For as long as I could remember, I had always known where I was on life's ladder. Of the rung I was on. And the rung I wanted to reach. It was always a vertical climb…up, up and up. A focused climb. A climb blessed with mentors cheering me on at each stage.
Now, there was no ladder, no rungs, no mentors. I had no idea where I was. Or why I was there. At the same time, I knew I couldn't just click my heels and return home. Something had changed. Deep inside. Forever.
But what had changed? And what did it mean?
Promising myself that I'd find out, I began to fumble around in the darkness of my cluelessness. For a rung, a ladder, a mentor.
And, being the good Type A man I was, I gave myself a firm deadline. Of July 4th (did I mention it was May?).
I started my search with a small group of "healers" who worked out of a creaky, sweaty, smelly yoga space. There I met a wonderful young spirit named Kwa Ma who told me she was an Indigo Child and that the Indians had called me Little Turtle and that a jealous tribesman had thrown me into a well to die, where, like the frog in the fable, I had forgotten how to look up at the sky.
She also told me that, if I'd just commit to seven sessions of Doreen Virtue's Angel Therapy, I'd be all set. Now, the seven sessions certainly fit my deadline, but 15 years in politics gives you a pretty good B.S. meter. I knew that, in just seven days, Dr. Frank-n-Furter indeed could make Rocky a man. But I doubted whether Ms. Virtue had the same powers. So I passed. And visited the other healers at the yoga studio. Who were all very nice, if unshowered. But, each seemed more lost than I. So I moved on.
Next stop was my lifelong best friend: books. As a sickly kid, books had given me solace. As a very young gay man, books had given me answers. And as an “in over-his-head” young consultant, books had taught me how to wing it. I was hoping for a repeat on all fronts.
I visited Trident Booksellers on Boston's Newbury Street. Having just left a client meeting, I was in my best Zegna suit, my sharpest Clouet tie and my shiniest Allen Edmonds shoes. I opened the door, pushed down my shoulders and bowed my head, and just generally tried to be invisible as I snuck around from aisle to aisle. It was the exact same feeling I had, as a teen-age boy, sneaking into gay clubs. Or bookstores. A feeling of secrecy. Of shame. Of knowing that no one else on earth felt like I did. Knowing that my friends and my family would all leave me if they found out who I was. It felt as awful the second time around as it had the first.
Finally, I found a few shelves with books on the occult, psychics and such. I quickly scanned the titles and pulled out 15 books. Then, not wanting to be caught, I lurked in the background until there was no one in line at the register and made a mad dash to check-out.
When I got home, I found that none of the books provided answers or even a ray of light. The best ones, like Spirit Allies, nudged me further into the darkness. The worse ones, like You are Psychic!...well, they were about what you’d expect from a book with an exclamation point in the title.
Ultimately, the only peace I found in those early days came from music, my life’s muse. And, for that, I have Steve Jobs to thank. You see, 2006 was right about the time when iTunes starting making music recommendations based on your listening history. For me, those recommendations were like breadcrumbs along the trail.
Because, it was through my iTunes purchase of Regina Spektor’s Begin to Hope that I found the haunting voice of Imogen Heap. And it was because I liked Imogen Heap that Apple told me to buy Sigur Ros.
And it was because of Sigur Ros. Well, it was by climbing up the mystical majesty of Sigur Ros's Hoppipolla that I began to sense that the clues I sought could be found not in the light, but the dark.
But how to do that? I hadn't a clue. Though the clue...and the person..were there. In the dark. Waiting.