THE SAT CHALLENGE
At the beginning of August, I was supposed to start a new job teaching SAT classes.
I sought the job out because I thought I needed a means of generating supplementary income, while I started my dream company, Waking Beauty. Really though, I wasn’t getting anywhere with the Waking Beauty project because I was always so caught up in financial fears and other blocks.
Little did I realize the challenge God had in store for me with this job…
Okay, so the “little did I realize part” is not entirely true. I was inwardly tipped off to the nature of this challenge three weeks before my first class, when the thought of teaching SAT classes invoked an image of a black, F-450 pick-up truck (the kind with the extra large cab, fat ties, and glistening rims) rudely screeching into my driveway (and my consciousness…I might add), usurping the home of my petite, environmentally-friendly 2009 blue Prius with a vengence! Yuck!
Uh-oh, I thought. I let something in.
And the trepidation began to build…
Then, about two weeks before the first class, I found myself hysterically crying one night before my altar, begging God to take the “stupid class” away. My state of mind, was like a child, throwing a tantrum, and I immediately recognized Fran (a character I invented a couple years ago, who I now realize represents my soul, inner child, and Creator Self) was not to happy about me agreeing to teach this class. In between chokes and sobs, all she (I) could get out was
“Stupid, stupid, stupid… SAT’s are so, so stupid!“
Then I heard,
“I don’t want to teach SAT classes! People don’t need to learn how to take an SAT. They need to learn how to love, and be creative, connect with God and have fun!”
“Stupid, stupid, stupid… SAT’s are so, so stupid!“
After this event, I really began to worry, and I started to feel…well… trapped.
What could I do? Obviously, my inner self was against this, and I had let it in through my own ignorance and unconsciousness (uh…black pick-up truck, anyone?). I had been struggling so desperately with fears about money, and jobs, and being supported emotionally and financially to do what it is I know I am suppose to do in the world, and I had seen that posting on Craiglsit ($20/hr looked like a lot of money). I knew I could do the job- I had the experience and the credentials, so I applied. Then I used all my manifestation powers to get it, sparkling in my interviews and envisioning myself teaching children to write down their goals, focus on their dreams, in the process, clearing away the negative feelings they hold about themselves in relationship to them and replacing them with positive feelings. I envisioned myself teaching the powers of manifestation to humanity’s children and taking all their precious dreams into my heart. Then I envisioned myself telling them not to let scary things like the big stupid SAT’s of this world stand in their way. I envisioned myself opening my arms like a great Cosmic Mother to their hearts and saying, “You let me handle the SAT’s. Don’t worry about a thing. We’ll get you through this. Just focus on your dreams and what you want to create in your heart. Feel good about yourself, and let it come to you. Let go, have fun. You’ll get through this test, and everything will be okay.”
But now my inner self had tipped me off… it wasn’t going to be like how I thought. Somewhere there was a big error- a schism- in my thinking. But what could I do? I couldn’t call them now, two weeks before I had agreed to start, after months of interviewing, expressing my enthusiasm, agreeing to the terms, signing contracts, etc. and say, “No, sorry, I changed my mind. This is not what I want to do. I actually hate the SAT’s. This form of education nearly killed my soul, my creativity, and my ability to think independently. I’m sorry that I told you I could do this. I was being untrue to myself. Please find someone else.” And leave them hanging? I couldn’t. I felt the programming throughout my body- the guilt and shame I would project against myself if I left another job like this…
You see, in the past year, while I’ve been trying to start Waking Beauty, I’ve gone in and out of different “side jobs” to make “money to survive,” only to realize, usually very quickly, that they were not right for me. I would leave the job, usually awkwardly, and then project judgment against myself for not being “responsible” enough to “hold down a job.” I have been utterly trapped in this vicious cycle, and in the meantime, unable to fully devote myself to manifesting the company (which…hello, is a full-time job!), because half of my energies have been devoted to guilt, worry, shame, fears about money, support and this big wad of gunk inside me concerning “myself” in relationship to “the world.”
Uggh, I felt it. I felt the root, the source, the scab… that old, familiar wound within me…and I knew the truth. I knew what was wrong. There was quite obviously a major schism in my psyche. That familiar, unbearable pang hit my heart… my outer self does not match my inner self… and I started to cry.
I felt the false, egoic self, sitting like a fat, frightened queen on my heart, and I didn’t know what to do…
Suddenly, I received a message in my inbox. It was from the test-taking company! They were asking me if I could commit to more classes!
What do I do? I’m trapped!
I felt my inability to say no. I felt my outer self saying “yes” while my inner self was saying “no.”
As the fat queen made her move to reply, rendering through my fingers that intentionally innocuous message, “Sure, I can do what you want. Let me just check my schedule.” My inner voice let out a desperate cry,
Save me Lord! Allah! Krishna! Jesus! Kali! Durga!
(Hey, if I’m gonna be in bondage to the self, at least it’s gonna be on God’s terms, right?)
And with my prayer released, in futile desperation, I filled my calendar up till Christmas with “The SAT Challenge”.
So, What happened?
Well, let me tell you, A LOT.
First of all, the night before the first class began, the angels surrounded me in masses. Throughout the night… I wouldn’t even call it sleep… I was in and out of mystical trances, in a deep, watery-like state of consciousness, that felt like floating on waves of starlight. During the night, I was imbued with inspiration of such a lovely order, I couldn’t wait to wake up and write it down or create it in some way, whatever it was! I felt this desire like a deep longing in my heart to ground a point of Creation into the Earth…
“We have to ask ourselves what is it we love to do? How is it we want to live? And then we have to just do it. Live it.“
NPR radio turned on at 6:45am, waking me up to these words.
I don’t normally wake up to the radio. I was in a foreign environment. Housesitting for a friend.
The man in the radio program then began talking about raising children, and how we create unnecessary stress in our lives and in our children’s lives by over-scheduling them with so many activities. He said, “If your child likes to swim and is good at it. If you don’t have to encourage him, if he just naturally loves it and is eager to go to swimming lessons, and he’s relatively good at it, then that is what he’s meant to do, so let him do it. Why spend the unnecessary 40 minutes driving him to soccer lessons across town, if all he really wants to do is swim.”
I got the message.
I love art. I love writing. I love graphic design. I love teaching too, but I love doing it through creative media and story telling. NOT SAT’s!
My soul wanted to create Waking Beauty, not teach SAT classes.
But where was I going to get the gumption to follow through on this truth? …. I was so scared!
Well, isn’t that what this story’s about?
So let’s see… You know, sometimes I fall prey to the wishful thinking… It would all be a lot easier if I was just perfect! If I had always lived my life honestly and in integrity with my True Self. If I had learned healthy boundaries, and developed an integrated, balanced ego-structure for my soul… well, this would all be a lot easier!!
But I didn’t. I grew up in dysfunction galore! And my ego developed a host of defense mechanisms to help me survive it. Then these defense mechanisms began killing me… literally! And I found myself up a creek without a paddle, so to speak. That’s when I found God. And began the long journey back to wholeness… back to truth.
Sometimes (well… a little bit more than that really) my path includes a pretty dramatic wake up call! And that’s exactly what I got!
I walked into that SAT classroom the first day, still half fooling myself that I would be able to do this thing. Trying to keep my spirits high. Imagining talking to the students. Asking them about their dreams. Imagining how I could help inspire and guide them.
In all honesty, I really needed to see what I saw…
The classroom was full of incredibly “smart,” “disciplined” students- the cream of the crop! Two from the best private school in Charleston, and whole crew from this fancy, well-known boarding school in Virginia.
These were the kind of kids I went to school with. Private school kids. College-bound.
And then I felt it all throughout my body- these children were just like I had been!! It was like re-living a long lost past, I had tried to forget. The smells, the senses, the conversations… I was being brought back in time. Back to a place that was so so familiar. Except now, I was in there with new eyes and an open heart.
What I saw shocked me!!
They were all dead on the inside!
Lifeless. Automatic and Conditioned.
And when I asked them about their dreams, I couldn’t believe that not a single one of them knew what their dreams even were. They didn’t have any dreams! They were all so cut off from themselves. And most of them didn’t even want to be there… they were doing it for the same reason I was… because they thought they had too.
Then I looked at this one boy, Michael. He had a softness to him… an introverted, perhaps even “nerdy” quality. He was wearing glasses. I felt into him. He was the only one of the crew that had any sort of connection to his soul at all. I felt his presence just barley flowing from him like a tiny, cool stream. It made me feel at peace… and I smiled.
There was an instant connection between us, but when we talked, he did not speak to me from the stream. He was hesitant. I could feel him searching me for what I expected him to say. I could feel him choosing his words carefully to meet what he thought it was I wanted to hear from him. He was holding back. Unconsciously frightened of me. Don’t waste your pearls on swine, I thought. I was struck very deeply by this.
I was also struck by the stifling energy that filled the room that day. How hot and uncomfortable it was. How bad it felt to be teaching to a test. How heavy and contrived… the gimmicks, the patterns, the strategies, the competition. How limiting it was to the human spirit. How everyone, including the other teacher who was in there with me, closed up. Shut down. Became dull and uninspried. How traumatic it was to do this for 6 hours!!
I went home that night, my spirit stretched to the absolute breaking point. I couldn’t sleep at all. I found my inner self speaking to Michael. Telling him to run! To not listen to me! That it was a trap! That none of this really mattered, and to go on and save his precious gift, before it was too late!!
I knew I had to do it, and do it soon, before I got in any deeper. Technically, I was still training… so this was the opportune time to speak up and just own how I really felt. “I’m sorry I told you I could do this, but I realize now that I can’t. It goes against what I believe to be true.” But I was still so scared.
I drove to the center in the morning, shaking from a sleepless night of grief and the fear that coursed through my veins, balking at speaking up for myself. I sat in the parking lot for a while, gripping the steering wheel, praying to God for the courage to do what I knew I needed to do. Whatever negative karma was accrued, I knew it wouldn’t be half as bad as being stuck like this long term, in agony. But I still couldn’t get the courage to do it. I felt that familiar fat, frightened queen, sitting on my heart. Gripping. Gripping. Gripping. And then…
A 2009 blue Prius pulled up beside me.
And inside it was…
Something broke open inside my soul.
Flashes from the past flooded my nervous system…
My parents screaming at the top of their lungs. Beatings. A knife. Threats. Peeing my pants. Masturbating incessantly. The fishing pole breaking over my back. The fear. The shame. Report cards. Straight A’s. The exterior. The exterior. Keep it up. Keep it up. Secrets. Accomplishment. Cover. Escape. Get high. Get high. Terrorists. Trade Centers. What about money? Get high. Get high. Terrorists. Trade Centers. You have to think about money! Falling, falling, disintegrating… dust. Dartmouth. Power. Intellect. Control. My heart. My love. My art. Dead, dying, disintegrating…dust. Bones Gate. Stale piss- the smell. Pubic hairs and blood, on the floors of the fraternity. Toilet seats. Vomiting. Retching. Writhing in pain, writhing in pain… not enough alcohol in the world could take away…