Be Careful What You Wish For
I took my first acid trip the summer of my senior year in high school, launching a love affair with LSD that lasted all through college. The freshman dorms at Penn were built in a style known as “College Gothic” for their pitched roofs, leaded windows and domed copper towers. One Saturday night a buddy and I decided to see if we could get inside one of the towers anchoring the corners of the mammoth brick complex.
We dropped some acid and climbed up five flights to a freshman dorm under the tower. The gods must have been laughing at us when we knocked on the door. We didn’t know him from Adam, but with innocent, bug-eyed faces we asked if he knew a way into the tower. (You have to remember this was the 60’s when everyone was your brother unless they “narced” you out to the campus cops.)
After sharing the obligatory joint, he showed us a trap door in the back of his closet. Although he had never been up there, he was certain it lead into the tower. Where else could it go? I distinctly remember feeling excited and more than a little scared as he boosted us up at the same time the acid started peaking.
The space was pitch-black; no windows or electric lights. We shuffled our way in on the creaky floor boards. Terrified to go any further, we stood where we were and stretched our arms out wide, desperate for something solid to grab onto… Nothing… Visualizing the onion-shaped dome, I realized it was too high above our heads to touch. So we just stood in the void hallucinating like crazy, when all of a sudden — out of nowhere — I turned to my friend and asked, “So, what do you want from your life?”
In an exaggerated “far-out tone,” he said, “To make it out of here alive… What about you, man?” Without thinking, from somewhere deep inside beyond memory or logic, I uttered, “To find out if God exists… Not someone else’s God; not like the one in the Bible… “Go for it, Moses,” he chuckled… LOL… “Be careful what you wish for!”
Anyone who has truly fallen in love soon discovers it isn’t an episode of “The Bachelor.” Love is cruel. It rips your heart open, makes you suffer… Love pits itself against your ego, eats away at your defenses. Love is merciless; it doesn’t give a damn about your ego; it does everything it can to destroy it, relentlessly dismantling any vestige of separation; making one out of two.
How could I know that the ravaging of love was minuscule in the face of knowing God? I couldn’t; if I could I might never have chosen God to begin with. Jesus said, “A camel can sooner fit through the eye of a needle before a rich man can enter heaven.” I thought I knew what he meant. Only now, sixty-three years later, am I beginning to get it.
I was born to second generation Jewish immigrants whose idea of success was measured in carats — the faceted kind – Cadillacs and country clubs, and like a good American kid I bought it hook, line and sinker. Even though I chose creative careers (initially architecture, then sculpture and finally writing, in which financial success is so damn elusive) I expected to succeed. I had God on my side… So when I didn’t make a splash on the New York art scene, or get my memoir published or sell a screenplay, I suffered. I suffered big time, obsessively questioning, “Why not me?” I’m smart; I’m original… Maybe I wasn’t good enough. What’s the point of having talent if no one saw it? What purpose could that serve?
Only now am I starting to realize that what Jesus said about rich people getting into heaven could be equally true for the talented ones… That for me, glorification of the ego might distract me from what I said I wanted: To know God in a personal way… Do I believe we have to suffer for God? I sure as hell hope not! What would be the point of all that suffering if you forgot what you learned in the following lifetime? But it was what I needed; to cut through the veil of my angry, stubborn ego.
So instead of accolades I got AIDS; instead of an Oscar I got dialysis. I also got my share of “cosmic” visions — usually in the midst of a rejection or a serious health crisis… I fought hard to live and the suffering leavened me… wore me down was more like it! Like love, it chipped away at me. Slowly, gradually I learned to surrender. That’s when my relationship with God started to blossom.
I received the most profound expression of love I had ever imagined – not from a lover; from a friend – in the form of a kidney that has kept me going for ten years so far. Was I content? Did I get what I asked for? Not exactly. If I am truly honest, for me the glass has always been “half-empty,” compelling me to focus on what I lacked, not what I had. The constant need for challenge also gave me courage. I didn’t shrink from life; I met it head on. I took risks — like moving to LA at fifty-nine knowing no one.
As an astrologer I followed my own chart like a hawk, as much to gage astrology’s accuracy as to see my future. Looking into 2013, I saw a rare conjunction of Neptune and Jupiter, a coming together of the planets that was for many “a once in a lifetime.” What might it bring, I wondered.
Neptune rules the sea; the main thing water does is to dissolve things. I was born with Sagittarius rising, making Jupiter my ruling planet. Anything that affects the ruling planet affects the body. Early last year my body began rejecting my ten-year-old kidney. Despite several very high-risk treatments, all attempts to arrest the rejection failed. “There’s nothing more we can do for you,” the specialists told me. “You need to start preparing for dialysis.” Having been down that road before the transplant, I knew it wasn’t for me. Week by week, I watched myself growing thinner and weaker, imagining Neptune dissolving the final boundary between my physical body and my eternal self.
I planned a trip to see my oldest friend (37 years) who lived part of the year in San Miguel de Allende. She emailed me, saying, “Short of a miracle this is probably the last time we’ll ever see one another.” My sadness was unbearable; no end to my tears once they started… From deep within the tears a thought emerged, “Why not a miracle?” I said it out loud, “Why not a miracle?” I sat down and prayed, and in that moment every cell of my being knew a miracle was possible… I just didn’t know if I would get one.
The following day my doctor called with my latest labs. “Oh no; not more bad news.” But it wasn’t bad news; it was just the opposite. Incredulously, he told me my kidney functions had returned to normal. Both of us sat with the phones to our ears completely speechless. He asked what I thought but I was too shocked to speak… “We have to repeat it,” he said, “It could be lab error.”
I promised to come in the next day, asking him not to call with the results until after the weekend. “Give me a few days to pretend.” He laughed, saying he’d call on Monday. The following day the phone rang in the late afternoon. It was my doctor calling to tell me the result was the same… I got my miracle!
Of course there was a medical explanation. But the miracle for me was in the timing; of my faith triumphing over my skepticism. Day by day I felt my old strength return. I started gaining weight. I stopped obsessing about dying.
Every person I have met has made a difference in my life — no less by our conflicts than by our resonance. Thank you so much for letting me in, for opening your hearts and minds… yes, and even your charts to me. I am all the better for it. I am… There is no, nor has there ever been any separation between us. Separation is an illusion; a product of the mind – not the heart.