I am sitting in a simple office chair. I am facing a woman more than twice my age. I am studying the gentle angles of her face. I am looking at the simple spiral lines depicted in her jewelry. I am immersed in the watery wisdom of her feel. Everyone needs someone in their life, who is there for them. Someone in my position, a public figure whose function is helping others to ‘find alignment’ perhaps needs this more than anyone else. Like a lighthouse, they keep you going in the direction of integrity and love and all of those things that prevent both collapse and corruption. This woman in front of me has been this lighthouse for me for the better part of this year. One day a week, I sit across from her in this chair and I let off the pressure I’ve been carrying with me. It feels like a delicious crash. Each week, I leave exhausted. The good kind of exhausted where you are relieved enough to just lie down. This week I come to her laden with the pain of being disapproved of. Being famous is a nightmare for this aspect of life. You cease to be a person and become a commodity so in the best-case scenario, people judge and disapprove of you in the same way that they reject a grocery store item they tried and didn’t like. In the worst-case scenario, they build their whole life around trying to destroy yours. It becomes a vendetta. On top of everything else in my life, this is so much pressure to hold. I often think… “If people only knew”. I do whatever I think is right for me to do regardless of the resistance I am met with and I don’t let disapproval stop me or even slow me down. But I do care. It isn’t like I rejoice when people disapprove of me. It is painful.
I’ve made a practice of genuinely considering other people’s perspectives. Caring what other people think is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, if you value other people’s opinions more than your own, it can cause you to doubt yourself and fall straight into low self-esteem. This is unhealthy. On the other hand it can keep you connected to others and in a state of self-objectivity, which causes growth. This is healthy. It is better to care what people think than not care what they think. It is just that caring about other people’s point of view is not the same thing as adopting their viewpoint and using it to reject and invalidate yourself. Other people’s words then become a tool of self-hatred. This practice of considering other people’s opinions has been a struggle lately, especially when it comes to the perspective the hate groups disseminate about me being a cult leader. So today, we explored the disparity in perspectives between myself and those who disapprove of me as a person on a professional level. I was forced to look at myself in relation to Teal Tribe from their perspective and then literally move my body position and point of view to see myself in relation to Teal Tribe from my perspective.
During this exercise, the question was raised… “Did you make them drink the Kool-Aid?” I thought for a minute about the various ‘Tribers’ that I know on a more personal level. I thought about them living their daily lives. I thought about them going on pilgrimages to spiritual sites, engaging in conversations, arranging their crystals, practicing shadow work exercises, endlessly seeking out alternatives etc. And a wave of absolute affection washed over me. I started laughing out-loud. “No”, I said. “They drank the Kool-Aid long before I ever showed up.” Both of us laughed heartily at the adorable and humorous truth in that statement. Like most leader personality types that are drowning in an identity of ‘specialness’, my temporal self feels lonely most of the time regardless of how many people are around me. And so, I have been working towards perspectives that cause me to feel less lonely. And so, in this week’s session, she guided me into and invited me to fully experience my feeling about myself in relation to Teal Tribe.
I was fifteen years old. It was 2:00 am. Like usual, I had insomnia. The rest of the house was asleep. They knew ‘something was wrong with me’. I had been cutting myself for years by then and at this point; no one knew what to do with me. My only friend lived in another state. I was lucky to see her once a year. I was ‘different’. I had painted my walls dark blue, with violent light blue splashes flung across them. I listened to Sarah McLachlan on repeat. I was so sensitive that I felt my connection with all life. I felt the cruelty of unconsciousness in the world and the damage it was doing, but could not name it yet as the monster I was up against. I dreamed of what it was like to die. By that point, I had figured out every way I could kill myself if I ever made the choice. I was living a double life. I did not relate to anyone. I had no sense of belonging. I felt like I lived my life behind a prison of glass, where I could see out and no one could see in. It was like being in my own personal hell. The sense of aloneness was so thick; it crushed its way through my bone marrow. The emptiness and absence in that feeling was like a poison. I needed to get out of it or I needed to get it out of me. I was alone in the silence of the house that night. I took out my pen and I wrote because there was no other way to bleed myself of that feeling, save cutting, which I was desperate to stop. I wrote about this isolated hell inside myself…
WHERE IS TEAL?
A plead as simple as bleeding,
To be free of the warm veins,
forged for survival.
Directions are lost,
Obscured by wind and stinging soot
Pulled relentlessly from the earth,
No longer stable and turning black.
Is it the prison of it ,
That shapes you the most?
Or the shapelessness of your keepers?
Reality is scarcely a fossil here
The chemical blood, smeared on forearm and thigh…
It brings out the best in us.
Bravery’s way of finding us, where mercy would not
And honor’s taste, heavy on a bitten lip that will never speak of this again.
I am the only soul here,
The only thing living, besides molten,
That flows in slow, spitting rivers, breathed in by nostril and pore.
A living cadaver, in skin like wax that never melts.
As cold as the idea of this being not where I belong
or what I deserve,
The path of devastation, leads you in circles they say.
Back to the same Iron,
The same brand.
The same vision every way you see it.
You are a slave.
But the tears don’t come beyond the thousand degree heat, and the way it’s scarcely felt now, when it burns me.
Against what bones still un fragmented, and what flesh still un torn,
Fear is a rising tide.
The only thing I fear is fear it’s self.
It is the only thing telling me, life is not like this for any soul but mine.
But any love they drip to me will fall like blood in the end…
No way to take it in,
Once it’s outside you
The defining moments of your life, rarely announce themselves loudly. It’s more like you look back over time and see them as the day it all began. This was the day I gave birth to the vision of humanity as a ‘tribe’. I dreamed that there would be a day where no one on earth would know what that level of non-belonging and aloneness felt like. I imagined a community of people where if you felt like this at 2:00 am, there would be someone awake on the other side of the world who could be present with you. This was the day that the thought of “Teal Tribe” was born.
Some years ago, this vision actualized. I created a community, mostly of people who met through my work, who could be there for each other as intentional family. I wanted it to be a place for people to belong. A safe place. A place to get support from one another with the task of awakening when I could not be there personally for each and every person individually. I wanted this to be a group with the collective goal of awakening and the collective vision of unity. In the beginning, I thought I would gift this “community” to the world and walk on to the next creation. I had no plans to govern or lead this group. I surely never considered joining it. The idea of merging with my own creation never occurred to me. I figured I would exist outside the group. The universe had other plans. I should say, I had other plans for myself that I was unaware of. The tribe took on a life of it’s own. In this week’s session, I was challenged to admit to what I think about and how I feel about ‘the tribe’. She asked me to name the feeling. And what came up with throbbing sincerity was “belonging”. After the session, I sat in my car and cried the kind of cry that someone cries when they are released from jail. It was a shedding of both sadness and joy. Ironically, as I cried the song “Coda” came on and narrated the absolution. Instead of keep the realizations I had this week to myself, I’m going to share them with you… in the form of a letter. Listen to the song as you read the letter.
We expand until we are seamless. Spiritual growth is a thing that never ends. Let you know your freedom first by oppression it says. Let you know bliss by suffering. Let you know infinity by the confines of your own perishable, temporary, human self. And know me, by first knowing yourself. It is only by being broken down that you can be re-built again.
Many years ago, in the prison of my own isolated hell, I came to desire belonging. But I did not know it yet. After hating this world, I found the strength enough to love this world. And so I committed to it. I wanted for others, what I had always wanted for myself. I began to talk, not knowing if anyone would listen. But you did. I offered a way of connecting with each other, not knowing if anyone would want to. But you did. My voice, like a beacon, called you forth from the woodwork and together, we formed a community… A home away from home. In the beginning, I was so used to not belonging that it never occurred to me that it would be my home that I was building. I never considered that this tribe would be my own.
Looking around me, I can see that most of us did not fit in anywhere. But sometimes, the people who never fit in, fit in perfectly with each other. And just like that… We did. I often joke that this tribe is the real version of the island of misfit toys. I can’t speak for you, but I can speak for myself when I say that I have never felt such a sense of belonging anywhere. And even at 2:00 am, I know you’ll be there.
Scattered across the globe, we are nonetheless connected with one another. I can feel the invisible web that connects us like a light grid across the surface of the earth. This sense of connection, belonging and mutual purpose is something that people cannot live without. When these needs are not met, we break, we fall apart, we ache, we become numb and we eventually hurt each other. Because of the connection you give me and because of the sense of belonging, I know that I will not break. I will not fall apart or ache or become numb or intentionally hurt a living being.
Even though it seems like I rose to this position in this life alone, what you may not remember is that long before this life, you put me here. This purpose to awaken and by doing so, awaken the world is one that we all share. We play different ‘roles’ in this collective awakening, but let us never forget that without each and every one of us playing our unique role, the picture could not be complete. You put me at the head of this movement, like the figurehead of a ship. It is a position that I love and that I was born for. But never forget that without you, this ship, including its figurehead, would be dead in the water.
Looking at you, I do not see a follower. I think the people who say this is a cult; do not really understand the nature of ‘misfit toys’. What I see when I look at you, is my family. What I see when I look at you, is my place to belong. When I feel unsafe, you are my safety. When I feel insecure, you are my confidence. When I feel lonely, you are my connection to the world.
Because of you, I realize that I am not alone any longer. You have taken up the reigns and created my (our) vision within the world. Like you, I have a place in the world and that’s together. My fifteen-year-old self has realized her dream. One can never pay back the actualization of a dream. It is too large a gift. And still, I pray to give you, over the course of my lifetime, a fraction of what you have given me. I love you with all of me. I will never be lost to you, no matter what happens to this temporal body. I will stay with you, which is where I belong. And just like my voice once called us together, I know that if I ever feel lost, your voice will be the one that calls me back home.
When change comes to us,
I want us to step through to possibility
And think of each skin we’ve shed
As a birth into curiosity
Find the strength enough to love this world,
Amidst the painful grip of it.
When awakening comes to us,
I want us to meet in immortality
And think of each tear we’ve spilt
As a birth into risibility
Find the courage enough to see the beauty in this world,
Amidst the senseless cruelty of it.
When life comes to us,
I want us to watch it with curiosity
And think of each day we’ve spent
As a birth into possibility
Find the purity enough to help this world,
Amidst the cracking structure of it.
When Death comes,
I want us to return to risibility
And think of each time we’ve smiled
As a birth into immortality
Find the love enough to hold this world
Amidst the mournful forfeit of it.
Last week, I attended my most “mainstream” event yet. I felt out of place for a brief second. And then, I remembered you. I remembered my ‘misfit toys’ and I realized that in doing this job around the world, I represent all of us. I represent ‘The Tribe’. And like a tidal wave, I felt you lift beneath me and carry me to the stage. I have never felt such support in all my life. I want you to know that this will be the final thought I have before every performance I give for the rest of my life. And I am proud to represent…US.