One of my least favorite things about California is all the self-helpy bullshit. All of it. EST, Scientology, Hoffman, blah blah blah. And for all their "depth", all the people that I meet that are into this stuff, it's all they can talk about! No other outside interests? How long can one discuss self-discovery? It gets pretty boring (for the listener) after a while. And they are soooo serious and shallowly profound about having found the "secret to life". Phht.
It's not that self-discovery doesn't have value. It does. 100%. OF COURSE. We all need to find our zen, our mojo, our peace. I want nothing more than peace of mind. And I definitely do not have it just yet (I know...who am I to judge those who've found it then?) I just fundamentally believe that I am not going to find it by paying boatloads of cash to some guy who loads us into auditoriums by the thousands, collects our hard earned paychecks and then buys horses and mansions with his loot after spewing shards of half-baked, faux Eastern religion wisdom at us for a few days or hours or months, depending on the program. I think we have to come upon it ourselves. It may take longer, it may be cobbled together from loss and joy and boredom and the beauty of books and words and art, but it's ours and in this, has more profundity. No? I think we can share our insights in bits and pieces and then go on to enjoy the spoils of those insights - LIFE. Life is not talking about how insightful we are. It's laughing. It's playing. Enjoying a beautiful book (that doesn't have a title like "Ten Easy Steps to Happy!") with perfect lovely sentences that move one to the core. It's spending time with our kids, our friends. And yes, it's being lost from time to time. But maintaining a sense of humor through it all.
These people - the seekers, I'll call them - never seem to laugh. Not real hearty belly laughs. They may chuckle. Or smile and say: That's funny. But whole-hearted laughter? Not so much. They live in unfunniness. I don't think they like humor, at all, in fact. Because sometimes humor points out ugly stuff about human nature. About us. Sometimes humor is mean. Sometimes humor isn't joyful. But it's funny. And full-hearted, full-bellied laughter, the kind that makes you weep...well, that's kind of it for me. So if finding dark humor that sheds light on people's worst qualities from time to time (our insecurities, our meanness, our stupidity) is off limits, then spiritual seeking is not for me. For now.
Who knows...maybe one day you'll find me standing shoulder to shoulder with other lost people looking for answers, gobbling up expensive pseudo psychological hocus-pocus thrown at me by some non-doctor who either just wants my money or had a spiritual epiphany of his own after tragedy struck - cancer or divorce or a lifetime of general malaise. But for now, I'm content (well, sometimes not so content) to cry when I'm sad, and watch Louie CK when I need to laugh, or visit with my friend Steve when I need to laugh and cry - all at the same time.
And I think, if I really need it, really need guidance in a group one day, I'm more likely to go the route of traditional religion. It's free. Time tested. And if you pick the right one, there's singing and dancing and happiness that comes with all the guilt and God-fearing. That could work one day. Perhaps...