This post is a reflection inspired by an active dialogue between Kathia Laszlo and me, as we co-design our upcoming retreat Unfolding Wisdom scheduled for April 16th – 19th at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA. It is adapted from the original post at our Unfolding Wisdom website, as a response to Kathia’s blog post “Learning, Leadership and Spirituality.”
Reading Kathia’s posting on the threads woven through her life gave me pause to consider my own. We are made up of these threads and their weaving gives shape to our lives. Consciousness of how we weave and re-weave these tangled strands reveals that the narrator of events is as critical as the events themselves. We create the narration and the narration shapes who we are, and then we forget. Remembering our wholeness is recognizing the co-arising nature of both narrative and narrator. The poet Rumi says it with a most clever twist: “Do you remember how you came into existence? You may not remember because you arrived a little drunk. Let me give you a hint: Let go of your mind and be mindful. Close your ears and listen.”
My listening occurred in the dark womb of alienation. I was sixteen with no language for having a felt sense of being other. I felt little connection with my family or lineage; Jewish immigrant parents from Lithuania observing customs and rituals from a religion that bore no resemblance to my experience of the world around me. Nor was I inspired by the professional aspirations that surrounded me in the working/middle-class neighborhood of Queens where I grew up. An image of the accountant who lived across the street was seared into my brain – trudging home at the exact same time every evening, head down, shoulders slumped; an advertisement for the fatalism of conformity and the despair of successful assimilation. Dramatic responses to desperation were woven into this world, but ones I could not foresee at the time. And not just for me: one classmate would become a famous playwright, another a porn star legend, and a third, director of the C.I.A..
In 1970, I left the country.