Part I
Hidden in Plain View of my Subconscious
by RL Seltman

It is times like these, 4:15am during the witching hours of personal insight, that I wish I had a good friend to talk to... that I had a good friend. It isn't that there aren't good people, many who are good listeners. Just that at early dawn the friend needs to be here, in the room within ear shot, or at least some where I can leave a message. The effective friend, in my turbulent life, has most often been a lover, in fact a wife, and right now that just isn't the case. There just isn't anyone here to listen, hug, and lure me to sleep, with sympathetic embraces.

In a few hours I am to leave on holiday. I should be ecstatic yet I feel depressed. I have seen flashes of this coming all week, as I peaked up and down between feeling happy, even excited, and a tired futility. My subconscious kept offering up morsels of insight, and then I would plummet back into the cold shower of so much unfinished business. I keep wanting to feel resolved and finished with all this emotional baggage, and it just isn't happening.

Take my love life for example. This is the anniversary of my wife's suicide in more than just calendar time. The holiday we are taking is going back to the same place I and the kids went right after she died. How desperately alone I must have felt then, and after five years that hasn't much changed. It is true, I have been graced with companionship, feminine friends and potential soul mates. Yet the glue never stuck, and I remain free.

Free to feel that excruciating joy of being unattached, coupled with that overwhelming hunger for deeper companionship. A lover would feel nice, but it ain't happening, leaving the memory of love a tender sore spot. A long relationship ending leaves these blackened bruises speckled through every sinew in the body, and five years just isn't enough to feel healed. Love lost is quite a beating.

I thought true love might be happening several times, and that is part of the sadness I am feeling. I have had to let go of my wishful thinking, my expectations and assumptions about love, and settle into each opportunity for romance as just potential long shots or momentary reflections of the great spiritual pool of possibility. As a male I love resolution, i.e. sex, and I just ain't getting any. In the language of spiritual polarity, I feel pulled between the potential of austerity and my hunger to be held.

Professionally too, I sit on the cusp of transformation. There is no great conquest within dueling range, no specific aspiration. There is a growing wholeness in knowing what I like, but that does not translate into any pragmatic vision, just this ambivalent yearning. I love deeply where my writing and reading brings me. I find great waves of resolution while teaching. Yet nearby is a deeper quagmire of old confusions.

I have always been so passionate and unresolved in a world where steadfast decisiveness would have saved the day. As a teacher I have more invested enthusiasm than actual conclusive and calibrated curriculum. My passion for teaching has always been more about the potential in learning than about having something to teach. Each class has been a blank canvas of possibilities when what was needed were exacting modules of wisdom.

I have never felt clever enough to presume a plan yet courageous enough to bring this anarchy to fruition. In short, I fall short, more often than not. Yet I still cling to a hope for final absolution, where all my pedagogy and pedantic behavior will be rewarded with recognition for its subliminal brilliance. A classical guru complex of delusions of grandeur. I teeter between self-loathing and posing for a marble statue in recognition of my genius.

Two other factors have weighed into this dogged sense of dilemma. There is my weight, which returned with a vengeance after a misguided attempt at a low carbohydrate diet. A visit to the hospital in the general maintenance of my growing list of fat man symptoms (gout, high blood pressure, onset diabetes, arthritis, fatty liver, etc.) brought me in contact with a young woman doctor, who happened to be part of a diabetes and obesity research group.

She proposed a long time hospital stay, two to three months, to combat my chronic condition of 'unconditioned' living. The program of 500 calories per day, heart monitoring, and extensive exercise, sounds like the kind of martyrdom and revolution that could appeal to my male ego. But, as a single father of two teens, I would need to foster the support of friends to assure smooth domestic sailing. I am excited about a frontal assault on my nemesis. Yet, too, I know the dangers of failing at maintaining weight loss, once again, both physically and psychologically.

The second serge of hope, to share with you now during this summer horizon, has been my new love affair with Sufism. How exhilarating to taste stimulating and sustaining prespectives. How I love a way inside Islam, after pounding on the door for so long. An internet generated long-distance courtship with a sweet Indonesian beauty, ignited a twinkle in my eye toward this new Mecca... bringing wider perimeters to an unresolved inner quest.

Sufism threw open windows to dank dark recesses, allowing me again to feel turned-on. A swirl of turbulent fresh air has lifted the dust from my New Age treasure trove and drew my pirate flare to fever pitch. I am back to my long marching pilgrimage, toward friendhip with an amicable God concept, an experiential and substantial relationship with joy.

Perhaps in this lifetime, I can find again that soothing sleep in the arms of my betrothed, a spiritual embryonic rebirth within my own virgin Mary... as a healed and hearty soul satisfied with life... a loving whole male manifested and free. Or perhaps not. At least Sufism allows for the possibility.

I clamor and crank my way between these two polarities, a fat and disheveled lackluster grunter and the possibility of living lustfully whole, a glowing vision of masculine fortitude perched upon the Everest of personal success. I listen daily to MP3 sermons by motivational speakers, and my own soapbox speeches of positivistic cliches, and hope that the message will stick.

I want both to believe and be that model of success, as a gift to my children, and as duty to my students. Heaven knows there are enough bad examples wallpapered to their lives. So my angst percolates on the back burner of my subconscious, the kettle whistle calling me to arms. "Get going on this long outstanding transformation, be true to your word. Or learn to shut up, until you can provide proof in the pudding."

Part II page 2