Having gone to California yet again, this time by being propelled back there through an act of fate, I found myself once more diving into my spiritual studies and practice when I was not working as an MFCC Intern. Especially because I had more time, I focused on deepening my meditation training using techniques that I had never encountered before.
At the same time, the man I had briefly dated before being forced to leave California had come to appreciate me more after my sudden departure out of his life forcing me to go to Seattle. So when I got back to California he found me and began to drop hints about wanting to marry me.
“What would it take for you to consider saying yes to marrying me?” he said.
I thought about it and what came into my head was a nice romantic dinner at a restaurant by the ocean somewhere, just the two of us, quietly enjoying each other’s company with him then proposing.
With this picture in my mind I said, “You would have to ask me somewhere where it was romantic and memorable.”
Of course, I never gave him the details of what that meant to me. I simply filed the picture in the back of my head, assuming that I had a lot of time to think about this whole marriage thing. I also knew that if he asked me and I wasn’t ready, I could buy more time or turn him down.
Not too long after that he had taken me to an Angels baseball game. When we arrived, to my surprise I found out a lot of people I knew were there as well. To begin with the couple I had known (who had let me stay with them in their small place the first few weeks I had arrived in California years before) were there. So, were some of my boyfriend’s family and friends. An entire row of people we knew had come to the game to be with us. I didn’t know what to make of this. I just accepted the gesture he had made of making it a family and friends outing and flowed with it.
Then at one point in the game I was asked to go to the concession stand and get some drinks for people. That was also mysterious, but I obliged. Upon coming back while I was walking up the bleachers all of a sudden a banner unfurled that was held up by all the people we knew. It big bold words, it was a sign asking me to marry him. The next thing I know a camera picked it up and it was up on the screen. Suddenly, I had a stadium of people yelling at me, “What’s the answer? What’s the answer?” I was in shock. Too embarrassed to tell everyone what I was really thinking, which was that I wasn’t sure and I needed more time to think this through, I succumbed to the pressure. I looked up at the screaming crowd and said, “Yes.” The crowd roared with happiness. For one brief moment I had given them all a thrill. As for me I wasn’t thrilled at all. I felt like I was in some sort of nightmare. Clearly, my soon to be husband and I had completely different ideas of what constituted “romantic and memorable.”
Right after the game events were set into motion faster than I had ever imagined. Apparently our friends, and especially both our families, were ecstatic that two people who in their minds should have gotten married a long time ago (I was 26 and my soon to be husband was 30) were finally going to follow social protocol and tie the knot. Especially his mother went into high gear helping to set everything up. Years later I remember reading how Princess Diana had wanted to back out of her wedding because she already knew about Camilla, but had been too afraid to do so. “It’s too late,” people told her. “Your name is on the tea towels.” Like her, I was letting the pressure from others and my fear of disappointing everyone get in the way of what I really wanted for myself.
Regardless, three short months later I standing there, ready to walk down the aisle towards my soon to be husband who was beaming at me in the distance by the outdoor alter on ironically a mostly cloudy day. I gulped and said a silent prayer. “Please God, you know this is not what I want. Please give me a sign that there is a way out.”
Suddenly, just as I started to walk down the aisle, a ray of sunlight broke through the clouds and shown directly above the altar. In my mind that was the sign I needed giving me hope. I went through the ceremony and a few weeks later got another peculiar sign. You see during the wedding my soon to be husband’s parents had paid for someone to film the wedding. But, for some strange reason, something went wrong with the video.
“I have never seen this happen,” our videographer said in dismay. “Everything with my camera was working perfectly.”
Then he showed us what had gone on. There I was at the top of the aisle just getting ready to walk down (which by the way was the exact moment I had finished praying for a sign to help me get out of this wedding). Then, for some reason, the video tape went blank. But, what was even stranger than the video going blank, was why the video started to film again, just after we had walked back down the aisle as husband and wife together and were going back into the building where the reception was. Of course, what I noticed was how that again was the exact same place I had prayed for a sign to get out of this whole marriage thing. As for the rest of the tape? It was “snow.” In short, it was as if the wedding never happened. Of course I knew what was really going on. In my heart of hearts, it hadn’t, and the video was only showing that.
How This All May Relate to You
Each and every day we are tested to do things for or against our inner core, that place where integrity comes from. Some times these tests are small, like where we are tempted to be a little less ethical then we know we should be. Sometimes they are large, like in the example from my life that I just related above. The secret during these kind of temptations is not to simply berate yourself for being a bad person. Rather, the secret is to take time in meditation to sit down and figure out where your weaknesses are, why they exist, and what you can do about them.
In my case, I should let you know that my first husband was a good person. Had I remained married to him (now you know that I didn’t), I would have had a very good life. In fact, that was what caused me to cave in and not stay true to what my inner core was telling me, that this marriage wasn’t right. Of course, I could have given myself a lot of excuses as to why my caving in was not my fault. I mean that proposal was quite a set up. Numerous times in my life I have revisited that scenario and imagined myself standing up to family, friends, and tens of thousands of people saying what I really wanted to, “Not, ready yet! Need more time to think about it! This is all going too quickly for me!” But, I didn’t.
It’s just spiritual practice isn’t so simple. Yes, we can always look “out there” and find some extraordinary circumstances to pin our failures and weaknesses on. I just believe it is more important to look at all the small cracks in our own psyches that can lead us to not doing the right thing when we know it really counts. So what was it that made me cave in this time? I mean, I am that same gal who just a few years earlier ran off to California without any money and pushed herself through two years of 60 – 80 hour work weeks while having a stroke on top of it and still managed to graduate from graduate school. And, now I didn’t have the courage to say no to this? In all honesty, it took quite a few years for me to own up to my own responsibility. Why had I given in? The answer I found was surprisingly simple — I was tired. I was ready for a break, and my soon to be husband was willing to give it to me.
You see before he had asked me about what it would take to consider marrying him, he had said earlier, “Marry me and you will have all the time and money you want to relax and do whatever you want.”
Though he was only thirty years old, he already owned three homes. Plus, his family was fairly well off. It was clear to me at the time that if I were to marry him I would have been set for life. Now, there is nothing wrong with money or being financially set for life. It’s just there was a lot more I wanted out of the marriage than that. Remember, I am a mystic. Even back then I was on a spiritual path that most would see as rather intense. But, my first husband didn’t want to believe what I was trying to tell him before we got married, that I was not someone who was in harmony with his goals and dreams. What he wanted out of life was the typical “American dream.” For him, a good life amounted to real estate deals, baseball games, plenty of time spent on the golf course, and having a good looking wife in a bikini or a ski outfit on the slopes enjoying all that life had to offer. I know what most of you may be saying, “What’s wrong with that? Are you nuts? This is what you were resisting? That kind of lifestyle?”
Well, yes! So, let me say it again, I am a mystic. From a very young age I had an intense desire to know God. As you read the lives of various mystics you will see that more often than not, the lifestyle of the so-called American dream, and the lifestyle of mystics, typically don’t go together. They can, but usually they don’t. To be a really dedicated mystic takes time. My “wusband” wanted us to spend that time skiing, playing golf, taking vacations, going to baseball games, and having me get my real estate license so I could make property deals with him. Me? I wanted to read spiritual books and meditate so I could know God. The rest just seemed extraneous and not very important to me. In short, the very same lifestyle most people are aiming to get, which I had now had at only 26 years of age, had little to no appeal to me, which is something most people still don’t understand. Only people on a serious spiritual path will.
But, I was tired! I hoped that somehow I could make it work. If both of us had been more in alignment maybe we could have. We could both meditate, pursue a spiritual path, do a little real estate, help other people have a better life, and still go to a few baseball games, ski a little, and golf. Instead, the vast differences in what we both wanted out of life only clashed. In fact, a lot of people trying to follow a spiritual path in our highly materialistic world face this problem. The American dream mostly tells you that the meaning of life is to think mainly about your own pleasures and how to get as much out of others as you can so you can have everything you want. That way you can become a “Master of the Universe” exploiting not just your fellow human beings, but the entire Universe just so it can meet your super selfish needs.
That is not the meaning of life in the spiritual universe. A truly spiritual life causes you to be increasingly dedicated to spiritual practices that lead towards greater and greater selflessness. Not because you are some poor unworthy slob who has sinned and needs to beat yourself up and have no fun or joy in penance and remorse because of how bad you are. True spiritual sacrifice is a joyful giving. The more you realize (not just talk about) how we are all ONE, the more you want to give of your small little self to the larger Whole. You are a not a “Master of the Universe.” You are a Servant of the Universe. Why? Because you and everyone and everything around you is the Universe, and therefore you want as much as possible for everyone and everything to thrive, prosper, and grow.
Instead of sacrificing (a word that many people actually find distasteful), many people, especially in Western cultures try to have it all. They want to be as comfortable materially as they can be, and at the same time they want to have others see them as highly spiritual. In short, most people on the spiritual path hope they won’t have to make any real sacrifices. They want it all even more than most materialists. At least materialists only want lots of money. Spiritual materialists want lots of money (often lots of sex too), and all the comforts life has to offer and they want you to others to feel that they are spiritual as well.
But, sacrifice, especially of our egos and our own selfishness, is exactly what the spiritual life is about. It is not an easy path. If it was an easy path our history (and herstory) books would filled with stories of people who lived lives of selflessness and harmlessness. Instead, they are filled with stories about people who conquered others through war or wall street and took home all the spoils at the expense of millions of others to satisfy only a few. Though I remain an imperfect example of someone trying to follow that truly spiritual path, learning to sacrifice my ego and become more selfless inspires me. And, it inspired me when I was married to my first husband. So within two short years, I finally summoned up my courage and admitted to myself that he and I were not a good fit. Despite the fact that I would walk out the door again with mostly nothing and give up on having lifelong financial security, I asked my soon to be wusband for a divorce. He quickly gave it to me. Once again, I was free to pursue what I believed my life was really all about.