LIVING THE SOULFUL LIFE
Fame, Pedestals, and Power
By Scott Kalechstein
Hello, and welcome to my column. I am a famous writer, a fully self-realized being and an expert on the subject of Living The Soulful Life. I enjoy perfect health, love and prosperity. You are a reader, a seeker, one who is struggling in life and less fortunate than I. You have insecurities about yourself, and it is my good pleasure to exploit them. Generally speaking, I have myself all together and I write to help you get a life.
Yet there is hope for you, dear reader! If you follow my ten soulful suggestions, you will feel empowered, and never have hard times again. If you read my book, take my workshops and tithe to me regularly, you, too, might become an expert. One day you and I might do lunch, chatting together about our perfect lives.
I do sometimes fantasize about being a superior human, an authority on soulful living, a pillar of strength for those who are still searching. And if I were to deny the part of me that is attracted to such an ego trip, then I am in danger of being unconsciously driven by that part of me. When I own my shadow it is much less likely to cast its command over me.
I want to have self-awareness and honesty about my egotistical tendencies, and the wounds behind them. Power trips, whether acted upon or not, give me temporary relief from the fact that I often struggle with fears, doubts, and insecurities about who I am and what on earth I'm doing here. Power trips mask my sense of powerlessness.
Last week I had ample time to reflect upon these things when, despite my flawless lifestyle, perfect diet and sparkling attitude, I came down with the flu, and stayed in bed for almost a week. I had to cancel a singing gig and postpone some counseling sessions. My girlfriend made me fresh juices and reminded me to rest. And how I did need reminding! To do nothing, while people and my business 'needed' me, was quite a stretch. After a few days of squirming in mental resistance, I finally surrendered and allowed the experience to be exactly the way it was.
What did I do while I did nothing? I stared out into space, which, for me, really is the final frontier. I read books and rented movies and took naps. I received the tender love and care of my girlfriend's nursing skills. I surrendered to being human and took a break from saving the world. It was a delicious experience. I understood on a deeper level that I actually am good-for-nothing . . . in other words, that I am worthy of love simply by being alive. And I wondered what would happen if we humans consciously scheduled these kinds of time-outs from our busy lives. Perhaps we might find ourselves getting sick much less.
Many years ago there was a spiritual teacher in my life. He lived in Sedona, and when I was in that part of the country I would stay with him and his family. I had hopes that by just hanging out with him, whatever I thought he had that I didn't would rub off on me. I often felt extra-insecure in his presence, comparing myself (unfavorably) to him.
Once he took me hiking, and as we were close to the top of a mountain, my fear of heights surfaced very strongly. I stopped moving and just froze. He encouraged me to keep climbing, to feel the fear and move forward anyway. I backed down from the challenge, going for safety and survival over his invitation and guidance. I remember silently criticizing myself for choosing security over the adventure of overcoming a fear. I projected that he was judging me for staying in my comfort zone and I felt shame about disappointing him and myself. I remember hoping that someday I would be as spiritually evolved as he was.
Five years after that experience I saw him again. He had suffered some kind of breakdown. His wife had left him and took their son with her. He told me he had been in a mental institution for a while. Lethargic from medication, he confided in me that he was stooped in self-hatred and severe loneliness. I was shocked. This was my mentor, one whom I looked up to! That evening I took him with me to a healing group, where he was saturated in love and support, and I felt grateful that I had a chance to give something back to one from whom I had received so much. But I also experienced the encounter as life's sober wake-up call, cautioning me about putting people on pedestals.
I wonder how prevalent this kind of thing is. Maybe it exists in epidemic proportions. Maybe most of the self-help gurus and experts who speak at conferences and fill the best-seller lists are all in the same boat with you and me. Maybe every human being you have ever put on a pedestal has been just as imperfect and vulnerable, screwed up and magnificently flawed as we are.
A number of years ago a popular guru was caught with his yoga pants down, and it came out that he had been sleeping with many of his disciples. Thousands of his followers were heart-broken and disillusioned. People were forced to see the inconsistencies in the one whom they had thought had no weaknesses. Although I am sure many simply turned to someone else to look up to, my hope is that some of them used the experience for empowerment and gave up idolatry altogether.
Seekers evolve into finders when life strips away our security blankets, such as the illusion of a Perfect Human Being in whom we can blindly and wholeheartedly put our trust. The stripping away may first invoke a sense of despair, but a descent into darkness can be just the tunnel we need to lead us away from habitually giving our power to others. Facing despair can leave us face to face with the God within, thus ending the game of seeking forever.
This culture promotes having heroes outside of ourselves, which is a sure way of keeping our own golden natures hidden from sight. Fame glitters, and it certainly catches many eyes in this culture, but it is not the gold. Putting anyone on a pedestal is an effective way to deny your own personal power and magnificence.
The only way I will ever be comfortable at the top is if there is room for you and my mother and the entire human race. Then we will worship and praise and learn from each other equally, everyone acknowledged as heroes and stars, teachers and students. This may cause a much-needed wave of gurus turning in their robes, but the true gurus will retire in celebration, knowing that their purpose, which was to render themselves useless, has been served.
I am not the giant of my fantasies, nor the dwarf of my fears. Somewhere in between these extremes is my humanity, and in my acceptance of that there is enough peace and happiness to last for a lifetime.
Scott Kalechstein is a human being sort of fellow aspiring to live authentically. In addition, he serves as a counselor, a singer, songwriter, recording artist, speaker, minister, and workshop leader. He thought about not mentioning any of those things and trying to come across more humble, but decided against it. You can visit him in cyberspace at www.scottsongs.com . His music recordings are full of joyous, life-affirming songs for adults and children. To request a catalog or for booking information, please contact Scott at (760) 753-2359 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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