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Although facebook has been the gift that keeps on giving in terms of confirming whether or not a prospective date is or is not a liberal, for this installment I thought I'd put my instincts to the test by participating in the very underrated process of "stereotyping."
I think, and rightfully so, that many Americans feel that Los Angeles is a place bankrupt of spirituality...not to mention just plain bankrupt. However, there is a spiritual movement among Angelinos that folks may not be aware of, largely because it is a faith so self indulgent it would be difficult for the average hard working American to fathom. This movement is called "Spiritual Psychology."
Let me just say this for fear of being labeled judgmental: I have nothing against spirituality or psychology; in fact, I actually saw a Medicine Man on an Indian reservation in the Jemez Valley to help me with a "problem" I'd prefer not to discuss here. It was an extremely spiritual, dare I say magical experience, after which my "problem" did not improve in the least.
In terms of psychology, I am a huge proponent, having spent countless hours and dollars on a therapist's couch over the years. The results have been miraculous: I am aware of every problem I have ever had and the root cause behind each one of those problems, and yet somehow have not discovered the means to change a single pattern of behavior.
So what I'm saying is....I'm open. So when a platonic girlfriend of mine mentioned she was attending a University for Spiritual Psychology, my interest was peaked. She was what I call a "Utopian Liberal" with an impossibly positive attitude--the kind of person who if her arms fell off, would know destiny was calling her to be an apple bobbing champion. If God gave this girl lemons, she didn't make lemonade, she made a lemon curd tart with a Raspberry drizzle. I couldn't fault her for this. However, due to my complete lack of ability to live my life that way, I did what anyone would do, and resented her greatly.
Here's where the stereotyping comes in, and I think justifiably so. It was very difficult for me to imagine a Conservative
.....okay, anyone who would attend an institution of lower learning that had the audacity to label itself a "University" when the only requirements for admittance were thousands of dollars, a bevy of emotional problems, and a tremendous amount of spare time. However, if I had to take that leap, I would imagine that the student body would be comprised solely of liberals, so I asked my friend if she could set me up with a classmate.
She was amenable to the idea if someone stepped forward.
Then she closed her eyes.
I want all of you to stop reading and wait 15 seconds in silence....because that's what I was forced to do. Apparently she couldn't "actively" think of someone. My potential date had to reveal herself in my friend's mind. A few more seconds and her eyes opened along with her cranial curtains to reveal who had taken the stage: Jaquelib. However, I had to promise two things before my friend would make the call.
: I would have to approach this with an open heart and look for her loving essence
My response...yeah, yeah, that's fine...heart's open....and looking for a woman's loving essence is always part of the plan anyway. What else?
: I would have to attend an orientation night at the University so that I could understand and lovingly embrace Jaquelib's emotional journey without judgment.
My response: a round off double back handspring into an Arabian dive roll. The promise of material was extremely exciting.
I got out of my car in front of the building, scaled the stairs to the information desk where I signed in and took a seat in the banquet hall. This process took me all of 90 seconds and within that brief period I was greeted no less than 457 times. There were hosts and hostesses everywhere...all dressed in identical black suits...smiles plastered on. There was no wavering in expressions or vocal tones. They held their arms down in front of them with hands folded. All the men were curiously bald and shiny. I figured at any moment the protective plates which housed their facial features would slide off revealing tiny alien beings driving their respective bodies.
I would have made a break for it but they were positioned at every exit and with my imagination already running wild; I didn't want to consider the consequences of a failed escape attempt.
As I enjoyed the melding of scented candles and Carpet Fresh, I turned my attention to the potential student body, eavesdropping where I could to get some sense of my fellow spiritual psychologists in the making. This group was the "Who's Who" of those who had no idea who they were. In a strange way, I was beginning to feel lost myself...I found this noteworthy as if there were some sub-auditory subliminal message being broadcast throughout the room: "Doubt yourself. Doubt yourself. We can help. We can help."
One of the black suited extraterrestrials took the stage and enthusiastically introduced the founders of the university. I don't quite know how to explain this, but for me, there is nothing more unnerving than a husband/wife
team teaching anything to anyone. I know I am not alone in this theory or the world would never have been introduced to Marty and Bobbi Mohan-Culp, the musical directors at Alta Dena Middle School portrayed so accurately by Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer.
Out of respect for the anonymity of the institution and for my ease of association, I will henceforth refer to the founders of the University as The Culps.
Now the Culps had their pitch down. They knew that every potential buyer in that room (save for one) was lost, desperate, searching, dissatisfied with his or her life, and therefore open--and by "open" I mean subject to influence.
They cleverly used the word "Stuck." A word so general anyone could find meaning in it, not unlike a fortune cookie. We were all united by our inability to improve our lives....and guess who had the ability to pull us out of the mud? The Culps. They would lead us out. Don't get me wrong, we would all have to do our part. We would all pitch in like a not so shovel ready emotional public works program which would require extensive sharing....so much sharing, in fact, that it would make an Alanon group seem like a bunch of introverts.
In addition, we would have to "let go of our painful ego structure by removing identity
." Let me repeat that "let go of our painful ego structure by removing identity
." The math was basic...and alarming.
Once we removed our identities, we could "manifest" what we wanted in our lives: the great job, the big break, the perfect woman, less back hair...
This is far from an original concept and it's generally explained by the Kool-Aid drinkers as a technique to attract
the things that you want in life. My theory is, at the root of "manifesting" is a sense of entitlement along with the inherent belief that you deserve to have whatever you want regardless of the work you put in or your qualifications....and that is not
how this world works...unless your goal is to be the President of the United States of America.
The Culps however, didn't use the President as an example. Rather, they rolled a video testimonial from a graduate of the program, who once she realized her ego was irrelevant
, she was able to realize the dream of running her own business: Alpaca rugs weaved by imprisoned Bolivian mothers. That woman was Meg Whitman
, Carly Fiorin
a, nobody you've ever heard of.
If you took a step back and put the pieces together, it was easy to see the Culps' agenda.
Excessive sharing under the guise of transparency, the removal of the self, the devaluation of initiative through "manifestation," and cult-like homogeny. This wasn't spiritual psychology. It was "emotional and spiritual redistribution."
And then it occurred to me... something horrifying: The journey from this....
.....was far shorter
than one might expect.
I left the orientation, hopped on the Hale-Bopp comet, and headed home to secure my date with a liberal. Call me a stereotyper.
Jacquelib's idea for a date was to meet in any open space where we wouldn't be limited by any physical barriers such as walls. This was consistent with my post-orientation expectation. She picked the bluffs over looking the Pacific Ocean. I agreed. No walls.
She was late, but had a valid excuse: Being a liberal, her time was far more valuable than mine and I knew that going in, so I waited...feeling surprisingly at one with the...cliff.
I was just about to discover an internal truth that been evading me for 23 years....when she showed up. I don't think looks are generally that important to my ongoing research, but I think it's important in the instance to tell you all that Jacquelib was beyond beautiful. The kind of beautiful that makes you ignore things like compatibility.
For some bizarre reason when we hugged "hello" I stood on my toes as if to momentarily fool her or myself into believing I was taller than I am. The odd thing was I am already taller than her, than she, whatever.
She had a very soothing vibe about her. She even handed me a cold tea drink called The Dragon which was an oddly colored green and came with an industrial-sized wide-mouth straw with which to inhale the numerous boba tapioca pearls which were stacked high at the bottom of the cup.
We chose a nice spot to sit down. The lotus position was implied so I bent myself uncomfortably into it. Before there was sharing of any kind, Jaquelib wanted to begin with a guided meditation. She would be my guide. Eyes closed
. I was instructed to mentally travel to the whitest of sand beaches where I would discover a box that was left just for me. I was to open the box and see the note inside. On the note something was written, something I
wanted. My note said "Newt in 2012." I was to put the note back in the box and bury it in the sand for another loving soul to find. I hoped 65 million loving souls would find that box. Breathe
. I was definitely breathing, yet she kept saying it. Eyes closed
...but then I heard a stirring in the brush from below the ridge so I opened one eye. Breathe
. The noise louder....closer and then up from God knows where, Breitbart appeared on horseback, riding sidesaddle, as he is wont to do. She must have still been on her beach because she didn't see him, but I saw him, and he saw me..... in the lotus position, breathing...with one eye open. I was embarrassed. He shook his head, gathered up a mouthful of tobacco juice, coiled, and released, sending a tightly bound liquid bomb 20 feet in distance just over my head blinding a rattlesnake which was descending from a tree just inches behind me. I turned back to Breitbart who gave me a nod, but it was really a warning: be careful. Eyes open
she said. Breitbart was gone.
It was time to share....let me be more specific. It was time for her to share and this was when I became painfully aware of an experiment she had been conducting as part of her emotional growth....it was her journey.
Jaquelib had decided that in an attempt to become less self-involved she had removed the use of the word "I" from her vocabulary. She could use other words to refer to herself, just not "I." This would serve as some sort of self-prescribed Pavlovian bell to curb her inherent narcissism. The first time I heard it I nearly choked on a tapioca boba from my Dragon tea.
Jaquelib: Me had a conversation yesterday with my fear.
Now forget about the content for a second. I couldn't figure out why using the object form of the 1st person was less self indulgent than using the subject form of the 1st person. It seemed to me she was equally self involved but with the grammar and syntax of primitive man. I pulled myself together.
Jon David: What did your fear say?
It said me is your friend and me is necessary for spiritual growth. So embrace me like you would a friend.
Apparently Fear was conducting the same grammatical experiment. What followed was the biggest series of 1st
date "over-shares" ever recorded in modern dating history. Here's a small sampling.
Me knows that me is not very smart.
This emerald encrusted gem of self-esteem was followed shortly thereafter by....me'd like to have children as soon as possible.
Now my heart was open but I must confess I am in no hurry to have stupid children.
With each new share her external beauty dissipated, or at the very least lost its relevance..
My parents were both alcoholics so me have that gene in my family
Me doesn't know what my passion is. Me used to be promiscuous.
She also told me that she had been writing a series of letters to her father from her six-year-old self. She would write them left handed. This would transport her back to a place of rudimentary thinking and expression so that she could truly gain access to how she felt about her father when she was a child.
I was beginning to have a conversation with my
Fear, except my Fear was morphing into Sadness and then slowly into Regret. And Regret was telling me to be careful when writing this article. Jaquelib was sad, and it was real. She was wounded and she was lost. I know what that feels like. Everybody does. And if anyone says they don't, they are liars..
This didn't have anything to do with politics. It didn't have anything to do with being a liberal or a conservative. It had to do with being a human being, and frankly, I felt badly for her and hoped that whatever path she chose, she'd eventually find her box in the sand.
So I listened. Maybe I even looked for her loving essence, but I didn't feel the need to
bring up my political affiliation. It would not have served any purpose. I knew I would never buy what she had already purchased so blindly and enthusiastically from the Culps.
But there is a lesson here. Redistribution, whether it be emotional or financial, doesn't work. We should not be forced to share. Americans are kind-hearted people. Hard working and generous people. We do the right thing. We give to charity. We help elderly ladies across the street. We don't need to be forced to share nor should we be stripped of our individuality. We need to hold on to our identities because the collection of the unique is what makes this country so amazing.
Kool-Aid tastes good. It goes down smoothly and needs no chaser. It's easy to understand why someone would reach for the glass. It's more difficult to understand how and why somebody would serve it.
A few days later, I was reflecting on the date...my fingers hovering over the keyboard indecisively...the phone rang. What I thought was an automated recording was actually a real-life staff member from the University following up with me to see if I'd be interesting in pursuing a degree in spiritual psychology.
Respectfully, me declined.
"My Weekly Date with a Liberal" is sponsored by
"American Heart" available at iTunes