I knew I couldn't completely turn things off, but I was wondering if the Universe couldn't just turn things down a wee bit. Sheesh.
Way too many things were competing for my attention. There was the Raven. Plus a dead great-grandmother and a dead grandmother (not to mention occasional appearances from a dead grandfather). There was Dragon, Shadow, and Little Will. Plus, a veritable petting zoo of critters were bringing me messages: jaguars, turtles, frogs, wolves, owls, horses, oh my. Even the rocks were talking to me.
"Listen to the signs," someone who thought they were being helpful told me.
Easy for them to say. You try listening when everyone on your shaman bus is talking at once!
"Walk through the doors that are opening," another helpful, irritating soul chimed in.
I did a lot of walking.
I walked through doors opened by books. Over the span of about six weeks, I read: Jack Kornfield's A Path with Heart; Rudolf Steiner's How to Know Higher Worlds; St Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle; Pema Chodron's Comfortable with Uncertainty; Caitlin Matthews's Singing the Soul Back Home; Carolyn Myss's Anatomy of the Spirt; Gurmukh's The 8 Essential Human Talents; Anodea Judith's Wheels of Life; and Gregg Lovoy's Callings.
I walked through more doors than are at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. And I left with just about the same feeling: a bright, immediate rush...and then nothing.
Oh, sure. Some things connected with me. I was moved by the experience of witnessing Sister Teresa's mystical awakening. I nodded my head at the simplicity of Gurmukh and Judith's words. Reiki influenced the development of my own shamanic practice. And music will always be the wave I ride into higher planes (though not by strumming a guitar or spit-blowing into a didgeridoo!).
But, most of what I experienced? It was one big Chinese take-out dinner. For an ADD shaman. Which is not the combination platter I sought.
A lot of that was because most of what I read--and most of what is still out there--is way, way, way too rigid. Too mind-full. Too ego-centric. Carolyn Myss pronounces that there are seven stages of power and healing. Gurmukh says there are eight human talents. Most memorably, that psychic in Boston explained that the afterlife was a big office full of file cabinets. Each of us has our own drawer. If we are particularly evolved--but only IF!--we have an entire file cabinet (he, of course, had a file cabinet).
I don't know about you, but I think Mama Nature and Papa Universe hear such ridiculousness and just laugh. Seven this. Eight that. File cabinets?!?! My, my, my, what the ego constructs to make one feel worthy. Ha!
Better yet, in a scene straight out of L. Ron Hubbard, to enter all of these doors, you have to pay to play. Hmmm....
By my birthday in 2006, I was pretty much at my wit's end. My consulting business was going full force...and competing mightily with both a cacophony of signs and a plethora of doors. Further, Kalin and I returned from a most splendid adventure to New Mexico’s mountains to find that a fire in the front of our brownstone had flooded our downstairs and my political mentor, Gerry Studds, had died.
Like I said, fried. With ADD. Not pretty.
About a week after returning home to fire, floods and death, I took our dog, Tyra Banks, for her early morning walk. Somewhere on Appleton Street, between Clarendon and Berkeley, my grandmother appeared to me. Dressed in her finest, flowing chiffon, Gran was standing in front of a crossroads, facing me.
To her left was a cluttered path, writhing in dense underbrush, cascading, entwined vines and looming, thick trees. It was a path that could never be cleared. It was the path I was on.
To her right was a pitch-black dark path. As Gran pointed to it, a single, distant flash of lightening illuminated it. It was clear. It was the path I was to take (though I must admit, that lightening did make me feel a bit like Brad and Janet in Rocky Horror Picture Show!).
When I went home, I wrote these words:
"Where does it lead? I do not know."
"How long will it take? I do not know."
What will I have to give up? I do not know."
"OK,” I said out loud, “I'm in."
A few days later, I told all of this to Jill. She nodded, paused for what seemed like an incredibly long time and said, simply, "I think it's time you meet Charles."