me when I listened to, and acted on, the voice inside me that said be an actor. Huh? It scared me to my core, being in front of people was not my comfort zone, more my cringe zone. Through a series of choreographed randomnesses I began my journey in earnest at an acting studio in New York City, Manhattan Edge. Cheesy name, amazing place, teaching actors to work moment to moment, whatever that meant. I would leave work, take the subway uptown, have a casual vomit on the sidewalk, break out in a glistening sheen of sweat, sheen to rivulets, and walk up the stairs to the studio.

My brilliantly crazy teacher, we'll call her The Gambler, stuck by for months as I would begrudgingly get up on stage and freeze up. Reciting lines by rote, automated, autopiloted, the only emotion, gut busting, piss inducing fear with a splash of occasional anger. Maybe she needed the cash, maybe she liked having a full class listen to her sing Kenny Rogers, maybe she saw my courage to keep coming back when any self respecting sane person would run to the nearest saloon for a whiskey or six. Yet I kept coming back, week after painful week, sweat stained and vomit breathed, I would sit in the corner dreading my time to work. Embarrassed, hiding, worried about my poor classmates, how uncomfortably boring they must have been watching me crash and burn, how awful I was. Yet I was young and stupid, a beautiful combination to keep doing what your heart tells you to do. A quality I am reclaiming!

Then one night it happened. I popped. Pop! I was onstage by myself, doing by best robot, teetering on the brink of something. Teetering on the brink of the moment. The Gambler kept nudging me, prodding me with her emotional dildo. Trying to get me to feel, to let go and share myself with the class. And then it happened. Pop! I was a laughing, crying, screaming, yelling, snotty beast, a howling wolf, tapped into a well I knew not existed. In awe at it's depth, it's power, it's freedom. Who was this guy? I want to get to know more of him. I was feeling. Twenty plus years of pent up emotion came flooding out of me. I tingled from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I had never felt more alive in all my life. I was working, in the moment. The perfect mix of ecstasy and amphetamines. Ahhh Just right. The exercise stopped, I retreated to the recesses of my mind, yet knew that I had had a profound experience. That the veil had been pulled back, my eyes opened, and I felt something more powerful than I knew existed. I was beginning to wake up.

Soon thereafter I found myself at The Gambler's acting camp in upstate New York. Ten days in the woods with a bunch of people that scared the fuck out of me, learning how to act and emote, learning how act in the moment. Intense. I was getting more and more comfortable diving into my emotional well, being in the moment on stage, I knew it was safe, it felt great, and chicks dug it. I still would resist, but The Gambler was there to push me, get me out of my head and into my heart. If felt great to feel, and to give that feeling a voice. And I was an actor, working, and my job was to be in the moment, acting.

Two fellows in that camp really wigged me out. I'd seen them at the studio, they were real theatre folk. Brilliant resumes performing high brow stuff I only pretended to like or read. Shakespeare? Godot? I was more on the movie star track. I will call them Earth and Air, for one seemed just about ready to float to the heavens, and the other to plant roots where he stood. Something about them disturbed my peace, big time. Not a word said to them in our previous meets, I'm sure I mocked them, silently, they freaked me the fuck out. Later I learned they were healers and energy workers.

Yeah me too. Healers? Energy workers? Hippies, they didn't dress the part, but they fell into my category of hippies. New Age phooey shysters, preying on the weak minded. A tarnished Catholic boy, I was convinced that God did not exist. Sure if he came down in his long white robes and talked to me, I may have said hello and did his bidding. And I had my bases covered, I was confirmed for Christ sakes, but from what I'd seen and experienced, God was a genius work of fiction. Pure entertainment for desperate fools and morons. But Air and Earth were nice guys, for hippie snake oil salesmen, so I found myself circling their orbit. More for comic material to laugh about, and they would laugh with me.

After a particularly courageous exercise in emoting, I sat in my chair on the grass, feeling great. Earth and Air beside me, their peaceful serenity annoying as always. And then it happened, I was attacked, viciously, without warning, an attack that would change my life forever. By a butterfly. This menacingly beautiful little butterfly started dancing around my head. Earth and Air, chuckling as I became concerned. What did I have in my hair that was so attractive to this pest? Was I seeing things? I moved my chair, and the little fellow followed me. I was not getting away from him. I gently tried swatting him away, and he would elude me and come right back, circling.

Earth and Air started to share with me about animal magic, animal medicine, and that the butterfly was a sign of transformation. Yeah, yeah, sure it is weirdos, sell your tonics someplace else, this cat ain't buying. It must be my shampoo. But as much as I tried to deny it, that little fucker would not leave me alone. He seemed to have an agenda. I became annoyed and they became amused, the two New Age ooey gooeys assuring me it was okay, I didn't have to believe anything I didn't want to. You're damn fucking right hippies! And which one of you sprayed me with butterfly musk?

So the day went on, more acting exercises and fun. The day over, twilight settling in, the sky begin to reveal her panorama of stars, I sat by the pool alone, unwinding, denying, wondering what the fuck was going on. And it started to rain, a gentle torrent of stars started raining down on me. Sparkles of light flowing out of the sky falling to earth. I couldn't believe my eyes; I was seeing things; Something was seriously wrong with me; I was tired; My eyes were tired; They must have spiked lunch; This country air does strange things to city folk; I needed a cigarette; Definitely someone had slipped me a mickey. I came up with a million excuses to prove that this was not happening. I couldn't be, I didn't know what it was, but whatever it was it couldn't be happening. Unequivocally this was not happening. No fucking way. Then the butterfly came back for one final hello, circling my head, silently whispering in my air that I wasn't crazy, that I wasn't alone. A whispered wake up, that for the first time I was seeing.

Tears flowing down my cheeks, the butterfly flew away, his job done, the door opened, a new messenger to take his place, Air coming out to enjoy the evening air. I attempted to tell him what I had just experienced, attempted to deny what was happening, trying desperately to get some control back, get some proper distance and deniability. He smiled and quoted Shakespeare "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

I worked with Earth for years off and on, learning about this magical world I was introduced to, this being I didn't recognize when I looked in the mirror. Sure I've had bumps in the road, detours, years denying it to myself, building up a layer of protection, letting my ego run the show. Well I am back, another layer of truth was revealed to me this past week. The years lying to myself were perfect, exactly what I needed to get to this moment, the moment that really only exists.

I am learning and loving. And it takes work, it takes conscious intention to remain awake to the moment. Any beautiful garden needs attention, some weeding, and I am excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work, digging. I may have bumps in the road, I know this, or maybe I won't. I know that I no longer need years of retreat, I can transform in a moment. I AM WIDE AWAKE.

I am done with my story! I am excited to let life unfold in each perfect moment. Let's continue with this grand experiment, I'm releasing this story, it's now off to the Universe. I'm going to go play with Jolly - that's my Mom's dog perverts.


  1. Absolutely beautiful. You inspire me!

  2. NICE one Brendan! You big hairy hippie. Miss you.

  3. Thanks for sharing the story of your spiritual awakening (a subject you've teed up more times than I can count, and I, in my self-possessed conviction to deny you the pleasure of my asking, have ignored as many times as you have teed.) I too have an incredible affinity for butterflies but "after a particularly courageous exercise in emoting" kills. Anyone who can achieve self-congratulatory and high-sterical in seven words or less is worthy of some public acknowledgement. I'm going back to being self-possessed now...

  4. Brendan, As you travel through life and live your journey, always remember that i was your first blog fan/follower! Soar high, follow your dreams, smile, love and laugh. Thanks for being there my friend.