Yesterday I returned home from a trip to Puerto RIco. While there I met an interesting soul that will forever stay a part of mine. Joe is 87 years old, and he is as spry as any teenager I have ever known.
We met by accident, or should I say, by God's will, one warm night by the hotel pool. He was quick witted, charming, and enjoyed bringing smiles to our faces. His eyes were a dazzling pale Caribbean blue. His hair was as white as bleached cotton, and his skin was the color of a coconut hide. He spoke of trips to Fiji, Venice and Honolulu. His eyes burst like a fireworks display as he shared stories of his adventures. Joe's feet had covered more of this earth's bounty than anyone I had ever met. But I couldn't help but wonder where Joe called home.
We divinely met Joe for breakfast the next morning. Over our three hour meal, a deeper understanding in me grew for my new friend. His fortune had come with a high price. Estranged from his children and first wife, sorrow could not help but bleed through his words when his mind looked back and recalled his shadows of memories in which in them he stood as daddy before his babies. And in spite of his children's anger towards their father today, Joe's face could net conceal the joy fatherhood once bestowed him.
Today Joe is a world traveler, sharing meals and stories with people he meets in hotel lobbies, elevators, and gift shops. He is a man who superficially seems to have it all. But soon during our third meal together, my soul knew better.
Dear Joe is in search of something no pristine beach, or rushing waterfall could ever give him. There is no corner of earth far enough away from where Joe needs to go.
I may not know Joe very well, but I know him. He is me, and I am he.
Both born into families that unconsciously conditioned us to believe that self worth was something that could only be found 'out there' somewhere, whether through financial success, beauty, popularity or the subject of envy, Joe and I were robbed of a sense of 'home' right where we are. When we should have been being taught that our worth was in being and in self acceptance, we were taught that we weren't enough unless we had 'things', made others happy, and in essence were programmed to believe that what other people thought about us was more important than what we thought about us.
In life we developed ways to control acceptance out of others in an attempt to complete the cycle of dysfunctional programming. Our end goal was to feel acceptance because this was our interpretation of love. "If people accept me, then I am worthy...then I am lovable."
Unfortunately this cycles can go in more than one direction. One mind with such programming also unconsciously believes; "If I disappoint people and don't do what they want, then they won't love me; then I am not worthy; then I am not lovable."
This unconscious cycle is the reason we run, abuse alcohol, have affairs, idolize material goods, and sabotage relationships that might have survived had our programming been based more in love than in fear.
Joe however is on his way back home. He is nourishing his mind with great authors of enlightenment and is creating the energy to attract minds like my own. He is learning that control is and always has been an illusion. Joe never could manipulate love out of anyone, or get them to do what he thought they should do no matter what he bought them, or how much money he gave them. In the end, Joe sees truth. You cannot buy real love because perfect love is priceless...We can however buy emotional band aids that ease temporary bleeding that has been caused by faulty childhood programming, but one day the hemorrhage comes.
My hemorrhage has come and it has gone, and in its wake a cleansing has taken place. The road back to me was a long one, paved by many losses, including financial, material, physical and at times spiritual. But in my recovery, my road was cleared, and a path illuminated.
My journey home to "self" demanded I go back to what once was so I could learn to accept what now is. You cannot heal cancer by treating an ear infection. You must first address the primary disease if the whole being is to be ultimately saved.
My prayer is Joe learns to listen more to his own thoughts, and develops the skill to observe the mind rather than judge it.
In those quiet moments the past is revealed.
With diligence it is possible to heal faulty programming and lay ground work for new self loving, self accepting and self reliable thoughts. But it takes practice, patience and a belief in ones self to get there...but when you have been taught to disown your self the entirety of your life, that job is a hell of a lot tougher than one might think....
But then again..Joe is no ordinary man...