How I became a Spiritual Warrior
The Path of my Life and my personal Path in Shamanism have always been woven around each other. Sure, my Path of Personal Choices certainly neglected the early years of my Shamanic Path…I did this for numerous years—in those years of seeking not “me” but rather “who I needed to be to make others proud.” Oh, yeah, I certainly got caught up in that game for a while. A very long while!
And then one day—in the first week of March 1989—I experienced a major size anxiety attack. My life pressure was—at that time—so great that I nearly shattered in pieces.
And what saved me from going over the edge was fear. And a mirror.
My nerves shot, on the verge of losing more than my lunch, I looked into the bathroom mirror and saw the eyes of a stranger. Gone, the blue-eyed boy of the wind; gone the boy who played with his army men, who saw them as individuals, not bits of molded plastic. Gone, the boy who loved to fly kites and ride bikes, who saw and felt many novels brewing in him; missing was the boy who saw everything and said nothing about it—gone, the boy who wanted to please and who wanted to taste freedom and laugh. But the boy who was—deep inside—so very, very sad. Oh, he was there, and he looked like shit.
I saw this gray-haired fellow with empty eyes, hollowed eyes full of intense sadness. In my eyes, I saw a heart, blackened with pain and emptiness, and of vast sorrow.
In that moment of un-recognition, it came back to me—the realization that the Trinity of the Self—the alliance of Mind, Body, and Spirit- was so vastly out of alignment.
In a flash of memory, I recognized that my young man’s curiosity of The Tao (I first read The Tao at age 12 and pondered on the chapters for over a decade) and everything that was the basis of my Spirituality, had vanished.
Instead, I had focused on making money, of showing the world that “I had arrived.” I competed against myself; I competed against my father and his earnings potential.
I was also in a floundering relationship when I looked into that mirror. I knew it was ending, and yet, Paul the Noble Hero, refused to surrender to it. Instead, I fought the strong current, pressing on and on and on some more, to the point of emotional exhaustion.
I had absorbed my father’s workaholic tendencies—the 7-day workweek of the self-employed contractor; 16 hour days, a diet mostly of breakfast cereals and fast foods; 56,000 miles of driving a year, realizing now that I made about a dollar a mile for every year that I worked those seven-day workweeks. I took no time off, no holidays for seven years…go..go and still go further.
Fast and faster and faster—a cog in the rat race; I was the man who could never say “no,” and the rescuer of lost cats and equally lost women.
So, I looked deeper into my eyes, and I dared myself to not look away.
And then…the world stopped. At least my outer world.
And so, I began the most amazing Inward Journey.
I suddenly became reclusive, and I slowed down. Way down.
Though I may have appeared calm on the outside, I was still all topsy-turvey on the inside.
I learned that I needed to go deeper…far deeper inside to find that place of calm. The True Calm.
The silent boy emerged again; I never confided to anyone of what I was going through. The fear of doing so kept me quiet.
Deeper and deeper I went. I probed into the darkest, murkiest aspects of myself.
I began to write again. My pen scrawled over my journal in a hand that I did not recognize.
I changed my home, creating sacred space without realizing it as such. I surrendered—to myself.
I sought a teacher. I read and read. I would have signed up for a Zen Monastery—if I was not so terrified of leaving my home, which had become My Nest, My Safe Place.
I cried many a night. And I also cried over the course of many days and even on occasion for a few years.
For years, I continued with my inner work. I went deeper and deeper into the abyss. I walked gingerly around the rim of fear. This became my Way of BEing. But I knew this was not enough. I had not yet touched the bottom of myself.
I took up the flute. I resumed my meditation practice. I never did this to escape. Instead, it was to find my footing.
Once I touched the depths of me, it was then that I stood up. And when I did, I looked back and thanked the time, those years, for the lessons. Now, it was time to move onward, doing so with eyes forward. It was now time to move onward.
Many tests came my way over the intervening years. And so too, many teachers.
My Path has taken me far beyond anything or anywhere that I could possibly have ever imagined. Today, I am in alignment with my Soul and am doing what I was put on this earth to do.
Now, as I write, I remember one of those early Shamanic moments. My father asked me when I was four while traveling up Pacific Coast Highway; “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
I immediately said, “I wish to be a Hermit! I want to help guide people.”
Dad replied, “You can’t make a living by being a hermit!”
Upon hearing his words, I simply looked out the car window at the passing world and softly said, “Yes, Dad. I can.”
And after all those years, after all the fascinating twists and turns of this Earth Walk, I have learned the deeper meaning found in the wisdom of the response of my young self, for that was the voice of my Soul.
This is my story, the tale of how I became a Spiritual Warrior.