Monday, March 31, 2008

Don't Fence Me In

Wednesday, March 19 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above,
Don't fence me in...
~ Cole Porter

My e-mail program pings and I glance at my inbox. It's a message from Samantha, a woman on this new social network I was invited to join:

Always happy to meet new people and eager to find new promotional outlets for my work and my books, I had accepted the invitation after a cursory glance at the web site. Within minutes, I was deluged by welcoming notes.

This morning's note from Samantha, however, stands out. After telling me how intrigued she is by my books, she wonders: "Are you a Christian?"

ShoutLife, you see, is a largely Christian social network, a detail I hadn't noticed when signing on.

I have no problem with that. My books -- and the ways I live my life -- are profoundly spiritual, and there's nothing about either that should offend anyone with a spiritual bent, Christian or otherwise.

But Samantha's question gives me pause, and it takes 24 hours before I know how to reply. In the end, I tell her that I try to avoid attaching labels to myself and that, rather than answer her question with a simple "yes" or "no," I would prefer that she check out my web site and blog and decide for herself whether my words and life resonate with her.

And then I let it go.

A day passes. I'm playing Life with my eight-year-old daughter, who's visiting here for her March break. About 10 minutes into the game, I land on the big red stop sign that tells me to get married.

"Let's see," I say to Guinevere. "I could get a husband or a wife. Which should I get?" She looks at me funny, but doesn't answer.

When I land on the same square again soon after, I ask the question again. This time, in that matter-of-fact tone that only kids have, she asks, "Are you gay?"

"You know," I say after I regain my composure, "it doesn't have to be an either/or sort of thing." I then offer up the eight-year-old gay/straight version of my Christian/non-Christian note to Samantha.

"Anyone can love anyone," I say, "and it's okay. It's okay for a man to fall in love with a woman and for that same man to later fall in love with a man. The other way is fine, too."

Guinevere is more interested in her game of Life than my game of life, so I let the matter drop.

Yet I find it interesting that within 24 hours, two people have tried to categorize and classify my spirituality and my sexuality -- two of the cornerstones of many an awakened life.

Our human minds love to organize things -- and people.

We've all got a built-in version of the Hogwarts Sorting Hat, filing our experiences into recognizable folders that make it easier to know how to respond.

Our Sorting Hat is far more sophisticated than J.K. Rowling's, though, for it must take billions of stimuli and organize them into many more than four categories.

It's a powerful neural mechanism that has been a necessary survival tool throughout human history.

Yet it's a mechanism that now lags behind the demands of the lives we are evolving into. It's as though we're trying to import data into a computer program that was never set up to recognize, let alone organize that data.

It's as though we're trying to "catch a cloud and pin it down," as Oscar Hammerstein wrote of Maria in The Sound of Music, or capture a rainbow in a jar.

We are the Marias of the 21st century, the rainbows whose infinite qualities and potential can no longer be summed up by a single word, can no longer be stuffed into a convenient file folder.

I don't know about you, but I can no longer live within the restriction and constriction of easy labels. I can no longer slot myself into some file folder marked gay or straight, Christian or Jewish, black or white, Republican or Democrat.

For me, it's about being human and about being open to discovering the infinite breadth of all that that could potentially encompass.

As I've written here before (Free to Love, Free to Be), I spent the first 20 years of my adult life describing myself as a gay man.

As I evolved spiritually, though, I began to feel that I could no longer limit myself to what I thought I wanted but, rather, had to open myself up to a more expansive view of myself, my potential and my life.

Within five years of that realization, I was (to my surprise) married to an amazing woman and the was father of a radiant child.

Was I still gay? Not exactly. Was I straight? Not really. Was I bisexual? Not entirely.

Today, three and half years after my marriage ended, the same questions arise.

Am I gay? Not exactly. Am I straight? Not really. Am I bisexual? Not entirely.

On MySpace, my profile is deliberately vague on the orientation question. Yet I have enough gay friends there that I'm inevitably asked the same question my daughter asked me: "Are you gay?"

In a world still defined by rigid categories, I never quite know how to answer. Yes, I'm physically attracted to men. And, yes, I know that that by itself means little. My next intimate relationship could as easily be with a woman as with a man. It doesn't and can't matter.

It's funny. I was a gay activist in the '70s and '80s, fighting hard for the right to be be unashamedly gay in a world that was still pretty iffy about homosexuality.

Today, though no longer fighting, I'm equally passionate -- this time about the right to be unashamedly infinite in a world that would limit me with labels.

Labels, categories and classifications keep us in tight boxes, bind us in rigid straitjackets, prevent us from stepping beyond what, in The MoonQuest, I call The End of the Known World -- that place of magic, miracles, wonder and discovery. That scary place filled with promise. That place where we begin to touch the infinite, the divine, the numinous. That place where everything is possible. That place where we touch the hand of God...and realize the hand we're touching is our own.

Photo: Calling in the Buffalo, Custer State Park, Black Hills of South Dakota (c)2008 Mark David Gerson.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Infinite Possibility, Infinite Flow

Thursday, March 13 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

"You enter into this lifetime in the leap of faith your soul takes into the being in your mother’s womb. You take that one huge leap only to discover that such leaps never cease being demanded of you."
The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write

In recent weeks, several friends who are experiencing financial challenges have posed this question to me:

Why is that so many aspects of my life seem to be flowing, but when it comes to money, I feel so stuck?

Or, Why is it that when I’m meditating, channeling, creating, writing or doing energy work, I feel alive and vibrant, as though I’m living at the highest of frequencies, but when it comes to finances, I come crashing back to earth?

These are important questions and the answers are both simple and complex.

They remind me of a time in my life of profound financial struggle, a time when both these questions were constantly on my mind.

We were living on Maui then, in the coastal community of Kihei. Here, in this amazing Pacific paradise, money was a constant challenge. And despite my two jobs and our weekends selling crystals at the island's flea market, there was never enough to cover all our bills.

Kihei was supposed to have been a landing place, we thought, our first stop on the climb to prosperity. Our desired destination was the tourist-free — and pricier — uplands of Kula.

Every couple of weeks we'd drive up the mountain, often to the lush hills of Olinda, where we'd gaze admiringly at the handsome homes and go walking in Olinda's serene experimental forest.

While strolling among the stately pines, anything seemed possible: infinite abundance, an Olinda mansion, work that impassioned us... It all felt within our grasp. Easily.

And then we'd drive back down the mountain to Kihei, down to our tiny condo with its overdue rent and overdue bills, back to the jobs I hated, back to a life that wasn't in flow.

By the time we reached sea level, the "Olinda Effect," as we'd dubbed it, had fully kicked in: We were anxious, fearful and no longer in that anything-is-possible Olinda resonance.

I’ve thought about that story a lot as I’ve reflected on my friends' questions and on my time both on Maui and now in Albuquerque.

It's said that if you do what you love, the money will follow. But money follows, when it does, not because we're doing what we love. It follows because in living our passion we are living at a vibration where lack cannot exist, where flow is infinite.

But — and it's a big "but" — unless we can hold that resonance when the bills come in, we crash back down into a consciousness of scarcity.

That's what happened on Maui. That's what's happening to one of my friends. Let's call her Julie, even though she's a composite of several people.

Julie loves her work. When she's in the midst of it — and in much of her life beyond it — she's one of the most powerful, conscious and aware people I know. Through most of her days, she breathes light and enlightenment.

Then rent day approaches. Or the car payment. Or some other bill that she doesn't, in the moment, know how she'll cover.

Fear and anxiety roll in like a heavy fog, casting a pall over the passions of moments earlier. Like I did on Maui, she comes down from the mountaintop of infinite possibility and finds herself in a swamp of doubt and apprehension.

For as long as she lives in that place of doubt and apprehension, it will be harder for the money to flow.

I'm speaking here about money. But I could be speaking about love or peace or health or any other aspect of our life that doesn't seem to be working.

Whatever it is, the more anxiety we attach to it, the more our fear keeps us from living in the fullness of our highest potential around it.

Our fear will always keep us from living that potential.

Some of you know that I left Sedona 39 months ago on what would ultimately become an open-ended road trip. I left with limited funds and no idea how I would be supported.

In those early months, I was very much like Julie, dropping into a state of panic whenever my car payment — then, my largest singly monthly outlay — was near due.

In those moments, that still, small voice we can all access would ask, Are all today's needs taken care of? Food? Gas? Accommodation? My answers were always "yes."

Then let tomorrow and tomorrow's bills take care of themselves
, the voice would say.

Somehow, through more miracles than I could possibly list, tomorrow and tomorrow's bills always did take care of themselves. Not always in my preferred timing. Not always in my preferred manner. But in holding myself to the present moment and in knowing that I would be taken care, I always was.

Today, my life is infinitely more complex — and expensive. Yet the basis for how I live it has not changed.

Even as I still don't know how I'll be supported from day to day, I live each moment (to the best of my limited human ability) knowing that by holding the resonance of my passion, I will always be in the resonance of flow.

Many of us maintain a meditation practice of some sort. We carve ten or twenty minutes from our day to spend in the higher realms.

But meditation can be like Olinda. Sure, it can carry us into a place where everything is possible because in that frequency everything is possible. Yet when our moments of altered beingness come to an end, we can find ourselves back in our wordly life of bills, traffic and conflict, and the Olinda Effect can kick in.

We're called to do more than meditate our way into higher modes of being. We're called to reside there. Full-time. Even in the midst of all that life would throw at us. (See Rule #6 in "Mark David's 10 Rules for Living, below.)

Today, I live in the Albuquerque equivalent of Olinda — in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, 1,000 feet above the city's lowest elevation. And in many ways, it feels as though I've achieved at least some of what I thought I was seeking as I gazed longingly toward the Kula uplands from Kihei.

What I've achieved, though, has nothing to do with money. What I've achieved, most days, is an ability to live in infinite possibility full-time and to know that by living my passion, living in the moment and not freaking out at the latest stack of bills, the Olinda resonance lives within me wherever I am.

Ironically, the Hawaiian word kihei means "shawl" or "cape." Even in the midst of that Kihei energy that felt so constricting and impoverishing, I was always embraced in a protective blanket of divine love.

Regardless of life's externals, that kihei is always and ever present for us. The more we acknowledge it, know it and live it, the more we will experience it in all aspects of our life, including the financial. And the more that the Olinda resonance will show up — and remain present and alive — in our lives.

Originally published as part of my March 13 newsletter. To read the newsletter in its entirety, click here. Photo: view from Olinda; photographer unknown.