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After I graduated from Emerson College in 1981, I got a terrific job working at the New York Shakespeare Festival for a woman I came to really love and with people I dearly loved. It was a wonderful place for me and a good job right out of college. I got a good apartment. I compared myself to other friends who were starting a career in the New York theatre world and I was doing GREAT!
Like a lot of people starting out, I had big hopes, bold dreams, and a lot of determination. I was going to MAKE it happen!
Within a couple of years, I wasn’t doing so great inside. I felt really confused, angry, and frightened. I had always been very judgmental, but now I was toxic. Like my peers, I wore black, I smoked, I drank, I was super sarcastic. I wasn’t happy and I was intensely critical.
Looking back, I don’t think I knew what happiness was, but I had a fantasy of happiness that I was clinging to – and in that fantasy I was successful, powerful, beautiful, important, wealthy and loved.
A couple of key things happened – first, I made what I’ll call my last ditch effort to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. I was trying to make it in the world. Inside, I felt that I was on VERY shaky ground. I clearly did not know how to make it happen. I thought I should be able to figure it out.
I started to study spirituality as a way to figure out HOW to make it happen. I started with Shirley Maclaine, Shakti Gawain and Eric Butterworth. Listening, reading, absorbing.
I was also training for the New York Marathon – trying to prove something to myself. I was desperate to prove that I had what it took. I was gong for 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and even 20 mile training runs. Running and working out became my meditation until I started actually meditating and then running just became my happy drug – endorphins.
In the midst of all this I had a nuministic experience in meditation where I was given a powerful vision of my true self, one that was healed and could help others heal themselves. I felt woefully unworthy and under qualified, and didn’t even know where to start. If I had one do-over in my life it would be that one. Instead of saying “no, I don’t want that,” I would have said, “I feel unworthy and unable to do that, but if you show me how, I’ll go for it!”
Fortunately, things cycled back around and I got to choose again, after more learning and suffering.
In that LAST DITCH EFFORT sequence of trying to be successful in the world and meet the ego’s insatiable demands, I reached a point of complete and utter hopelessness. I wanted to die. I knew that I couldn’t make it happen and I didn’t know what to do if I couldn’t. The thought that I wouldn’t be the success I wanted to be made me want to die.
Since I didn’t feel I had the right to desert my family who really needed me at that time, I just carried on and I began to pray. I didn’t know how to pray, but I prayed for help. I made the decision that I would learn to love myself as my #1 priority.
The most significant thing was – and the key to this step in my growth is this: I made a last ditch effort to succeed in ego terms, I failed, I wanted to die. I was surprised to realize that the ego hated me and was really willing to kill me. I didn’t know it then, but what I really wanted was to die to my little life of an ego/body and be born to my true nature, the I AM. I decided to try something new – self-Love.
This is the start of a series on waking up within the illusion. It’s going to be completely from my point of view because that’s what my research is – my experience. My intention is that you would read this and find it helpful and comforting in your own waking up experience.
As I share about my own experiences, I feel it’s important that you not think that you go through these exact steps, in the order that I share about them, but that you recognize any part of your journey in mine. I hope you’ll share and make comments along the way.
Today in my radio show I’m going to share about Waking Up in the Illusion. Won’t you join me? Today, you can listen in LIVE on my radio show – click here for details – or you can click here to get the download later at iTunes. All the previous episodes are free at iTunes right now! You can subscribe to the podcast and get the show every week automatically. On your phone, iPod, or computer. Check it out! And if you enjoy the radio show, will you please write a review at iTunes so more people find it?