It is always the innocent ones, isn’t it?
So, as I was saying, this one time after yoga class… I did lines of cocaine off of my Beth Moore Bible study workbook.
When I was little, I was always the kid with manners. I was always the one who was my friends’ parents favorite. I always made good grades. I could never get away with anything, and got caught doing everything.
I will never forget when I was about 14 years old, I was smoking cigarettes and drinking beer with a group of girlfriends at a lake party in my hometown of Waterford, NY and this guy who I totally had a crush on (who also smoked cigarettes and drank beer, amongst other things), walked up to me and was like, “You look too innocent to be doing that.” And later on that night – that innocence apparently paid off, and we made out. When I look back now, I can see the samskara forming in my consciousness – almost in slow motion (it’s good to be bad and it’s even better when you look good doing it.) It pissed me off when people thought I was this “little Miss Goody-Two-Shoes” all sweet and chaste. And, for you psycho-analyzers out there, I was also a theatre major in college and quit to go be a missionary and live in Haiti. I was more confused about who I was than anyone else, that was for sure.
I lived this existence of extremes and kept a lot of it hidden from myself and the people I hung around.
I’ll never forget this one time (here we go again…), I was singing a solo in the choir at the Presbyterian Church I attended, and the night before our dress rehearsal I drank so much tequila that when I woke up, I had no idea where I was and had to have a friend drive me to church for practice, asking him to stop at the gas station so I could buy a toothbrush and toothpaste so no one would smell the alcohol and cigarettes on my breath.
When I was embraced the different sides of myself… I embraced them, fully. When I was a party girl, I was tons of fun and I had tons of fun. And, when I was angelic and pure, well… I embraced that too, with all of my heart, and I relished in the attention I got from it as well. I enjoyed those early encounters with the Divine and remember sensing that there was something much bigger, that I wasn’t ready to understand, beneath the surface.
Yoga, at first, was just another mask. It was another “distraction” if you will, from finding an inner stillness and being able to abide in that peace. It was cool that I was a yoga teacher and it allowed me to hide from some serious suffering. I was afraid of what the Buddhists call, The Middle Way. It petrified me to not either be blissed out, fucked up, having an anxiety attack, or feeling sorry for myself.
“The Buddha describes the middle way as a path of moderation between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification.”
THIS SCARED ME.
So, things usually get worse before they get better, right? Could you call me snorting coke off Beth Moore’s teachings of John, Luke, Matthew or whatever the hell class I was in “my rock bottom?” To be honest, I don’t look back at the memory now and feel shame or guilt. My girlfriend, who was with me at the time also getting high, and I laugh our heads off at this memory. Looking back we take full responsibility that it was totally inappropriate, but for the record, it was the only flat surface I had in my car! But, still… most people with whom I share this with look at me like I did just tell them I stuck a flute up my pussy. Hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right?
I wish I could say that my practice has changed everything and now I can sit in meditation for hours at a time, achieving
unimaginable states of bliss.
The truth is, my practice HAS changed everything and I want to become aware of my conditioning so I can cultivate the tools necessary to know my true Self.
Over time, my practice has changed my perspective on life to one that used to live for the ups and downs, the roller coaster ride with the steep climbs and the “stomach in your throat” drops.
What gets me off today is the steady, consistent climb along the path, the challenge of refining my awareness to become one pointed and the delight that brings.
Where and when this happened, I cannot exactly say – but what I can say is that by “pretending” those crazy nights with Beth Moore and an eight ball didn’t happen, well, that sure as hell is not going to get me anywhere. I don’t want to hold up these memories as an idol either, worshiping my attachment to them and giving them credit for who I am today, but I do want to look at the choices I have made, the good and the bad, and learn about myself by honestly examining who, what and where I was during different times of my life. I also want to make plenty of time for the present, because, well – that is what it is all about, right? And, if I can learn to bring all of these “extremes” closer to the center, then maybe I am touching just a bit upon when the Buddha first learned about the Middle Way:
“The Buddha realized the meaning of the Middle Way when he sat by a river and heard a lute player in a passing boat and understood that the lute string must be tuned neither too tight nor too loose to produce a harmonious sound.”
Maybe he saw American Pie, too.