This piece of writing will be a summary of my life. It is a summary that is being filtered through one very specific element within that life. However, even though this summary of my life is being filtered through one very specific element, it still feels like it is an extremely useful, honest, and teaching summary of my entire life.
I, like everyone, was born with a distinct set of things about me that would prove to make my life difficult, challenging, painful to navigate, and sometimes very frightening. Chief among these things is being born into the specific biological family of origin I was born into, being born in the American South, being born a black male, being born homosexual (gay, same gender loving), being born with what I now understand to be a strong non-binary and non-gender conforming approach to both myself and the world as a whole, being born an empath, and being born a highly sensitive person (HSP).
I was also born with a distinct set of things about me in place that would seem to make my life easier in at least some ways or at least less dramatically and obviously challenging. Some of these things are being born into the specific biological family of origin I was born into, being born male, being born with what has been deduced by admittedly subjective assessment instruments as my having above average intelligence, having an absolutely insatiable hunger and thirst for spiritual truth, having a very gentle and kind heart, and having a very keen and advanced ability to detect and uncover even very cleverly disguised levels and degrees of bullshit in both myself and others.
Naturally, as my life began to unfold, both of these sets of things about me began to interact with each other and jockey, as it were, for supreme dominance.
At some point, rather early in my life, it would seem that the things about me that were the more challenging ones assumed some tangible degree of dominance. I believe this happened chiefly because both me and most human beings tend to form relationships with other human beings based largely around those things we experience as being mutually challenging for us because, among other reasons, we really, really enjoy complaining to and with other people seemingly much more than we enjoy celebrating our own and each other’s gifts and talents. We also seem to be much more inspired by what we imagine are those things we presume make us different from one another as opposed to those things that make us more or less the same. Although this is often not completely clear cut. Life often isn’t and then again, it often is.
So as those things about me that were very challenging continued to exert dominance in my life and especially in guiding the relationships I formed, a certain overarching perspective began to become solidified within me. I am going to describe this overarching perspective as being symbolized by a certain invisible pair of prescription contact lenses being attached to my eyes and that would provide me with something of a rather dominant worldview. I am going to summarize this worldview as being the, I am a victim worldview.
Now, the world is absolutely filled with other people who also have an, I am a victim pair of invisible contact lenses affixed to their eyes. It is exponentially more difficult not to find such people than it is to find them. So all of us with this specific pair of prescription contact lenses on, typically have a great many other people to commiserate with through our shared vision brought about by the wearing of these lenses through which we experience much of our own lives and the world. This lens has probably been a significant element within human culture for a very long time now—many centuries at least, I am guessing. And it has become extremely normalized too. It has become normalized to the degree that it is not even experienced by many as a worldview at all. It is often experienced by many people now more along the lines of simply being “what is,” similar perhaps to how air and the other elements are experienced as simply being what is. Yes, that’s right, it is simply taken for granted as being what is. It is experienced as being very natural. Many of us can no longer even remember a day when this worldview was not with us.
The, I am a victim worldview has also seems, for all intents and purposes, to have become something of a religion these days as well. At least it seems to me to have that same type of power and influence over some people. Or maybe it’s really more like a cult. I’m not sure which. However, where most people would very proudly state, “I am a Christian, or “I am a Muslim,” or “I am A Hindu,” the, I am a victim religion (or cult) has the exact opposite impact and effect on most of its adherent’s. We are far more likely to vehemently proclaim, I am absolutely not a victim. Also, one can very easily be a very devout practitioner of one of the other world religions or wisdom traditions and also be an extremely solid practitioner of the, I am a victim religion/cult, as well.
So it seems I have perhaps gone through much of my life with this invisible pair of prescription contact lenses affixed to my eyes and have formed many primary and other important relationships with many others who have also had some version of this same or approximate prescription affixed to their eyes as well. And we begin to believe the worldview provided by these lenses as being simply what is. We often vehemently defend our right to have this worldview, either passively or aggressively. Many of us disavow any other worldview while interestingly, we also simultaneously very stridently deny this is even our worldview at all. It’s all very odd and surreal though also very real and penetrating and informative. Many both fiction and nonfiction books written by people with and for this worldview become instant and persistent bestsellers. Many of the world’s most celebrated poems, plays, and musicals are written from this perspective as well. Almost the entire industry of popular music is one continuous catalog of songs representing this worldview. And so it should come as no surprise that many of the various awards and esteemed prizes awarded to people in the arts and letters are awarded to those who have most masterfully appealed to those with this worldview whether the recipients of the awards and prizes themselves have this worldview in actuality or not.
Many of us with this contact prescription could/would easily be assessed as being extremely “nice” people. Many of us have a very strong commitment to being of service in the world. Many of us have a deep, demonstrated love for our fellow man/woman, and would seem to be deeply committed to making the world a better and safer place for all. Many different types of institutions and organizations are filled with people who have this particular lens affixed to their eyes. These institutions and organizations are extremely diverse and cover many different diverse areas of life. Many such organizations and institutions have missions that state their devotion to making the world a better place for everyone or for at least some specifically disenfranchised segment of people in the world. Over the years I have been involved in many such institutions and organizations.
In 2012 I became involved in yet another one of these many such organizations. I am still connected to it. This organization is East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, California. If you are interested in discovering the mission and other important elements of EBMC, I invite you to peruse its website. It is filled with valuable information that satisfies many such desires. For the purposes of this particular piece of writing, what is important for you the reader to know, is that in the last quarter of 2014 I had an experience with a subgroup of people at EBMC that ultimately became quite destabilizing for me. A lot of deep and largely unconscious and it would seem disowned or at least unattended to injuries, festering puss infected emotional wounds, and unhealed parts of me were quickly and surprisingly deeply triggered and brought to the surface by this experience. In my life I have experienced several far more, at least on the surface, devastating and horrific events than this one. However, this one really really seemed to shake me to the core. I know many of the reasons for this though not all of the reasons. This particular event with this particular subgroup at EBMC became a foundationally life altering one for me—so much so that I currently divide and perhaps for the rest of my life will divide my life into the pre and the post 2014 life altering EBMC episode parts. Yes, it has ended up being that impactful and of that much importance in my life.
And one of the things that eventually came out of this experience was that my, I am a victim, pair of prescription contact lenses that had seemingly protected and supported me for so long, had given me a seemingly unrelenting and reliable way of understanding the world so clearly, and had provided me with so many seemingly beautiful and wonderful comrades for so many decades, got completely shattered in the aftermath of it all.
This was shocking and completely unexpected.
My immediate and admittedly reflexive impulse was to frantically though carefully construct another pair of, I am a victim, pair of prescription contact lenses to replace the ones that had been so unexpectedly destroyed by this experience I had at EBMC. I felt so completely naked without them. I believed I absolutely needed replacements. I however, knew they could not at all be the same prescription as the previous one—the one I had worn for so many years before, because many of the people who played a role in this experience at EBMC also had that precise or very similar prescription, it seemed to me. And I viewed those people as betraying and hurting me. So I knew I had to fashion my new contacts out of different material.
And then voilà! A perfect solution presented itself to me. I received a grand “aha” moment, a perfect illumination! I would construct a new pair of, I am a victim prescription contact lenses constructed out of, built from the idea, belief, and understanding that I had been victimized by those people at EBMC.
So with new found enthusiasm and commitment I set about to painstakingly and meticulously construct these new contact lenses. I was completely jazzed. It however, is a long and very arduous process to perfectly and sturdily construct such lenses. They must be both extremely durable and come with the extremely important element of providing an airtight sense of absolute denial that one is in reality allowing oneself to be a victim. It can take many months or even a year or so to construct such a thing. However, I was very determined and very committed to this project.
But then, while in the midst of painstakingly constructing my perfect new pair of, I am a victim prescription contact lenses, something happened I did not plan on happening. At the end of June 2015 I walked into St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bremerton, WA and almost immediately, experienced what I am going to call The Holy Spirit, approaching me and enveloping me in complete and absolute love and forgiveness and gently, ever so gently taking those nearly completed contact lenses from me and telling me I did not need them and would never need such a pair of contact lenses ever again in this life. At first I was defiant. I didn’t believe what I was being told. Surely I needed these new contacts. How would I survive this mean, tough, hard, hard world without some kind of weapon like this to help me through it all? How would I survive without always having ready made targets to project or blame significant portions of my suffering on. I however, was instructed to trust and to surrender to this truth and to this love I was being presented with. I was told that I would be given human guides to help me with this, some of whom would be found in this very church community I now found myself in communion with. And then I slowly began to understand. And I decided to surrender to this truth, this revelation, this blessing.
I am now in the clumsy and haphazard, imperfect, unfamiliar, surreal, very frightening and very lonely at times, and infinitely Blessed process of relying on my own naked eyes through which to now understand the world and my rightful place in it…
Amazing grace how sweet the sound…