All Hands On Deck

Yes the captain had fled for his life. Yes I’d been left helpless and gone mad. Yes I had to turn to others for help. Yes they were a group I knew nothing about except from rap videos. Yes every construct shattered like a broken mirror in the night sky. Without constructs I didn’t know who I was anymore. Like a drop of water in the cosmic ocean, I felt like everything and nothing at the same time. Yet without the drop the ocean could not exist yet without the ocean the drop could not exist either.  The real problem then was what was I drop, ocean, both or none?

Not knowing where to begin I had no choice but to turn to the one thing I’d spent years avoiding – me! Faced with forces I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, made me make friends with an unlikely person – me. Yet in doing so, I found an even more unlikely source of power – myself. But like The Amazing Spiderman discovered: ‘with great power there must also come – great responsibility.‘ And responsibility could only be learned by actively participating in life. Yet that raised more questions than answers like what was real? Why had I thought life was against me? Why was I so afraid of it? As new questions arose, new answers were needed. And questions and answers demanded the need to know how to handle both questions and answers – not just one or the other. It hurt pride to have questions ask more questions, but what if wanting to know was actually life’s natural state!

A new question arose relating to my last ‘student’. Was I turning my last ‘student’ into a savior by wanting a relationship with him or not? While I was already aware of this, having it revealed through external means – healing cards – amplified my sense of inner loss. It was a true statement I couldn’t deny that, but it wasn’t the whole truth. I was getting on with my life and not just ‘closing the curtains and giving up.’ Yet somehow I letting one bad apple spoil an entire crate. Once again, mind exploded at the combinations and permutations of trying to figure out who I was: the bad apple, good apples, crate, all or neither.

Following a strand of information from beginning to end revealed letting information in wasn’t the problem, what happened to it afterwards was. It got lost in my heart space. Yet that didn’t stop it from being processed and fed back to me in the form of feelings. Yet because I didn’t know their source, I felt overwhelmed and victimized. Why did it only take one little thing to change my feelings about something? I knew it wasn’t ‘right’, but I couldn’t stop myself from feeling it. All I could tell was there were two maps to contend with: head and heart. I could handle the logistical compartments of the head, but not the more fluid dimensions of the heart. Suddenly a thought popped into my mind. What if it was the job of the captain to process and discern the differences and similarities between the two? If it meant stopping the mood swings and mental meanderings, I wanted him back – and fast.

In my next karaoke session the changes became clear. While I’d sang ElvisLove Me Tender before, this time I became acutely aware of how the music and song were flowing through me. If I didn’t know any better, I’d almost say it was singing me and not me singing it. The karaoke host thought it was a good performance and well received, but she thought I might want to look at how I received applause. And so, with a slight thud, another piece of the puzzle fell into place. Clarity revealed so much more. It was as if compliment – too much of it – hurt. Punishment, however, was easier to bear. Still confused, at least I’d found somewhere to begin.

A new petal unfolded revealing a new discovery: it wasn’t about being lied to, but about being unable to discern different levels of truths. The only reason I longed for absolute truth was to fulfill some sense of absolute inner security. But the searching was all external. I had to learn how to make up my own mind, listen to my own heart to trust more in myself. When I didn’t feeling took over mind. But it wasn’t just about mind being forced to turn over its contents, but about respectfully doing so as part of a team of equals. I’d been there before when I’d divvied up the duties to ‘lab assistants’. Just because I wasn’t on vacation and using drugs anymore, didn’t invalidate the process – especially when it had worked in my favor. Could they exist outside of a drug-induced construct? I didn’t know, but that was more truthful than pretending I did. What if they were a natural part of me that helped me discern incoming information? What if those assistants were actually two sides of the same coin called ‘The Captain’?

Yes I could see it now! The Captain was in charge of discerning between right and wrong, good and bad and other perceived opposites. Unlike wise King Solomon my prideful attachment to being right and not wrong had made me cut my baby in half! Now those halves were sufficiently healed and wanted to mature into a more stable and functioning adult.

That same night I dreamed I was with a friend at a convenience store. Out of the blue he turned to me and said ‘we’re getting married.’ Feeling put on the spot I didn’t know what to say. So I said nothing. ‘Don’t tell me you don’t want to after all the work we’ve done,’ he said. The truth was I didn’t know. I mean I did, but not that way. ‘Don’t worry, everything’s taken care of. All you have to do is speak your vows and go through with it.’ Still struggling with the concept of marriage, I looked into my heart for my vows. But something didn’t feel right.

In the meantime, I practiced writing my vows and speaking them out loud so I could hear them. They sounded good even to my own ears, yet to my heart they felt somewhat hollow and rehearsed. Now I saw why. I hadn’t asked him to do everything and I didn’t like being pressured into commitment whether I loved someone or not. The beginning lines to the classic Billy Idol song, White Wedding rang out like church bells. ‘Hey little sister what have you done? Hey little sister who’s the only one?’’ With those words, one eye fell on him and the other on my last ‘student.’ Did it mean I didn’t love him? No, it just meant I wasn’t in love with him. But intrinsically it revealed how the true ever-lasting love I was searching for could never be fulfilled by another, but only by my connection to self. I didn’t want to be corralled into a shotgun wedding anymore than anyone else did. But when it came to learning to love myself, it had to be done with love, mutual respect and open communication. Only then would I feel complete! And only then could I learn what it meant to love another. That was my truth.

When awake, I pondered the metaphor of ego and spirit uniting in ceremony. But once again it wasn’t about spirit dominating ego. To feel respected, ego had to be a willing participant in any union. But how could I say no to spirit? The very thought seemed ludicrous. Yes, it was ‘bigger’ and way more powerful than ego, but they were also on the same team – the team called me. Did that mean they had authority over one another or was there another way? I was a firm believer that every person played a unique role in the world whether it was as criminal, drug dealer, user, judge or jury. So that was what my friend had meant when he said: ‘we all had to learn how to get along in God’s playpen!’



© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –

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