Needs and Wants
“Could you pass the jam, please?” It was a simple enough question given we were eating breakfast in a restaurant. My friend picked up the container that carried four types of jam. “Oh my God! That’s it!” I said, barely able to hide my excitement. ‘What?’ “We’re just like this container. And our different sexualities – gay, straight, transgendered, transvestite, lesbian, you name it – are like packages of different flavored jams. It’s so simple and can apply to other things too like gender, play, work, hobbies – even whole lifetimes.” ‘But what does the container represent?’ “That’s the part of us that’s whole and not fragmented.” ‘And the fragments?’ “They’re what we have to work with to reach the container. Like doorways. If you want to take it further the waitress represents our higher self, the one who has access to the whole container, all the fragments. If you believe in those kind of things, of course. And she has a boss just like it does too. As we all do.” ‘Wow. That’s beautiful.’
Beautiful or not, the Universe wasn’t about to let me rest on my laurels. Whether it was because of the side-effects of the HIV meds or not, long forgotten memories thwarted all attempt at sleep. Graduation car crash, men, father, mother, school, bosses, alcohol, drugs, discipline, sexual gratification, more drugs, women, failed relationships, more sex, unsuccessful endeavors, lifetimes as different genders – even one as a eunuch – wove together in thematic tales of emasculation.
Even after all the healing I’d done, it still hurt to be reminded I wasn’t finished yet. Would I ever be or was that wishful thinking. Whatever the case, I recognized it as something Krishnamurti had talked about in his book The Ending Of Time, namely, vanity – the pride associated with attainment. Or pride with a twist! Another layer of the onion peeled away leaving an exposed nerve.
With my head in a bubble, I could heard myself singing with and without the microphone. But I wanted to hear myself through the PA system. I wanted others to hear me. Surprisingly, even knowing what it was didn’t make it any easier to deal with. As I traced those feelings back to their source I ran headlong into my childhood – when I wanted to be seen and heard at all costs and at anybody’s expense. Holding on, I let it silently speak to me. ‘I’d gotten up early to burn karaoke disks for others – I deserved. I’d done so much for others – I deserved. I was a good singer – I deserved.’ Okay so I deserved, but that didn’t explain why it felt so crummy. Was that it? It felt crummy because I was feeling it and not just thinking it!? I knew enough to know it wasn’t about others. It was about me. They were mirroring my inner world. Did they know that? I hoped not. Or did I? I was only human and belonged to a group that had rules. Hadn’t I been real enough with them already? What if they weren’t being real with me? If it was okay to be human and vulnerable, why couldn’t I?’
Others sang. I clapped out of politeness then went back to my task at hand.
‘There it was again. I felt cheated because others were getting more attention than me.’ My stomach turned. ‘I’ve done so much and haven’t asked for a dime. I deserve to be paid for my time. I deserved to be paid for what I’m worth. I’m sick and tired of doing things for nothing. I am worthy damn it! I deserve. Yes, I deserve, but did it have to feel so damn bad? Why couldn’t the Universe give me good lessons for a good cause? Who was I to question how the Universe gave me my lessons? Let go, Mike. Let go.‘
It was my turn to sing again. Specialness permeated the senses, but I held it at bay. It wasn’t after all professional to publicly display over-eagerness. While I did want to be seen and heard as someone special, I also didn’t! Unsure of what was happening, I held on and let its fangs sink into me. The poison flowed through vein and artery revealing the flip-side of specialness: not knowing how to not feel special; not knowing how to feel ordinary. Fidgeting in my seat, I grabbed my bag and jacket and got up to leave. Hovering on the periphery, I made the conscious decision to not sing anymore. Not out of spite, but out of fear of coming undone. Besides, my stuff didn’t have to interfere with other people having a good time like I’d done so many times in the past.
I knew enough to know that by not making a scene I was making a scene in my usual passive-aggressive way. But so what? I was allowed. I was only human. I was allowed. Finally when it was all over, I went back and fulfilled my volunteer duties. Nothing special, nothing ordinary, just doing and being one of many. I felt sick, but lighter at the same time. The host held the space together quite nicely almost as if she was immune to my inner turmoil. Using her as a gauge of control, I dug deeper within myself again. And there it was; the answer to what I hadn’t been looking for! It wasn’t about being the best, but doing one’s best and having a good time in the process. My head blasted open. It had finally met its match. Damn, I needed a holiday!
Senses ablaze, people talked away, battering my ears in blunt tones about drugs, bitching, who did what to who and when and how and why. I’d never seen them like this before. I felt sad and amazed that the staff had to hear such things on a daily basis. Oh well, they put themselves in that position and were getting paid to do it. Still, I felt saddened at such ingratitude. I felt tired, I wanted to wrap myself in my comforter and go back to sleep. Unsavory qualities draped my carcass in their rags. I was hearing too much, seeing too much, feeling too much. How much more did I have to put up with? Surely God didn’t want this from me. What if I was being deceived again on the road to…? Where exactly was I headed? I didn’t know anymore. ‘Let go, Mike. Just let go.’
Everything darkened. My head felt bloated with the full weight of too much information. Lost in the dark hallways of mind, I now knew how Jonah must’ve felt trapped in the belly of the whale. Believing he was the cause of the stormy seas, he was cast overboard to be swallowed whole into the belly of a whale. His ‘crime’ had been about not sticking to his commitments; mine holding onto knowledge and scared to go through with my intentions. No one was forcing me. Why was I given this responsibility while others laughed, played and enjoyed life? It didn’t make sense. The pay wasn’t good – if anything at all. I thought I was doing it for them and future generations if ever the need should arise. If they didn’t seem to care why did I?
Others didn’t deserve to benefit when I still hurt? ‘How hurt do you feel?’ I’d come so far. ‘How far have you come?’ I deserved to be treated better! ‘How much better do you deserve to be treated?’ I’d given so much. ‘How much have you given?’ Wasn’t I supposed to feel good? ‘How good do you have to feel?’ Was I looking in the wrong place? ‘Where is the right place?’ Finally, after a few laughs, my comedy routine wore thin. Excuse after excuse arose with every swell of ocean waves. I knew I had to shut up or risk drowning. ‘Just finish what you set out to do,’ my voice reminded me. My head pounded. Was this what I could expect if I didn’t go through with my original intentions and went back to living a lie? ‘Hold on, Mike. Hold on.’
‘For the completion of knowledge’ my voices had said. I thought I had been. I mean, wasn’t that what all the hard work was about? Why I’d been sent back? Why I’d been given my slate to clean? But it didn’t feel good. What if it wasn’t supposed to? Maybe these stormy seas were part of the journey en route to my heart’s true desire? Yes, I remembered now: ‘follow your nose, it always knows.’ I sniffed the air and looked ahead. A hand extended from my heart center guiding me to stay the course and follow my heart. Only then could I be sure I was on my path. Everything else would fall into place of its own accord. But I missed him, my last ‘student’. Did he miss me too? Could two travelers journeying at different rates of speed ever hope to meet again? I didn’t know, but I hoped so.
Back inside the belly of the whale, I lit a fire for warmth and light, created and adapted knowledge to suit my new ‘home’. I even manufactured beliefs to the nth degree of gods, heavens and hells. Co-dependence danced and played with ideas of within and ‘with-out’ forming a protective barrier against the pain of loneliness.
With a brave face, concepts of life and death collapsed into a moment of singularity. Whatever the reason I’d forgotten – choice or conscious intent, I was remembering again. Sleep still sang its melodic songs so soothing to the senses while sleeping giants awakened in the depths of being. I wanted to hit the snooze button and grab just a few more minutes of sleep, but then what? What would a few more minutes of unnerving sleep do? No, now was the time of awakening!
My mask shifted slightly. A single ray of light shone through: I was but one man. What if I wasn’t believed? What if I was thrown to the lions? What if…? Then it hit me: only the known could be forgotten!
What was I was trying so hard not to remember?
I used to do drugs to cope with the here and now, but it became increasingly more difficult to live. Sure the here and now was exhilarating, but there was a certain safety in being able to relax and live in the past. Both present and past it seemed had its pros and cons. In fact, it might be related to the reason why birds and animals with no natural predators were so gullible. It even was attributed to how the Europeans had conquered aka discovered North America. Now without the drugs, I turned to meditation. While it was a long arduous process of undoing countless illusions to get in touch with the present, it got me just as high as drugs – if not higher! And it was cleaner on the mind and body! Rather than giving my power over to some god, fictitious or not, sweat-lodges, meditation, Reiki, Zenith Color Vibrational Therapy and a myriad of complementary and alternative medicines became vehicles en-route to seeking out that truth. Now as I reawakened, I had to wonder what truth really was.
I didn’t know. Yet I also sensed it didn’t have to belong solely to higher powers, supreme beings or some external manifestation known as God. To me, being a creation of God meant having access to those same forces. I just had to find and cross those bridges. Either way, it was better than giving my power away for others to misuse like politicians, religious leaders and the like. But now all of that was changing. The world around me was changing – quickly – maybe too quickly. Now, in spite of my supposed ‘sins’ against humanity, I wanted to remember if only for the selfish reason of wanting it for myself.
With fewer fears, male active and outward forces had dwindled allowing the female aspects to over-compensate by giving more of herself as was so often the case. Still my inner being called out to be united with its counterpart and be whole. Envious for what other had; jealous of what could never be, it never occurred to me they were parts of me that had merely fallen asleep. All they needed was to be reawakened. In the meantime, she feasted on immaturity like a wolf spider devoured her mates. Yet she remained forever hungry a victim of an insatiable Dorian Grey hungry ghost. Surely there had to be other ways to find love than the weak preying on the weaker?
Now it was time for the groom to step up to the plate, exert his male energy and add his vitality to the evolution of wholeness. Yet that could only occur if the female was willing to do her part. Was she? Yes, she was. While I’d shared some responsibility with my last ‘student’, I also knew too much might make it seem like he was doing things for me rather than for him and us. Now as he went on his journey, I went about fulfilling my commitments to the Universe by creating a healthier lifestyle for myself. Part of that was uniting earthly and divine love together into everlasting unconditional love. Without it I sensed there could never be any true inner peace.
In my propositional logic class at UBC, the professor had posed a theoretical question: what was the difference between a ship and the disassembled parts that went into making a whole ship? Some said one or the other with little or no thought other than trying to guess the ‘right’ answer. Others stayed quiet. The professor gave us a helping hand: even assembled whichever it was needed an ocean, fuel and human power to fulfill its function! So what was a ship?
I waited a while then quietly raised my hand. “It depends on which is defined as the ship first. If the disassembled parts are the ship then the other one could be seen as a different configuration with higher functional requirements or vice-versa.” The professor was obviously amused. Transposing that to evolution in general: if all things evolved: animal, vegetable and mineral, did the same hold true for human beings as well? Was I evolving into a unique expression of God, Creator, the Divine like I’d told my counselor?
What if the human being was imprisoned by systems, beliefs and knowledge. What if homo sapiens were disassembled or partly assembled as opposed to whole beings I termed ‘homo spiritus‘? If so, fear of the unknown or ‘giving up the known’ as Krishnamurti so eloquently phrased it was nothing more than resistance to inevitable change – natural evolution.
Yes, I could’ve followed suit and played life safe, but where was the fun and adventure in that? Besides, I wouldn’t have learned what I needed to learn, met those I need to meet and loved those I needed to love. If I’d have done even one thing differently I’d be a different person with different qualities and convictions. Each and every choice were like uniquely colored threads into the tapestry of life – my tapestry, my life. Like the Rolling Stones so eloquently sang: ‘You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need.’
Now if I could just figure out difference between wants, needs and desires I might be able to get somewhere.
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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