He looked at me expectantly when I said that I knew The Secret. I had his full attention.
Phil had talked about going to Tibet, he talked about giving up meat and then giving up alcohol. He talked about moving in with the Mennonites as a way of tapping into some serene sense of calm, simplicity – that one was the last straw.
In all of these blind graspings and gropings, I saw myself clearly. I might have been younger then, but there was no mistake – it was me to a ‘T’. I had been looking for my “Golden Biscuit” for all of my teenaged and adult life. That one key findamental that I was missing in my life that, once I had it and understood, would change my life forever. I thought it might be sex and that was a horrible and awkward mistake. Maybe it was partying that would make me ‘cool’ but that was a swing and a miss. Maybe if I threw myself into my belief system, I would reach a ew level of understanding – I would be the kind of person I wanted to be. That, too, proved to be a red herring, like all the rest of them – nothing worked for all my desperation.
I never would have admitted it then, but I was looking for a short-cut.
Not only did it not work, it hurt people around me. It reduced people to vehicles and objects, actors in my life to be manipulated for my own quest of enlightenment; disposable friends who could be discarded when their usefulness was no longer clear. And that was always painful for everyone involved.
I was also wide open for anything that came along with even a half-hearted promise of realization, rendering me gullible and easily manipulated, in turn. People would gain undue influence over me. Ideas would dominate my mind that had no business parading themselves as truth. It was and still is truly dangerous.
And here was this kid, Phil all ready to pounce on what I was about to offer him; the answer that would allow him to forgive himself, the key to understanding what he could finally do to be accepted in the world. Or, at the very least, to not hate himself anymore. A short cut around the hard work of being truthful no matter what, around the hard work of being willing to suffer the consequences of our own truthful actions and words might bring without buffering, lying or escaping – or just a short cut around plain old hard work.
I know all this because I asked him and he told me, in not so many words. Yep, he was me to a “T”.
I told him that the secret is, there is no secret.
He looked a little crest-fallen and wore an “Oh! You got me you little rascal, you” kind of smile on his face. Like he was in on the joke.
There is no short cut.
But it was no joke. Maybe not the whole story, but I wasn’t pulling his leg at all. If I were to elaborate, the answers are not going to be found outside of ourselves. There is no secret formula to be who you are. You just are.
Admitting to myself that there are no “Golden Biscuits” was and remains a good first step. The second step may be the harder of the two;
Am I O.K. with that?