We all pay a thousand dollars or more to come for a weeklong course held high atop the hill. We can buy our spirituality – we are first world seekers. Most of us are women. Most of us are white. Many of us Jewish from New York, Boston, Connecticut. You feel me? First world seekers with time and privilege and education to spare. We are not worrying about the next meal. It’s easy to be in touch with compassion when someone else cleans your toilet and makes your bed.
I just got caught by the cell phone police at this guru-hill-home. Oh, the shame of it – bombing rollercoaster belly drop. The cell phone cop says, “Excuse me,” and hands me a piece of paper pre printed, “No cell phone use except in the wireless lounge.” Clearly, I’m not the first if the papers are piled in a stack on his desk.
The cruelty is that he didn’t have the heart (or patience or ???) to tell me, like human to human. Maybe this is self-protection against those of us who come to purchase spirituality, but also want our outside feed. Maybe we have behaved badly in the past, berating him his request? So now it’s the silent treatment? Is that the holy way to go?
The thing of it is, I was reading a text about my son’s day, and my heart was full of love. Just like the teachers on the hill tell me it should be, could be, would be, if I quieted my head and moved my body more. My heart was full of love. Busted.
After dinner, the hippies are out on the mountain side. One’s in a red mechanic’s suit like they used to wear….remember on Laverne and Shirley? I overhear him tell some middle-aged women – who probably find him endearing like their sons who are off on a vision quest or a fancy internship in Hollywood or New York (another kind of spiritual practice) or at an Ashram or backpacking around Europe youth hostel to youth hostel – he says, “It’s the only thing I have to wear with me,” when they ask why the suit. “Hmm,” I think to myself, “Seriously? You brought nothing else? For real?” They find him recognizable and someone they enjoy. I find myself walking more quickly.
So there he is. Big bushy hair. I am schvitzing like there’s no tomorrow in a tank top, so he has to be hot. Or maybe it’s my hormones, and actually it’s deliciously cool. Shouldn’t the weather, at least, be objective? Apparently not. “Middle Aged Woman Feels Heat. Young Hippie is Cool,” reads the headline.
I do know about loving kindness. I have heard about being non-judgmental. I am aware of neutrality. Yet I see these 21st century hippies, and all I can wonder is why. Are they lost, so they replicate what was their parent’s, or more likely their parents’ parents’: dirt-smelling essential oils and gruel-like food. Why does everything require tahini or wheat-free tamari? And why are you putting apple cider vinegar in your water?
Such traditions confuse me as they seem to be someone else’s, from another time. But, there he is, singing on a hilltop in his red suit…Does his happiness run deeper than mine? Can he touch some freedom in himself that I have never even smelled in my vicinity, never mind had emanating from me? Is life easier for him because he lives from love and clearly I don’t?
‘Cause when I was his age I was dancing myself bloody across the studios of beer and booze … And he? He sings. Off tune (that is objective). Unawares or not minding. Unable to hear himself? Deafened by his own surge? No way to know.
He scares me. So I never ask. I don’t like dirt or the way it smells. And I fear he won’t like me, and I fear I won’t like him. Rejection, the root of all disconnection and hating-violence or so the spiritual teachers tell me.
©Gabriella Strecker, 2016
photo courtesy of http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/54171/laverne-shirley-the-fifth-season/