A young man showed up at his father’s house in L.A. He had hitchhiked his way from Boston – it doesn’t matter but the year must’ve been around 1948. He was fifteen years old. My first thought when I heard him tell me was envy. A boy, a man, could do that. That would have been no easy path for me; it wasn’t for him either but he had a better chance of surviving than a girl/woman would.
He was there to see his father because he wanted to know him, to get a sense of who he was; who they were. Identity runs strong in all of us. Who we come from is important. It feels essential to know – particularly if you don’t.
His father wouldn’t let him in. I don’t know if he answered behind the door. I don’t know if he cracked the door or even stood in the doorway. My own familial dysfunction allowed me not to ask when I could and then that young man who was my cousin was cut off from contact with me, his 15 years younger cousin.
He would swim in and out of my life for many years either as dire threat, enigma or welcome drug dealer. He was my own personal example of lost and found. But that day at his father’s door he was lost.
He would go Ivy League earning degrees from an elite college and becoming a lawyer. He would marry into an old and courageous upstate NY family. I say courageous because they represented a couple of centuries of grinding life out on the land and becoming the First Family of a smallish town. When I met them (briefly) they were ensconced in a stately fraying enormous house (think winter!) near Town. We all stayed in the house for the wedding. What I remember most were the shoes and suits that to my twelve year old eye were patched and polished beyond a normal life of a shoe or a suit.
This was my first engaged encounter with Different Ways to live.
In my own battle with Who to be and What to do I found myself a rebel. I molded myself against any mold that was offered, forced or coerced. To say that hampered my self awareness is an understatement. My decisions were made the way you might play pinball. Avoidance, embrace, avoidance, escape. Avoidance being the operative word. At sixteen I fancied myself a Nihilist. Without reckoning what that really meant. For that I understand the mood of many in this country at present.
I knew my cousin best when he was free of the trappings of what our parents considered normalcy. We were happy to be in a club where hating the institution was the entry fee. Any Institution would do.
I’d like to hope that now, decades later, I have walked and run through many iterations of myself. Picking up each piece of me, refinishing, rewiring, changing parts and placing them gently into the center of Me. I thank all the many philosophies, teachers, coaches, exes, and this amazing planet for bringing me home.
What I see now in this world, at this time, is a whole lot of doors closed to people who need to come in, opportunities that are not founded in the well-being of the participant or the recipients, teachers who tell lies, leaders who fear their followers, and many of us who simply do not know what to do next. I should also cover those who know very well what to do next and don’t or those who would be as I was at fifteen, ready to kill the world.
I was short sighted then and I have had the time and taken the opportunity to take in the wisdom I’ve been offered and see that the doors closed to me have offered new ways of being, places to grow and Be.
This is a journey the current world is offering and needing. Many of us have lost confidence in what we knew or if we are really who we think we are or who we want to be. Perhaps we haven’t given ourselves the chance to learn. It takes courage to learn, to change. It takes perseverance to stay where you are not comfortable or to seek transformation.
If you are looking for a guide if you are not functioning or feeling the way you want to, being the person you want to be. If you want to be the person your dog thinks you are, give me a call. We can talk for 20 minutes and see if we fit. There is nothing I do that is the same. I am an individual and you are too. I want to keep it that way.