Excerpt from Exhilarated Life: Discovering Inner Happiness
In Pursuit of Happiness
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It was about 4:00AM when I woke this morning. I lay in bed, inviting
sleep back and feeling the nameless dreads lurking in the corner of my
mind. What should I do about selling the house? What should I do
about the car that caught fire today? Why am I clenching my teeth?
I resorted to my trusted remedy—a few drops of lavender oil on my
pillow—and twirled my Nano to a meditation. Finally, away I drifted.
Unfortunately I “drifted” right into a very nasty dream.
I was in a large car dealership reporting to the sales manager. I was their
outside agent and doing very well at bringing in corporate clients. The
owner—a sleazy, menacing man—came over and said, never mind the
manager, I was to deal directly with him—at which point he began to
molest me. I raised myself to full height and told him to drop dead—
didn’t he know who I was? But that didn’t stop him and he began to
overpower me. I started screaming for everybody to see this creep and
what he was doing.
But no one paid any attention. Even a group of young women
employees glanced at me and then looked away. I realized I was
completely vulnerable in this cavernous space that he owned, where he
had paralyzed everyone in the place into fear of retribution. Somehow
I broke free of his deplorable clutches and made a dash outside to my
car. It was now after dark. The parking lot was huge and offered no
safety or hope of intervention. My car was the only escape. But no! I
discovered I had left my keys on the sales manager’s desk. Facing my
fear, I ran back in. The creep let me in and out again, and I knew he
was sure of his victory, and was playing with my fear.
I made it to my car but was unable to lock the doors before he jumped
into the passenger seat. I careened out of the parking lot, keeping the
car off balance. Finding a busy street, I jammed the car into park, leapt
out the door and into a large and crowded store. In true, dreamlike
fashion, it was a Halloween costume store, full of women lined up to
buy fluorescent wigs and such. The creep followed me in, now in a
rage, and began attacking and punching in earnest. I screamed again
to draw attention, but all the women looked and then looked away.
I shouted at one woman that I couldn’t let this man frighten me and
make me fearful in the future. She replied that, judging from the rage
in his face, I had angered someone who would now never let me alone.
I was frantic with fear! He knew where I lived!
I ran back to my car and got away—only to have him shoot out the
tire. In a flash, I pictured a life plagued by this stalker who meant me
harm—but worse, meant to torment me with fear of harm. In that
second, I realized I would rather die than live in fear. I jumped out of
the car and opened my coat so he could shoot me in the heart. And
then I woke up.
Usually other people’s dreams aren’t very interesting if you’re not a
Jungian, but I recount this as I think, in a way, it is everyone’s dream.
And I know it was spawned by the conversation my mate and I had
that afternoon. I was waiting for a friend whom I had driven to a
hospital appointment. Athan had come to wile away the time with me,
and we found a quiet place at the back of the hospital property. We sat
on a stone wall with our legs dangling over the edge, and looked down
over a formidable drop into the valley below. High up in one of the
trees, a raccoon lay curled and sleeping. Above, a hawk swung in lazy
swoops. A creek was beginning to emerge from its snowy banks. It was
peaceful and warm in the spring-like sun.
We were talking about this and that—how my car caught fire and all.
A dear friend of mine, aged ninety, had died that week and I shared my
sadness for a long life lived in duty and not joy. This gave rise to the
question of why humans are conscious. It seems rather cruel to have a
physical body and a physical life only to know that we are destined to
die. What is the point in that? Neanderthals weren’t troubled by that
concept presumably. So why this development of knowing? Does it
give us meaning or does it give us fear? Or both?
Being a student of the spiritual path—in many forms—I opined on
co-creating, evolution, and a greater meaning. But Athan, in his usual
forthright fashion, asked me what difference a hereafter really made to
this life now. Before I got too huffy, he went on to say that so many
near death experiences included the white light tunnel and the feeling
of immense love. Tap into a hundred-year-old coffin, and once you
blow the dust away and pick up the skull, you can ask it, “How’s the
white light working for you now?”
I started to laugh because that is absolutely true. We have constructed
our whole world out of the need to have meaning beyond this life.
But this is the only life we have going at this precise moment. We
have created a society and a culture around things—structures, objects,
laws, and businesses that keep us safe and alive and busy thinking
about keeping ourselves safe and alive. And then there’s all the acquired
wisdom, both new age and ancient, assuaging our worried souls that
there is a reason for suffering and things will be clear “on the other
side.” But what about the here and now?
Athan and I sat in the sun, overlooking a picturesque creek and valley.
Except for a few cans, bottles, and blue plastic buckets, it could have
been hundreds of years ago. Our back was turned to the century stone
house behind us. Beyond that were rings of construction fencing,
leading up to the huge complex of the hospital growing in our very
presence. Beyond that was the fifth largest city in North America:
Toronto. The biggest buildings were churches, hospitals, banks,
insurance companies. Save your soul! Save your life! Save your money!
Save your house! Identical malls sprawled within blocks of each other,
clamoring for consumer attention. To feel this—buy that! To be this—
wear that! Belong or be outcast.
We are unequivocally living in a construct of fear. And where is the
happiness in that? Where is the creativity as we ding like pinballs
around the obstacle course of our lives? We distract ourselves with
If we have heartfelt pleasures we often hurry through them to get back
to “all we have to do.” Or worse, we save our pleasures for when we
have time—which we rarely do. We fall in love and then wrench the
tender shoots from the earth to see if it is growing like everybody says
it should. We have or acquire a child and then wear it as an accessory.
Will it walk before one, talk before two and read from a book at three?
If the child rebels, can we give it Ritalin? We create a song, a poem or
a dance and then offer it up to be crushed and ridiculed by millions
nationwide in the quasi star making machinery.
We have completely given over our heart’s desires to a collective
unconscious. We have chosen to stay distracted by often nameless
fears from the very thing our consciousness provides us, and that is the
awareness of our own eventual death.
Why should we be preoccupied by death? We shouldn’t be preoccupied
or fearful of death—only aware of its inevitability. It is this awareness
that defines what is actually precious and of value to us otherwise we
die without ever really living. No wonder we fear death. It is the final
confrontation that we have spent our lives guided by anything but the
truth. And what is the truth? Whatever makes you happy. Truly heart
Happiness comes from the well of the heart and the heart is fed from
the font of creation. True happiness comes from acts of love. The love
of science, nature, commerce or humanity. As long as we are true to
ourselves, we can never be wrong. And then we can die fearless and at
peace, in the white light of our own creative accomplishments. Our
legacy to a world that no longer holds us.
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