They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
Like when I met Paul Brown at a party 11 years ago, and a week later he was teaching me to meditate.
I brought offerings – pungent stargazer lilies, an orange and a pear. He gave me a mantra. And when we were done, he made me a martini – heavy on the vermouth.
Like when I met Alan Lew, the Zen Buddhist turned Rabbi who guided me in the initial steps of conversion to the religion I was raised but not born into. And when I met Brant Rosen, the Rabbi who walked me through its completion more than 15 years later.
Like when I met a man a few months ago who affirmed my call to “just write” – and made me want to do it every day, as if I had no choice. Just as he had no choice in making art every day. Who inspired me to take photographs, again. Collage, again. Make food, again. Who spurred me to claim my rightful name as artist.
Last week, scribbling my morning pages, my pen turned on me. I wrote, “Perhaps he was here to put me in enough pain to want to do different.”
Yuck. I preferred the story of him as my personal Svengali. Southern prince in a Johnny Cash t-shirt with a paintbrush.
Ironically, the last time we spoke, I told him, “You are my teacher.”
That was November. I’ve barely heard a peep from him since.
He stopped commenting on my writing and my posts. Emails and phone calls went unanswered. I received a text about a month ago saying he would call that weekend. He never did.
His sudden disappearing was unexpected. I took it hard. And personally. My tears incongruent to the situation or our relationship.
More than one of my girlfriends gently pointed out, “You know….you only spent a couple of days with him.”
I knew. And I felt ashamed and embarrassed because of it. Like my feelings were wrong.
Prior to meeting my ex-husband, my modus operandi was to cram an entire relationship into an evening. “You tell me everything about you. I tell you everything about me. And then we fuck.”
I could never understand why “love” didn’t last.
The artist and I didn’t fuck. We just swapped spit. And stories. Lots of them. He told me things about him that his ex-wife didn’t know, that the people we met through didn’t know.
And when I told him about me, he didn’t say that it was all too much. That I was too much. He just pulled me to him, and whispered, “Lil mama, you got so much going on.”
Instant intimacy. It’s a lie. I just forgot. Because it had been so long since I’d jumped “all in” like that. Or maybe I just chose to forget because it felt so good.
For a little while.
Then I got all tangled up in a silky web of my own weaving. Strung up and strung out, chasing a feeling. Of connectedness. And being cared for.
I’ve been afraid to put this all down. Afraid to let people know how much I was affected by this seemingly innocent encounter. Especially him. Even though everyone around me knew.
And then I changed my mind, when I read this:
“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
“A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with your soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it. Your problem is, you just can’t let this one go.
“It’s over…(his) purpose was to shake you up…tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you had to transform your life…and beat it. That was his job, and he did great, but now it’s over. Problem is, you can’t accept that this relationship had a real short shelf life.”
It’s from Eat, Pray, Love.” (My ex-husband tossed it in a box of my belongings that he sent a couple of weeks ago.)
Richard from Texas – former junkie come spiritual giant – on obsessions. Namely, the author’s with David, and the end of their relationship – her first since leaving her husband.
It made me feel better. Less crazy. Or as my friend Bob likes to say, “exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
I don’t know that I would have called the artist my soul mate. But he did exactly what Richard from Texas said one would.
He brought me to my knees. Made me want to change. Beg to be different. Pluck my heart off my sleeve and tuck it back behind my ribs, protected — at least for now. To “slow down, lil mama” – the artist’s words not lost on me.
Yep. He did his job. And he did just great.