LIVING THE SOULFUL LIFE
By Scott Kalechstein
MY NIGHT AS A CABBAGE ANGEL
I would like to tell you about the night I found my life purpose while serving cabbage in the parking lot at a Grateful Dead concert. I had always been meaning to see the Grateful Dead.
I had heard stories about how the parking lots at their concerts became something of a commune, a hippie flea market, complete with psychedelic colors, flowing tie-dye clothes, and all kinds of items, legal or not, for sale. Having been four years old in 1967, I was more than a bit curious to experience a time capsule of the Summer of Love. When the Dead passed through San Diego on a rare weekend I was in town, I jumped at the opportunity.
I arrived wearing the only tie-dye shirt I possessed, and began to stroll through the parking lot, mesmerized by the sights and scents the abundance of colorful people, clothes, creative artistic offerings, as well as all kinds of incense (and other pungent smells) in the air. The mood of celebration was obvious in almost everyone. I enjoyed talking with different people and just making contact. One woman caught me totally by surprise. She looked dreamily into my eyes, and then whispered in my ear, "Are you an angel-in-training?" What a question! I searched for a reply, delicately seeking a balance of humility and self-esteem. "Yes," I said simply, with a warm smile to back it up. She took my hands and began jumping up and down, beckoning me to do the same. "Hešs teaching us!" she exclaimed joyously. "He's teaching us all!" She bounced away, leaving me startled and delightfully dazed. What a character!
After some time had passed the temperature began to cool down. I made my way to my car and found a warm and cozy sweatshirt. The sweatshirt had been a gift from one of my mother's friends, and had the words Pinecrest School on it. Accepting that I would be slightly out of uniform, I covered over my tie-dye with the establishment look, choosing comfort over adhering to the standard dress code of The Dead.
Right away I noticed a change in the way people were relating to me. They glanced at my shirt and quickly looked away, not wanting to make eye contact with me. After twenty minutes of this treatment, I felt confused and frustrated. I went over to a cart where a woman was selling food. Her sign, a humorous replica of the book cover of Be Here Now by Ram Dass, said Eat Here Now. I asked if she knew why people were avoiding me. "You're dressed like a cop," she said nonchalantly, as if it should be obvious to me. "Oh." The mystery was solved. I asked her for some of the raw cabbage that she was using to stuff falafel sandwiches. She filled a plate with cabbage for two dollars, and I walked away munching and contemplating my predicament. I didn't want to appear threatening to these people in this festive atmosphere, but I wasn't willing to brave the cool temperature without my sweatshirt.
I decided to practice sending non-threatening, loving vibes into my environment. I prayed that the intentions of my heart would override the suspicions my sweatshirt aroused. Pretty soon I noticed people were not looking at my clothes as much; their eyes had found something much more attractive to gaze on my cabbage! Pairs of hungry eyes met my friendly eyes and more than once I was asked, "Hey, brother, where'd you get that? Can you spare a piece of cabbage?" I decided to extend the plate to anyone who showed an interest. A collection of brothers and sisters joined me in the happy percussion of cabbage munching. After a few minutes my plate was empty. With enthusiasm I made my way back to the Eat Here Now cabbage patch and ordered a refill.
That evening I became a cabbage angel. I offered the cabbage as a gift of love, an excuse for making connection and extending friendship. I enjoyed my role thoroughly, coming with lightheartedness and joy to each new encounter. While I was immersed in my new job it struck me quite suddenly that I was fully engaged in the art of living my purpose. It dawned on me that my life purpose had little to do with music, writing, or public speaking, my current forms of livelihood. I had been confusing form with content, gift wrapping with the gift. The gift is the love, the Spirit that is communicated as me and through me. What I do is just the gift wrapping and is not nearly as important as the consciousness expressed as I do it. That night I realized that I could put down my guitar, walk the land with my cabbage, and be giving a gift every bit as powerful as the music and inspiration that I share in my present career.
After that experience my work changed. I knew more deeply that each song or message I offer is like an empty tea cup. If I am going to reach people on the heart level, I have to pour my heart into that cup. While in the past I was concerned with communicating wise and clever words or being musically on pitch, now I was interested more in infusing the words and music with my soul. I stood before audiences less polished and more intimate, less guarded and more vulnerable, less concerned with being perfect and more concerned with being loving.
I had been singing and speaking professionally for eight years, enjoying every minute of it, thinking all the time that those forms of expression were my purpose. What I discovered that evening as an angel-in-training was that career and life purpose are not the same thing. I discovered that the pain of being rejected (or seen as a cop) can be healed and put behind me when I make the decision to be on purpose, giving love. And I learned that if I ever get tired of singing and speaking, a lucrative career in cabbage awaits me.
Scott Kalechstein is a minister, a modern day troubadour, a lighthearted miracle mischief maker, and a friend and guide to those making the transition from suffering to celebration. He travels the U.S., as well as Canada and Europe, speaking and singing at conferences, Unity and Religious Science Churches, and wherever people are open to humor and play blending in with truth and wisdom. For bookings, inquiries, or to order a catalog of Scott's recordings, call (760) 753-2359.
Return to the March/April Issue Index page