Okay, this is about to get very personal, but I’m hoping my honesty here will serve “The Greater Good,” or at least help one person who may have gone through or is going through a similar experience.
About seven years ago, I hit a rough patch in my life. I was dealing with what I now call THE ANGER – this uncontrollable crazed lunatic within me that felt like a separate entity, taking me over like a too-graphic-for-the-MPAA scene from The Exorcist.
I was just freakin’ ANGRY, and it was like an out-of-body experience. I’d see myself screaming my bloody head off at Allen, my dear, amazing, loving and incredibly saint-like husband, and a piece of me would be crying inside: “What the heck are you doing? Why are you doing this? What is going ON?!!!”
It never had anything to do with Allen. It was this ANGER, this beast, that was a tyrant. It wanted to be heard. It wanted to GET OUT. I could control it in front of everyone else, but Allen became the unfortunate receptacle of any and all crap I could dole out in human form.
Once, I stomped my foot down on my kitchen floor so hard in a tantrum-fueled rage I cracked the tile and limped for months. Another time I literally threw a butter knife across the room and dented the wall.
I’m not proud of any of this. In fact, it’s downright embarrassing to admit.
It wasn’t ME, my True Self, and I knew this – I think that’s what hurt the most. I was so out of control with my emotions. I was so frustrated with so many things in my life. This ANGER felt so disconnected, and yet it was just consuming me and chucking itself out into the world through me every chance it could get.
Allen was in the room when I stomped my foot and threw the butter knife and exhibited many more acts of ridiculous rage over the course of many months. He was a witness to this side of me, otherwise I don’t think I would have believed it had happened. I count my blessings every day that he was strong enough and loved me enough to see me through this period, which I know in my heart is a thing of the past, one of those darn “Learning Experiences” that gets us to our next level, but are soooo grossly unpleasant while we’re in the midst of them.
Anyone who knows me now doesn’t really believe I was ever like that, or capable of such nonsense. Like I said, I was as shocked as anyone. And yet I remember talking to a beautiful, positive, light-filled friend who worked at our town’s library one day, who was around 40 years old, so had a bit more experience than I did in motherhood, marriage, and life. I was feeling especially vulnerable that day, especially broken, and she caught me off guard with a kind comment.
I felt tears burning behind my eyes as I softly said, “I don’t know, I’m just so…so…ANGRY all the time…”
She looked me square in the eyes and said, “Yeah, that happened to me, too, when I was about 32.” (I was 33 when she told me this.)
I didn’t believe her. She was literally one of the gentlest, kindest spirits I knew. But she told me enough of her own experience to convince me she had indeed gone through something similar, and there was hope for me. That maybe, just maybe, this was something bigger than me, some kind of hormonal female right of passage, that if I could only find a way to get through it, I could survive it…
Amazing Grace and Hallelujah, “The Way” came a few weeks later.
I went walking with another girlfriend, another radiant light-filled spirit, this one in her 50s. She, too, said she had a similar experience in her early 30s. She then recommended an audio book that would ultimately rock my world, or at least, my perception of it and my experience in it.
“Have you heart of Eckhart Tolle?” she asked. I said I hadn’t. “He’s got this book, The Power of Now, and it’s really quite wonderful. I would listen to it instead of reading it – he’s a different kind of guy, and I think the information he shares would best be received that way.”
I wasn’t a real big fan of audio books. Since I worked from home I didn’t have a daily commute, so chunks of time to just listen to some guy’s book wasn’t really something I thought I had available.
Still, there was something in her voice that got through to me. I went to the library, got it out, and popped it into my car’s CD player at my next opportunity.
When I first heard Eckhart’s voice, I busted out laughing. The only thing I could think of was every “Saturday Night Live” skit I’d ever seen mocking the New Age movement. Stuart Smalley came flying into my mind’s eye and would not leave.
My inner voice was literally heckling me like a boozed-up comedy club patron:
“Ha! Seriously? Is this what you’ve become? A pathetic mother and wife driving around in an SUV listening to some weird voice saying, ‘Tune Into the Now,’ complete with weird gong-bells and gaps of meaningful silence?”
Luckily, I trusted my older, wiser friend enough to tune out my inner heckler long enough to check out what Eckhart was saying. The funniest thing is, it was his strange and extremely serene New Age voice that kept me listening, despite my heckler. It was positively hypnotizing to me, mesmerizing…
And what he was saying changed me.
“To make the journey into the Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. From the very first page of this extraordinary book, we move rapidly into a significantly higher altitude where we breathe a lighter air. We become connected to the indestructible essence of our Being, “The eternal, ever present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death.” – from EckhartTolle.com
I still don’t know how I made it to 33 years old without ever really hearing much about The Now. In so many ways, it’s everything! (For a great summary of The Now as explained by Eckhart himself, check out this interview: “The Power of Now and the End of Suffering.”)
The signs of its importance were there, though.
Nine years before I was introduced to The Power of Now, I was working part time in a bookstore in Los Angeles. As would often happen in this environment, a passionate conversation erupted between a customer and me.
“Have you ever heard of the book Be Here Now, by Ram Dass?” he asked.
“Ram who?” was my response. He ran over to the philosophy section and grabbed this weird, dusty purple book off the shelf.
“You have to get this,” he said, shoving it at me. “This book changed my life. It will change your life, too. I guarantee it.” I was making a measly $6.75/hour in this store at the time (I was definitely not there for the money! Turns out this is where I met Allen, so fate wanted me there, but I digress…), and with my employee discount the book cost me just about an hour of my time. I shrugged and decided to trust this stranger’s opinion.
I got home and dove right into this bizarre tome. I had never seen anything like it before, nor have I since.
The first part was this autobiographical story about Ram Dass, formerly Richard Alpert, a Harvard psychiatrist-and-professor-turned spiritual leader whose story includes hanging out with Timothy Leary in the 1960s and stumbling upon his path to posterity by way of long-weekend acid trips in the name of science and academic discovery.
(Absolutely riveting, by the way…)
Alpert got to the point where he wanted to stay at the enlightened level without needing the drugs, so he went on a pilgrimage to India. (Again, too magnificently OUT THERE to pass up!) He learned so much, and his mind was so convincingly blown, he came back and started spreading the word of what he learned.
His message was this:
It’s all happening IN THE NOW. The secret to life, the universe, and everything as we know it is to BE HERE NOW.
The second section of this book appeared to be acid-infused doodles, ramblings, and swirling profundities on brown-bag-like paper. (Sooo, like, WOW, man. Right on…Peace!) The third section was a sort of step-by-step instruction manual for curious human beings called “Cookbook for a Sacred Life.” (Turns out this was an intro course to the Hindu religion, but I had no idea about that at the time.)
I was 25 years old when I was absorbing all this. While fascinating, most of it was simply over my head and beyond what I could handle then. However, it did introduce me to all the things that interest me now, and that have fueled the fires of my own tire-kicking journey of “Why are we here? What’s the point?” for the past 15 years.
So all this brings us to – surprise, surprise! – THE NOW.
THE NOW, where it’s all happening. Now, where I’ve just shared a few deeply personal stories and experiences, just in case someone reading this (YOU, perhaps?) needs to hear this and will be inspired and/or changed by any or all of it, like I did, like I was, when I first came to it.
NOW is where all the groovy stuff is. Seriously.
Worrying about the future is pointless, because the future doesn’t exist – you can only think about the future NOW. Obsessing over the past is useless, because it is nothing more than a memory – a memory you’re thinking about NOW. The ONLY thing that exists is this very moment, the one that’s happening to you RIGHT NOW. This is the way it always has been, and this is the way it always will be.
Right here. Right now. Nothing else exists. Honestly.
If you’re like me, you’ll fight this premise for quite some time, until you hear it from different angles and different sources, then play with it often enough that it sinks in. Sooner or later, you will see and feel the truth of this seemingly outrageous premise.
Fight it, question it, do whatever you need to do. All I ask of you is to ponder it, wonder about it, keep an open mind, and consider the Possibility of it any and every chance you get.
When it comes to blowing the roof off your own wild and wondrous Possibilities, being here Now, and harnessing the power of Now, is the grooviest thing you’ll ever do.
If this is resonating with you, get over your inner heckler and dive into the luscious and infinitely awe-inspiring NOW.
Whether it’s by way of Eckhart Tolle or Ram Dass or your own favorite NOW guru, learning about the head-smacking simplicity and utter magnitude of its impact – when you’re ready to learn it – will knock your socks off. It will rock your world. It will change everything you thought you knew about the world, and more importantly, what you thought you knew about yourself.
Let’s just say I haven’t thrown a butter knife across a room since I learned about the power of The Now, and THE ANGER has taken a permanent vacation from my mind and heart. Without a doubt, learning about how to understand, appreciate, and harness NOW – as a moment and a philosophy – has made me a better mom, wife, daughter, sister, business owner, friend, and human being.
For NOW, I am very, very grateful. And since NOW is all I have and all I’ll ever have, this is a wonderful, beautiful thing.
Check out the video for Day 25: The Now, with a special guest appearance from Rodney the Dinosaur!
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You can find us on Twitter at @LaniVoivod, @AllenVoivod, @EpiphaniesInc, @AhaSummit, and @AhaYourself. Plus, you’re always welcome to ask questions, give feedback, and share some of your own experiences (and hopefully your big “A-Ha!” victories along the way), here in the comments, and on the Epiphanies, Inc. Facebook Page. Allen and I love to hear from you. Here’s to you and your vast and wondrous possibilities!