Continued from Part One
Everything Is Appropriate
The above three words were scribbled on a whiteboard in the office of Feedwell Café.
Feedwell, now closed down, was a famous, old, ramshackle vegetarian joint in the hipster suburb of Prahran in Melbourne, Australia. It was the spring of 1998. I had been working in the cafe for a week, squeezing vege juices for hungover groovers and health conscious yuppies.
Next to the words was a very crude drawing of five or six interlinking lines that basically looked a branch of a tree.
“What’s that all about?” I asked Alan, the cafe owner.
Alan was a tall, thin, white-haired fellow in his 70s who, I was vaguely aware, was into ‘all that New Age stuff” as I would have put it at the time.
He was definitely a dude – for example he chose his staff by holding a crystal pendulum over their resumes (apparently mine caused the pendulum to spin in the affirmative direction, something that, later, probably caused him to wonder if his crystal needed replacing).
“It’s true” Alan replied “Everything is Appropriate”
There came a choking noise from the corner of the messy office-cum-lunch room. It was Sashaan, the punk-haired chef who I also had pigeon holed as a “New Ager” simply because she had a “Magick Happens” sticker on her car.
“Wouldn’t be very appropriate if somebody ran in here with an axe and starting chopping heads off now would it?” She grumbled, her mouth full of lunch.
“It would actually,” said Alan. He spoke with a calm that was, in those days, foriegn to me. “Like I said … on a Universal level everything is appropriate.” With this he shuffled off, so tall he had to bow his head to walk through the doorway.
Sashaan didn’t say anything, she just rolled her eyes which were twinkling like she was enjoying a joke that I wasn’t in on. I didn’t know what to think, my mind was blown, but I suddenly felt a strong desire to know more.
For example, what were all those squiggly lines about?
And how could Alan be so sure of his rather brave proposition?
My mind was naturally open enough not to be offended by the statement, but I was pretty sure that a lot of people would be outraged by this kind of talk.
But what if Alan was in fact right? What would that mean and how would that affect my life?
The Five Year Hangover
All of this was set against the backdrop of the unraveling of my life.
I refer to the period from when I was about 22 years to about 27 years old as the “Hangover Years”. Not just because I woke up every day with one, but because from high school to 22 years old, life had been one fantastic trip, a joyous, invincible journey of discovery and fun. I was in a band that was hugely popular in my hometown and was fairly convinced that I was some kind of new God sent to bless the Earth with my presence and talent. I was basically living out a wonderful, ego-movie in which I was the headlining star.
But then, suddenly, it turned to shit.
I found myself alienated from my loved ones. Broke. My local fame had failed to spread and mature into any kind of a sustainable career (entirely my own fault – I know now – but at the time it all seemed very unfair and tragic). I was hooked on alcohol, cigarettes and weed.
So I did the logical thing, I ran away to another city to start all over again, which is how I found myself at Feedwell Café.
While on the one hand, I was having a blast meeting new people and playing in a new band, I was a little disconcerted to discover that not only did my problems follow me over to Melbourne, but they were getting worse and I was getting more and more depressed.
I had no idea how to deal with this other than to keep moving, keep working, keep joking, keep drinking, smoking, tripping, shagging.
I was a mess.
So, desperate to change for the better and inspired by the calm of people like Alan and Sashaan (who despite her healthy cynicism, was a very enlightened soul) I began to investigate a very different kind of ‘spirituality’ to the Christian dogma I had been brought up with. Always a big reader, I began by devouring Buddhist and New Age books, and thus began my fumbling start along the journey to Do-It-Yourself Enlightenment.
This journey would take me into the realms of not only Buddhist and New Age concepts, but Contemporary Western Meditation, Zen, Taoism, QiGong, I Ching, Yoga, Tarot, Naturopathy, Psychedelic Meditation, Traditional Chinese Medicine, New Thought, and much more.
All of the above brought me greatly increased inner peace, health and happiness, but there was still a lingering unease, a nagging fear that I just couldn’t put my finger on, an unease that kept me awake at nights … all until a certain flight from Malaysia to Europe that is …
Continued in Part Three.