The world has ended. My life as I know it is over. The prosperity I have been enjoying since the sun-gazing began has departed from me, making me think the timing of it was a coincidence to begin with. It occurs to me that this may seem like a pretty steep loss in faith considering the magical four months I had previously enjoyed. But I assure you it is not. I came home from my five week vacation (I know that seems long, but again, I assure you, it is not) feeling rested and ready to jump back into a new routine with zest and vigor. And then the tides began to turn. The marijuana collective had basically hit the skids. We had the slowest patch we’ve experienced in almost a year, and at a time when our bills and the stakes and my expectations couldn’t be higher. I have grown accustomed to a certain level of prosperity, of magic, of synchronicity. I have come to expect it. So when my partner and I had to skip three paychecks in a row in order to make payroll and restock the menu I was starting to feel the pinch. And with the pinch comes the pit in your stomach that says this is scary, and that you’re a failure, and that even though you’ve managed to turn it around every other time this one is somehow different and you’re headed for bankruptcy, your mother’s couch, and a humiliating 20 year high-schoool reunion.
“Oh what do you do now?,” some heinous bitch would ask.
“I sleep on my mom’s couch cuz my pot business went belly-up.”
I should be able to sell pot to people with my hands tied around my back and blindfolded; this is pot we’re talking about. And so my thoughts continued on like this, turning every emotional whim of anxiety into some kind of doomsday scenario where everyone I’ve ever met on the planet joins in the “Brian’s a great big failure” chorus, because why not, everybody’s doing it.
As the third week of no paychecks rounds the bend I have literally sunk myself into a state of misery. I’m declaring it, I’m officially poor. “Nobody has ever experienced this kind of dire drastic poverty so nobody can know what I’m going through,” I think to myself while sipping my $6 coconut water in my back garden in my pajamas on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Then I pick up the book I’m about to read for the next few lackadaisical hours and think to myself “this is rough. I have nothing. If we can’t get paid this is a sign of my mis-management and it’s a personal failing. I ought to be ashamed.” Then I kick my feet up, feeling thoroughly miserable and distraught now, having worked myself up into a mental frenzy, and read for the next few hours on my outdoor couch listening to my personal water fountain a few feet away. “Life has it in for me,” I think, forgetting entirely at this point the 4 magical months of blessing, abundance and divine communication that came before this. And I also don’t seem to realize I still have Sunday’s off, $6 coconut water, and time enough to sit around in my pajamas and read. That realization would get in the way of my misery, so the epiphanies would just have to wait.
I marvel at the power of the mind to create an emotional state, not based on fact, or reason, but just because. What little tenuous benefit of the doubt I had been learning to bestow upon the universe was so completely and easily blown to smithereens, it surprised even me. I had been abandoned and betrayed. By whom? Why, the Universe of course. It has taken time to personally come down, make life great, then strip it all away, in order to, you know, fuck with me.
Just as I’m at my most miserable and ridiculous I get my electric bill, which is showing the total for two months and is past due. Gulp. It’s getting worse. My life is getting worse. Unable to see the delusions and exaggerations for what they were, I became easily lost. I was sun-gazing sporadically yet exercising zero mental discipline. Finally the fear seized me, in a way I now realize was a blessing, a spark, the beginning of a bright fire. Without even realizing it, I begin to run back to Sadhana and my meditation and I literally started running again. I guess if the collective insists on feeling out of my control then running and the pursuit of wisdom was at least something I could control. Will somebody let me know when all this studying about wisdom will actually make me wise?
But somehow without my cooperation these efforts of mine wedged a gap in between the storms and the fire tongued thought dragons swirling all around in my mind. And for a second I was able to remember that everything is going to be okay. I didn’t believe it yet, but I could hear how ridiculous it all sounded. I was driving up to sun-gaze a few nights ago, still feeling miserable, but attempting to gaze anyhow. As I was turning onto Nichols Canyon road a truck cut me off. Just as I was about to totally freak out and go ape shit on this guy in my imagination, because haven’t I been through enough, I notice in his back window a sticker that reads “Be Mellow Dude.” I can’t help but crack up laughing. This lets a little more light in. I am reminded that the Universe is still trying to get small messages through. It resorted to having a guy cut me off in order to tell me to chill out.
“Bold move,” Universe, “well played.”
But the bumper sticker works. I begin to chill. I persist in my meditations, mostly out of fear and misery and being at my whits end (but they say that pressure drives us to greatness) and something begins to shift. This shift came most suddenly when I sat down to have a conversation with my yoga teacher and fellow sun gazer Brett.
Just repeating my doomsday scenarios out loud to him made them sound ridiculous. He reminded me in his reassuring way that the universe was taking care of me even if I couldn’t understand why. And in a touching show of solidarity he offered to walk around the neighborhood with me putting up fliers. We did this and it was a catharsis, a therapy, almost a sacred ritual to me. My mountains had moved, my barrier had broken. I finally believed it, every thing was going to be okay. And once I believed it, I could feel it again.
The universe had been there the whole time communicating. It’s when I lose sight of it that things look so dark. Where did I lose sight this time to bring on this lack? Or is this lack divinely destined to relight the fire that has been relit in me that says I can conquer this business. I started running and chanting again. Yogi Bhajan says you don’t go to sadhana (the chanting) to get anything, but the way I’m running back there as soon as things slow down, I got news for him I sure as hell do do it to get something. Peace and an anchor in my schedule, if nothing else.
This absurd crisis of poverty has caused me to run back to the meditation mat and to my chanting and to my running, and surprisingly, even to salad. We made more salad at my sisters house over the summer than we ate Oreos if you can believe that. And since coming back whenever I would normally turn to stress-eating i somehow find myself chopping up vegetables because it also soothes me. Then before I know it–I’m eating them. Maybe this apocalyptic brush with death as I’m calling it, was a blessing? You know I wonder when I’m going to finally learn that everything actually is.
SIDE EFFECTS: Sometimes you have to remember poverty to bring the gleam of gratitude back to the riches that are all around you.
BENEFITS: Riches are always all around me, even if I lose sight of it.