Sunday, March 05, 2006

Untrue believer

coffee talk

While my husband was away on a business trip recently I joined a cult.

I know it may sound a little bizarre coming from a lapsed Catholic, former altar server-turned agnostic yoga practitioner who doesn’t especially feel spiritually or creatively unfulfilled (except on Mondays). But that’s essentially what I did.

Perhaps it was out of boredom. It can happen. My mother suffered a similar ennui early in our lives while my father was away on business. In her case, however, it happened when two lovely Jehovah Witness members came calling one afternoon.

She invited them in for lemonade and a refresher course on the Watchtower. Having no intention of converting, she merely craved a little conversation. Every time they wanted to leave, she’d just asked another question and poured more lemonade. By the time they were able to scramble out the door, probably way past dinner time and their bladders no doubt bloated, she said she knew they’d never be back.

My lunge toward a spiritual awakening, however, was spurred by the Internet, and my need for adult conversation.

With a few friends raving about miraculous claims concerning Julia Cameron’s self-help manual “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity,” the wave that’s apparently sweeping the nation, I decided one late night that I had to see what all the fuss was about.

The last time I did this, mind you, I ended up with two rubber brooms hawked by some slick Australian shill, who, at 2 a.m. one lonely night, was speaking my language — the easy removal of pet hair from any carpeted surface.

Of course I KNOW when a salesperson throws in a second identical product as a “free gift” for the incredible price of only $19.95, the chances of the item actually working as described decrease exponentially. But my need to believe in the power of this broom, however, was much greater than my fear of being robbed of $24, including shipping.

In fewer than four days my cut-rate used book had arrived and I was on my way to experience enlightenment.

The book is divided into sections by weeks, and contains non-negotiable rules such as writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness journaling; performing exercises, such as listing all the people who have made you crazy within your lifetime and taking yourself out on an "Artist Date" once a week to commune with your inner artist. That last one was the clincher: Any excuse to take myself out for an expensive coffee is my siren song.

Within the first few pages, however, I realized this tome wasn’t exactly speaking my language. “I don’t feel the need to be mired in the blame game,” I complain to my friends when they confess they are mired in crazy making. “Why focus on the negative?” But I stick with it.

As I moved from one week to the next I fulfilled my “obligations” by writing three pages per day in my stream-of-consciousness journal, alternating between the I AM TIRED page with the THIS IS REDICULOUS page and, my personal favorite, I AM NOT SELLING FLOWERS IN AN AIRPORT page.

The book claims that everyone who reads it and works on its premise in earnest will have an “Ah-Ha” moment.

And true enough, mine happened in fewer than 14 days: “I’m not broken; I don’t need fixing. Go sell crazy-makers some place else.”

Nevertheless, I really can’t wait until my husband gets home so I can go and meet myself for coffee.

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