LIVING THE SOULFUL LIFE
By Scott Kalechstein
A Friend Beneath My Wings
Did you ever have anyone think so highly of you that you avoided them at all costs? There is nothing more hazardous to a sense of low self-worth than someone who sees your greatness. I’d like to tell you about Stephen Feig. When I met him, I was like a small puppy with large paws. He has played a significant role in helping me grow into myself. He showed me how I kept my spirit on a short leash, and he helped me trust myself enough to unleash it. This column is my way of expressing the deep gratitude I have for the gift of our friendship.
In July of 1987, I was just beginning to explore singing spontaneously-created songs for healing purposes. One night there was a festive gathering in the Course in Miracles community where I lived. Late in the evening I took out my guitar and invited some folks to come into the center of a circle and receive a song blessing. It was just something I was experimenting with, and I had no idea how profound it was for people.
Two days later I got a letter from someone who had been present in that
healing circle and wanted to share his impressions. He wrote: “Scott, I
believe your personalized songs are one of the most significant healing
tools I have ever come across. The combination of music with spiritual
affirmations goes deep into the subconscious to depro-gram and
reprogram. I believe that as your sensitivity grows, you’ll be able to
channel the perfect notes, words, rhythm and frequency to initiate
healing from very deep levels. I see you being invited to gatherings
worldwide to share your gifts. I see everyone as having their own song.
I see this as happening right now. May I respectfully suggest that, to
facilitate the process, you see yourself on a Divine mission. Value
work, Scott, and more importantly, value who you are. As you see
yourself worthy of receiving love, reward and appreciation, so will
work be more highly valued and sought after. You receive the reward you
believe you deserve. Have you sung a song to yourself today, dear
brother? My love is with you.”
The nerve of this guy! How dare he believe in me that much! Me, a skinny Jewish boy from Brooklyn on a Divine mission? One of us was wrong about me, and for some time I was convinced it was him. I would see Stephen around at various happenings and always chose to avoid him. When I couldn’t, he looked into my eyes with a piercing gaze and I imagined his x-ray vision seeing all the guilty secrets I harbored. Eventually I realized Stephen was simply offering me love, and I was avoiding him because I was married to my own inner critic. The critic and I had an exclusive relationship, you see, and there was no room for an outsider who saw my greatness. I was rejecting Stephen because I was rejecting myself and getting tired of it.
I began to call him on the phone and ask his advice on different topics. He often said things that challenged and engaged me in self-reflection. I remember once when I was attracted to a friend of his. “How should I approach Valerie, Stephen?” I asked hopefully, wanting him to offer some tips on winning her over. His reply took me about seven years to digest. “Scott, my experience is that the more people think the guidelines for romantic relationships are something vastly different from the principles of friendship, the more their love relationships will be filled with drama and pain.” Ouch! I was not ready to consider that. I wanted support in wooing the princess, not in releasing my fantasy world.
I hung in there, calling him on a regular basis to show my interest in developing a relationship. One day we were both at the same conference. He asked to have some time with me. We walked outside and talked as we strolled through a beautiful garden. Never one to beat around the bush, he asked me directly, “Scott, you’ve been reaching out a lot to me these days. In the past you stayed at a distance. I’m curious what the change is about for you.” I gazed into his eyes that invited, almost demanded honesty, with myself as well as with him. “Stephen, you have always believed in me a great deal more than I’ve believed in myself. In the past I have found that too intimidating to have a connection with you, but now I am learning to love myself, and realizing I would be very blessed and honored to have you as a friend.” We hugged, and I realized his friendship would stretch me way out of my comfort zone. I was ready, though. I had been in hiding long enough.
We began sharing many life adventures together. Stephen took a keen interest in helping me get my music out to the public. He introduced me to Bernie Siegel at Omega Institute, a personal growth center where Dr. Siegel was conducting a weekend seminar. “Bernie!” he exclaimed enthusiastically, “you’ve got to hear one of Scott’s songs!” Nervously I serenaded Bernie, aware that if he liked my music he might play a part in helping me with my young career. The next day he invited me to sing for hundreds of people at his workshop. That led to singing at more of Bernie’s workshops, which led to all kinds of exciting connections.
Stephen was always pushing me out of the nest, forcing me to flap my butterfly wings before my mind had a chance to whip out my caterpillar ID card. When my eyes wanted to focus on the ground he would point towards the sky. One of his ideas was to go to California together and drive up the coast doing concerts and seeing the sights. Stephen had been there numerous times, and had many friends and connections. I had never been west of Arizona.
It was springtime, 1991. Network Chiropractic, a group that had hired me a number of times to perform at their workshops in New York, invited me to sing at an event in Sedona, Arizona. I told Stephen, and he immediately went into one of his inspirational seizures. “California, Scott! You can fly there from Sedona and meet up with me. It’s now or never! Seize the day! Carpe Diem!!”
California and I fell in love on that trip. One Sunday morning we visited Unity Church in Santa Cruz. The service was about to begin, and as we entered Stephen nudged me: “Scott, go find the music director and tell him what you do.” “That’s ridiculous, Stephen. They probably plan their music program months in advance!” My personal trainer in self-promotion was not swayed by my shyness-disguised-as-logic. “Scott, it can’t hurt to offer yourself. Who knows? Maybe today’s performer didn’t show up!” Begrudgingly, I went to find the music director, who just happened to be scrambling around trying to find a substitute for the morning’s singer, who had called in sick! I sang, sold a bunch of tapes, and, drawing on the enthusiastic response of the congregation, put together a concert for the following evening. Time and time again, Stephen lit a fire under my behind and got my feet moving towards my dreams.
As time passed I noticed a delightful change in our relationship. I had placed Stephen up on a pedestal. He was, for a few crucial years, serving as the cables that jump-started my weak battery. As my belief in myself grew, I felt more in the driver’s seat of my life, and more of a sense of equality with Stephen. Gradually, I grew out of looking up to him and began to look up with him. Eventually the man who had been my mentor, my motivational coach and my self-esteem guru became my friend.
There is a part in the movie The Color Purple which demonstrates what Stephen has done for me. Celie, played by Whoopie Goldberg, has a habit of hiding her smile with her hands. In this scene her new friend, Shug Avery, leads her to a mirror. “Miss Celie!” she says encouragingly, “You have a beautiful smile!” Celie gazes at herself and begins to smile. Her hands come up reflexively to cover her face. Shug firmly takes her hands, forcing Celie to witness her smile. In an instant she sees her own beauty, and her radiance multiplies as she gets out of her own way and lets herself shine. That is her turning point. Through her friendship with Shug, Celie eventually finds the strength to leave her abusive husband and build a new life.
Stephen, you have done the same service for me. Thank you for leading me to the mirror and restraining my hands long enough for me to behold my greatness. Your consistent love and support were my guiding lights when I was fumbling in the dark, reaching for a new life. You helped me create a lasting relationship with someone I had been very attracted to, but didn’t know quite how to approach: myself! And for that I am eternally grateful. You have been an angel in my life. It is a joy to share the planet with you.
Scott Kalechstein spends much of his time traveling with his work. He spreads levity and love through music, inspirational speaking, and workshops, both nationally and in Europe, as well as Canada. Scott is offering a concert in Encinitas May 6th. Also, he is giving a workshop entitled, “Say Yes To Your Dreams” at Unity Church of Tustin May 7th. To find out more about these events, or other things Scott offers in the world, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org , call (760) 753-2359, or visit www.scott-songs.com .
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