the Undiscovered Self
I quit my Los Angeles investment banking job after closing on the firm's largest M&A deal valued at $1.4 billion. I was the youngest on the four-person deal team and all team-members received + million dollar bonuses that year, not I. Why do I mention this? Because being payed a million dollar bonus check actually terrified me. I knew the moment I took that kind of pay I would never again pursue my passions or dreams.
I knew with every fiber in my body that the true price of working in high finance, and that firm in particular, was surrendering my joy and deepest desires that were still so foggy to me then.
I was going to die a slow death at a mahogany desk with city-views on the 65th floor of downtown LA. I had reached what I thought was my greatest goal: to be rich & powerful. This of course, was the shallow dreams of a late-twenties man-child that could not sense his own worth outside of compensation & recognition. But shallow as the dream may sound when written down, it held mighty sway over my psyche. Could I dare to pursue a more creative life? All I knew and had as my guide at the time was that I didn't feel good.
In fact, I felt terribly lonely. This tale sounds common & cliche, but it was truly a harrowing crossroads for me. How do we select our Path and trust that we are making the best decision? I didn't know then, and only now, some eight years later do I feel as though I've finally grown truly comfortable with allowing the subtle tugs of my heart to take the reins.
I quit that job in rather dramatic fashion and would go on to wander for many years in-between jobs and creative spurts. I went on to write for a few years, went broke a few times, had some amazing experiences, and sometimes I even lamented ever "throwing away the career" I had worked so hard to achieve.
Yet, closing the doors on a loveless career led me to spend months writing in weird destinations; I meditated, partied, chanted with monks, smoked some pot and blew through all my savings. It was all so bizarre and so lovely. Life had become an adventure again. In some ways, I allowed myself to be careless for the first time in my life and that was a necessary lesson all on its own. Some days I cried and some days I shook with joy.
The last six months of my bohemian life where particularly memorable. At the time, I was consuming every Carl Jung book that I could get my hands on and so I had become very familiar with his dreamscapes, his active imagination techniques and overall depth psychology which oddly enough dove-tailed very nicely with an acting method I was spending cold hard cash to learn from a distinguished theater/screen coach in Los Angeles.
The problem for me was that every time I attempted to employ my acting coach's technique, I ended up not imagining the plot or theater scene at all, but instead I would enter into strange wakeful dreams. Essentially, I stumbled into hours of meditation and active imagination; whereby I learned to suspend my psyche between sleep and wakefulness. This drowsy state of consciousness where magical scenes from the underworld boiled-up became my newest playground. It was as if I were diving into a Nightmare on Elm Street, but I was Freddie Krueger and the children...
And I wasn't exactly living on Elm Street, either. At the time, I was living in a total hippie compound deep inside the Topanga Canyon mountains where my celebrity neighbors in the "large house" regularly invited me for group breathe-work, massages, plant medicine, tribal moon rituals, you name it. Anyway, I spent many quiet months in that little cabin, doing a sort of half-asleep active imagination paired with deep breathing. And I began to see visions.
Calling them visions does not quite cover the experience. For example, for years I laughed at all the SoCal hippies that tried to explain to my Catholic brain that there were energetic centers in the body called chakras. Boy, did I ridicule the chakra system for years. But low and behold, these energetic points exploded up my spine as my courage and surrender increased during the visionary quest (I was not on drugs, I promise you). Later I would learn, from Carl Jung again, that what I had experienced was a spontaneous Kundalini awakening. There was indeed a "serpent" power coiled at the base of the spine that once raised to the crown erupted into lightning bolts of white light raining down Love & Truth into my head and body. And with each surge or wave of white light I received prophetic glimpses. I saw glimpses of a life-partner, my future wife, whom I met within 48 hours after the intense episode. So do I regret leaving the cash and the cushy job? Nope. Not one fucking bit. I found my Soul and it spoke to me.
Have the courage to follow your heart and persevere through the inevitable adversities. Life is much more mysterious than we are conventionally taught to believe and eventually the strong receive their reward.