In Pursuit of Cool

June 24, 2014

I didn’t grow up in a religious or spiritual home. My parents are salt-of-the-earth type people; hearty, practical-minded farmers. They laugh loud, work hard, and take things at face value. How they came to have an introverted daughter who pulled their bedside clock to pieces looking for the source of time, I’m not too sure.

I always was a little different. As a child I had a secret relationship with Jesus. I derived a deep sense of calm from an illustrated copy of The Lord’s Prayer, which I carried with me everywhere in my back pocket. However, Time (which I never did find in my parents’ clock; nor could I return that clock to working condition) revealed one of the deep truths of teenagehood: God is seriously uncool. So I took Jesus out of my back pocket and headed out to find “cool.”

I attempted for the army, but that was not to be my cool. I studied marketing, the cutting edge of cool. I worked in a five-star cocktail bar and hung out with cool. As a windsurfing instructor, I thought I was cool, and during my employment as a clown, it’s questionable whether I was cool or a fool.

Truth be known, my interest in “cool” was not a strong motivation. My quiet motto while travelling was that I was “looking for the place that was looking for me,” and although that might sound cool, I really had no idea what that place would look like; I simply trusted that I would know when I found it.

It took one yoga class to completely about-face the direction of my life. I walked out of that ashtanga room hardly able to walk; every muscle in my stiff body had been yanked to its brittle brink. For three days I hobbled painfully from the inevitable snap-back effect of overstretching. But yoga had me. And although I couldn’t pinpoint it at the time, something had come alive inside of me while I lay in savasana.

Yoga, meditation, and the search for the divine took me far and odd. From meditating while running, to concentrating on candles and communicating with trees, I searched to quiet my mind and understand the will of providence. One of my many self-concocted ideas found me in a van with a spirit-seeking friend, eating nothing but raw soaked chickpeas and mung beans for weeks on end and bungee jumping while offering prayers of surrender. “Surely this will take me to the heights and depths of knowing the divine plan for my life.”

Becoming a Hare Krishna was not on my to-do list. But by chanting the three simple words of the Hare Krishna mantra: Hare, Krishna, and Rama, I was hooked. This transcendental sound vibration helped me access a higher sensory experience. Unlike ordinary experiences, which gradually diminish in intensity over time, the Krishna experience increased in intensity the more I gave it time. I discovered that Krishna consciousness is not an external imposition but an internal burgeoning, and Krishna is not something to be lear ned but someone to be remembered. How grateful this forgetful soul is!

My journey across four continents led me to a community of bhaktiyoga practitioners who showed me that the place I was looking for was inside me the whole time. These same people also showed me where I could find the source of time. And they taught me how to cook chickpeas.

Now THAT is cool!