The road to spiritual enlightenment is a bit like Bank Holiday traffic: one minute you’re zipping along on the motorway, hardly able to believe your luck that it’s all so easy; the next, you’re stuck on the hard shoulder with an overheated engine, wondering why you ever bothered setting out in the first place.
Everyone in LA is out to make the best of themselves, whether it be physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. It’s what fills the place with so much optimism.
I feel rather refreshed, having taken such a long break from the cynicism that informs so much of life in the UK, and although no fan of organised religion, am continuing to re-explore the interest I developed in all sorts of spirituality when I was younger.
But it’s a bit of a stop and go journey.
My return to the Transcendental Meditation I learned nearly 20 years ago has done wonders for my blood pressure. I just have to make sure that I time it right with the consumption of my detox teas, which can have me taking up residence in the bathroom for anything up to an hour at a time.
I can get through the whole of Psychology magazine and make good head-road into Oprah’s, too, on a particularly enthusiastic cleansing day, so have to ensure that my whole meditation is not spent repeating the mantra “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to hold this in for 20 minutes.”
My enthusiasm for Deepak Chopra, who I came across when I learned meditation, hasn’t diminished, either: The Book of Secrets is an inspiring book that makes you truly grateful to be alive and part of a remarkable universe.
I quickly made it through Buddhism for Dummies, too, but was less successful with Judaism for Dummies, as I got a little more enthusiastic about the kosher breakfasts I started to prepare than the actual text.
I don’t rule anything out on this quest and have done what the books recommend and asked the cosmos for a bit of support. It’s not going well. Maybe I’m a bit deaf. Maybe the cosmos isn’t taking me very seriously. Maybe I’ve tuned in to so many different wires, they can’t help but get crossed.
Whatever, it is: at the moment, confusion reigns.
I thought that perhaps in my desire to keep sober, I might try AA. I had always been put off by the God aspect that seemed to be quite central to it, but had been assured that it had nothing to do with organised religion, but God “as we understood Him.”
Well, I didn’t understand him as a him that warranted a capital letter, for starters; come to that, I didn’t understand him as a him. But I liked the otherwise broadness of the statement.
I remembered the film The Player, in which it is said that AA was where all the best deals were done in LA, so that was all right, then: my understanding could be that God was going to help me meet someone who would put me on the path to my first Oscar. Like I said: it was a broad statement.
So, I looked for a sign as to which meeting I should go to, and felt drawn to one a couple of miles away in an unfamiliar postcode. I walked there, full of hope that this was yet another step towards a goal I had to define.
I arrived at the address: Molly Malone’s Irish Sports Bar. I kid you not. Given that it was in an Irish Sports Bar in Dublin in 2008 that I had finally decided to curb my out of control drinking habits, it was hard to see how this was a step forward.
So I went to the 99 cent store a few doors down and bought a muffin. As I now understood God, he/she/it was a bit of a piss-taker.
I’ve signed up to so many spirit-enlightening sites, my name is turning up on Google as a sort of pathologically obsessed, certifiable nutcase, who is making so many demands on the cosmos, it doesn’t have any time for anyone else (so, sorry if you’ve lost your job/marriage/house, but the cosmos has bigger things on its plate right now).
This week, I had an e-mail from “Ganeesha speaks”. Goodness knows when or why I signed up to that (or even what it is), but it sounded rather hopeful, as it promised to tell me how the forthcoming solar eclipse was going to change my life forever. Now that’s what I call a sign.
A solar eclipse, it said, has the power to “turn your life upside down”. Well, having already come 6000 miles across the Atlantic, I was ready for anything.
The sun, it explained, was about to become overpowered by the moon; “this rare event”, it told me, was going to “increase your problems manifold”. And they weren’t just going to be problems; they were going to be “problems of astronomical proportions.”
Blimey, this cosmos lark wasn’t exactly working for me, was it? I remembered that the last time I had asked, in deepest contemplation, for a “sign” as to the way my life should go, the editor of the Mail on Sunday rang up the next day to say that he was axing my column. These latest signposts seemed equally wonky.
“You, in particular,” Ganeesh spoke on, “will be grossly out of luck.” Blimey, this just got better and better. There would be a series of “unfortunate incidents” (not quite managing to co-ordinate the actions of the detox tea with the meditation, perhaps?), even more “misfortune”, and my relationship with my siblings (I have one brother) might suffer.
Gee, thanks. You have a good day, too.
I am wondering whether, in requesting assistance from whatever power is out there, I have inadvertently tapped into the one that fancies itself as a bit of a joker who is just using me to gauge its material before taking it to the Comedy Store.
But I’m going to persevere. I may be on the hard shoulder at the moment, but I can sense a service station coming up. There always is. And not knowing exactly when, is all part of the thrill of the journey.
Maybe there will be muffins.