I spent the whole year of 2012 traveling and giving workshops on warriorship, leadership, courage, integrity, mindfulness and personal growth. I lived (for 1 or 2 months) and worked in Israel, Beirut (Lebanon), Baghdad (Iraq), India, Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia, the US and, currently, in Colombia. Among many things I noticed on my journey was that in guy-talk all over the planet the psycho bitch from hell pops up, that I am treated differently because I am a tall, muscular, blue eyed and – most importantly – white man (all highly valued traits in male dominant cultures) and that women are treated poorly and unjust in most cultures that I have seen. I realized that I am blessed to be born on the Western European side of the world. I also realized that my female friends have easier lives then their Indian, Arab or Chinese counterparts, even if they are going through horrible divorces or devastating diseases (which has happened and is happening). The reason is – I think – that in the western world we at least have agreed on the fact that a woman is a human being and that she therefore has equal human rights.
My lesson of today is that cultivating an open heart is not only a source of wisdom, beneficial for our personal well being, our relationships and friendships and offers an amazing and exciting personal life journey. It also touches and heals others, strangers, passengers in our life, in ways we cannot imagine. It breaks down cultural barriers and creates connections that transcend age, class, religion and race. People are hardly interested in meeting another ego. But meeting another human being charms the hell out of most of us, especially if we can relate to him or her even though he or she comes from a part of the planet that is alien of perhaps even intimidating or frightening to us.
The third ayahuasca ceremony did not go as I hoped. Although the gates of the plant had opened themselves slightly in the second ceremony and I was quite hopeful not too much happened even though I took 3 cups. I was pondering if I should take a 4th cup or not. It is always a big decision because I that last cup can throw everything upside down. Actually, every cup is a gamble. It could be heaven and eternal wisdom, it could be hell and it could be apparently not much at all.
I decided not to take the 4th cup and to no be too disappointed. I just sat by the fire buzzing a bit. Then Kajuyali tapped on my shoulder.
In the afternoon there was a Sun Circle: a meeting for men. The women had their Moon Circle. I was not exactly looking forward to this meeting because I thought we would go into the ayahuasca experiences. The thing is: I can’t lie or pretend anymore. I physically can’t. So if I am asked to share my experience I will do that. I can only hope that I won’t be put on the spot. But the meeting took a different turn: it was about masculinity and relationships. Initially it didn’t sound too exciting: I am single and have not so much questions or doubts about my masculinity. But to my surprise I heard a couple of interesting stories: stories that resembled mine. Ok, they had happier endings but the struggle seemed to be very similar. Again: I felt not alone.
What helped was that I chatted with one of the shamans and he told me that some people are more gifted in certain areas than others. He gave me the feeling that I was perfectly fine, even if the Universe doesn’t open up to me in ceremonies all the time. ‘The Creator all makes us uniquely different’ he said. Later that day he said in a talk that he blesses the spirit guides of people because he happens to be in touch with those guys and makes them (the spirit guides) feel good. It made me remember how many blessings I received this year from dozens of people from all religions and how many mind blowing experiences I already have under my belt. So I felt some simple inner peace. I shouldn’t really complain, should I?
I feel that I want this post to be about Sam, Gretchen and Ernst again. Yesterday I felt shaky, sad and vulnerable. I was afraid of leaving. I have had to let go of beautiful people before on this trip but for some reason this time was harder for me. I felt afraid of abandoning them, to leave them behind in such a raw and vulnerable place. Also I grew attached to them and fell in love with them as family. I will really miss them.
To be part of a family during the process of grieving the loss of a little boy might sound difficult or undesirable to some. But I feel it was an honor. As I sit here in the train, my clothes feeling sticky from the heat, I feel gratitude, love and spaciousness.
Last night Gretchen, Ernst and I sat around the fire, spending our last hours together. At some moment during the night Ernst broke down crying, as happened to all of us several times per day. He said: “I feel so full with love for my son. I feel so much love that my heart is overflowing. Tears might come out of my eyes but I feel only love”
This morning I did a session with Gretchen, the mom of Sam; the baby boy that left us so soon. And sometimes when I work with people something magical happens. This time was certainly one of the most magical experiences I have had this year, perhaps even in my life.
What happened that it seemed that we connected with Sam’s energy. And I say ‘seemed’ because it still sounds weird to me when I say these things out loud. How can I connect with the energy of a little boy that is not with us any more? But deep down I totally trust my experience. Even though my rational mind can’t understand it and wants to tell me it is impossible I have no doubt in my heart.
I arrived on Sunday. Ernst and Gretchen had spent some time together on Maui and had come back that morning. The next day would be Ernst’s first day of going back to work. Everybody knew it would be a raw week. I came with an intention of just being available. I had no idea if I would be able to offer something. I didn’t want to be an intruder. It is kind of a big deal to take a guest in your house during the first days of ‘normal life’ after such a loss. At the same time I think we all had a sense of destiny: our paths crossed at this particular point in time and we are letting it happen. Maybe, just maybe there is something I can contribute around consciously choosing a healing path.
As I just typed the title above this post I remember that I have written something about ‘the truth’ a little while ago. It is funny because I can’t remember what I wrote and am kind of tempted to look what I said. But I am also curious what will come out of me this time if I allow myself to be spontaneous. Immediately I feel 2 fears coming up: the fear to repeat myself and the fear to contradict myself. If I repeat myself I am boring and if I contradict myself I am unreliable. That is what I fear you will think of me. And to make it worse: I think you will read this and after having a negative experience you will go out and talk about it to other people. “Have you read what Atalwin said today? Jeez, isn’t that guy totally boring? No wonder he has no girlfriend”.
Everybody wants to be a beautiful, amazing and inspiring human being, nobody wants to burn. When we find ourselves in the oven and have no choice we clench our eyes and fists and tighten our muscles, preparing for the worst and hoping it will pass. But maybe we can try to trust that the Universe is not against us and open our eyes and listen. I know it is close to impossible to see light in our deepest despair and it is counter-intuitive to relax in the midst of pain. But try to find the even the tiniest bit of light and breathe into that. This light will lead us to forgiveness. And that forgiveness will open us up to our humanity like nothing else.