Monday, October 19, 2009

I Am Being Guided

Sounds egocentric. Delusional even.
If you don’t recognize that life speaks to us in a myriad of ways.

Ears do not provide our only means by which to hear,
and eyes do not constitute one’s only source of vision.
To believe that would be delusional.

I am being guided, not by voices, but by signposts, by circumstance,
by conscience, by that still small voice.
And yes, by the Divine.

I believe that we are all being guided by the Divine. Some of us pay attention, however, and some of us do not.
There is an element of trust involved in the process that is not dissimilar to trusting that the roads drawn on a map will actually take you to where the map indicates they will. One must trust the map, as one follows its indicators. And when you think about it, why would we use a map, or even have one, if we did not first trust that it would, ultimately, do us well?
And so it is with guidance, in life, with direction, with moving through any situation, or set of circumstances. A humble recognition of the guide is sometimes all that is required of us to move into the slipstream.
That, in and of itself, is an acknowledgement of trust.

There is a significant difference between being ‘guided’, however, and being ‘seduced’.
There have been many times in life when I have wanted to, even chosen to, embrace a seduction, when I have wanted to believe that it was actually guidance. That, after all, would enable me to feel better about being seduced. I’m not talking about sexual seduction, although that could certainly be included in the equation, but about the kind of seductions that present themselves as ‘for our benefit’, as ‘just what we need’.

They usually come appealing to our ego, to our sense of financial or social insecurity, to our need for appreciation and recognition, or our desire for wealth and success, to our desire to ‘be somebody’. Seduction also often comes in response to ones perpetual craving for independence. Seduction always recognizes human need and presents itself in a form that promises to meet that need. Seduction, however, is a dishonest lover who never keeps her promises, who never lets on that she is not working in our own best interest.

Besides the times in my life when I have embraced seduction, there have also been many times when I have actually mistaken seduction for guidance. It is easy to do, particularly at an early age, at a stage in life when we are more driven by our needs than by our intention to get things right.

But all that having been said, there has, for me, never been a more clear indication of the difference between guidance and seduction than with a series of events that transpired around me almost forty years ago. I have never forgotten it. I had just begun singing my songs publicly when a man appeared in my life out of nowhere. He came bearing promises of recognition of my music, record deals, tours, and royalties. A means to make a living was no small part of the seduction. He booked studio time, we did a session, but then he took the master tapes and disappeared. From the beginning I had wanted to believe that I was being guided, but I had actually known all along that something was not right with this guy. I had an inclination that he was a liar, and a user and manipulator of people. My internal barometer indicated that the barometric pressure surrounding him was off the charts. I was actually being guided in another direction at the time, but chose to ignore that still small voice, the signposts and the circumstances. I chose instead to embrace the seduction, hoping it would lead to some satisfaction down the line. Of course it never does. Seduction requires too great of a degree of personal compromise to ever return the kind of fulfillment one would hope to find.

I recovered from the situation by recognizing, and admitting, that I had compromised my own integrity in search of some recognition. I’m much more careful today to pay attention to what enhances my life, rather than to the constant lure, and empty promise of temporal gratification. It’s a much better, a more satisfying, and, ultimately, a more fulfilling way to live.

Guidance never leads you to a spiritual level beneath that which you have already risen to. It always leads you toward the light, and away from the darkness. It is never followed by regret, or recrimination. One way to differentiate between ‘being guided’ and ‘being seduced’ is to understand that guidance never comes with a carrot. It presents itself, internally, and often confirmed by circumstances, as simply the right thing to do.
The reward comes in the satisfaction of being in the slipstream.

I don’t know what ever happened to those tapes.