However, in Sarah Palin's resignation speech on Friday, she said a curious thing that only reiterated her complete ignorance to me. She said: "Only dead fish go with the flow." In her mind, she sees herself as swimming against the current. She's such a mavericky politician that way. Always going against the current, fighting every stroke of the way. Boy, does she have it totally wrong!
In many spiritual books I've read, the same theme presents itself (from various writers). Its the idea that when your life is on track and you are flowing with the current, that's when you feel like you are living the life you are meant to live. If everything is off track and you're always struggling or fighting, it means you are wasting your energy and not living the life you are meant to be living.
As one who has experienced the best and worst of that idea in this decade, I can attest to the truthfulness of that idea. For me, the best four months of my life were the four months I was a BYU Intern in D.C. Everything flowed! I was living my wildest dreams and loving it. I had many strange little coincidences and met interesting people. I had the ability to "manifest" many of the things I had wanted for years. No one had to tell me what "flow" was. Things just happened without any effort on my part.
Since then, I've had ups and downs. Most recently, I've been in the opposite feeling. I feel like I'm fighting against the current. My desires aren't manifesting so much. I still have no idea why it was so easy for me to meet Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton last year during their visits to Portland, but I am as yet unable to manifest a job that is more in line with my value system, passions, and capabilities. Why am I stuck with a bunch of miserable Mormon women who have major control or emotional issues, thus making the office environment a living hell for their dysfunctional dramas? Did I ask for this? Life is so not flowing right now.
Thus, I have been reading a few spiritual books. One is about how to increase flow and synchronicity in my life. The other is about finding what my soul's assignment is. In fact, in this second book (by Chris Michaels), I was shocked when I came across the following passage:
"For whatever reasons, some people would rather be right than be happy! People, who have been diminished or devalued excessively in life, perhaps through constant criticism from an authority figure in childhood, have a strong need to be right. They've been condemned so much that they just can't stand it one more time! They can't stand to make an error or be made to feel wrong again. So they absolutely insist on being right!When I read that passage, an alarm bell rang in my head: DING DING DING DING!!! It totally described my troubled co-worker (the school marm, Helpful Hannah, tattle tale). She does have an obsession with being right and thinking she's right. She has never apologized after falsely accusing me of missing paperwork that was found on her desk or of using her locker at work and other such ridiculous accusations. Anyone who meets her can see how unhappy she is. She hasn't made the connection that her need to be right all the time has isolated her from the entire office and contributes to her misery.
"...They're tormented souls who can't bear the slightest imperfection. They see each admitted mistake as a personal attack on their own integrity. And if this condition is left unhealed, the victims will create a life that spins in a vicious cycle of trying to be perfect and never feeling like they've done anything good enough. It is a life of self-torment and internalized hatred."
My friendship with Nathan taught me the importance of friendship over ego. He and I have had some intense disagreements about politics and religion. There were times when I didn't even want to be friends with him anymore, but I always let that feeling pass because his friendship was more important than our differences in how we see the world. He wouldn't have been one of my best friends all these years if I let my need to be right interfere with my desire to be happy. A life without good friendships is not a happy life. I see that quite clearly in this co-worker, who does not appear to have any friends at all. She only talks about her sister and her sister's children. Its obvious that her young nephew might be her only true friend in this world. Just wait until he's a teenager and too embarrassed to be seen in public with his unpleasant aunt!
Anyhow, moving on from that...On Wednesday, I went to Powell's City of Books to browse the bookshelves for anything interesting. I had the most amazing experience of pure delight when I saw a book I had never heard of by an author I had never heard of. Yet it was a book that I have been looking many years to find. The book is called A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants by Jaed Coffin. The writer has a Thai mother who married a white American during the Vietnam War and moved to live in the USA. For years, I've been seeking a book written by a person who shares my growing up experience of having a Thai mother and white father. I have a few books by writers who are half Vietnamese and half Caucasian American. I thought maybe I might one day write such a book, but someone beat me to it. I'm reading the book now (its only 200 pages) and have laughed each time he relates an experience from his youth that completely describes mine.
The writer, Jaed Coffin, decided as a young man that he wanted to experience life in his mother's country for awhile...as a Buddhist monk. So, he joined a Temple in his mother's hometown to learn Buddhism and what it means to be Thai. Like him, I grew up in America and was immersed in my father's Midwestern, white culture. Even the church I was raised in is predominately white. I remember when we lived in Utah when I was 8 and attended the congregation in Ogden, a teenage boy called my brother and me "Cheech and Chong." I didn't know who they were but just their names clued me in that this was not a compliment. Other times, kids would approach me with fingers stretching the corners of their eyes and speak in a sing-song gibberish that was meant to sound Chinese. I never understood the hostility. I've been told to "Go back to...", with the name of whatever country they heard of: Vietnam, China, Japan, Cambodia, the Philippines, Korea, Mexico, and even Jordan. Truth is, like this writer, I always thought of myself as a white person. I don't know my mother's language, culture, or customs. Last time I was in Thailand was when I was 3 or 4 and I only remember bits and pieces.
Lately, I've been feeling like I need to do something major with my life before I turn 40. Spending three months in Thailand on my church's WoRLDService Corps is something I'd love to do, but I have too many debts I want to pay off first. However, if there is a will and a way to do it, I would love for God to show me that direction. I truly feel like I need some experience in Thailand as a man to understand my mother's heritage. A heritage I had denied for so long because of the shame involved. I don't know where the shame came from. The bitterness Americans had with the defeat of the Vietnam War? This shame is apparent in the fact that I see many Asian women dating white men, and even half-Asian women (with half-Caucasian mixed in) preferring to date white men. I've heard some Asian or half-Asian women say that they would not date a man who was half-Asian or Asian. There was another book I discovered a few years ago that mentioned this strange "phenomenon." Men with Asian heritage end up feeling like they are not desireable to women at all. Maybe that's my problem. I don't know. Its just frustrating, the whole dating game.
The other day, I saw a lady on the Streetcar that I found attractive. I assumed that she was Vietnamese. She was with a talkative friend, so I didn't approach her. But our eyes caught each other a few times. I have dated an Asian lady in the Navy (half Thai, half Vietnamese) and got angry when guys accused me of having an Oedipus thing for my mother because of that. So, does that mean white men who marry white women have an Oedipus thing for their mothers? Her personality was so Americanized and extroverted, she reminded me nothing of my mother.
In high school, there were a few Vietnamese girls I found attractive, but because of the shame and denial I felt for my Asian heritage, I did not ask any of them out. I wanted a perky white woman that all the guys wanted! Now, I'm open to any and all races. Any relationship with a woman who shares my spiritual interests is what I desire.
As for another development in my life, I have felt a need to meditate more. On Thursday evening, I went to the Unitarian Church to participate with a group meditation for ninety minutes. Its a good start that I intend to make a habit. Every Thursday now, that'll be my thing. I was going to go the previous Thursday, but Michael Jackson had died that day and I wanted to hook up my digital converter box to catch any news about it. Hopefully, once this group meditation becomes a habit, I will find it easier to meditate on my own each evening. These small steps I'm taking will hopefully lead to a major change in my life before the summer ends. I'm so ready for a change.
I'm ready to be the fish that flows with the current. Those fish aren't necessarily dead. Proof that Palin is clueless about spirituality. You have to go with the flow for your life to experience synchronicity.