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HOUSES OF THE HOLY: My Reluctant Journey Into The World Of Metaphysics

This is going to be part of a series… That is….  My hope. I cannot really tell you how many chapters I will be writing or how often. I am going to try to connect you with the current state of the story but will be flipping back and forth quite a bit between events of the past… its dizzying when I try to put it all out there in one cohesive story.

POST 911 TRAUMATICS
I was living in Fairfield, CT when that horrible morning of September 11, 2001. I was in my kitchen when it happened. I was standing there in my four room apartment cooking pancakes. I had the door open to my patio deck which overlooked the ocean. The sky was so blue that there wasn’t even one cloud in it. I was thinking about how that fall I was going to be the positioned for the best advertising season ever.  You see I was going to close it with a big finish and fly home to see my family in Michigan for the holidays. The telephone rang and broke my concentration. That’s when I found out through a friend of mine that one of the Twin Towers had just collapsed. All the sound stopped in my ears as I tried to wrap my head around it. My heart started pounding so hard I couldn’t hear my friends frantic voice on the other side of the phone.

The next thing I remember was the sunlight in my eyes… I am walking aimlessly into bars in search for a TV. Everyone was yammering at each other. There was talk about retaliation and war and revenge. Shop owners were standing out in front of their stores yelling loudly to anyone who would listen. People were meeting up on street corners and everywhere I looked there was someone talking about the attack on America.

The rest of the day was sketchy and I don’t remember all of it. I couldn’t get good TV reception at my apartment and sometime around noon the phones went dead. All I got was a busy signal and I couldn’t make a national call on the phone. I had a landline and didn’t have a cell phone at the time like what we have now.

I remember walking down Black Rock Rd. and ducking into the bars to catch the news on CNN. I wore sunglasses that day because I couldn’t stop crying and I didn’t want anyone to see how red my eyes were. None of this made any sense.

That Fall season was the longest period in my life. So much uncertainty. Nobody was working for those four long months. All of my agents from my advertising career weren’t returning any of my calls. And the companies I worked for moved their offices temporarily to New Jersey. This mean I had to take two train rides just to get to my job every day. And that’s if I even had a job to go to. Life as we knew it had stopped cold.

At night I could look down Grasmere Street where I lived and I would watch as entire families were packing up their cars and taking off. The whole street was clearing out. I saw kids help their parents load suitcases and bags of clothes into cars and minivans. That was the thing that scared me the most. And it wasn’t just one or two houses doing it I mean the entire street was leaving. Everyone had their garage doors open and people were rushing in and out back and forth to their cars getting as much stuff into them as they could. The news never talked about that. As far as everyone knew in the Midwest everything was fine in the NY area and it was all business as usual. Watching those people clear out was terrifying. I was running out of money and it was going to be hard for me to hold on in that place.

After that first week you couldn’t hear a pin drop on my block. A lot of people get out of there and stayed gone. Some either moved in with family nearby. And others just flat out took off out of the state.

My career in advertising was dead. So was my film career and everything that went along with it. I don’t remember much about October but I had a birthday in there on the 15th. November was a blur and I had to go to a food pantry to get things to eat. I tried to keep brave about it and hold on and hope that things would really turn around. The snow came and the phone never rang. My agents stopped calling me and they were hard to reach but I would still call them and leave messages.

It was in December, when I got the call from my father and we talked about what was going to happen next. I had completely run out of money. We knew I was going to have to pack it all up and come back home. Everything was put into storage and I packed up my car and the decision was made to make the long drive back to Michigan.

The details are fuzzy but I remember I had the flu. I felt terrible but I had to drive all night. There was a mix up with the DMV and my license plates weren’t legal. I was completely out of money and I had no place to go but home so I figured I would drive all night and make the most out of the darkness. I mean, let’s face it. There was less chance of being stopped by the police. To bring some peace of mind I remember finding a religious radio station that played Christian music when I was cutting through the Poconos Mountains. It was a full moon out that night and it was bone chillingly cold. The night was black and there were little icy white stars peppering the sky.

The funny thing about it is that I didn’t get tired as I drove. I must have been pumped full of adrenaline. The Christian station gave me energy and that radio station stayed with me for hours. There was never a break in the signal. There were times that I felt that the car was coasting literally on its own through the Pennsylvania Mountains and it didn’t seem to require much effort to drive it.

Once I got near the Ohio – Michigan border the snow flurries kicked in and the sky was a hazy grey.  The darkness was fading away and now daylight had come in. Surprisingly I was still full of energy but tiredness was starting to kick in. The Christian station had fizzled out and now I was trying to find something else that would give me energy. I was determined to make it home in one drive without getting a hotel room because I was so close. As I got closer to my families place I realized I made the entire trip back home in less than 12 hours with no breaks. I remember hearing the Temptations on the radio as I crossed over the Michigan border with the words, “Get ready, cause here I come…” which was interesting because I had no idea what was waiting for me back in my home state after all this time.

You know what the really funny thing about this experience? I was never so glad to see so many lanes in our Michigan highway system. We had four lanes as opposed to the standard two lanes in the East Coast. I felt like I was driving on an airport runway and was grateful for all the space. I rolled into my families neighborhood and made the long drive up the street which felt like forever.  I felt like I was finishing a marathon. I got out of the car and into the house and made my way to the bed. There I collapsed and as soon as my head hit the pillow I slept for the entire day. I was back home in Michigan on New Years Day 2002. I was right back where I started from.

 

   
 

DETROIT: THE CITY I NEVER KNEW
On one hand I was glad to be home in my birth state. But quite frankly I knew nothing about Metro Detroit. Growing up in Ann Arbor and going to school at Eastern Michigan University I knew nothing about the culture or the people of Metro Detroit. To me it was a place I would go to see concerts, and maybe even hit the art museum on occasion. I had no idea about the rich culture of ancient religions and metaphysical teachings that existed there but I was about to find out. Metro Detroit was the home to thousands of incredible people with an in depth history and background of religious, spiritual and metaphysical experience.

I was into rock and roll. As embarrassing as it may sound it was sort of my religion – I was faithful to it. I moved around a lot as a kid and sometimes it was the only friend I had. Later after college I got my first gig from Capital Records and got addicted to the fast world of advertising. That was really my whole thing.  I had an apartment when I lived in Chicago and another one in the East Coast but I rarely spent any time in them. I was on the street either working art studios, post production facilities, eating in restaurants till 11PM every other night or drinking in bars until they closed. Seriously. That’s how I lived. When the weekends rolled around I rarely rested.  I was either out at art parties, all night rock concerts or hitting the breakfast comedy shows. I didn’t have a family to answer to and nobody waiting for me at home.

Now I was going to have to re-adjust to another way of life and for me it was prison. I wanted out. I reacted poorly to the idea of settling down and starting over in a new way of life. I had no idea how to really act in a family situation because up until now there was literally nobody to be accountable for. Growing up on a steady diet of punk rock and having a one parent family structure probably didn’t help very much. I was into chaos.

The first reality check for me was that I nobody in the local advertising world wanted me. I had Capital Records, NBC, and the WWF on my resume and people thought I would be too expensive. I also had Coca Cola, Budweiser and Unilever on there. My fast rise in that world left me cold and I was very cocky. I really thought I was mega talented and virtually indestructible. The transition to start my own business was pretty dismal because I had no idea on how to do it. I was what’s known as a studio rat. I had agents taking care of me ever since I started. I never had to get my own gigs I had people looking out for me and actually fighting over me week after week. I made them money whenever they landed me jobs.

Now those days were all gone and I had to learn how to sell. The big thing in Michigan was that there were no agents, no sales people and if you wanted to get something done you had to do it yourself.

They called it hustle. The kids who worked in the streets were known as hustlers and it was a term I hated. The phrase, “Nobody Hustles Harder Than Detroit” was something I would grow to loathe and hate. Education and experience had very little meaning here and I was out of sorts with the art kids I grew up with in the ad world. I had no idea what to make of this place. I was going to be a street guy.

Depression followed. Some of those nights were very long and very dark. My sanity was stretched. As the recent war raged on television I played endless rounds of punk rock music because it is the stuff that I grew up on. Funny thing about punk rock is that you can never get enough of it. After playing endless hours of the Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Clash I never felt any better. I only felt exhausted and burned out and I never got any rest or got the aggression out of my system. I was starting to mentally crack and the nights kept getting longer and longer. I remember laying in bed and my heart would be pounding like I had just finished a race.  I had nothing to fill up the days with and literally nothing brought me any joy.

I was an avid reader and I just recently cured myself from foot fungus and plantars warts through juicing raw fruits and vegetables. I would go down to the health food store and check out new books just for something to do. It was the only thing that kept me from completely snapping. That’s when I found Phenomenews.

This was a metaphysical newspaper that talked about spirituality, reiki, healing and energy. Most of the time the articles went right over my head and I had no idea what they were talking about. To be honest a lot of it seemed far fetched and I had serious doubts if any of it was real or not.

I found an advertisement in there one day for Parashakti Temple in Pontiac, Michigan. This was my first experience with Hindi culture but there was a word on the ad that caught my eye. That word was, “Kundalini”. I knew it was an energetic clearing of sorts that worked in the body.  The term kundalini was also part of some lyrics from a UK band called, Love and Rockets but I didn’t have any idea of what it was all about.

 I had grabbed some books by Swami Rama and was reading about spiritual enlightenment along with the copy of Phenomenews and laid on the floor. I was reading every page and plowing through the books very eagerly. As I read about Eastern thought and religion my mind drifted back to my Catholic upbrining. I grew up Catholic and taking this route was a real departure for me. I knew I wanted to check out the Parashakti Temple and couldn’t wait to go there the following day. After all, somebody in the advertisement was quoted as saying that the experience was “sublime”.  I fell asleep on the floor that night reading.

That night I had strange dreams. I was in a deep sleep and it was rare for me to go without a blanket and a pillow. I just laid there on the floor all night in my clothes. I remember wearing a sweater and that kept me warm. This was totally out of character for me. When morning came I woke up abruptly. My mouth, “popped” open like something came out of my body. I had an energy in my body that wanted out of my mouth. Maybe it was a bad spirit. Maybe something good wanted in my body. But my mouth and jaw popped open and this startled me and my eyes twitched and I was awake. I jerked upward and was now sitting on the floor dumbfounded.

It was cold in the house. I was grateful that I was wearing a sweater that morning and I knew I needed to crank up the heat. I reached down and grabbed that ad for the Hindi temple and knew at that precise moment that I had to go and find myself a mentor in the metaphysical arts. I needed healing and I needed something to steady my mind. I had no idea on what I was going to be asking for or who I was even going to meet but the plan was immediate. I got into the car that morning and made a drive over to Pontiac to go find a Guru at the Parashakti Temple.

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