It was my pride that I was taken in as an equal, in spirit as well as in fact. From then on, everything was beautiful, and the voyage promised to be a happy one.
John Griffith (Jack) London (January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916)
From the earliest recollection of my childhood I wanted to be accepted for who I was, myself. In those days it wasn’t easy because I was still in the discovery process of learning about me. My social shyness, due to a speech impediment, provided me with many hours of thinking about me. I did not know much about the world outside of my own thoughts, so all of my thinking was internalized.
As an undergraduate philosophy major, I acquired many teachers of self knowledge and awareness. I gave up my pursuit to know god but I never gave up my pursuit to know thyself. As I grew stronger in my self acceptance, I encountered many who wanted me to be other or different from the me I was becoming. I was asked to conform to the rules of society, the rules of corporations, the rules of marriage, and the commandments of a god I did not believe in. All these rules attempted to restrict who I was and who I was becoming in ways I did not understand at first.
I sought a life of my own and friends and partners who supported and encouraged that endeavor. It was not easy. My natural tendency was to be the peacemaker, the pleaser, the one who sought compromise even, and it often was, at my own expense. I was giving up parts of me to be as others saw me or wanted me to be. Becoming myself and being true to myself required me to say, “No,” more often than I had previously done. Becoming me required me to “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway,” a wonderful book of awakening written by a beautiful woman, Susan Jeffers. We became friends during my years at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore in the late eighties soon after her book was published. The road of self discovery is a very lonely one but I needed that time alone so I would not be tempted by the visions of others and remain true to myself. ee cummings sums up the process in these few words:
To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
My mother was a very wise woman whom I love very much but we did not always get along. We had many disagreements about my life choices. A void developed between us after I divorced my wife and left the corporate world. I wandered for a while, searching, experiencing, living and loving life. She wanted me to return to a normalcy of which I was no longer a part. I was living at Esalen. It was my fiftieth birthday and Esalen was having a huge party to celebrate reopening after a collapse of Highway 1 on both sides had forced a temporary closure. My roommate came running from the dorm, yelling to tell me my mother was on the phone. We had not spoken in while so I immediately thought something was wrong. After wishing me a happy birthday and catching up on the last few months, she said, “You know dear not many people get to live the life they choose but you always have. You have always been true to yourself, and I am very proud of you.” Whatever self doubt might still have existed. Whatever questions of whether or not I was doing the right thing, in that moment disappeared. My mother finally accepted me for being myself.
Today, at the ripe youthful age of seventy-two, I am still fighting not to compromise myself nor my beliefs. There are still those who want to change me rather than accept me as I am. Other than a few dear friends, I am mostly alone. I do not compromise who I am nor my need for solitude. I may never be accepted for who I am by the majority of people I meet but that is okay with me. I accept myself completely which is in truth all I ever wanted to achieve from day one.
Me, back row left with the bow tie, Kindergarten, 1953.