Monday, August 22, 2011
Music Video Monday: Falco
Twenty years ago on this day, I was in Norfolk, Virginia undergoing the Navy's shipboard firefighting training, which I quite enjoyed. We didn't face the furnace with a real fire in basic training like I had hoped, so this training was educational and enjoyable. When it was my turn to lead the hose team, being the first man in to the fire, the instructor said afterwards that I was a little too eager! I had also forgotten that I had a Starburst candy or two in my pocket. That made a gooey mess in my pockets!
Ten years ago, I had the most significant spiritual experience of my life. It happened exactly the way Buddhists, Mormons, and New Age spiritualists said that it would! The intensity was so powerful that I really worried that my body would explode! It was better than any sexual orgasm or moment of euphoric bliss. My experience happened on 22 August 2001 and continued for a few weeks, until the events on a certain Tuesday in September brought me back to earth. In that time, though, I managed to land a new job after a search of a year, and I found an apartment to move into, in a neighbourhood that I love: Buckhead (known as "The Beverly Hills of the South"). Ironically, it was less expensive to live in Buckhead than it was in the liberal / trendy Virginia-Highlands neighbourhood, where I really wanted to live.
According to some spiritual books I've read, the purpose of life is self-discovery, so we are constantly moving from one question to another. As Trinity whispered to Neo (if I remember correctly), "Its the question that drives you." The questions you ask could (and should) lead you down the path to your destiny. My experience was unique for me because several factors had to come into play at that precise moment in time. If any were missing, I doubt that I would have experienced what I did. What were those ingredients? Well, I was in a job that I hated (which in comparison to the one I had during my first four years in Portland, it wasn't that bad) and frustrated by a year long search for a better job (imagine that...a year to find a job!). In my frustrations, I kept having a coincidence with the number 22, which lead me to buy a book on numerology to try to understand why this number keeps appearing in my life. None of my personal numbers add up to 22, though, which baffled me even more. However, it was because of the coincidence with the number 22 that led me to numerology, where I learned about the actual numbers in my name and birthdate. Also during this time, I decided to give in to that whisper I had heard for more than a decade. The whisper always happened when I was in a bookstore: "Read Kerouac." I always ignored that whisper. Until August 2001, that is.
I bought Vanity of Duluoz, Satori in Paris, and a biography on Kerouac by Tom Clark. When I read Satori in Paris and then Vanity of Duluoz (Kerouac's last published books while he was alive), I had so many coincidences between Kerouac and myself that I started freaking out. It was like reading my own life in someone else's books. So much of Kerouac's personality and life experience were similar to my own. I felt like I was a character in one of his books! This got me into an obsessive Kerouac phase, where I read practically every biography I could get ahold of. I have also read most of his books in the decade sense. Each time, the coincidences between him and I continue to amaze me.
Also at this time, I had received Falco's Greatest Hits cd. He was my favourite male singer in 1986, when I was a teenager in Germany. I had never heard his song, "Junge Roemer" before, even though it was released in 1984. I loved it instantly and still do. In fact, this song is the one I associate with that period when I experienced the greatest euphoric bliss I've ever felt. In the decade since, I have sought a repeat of that experience but never came close. Like I said above, the right ingredients have to come into play, I suppose, for such an event to occur. And if and when it does, its best to enjoy it for however long it lasts.
The best way to describe what I felt during this period, is to watch a scene from the movie Cocoon. The reaction of Steve Guttenberg's character when he is in the swimming pool and hit with a beam of light, and then he laughs as he feels the bliss...well, that is exactly what I felt at the time. For almost three weeks straight. When I was in this euphoric blissful state, I really did feel "at one" with the entire universe. The feeling was the most intense love I had ever felt. I understood this to mean being touched by God. Because of this experience, whenever I hear religious people going around hating people, I know that they couldn't possibly feel this way if they had the same experience as I did. Buddhists call it an enlightenment experience, and it is. But just because I was blessed to have such an experience does not make me special in any way. I rather like the philosophy of: "Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water." When you have a peak mountain experience, you still have to descend into the valley. For me, the experience was a glimpse of God and the nature of our universe. In fact, the lyrics of my favourite church campfire song is quite appropriate for my experience: "the Lord of love has come to me and I want to pass it on..."
Another aspect of this experience that I appreciate was that it validated some ideas I had learned about at BYU. When I attended BYU in the late 1990s, I had to take a religion class each semester. I remember a lecture and discussion on the idea behind being "translated" or "transfigured." I forget the differences between the two. However, I remember at the time that I thought the professor's explanation was ridiculous. Basically, the Mormon religion professor in one of the classes said that no human could face God and survive. The intensity of God's love is too much for the human body to withstand, which is why humans would have to be "translated" from bodies of flesh into beings of light. This ties into the idea behind rapture, where evangelical Christians believe that they will disappear into the heavens to meet Jesus in the last days of our planet. These are all interesting theories, but I dismissed the professor's ideas at the time.
When I had my experience, though, the intensity was such that I really did think my body might explode. A good example of what I mean is when sports fans, in their euphoric bliss over their team's win in a game of "importance", they riot or destroy property. They are trying to discharge the excess energy from their bodies because it truly is too much for the body to handle. Especially for people who don't know what to do with the excess and overpowering energy.
Also during this experience, I understood why people took drugs. They wanted to experience a moment of euphoric bliss. However, even a drug-induced high does not compare to the intensity of my experience. Drugs do attempt to get you to that place when you want it, but there's also a crash at the end and the body builds up resistance to the drug, thus it requires stronger or more doses to achieve the same level of intensity. Its a fool's errand, though. Unfortunately, my "enlightenment experience" can't happen on demand. It has been ten years now and I've never managed to repeat that experience. I've tried meditation, and that does put me in a blissful state, but not at the same level of intensity. I'm curious to see if it really is that much easier to manifest my desires when I'm in that state, since I was able to find a new job and an apartment during that blissful period.
I was hoping that something special might happen for me on this day, but the only thing that comes close is the news that the government of Muamar Gadhafi has finally fallen to the rebel forces. The tyrant is no where to be seen, but Libyans are claiming a victorious end to their six month rebellion / revolution. I'm very happy for them, because I supported President Obama's decision to help provide air cover for the rebels, even though many people in the U.S. (my liberal and conservative friends, as a matter of fact) were against it. There were moments when I doubted that this was a good decision because it was taking too long, but this is definitely a great resolution.
Tomorrow, I'll start the week long focus on girl groups. Hopefully, the week will not be eventful, so I can spend the next seven days writing about my favourite girl bands, with an accompanying music video.