(Originally published January, 2014 with an update from 2017 at the very bottom)
“I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free” – Michelangelo
It’s been over 2 1/2 years since I’ve stood on a stage with a microphone sharing my words with an audience. I haven’t been on stage in that long because I’ve been busy…having a mid life crisis.
I’m a multi hyphenate as is the requirement here in L.A. I’m an actor, comedian, meditation teacher, writer/performer and I pay the bills a lot of the time doing healing work and massage for clients. I’ve been doing all of these things for a long time now.
But for several years I had been obsessed with finding my purpose. It started as a whisper inside my head:
“What the f—- are you doing with your life?”
“What the f—- am I doing?” I’d think/whisper back.
And I’d down some more Pepto Bismol and get on stage at The Original Room at The Comedy Store late at night and try to make drunken German tourists who don’t speak English laugh while the comics stand in the back of the room and judge.
And the voice got louder:
“What’s your PURPOSE?”
Ah! What’s my purpose. Right! That’s it! I mean, surely if I was doing my purpose, I’d be happier, more successful, life would make more sense. I’ve got to find out what my purpose is.
I thought of when I was five years old and was asked what I was going to be when I grew up, and I was so sure, and said:
“I’m going to be an actreTH!” (I had a lisp. I thort of still do).
But surely that can’t be my purpose. Someone’s purpose sounds so…important and self-sacrificing.
So here I was. Mid life crisis. First world problems right? I started asking my friends, myself, God, and all the psychics, therapists, astrologers, numerologists, and Peruvian shamanistic healers I could find:
“What’s my purpose?”
“Actor – writer – comedian – healer – teacher –“
“Yes yes yes but I’m already doing all those things! They’re on my business card. But I still feel like I should be doing something different, something MORE!…maybe something else.”
There aren’t enough hours in the day to do MORE!, but there I was.
I remembered the Buddha’s teaching about not self – that we are not the self we think we are.
Aha! I had it.
So I left L.A. to attend a meditation retreat at a Buddhist monastery in the mountains. Most people like to have a mid life crisis in the comfort of their own home, but not me. It would be cabins, no Wi-Fi, outhouses, and meditating eight hours a day. I’d been meditating for a while now and this always helped. I was going to emerge a changed woman, dammit.
Be careful what you wish for.
After about eight days of meditation, something happened.
I had finished a long morning and afternoon of meditation and began walking to dinner. Deeply focused with a sea of quiet for a mind, I saw all that had created me. I’m very visual, so in my mind’s eye it was like that line of evolution you see with the ape to human. Only I saw it like a chain of events, actions and responses, thoughts and intentions, cause and effect: this happened, so I responded this way and that created this, which created that – and all the messages I gobbled up about myself over the years and how I responded to that – and on and on…all of which created this concoction of me. These things are what create all of our sense of self; who we think we are.
And at that moment I saw that concoction – myself – standing there. This idea of who I am. And she suddenly went pfffffffffffffft and dissolved. There was no one there.
There was a giant pop and – AH! – I could breathe, really breathe – and there was nothing but spaciousness and emptiness. And I couldn’t stop laughing and crying. And I felt deeply at peace. I didn’t have dinner that night.
The retreat ended the next morning and I was this mass of unending luminous consciousness…aware that I was this mass of unending luminous consciousness walking the aisles of Whole Foods looking for gluten free muffins. So L.A.
I canceled my stand up gigs. I didn’t feel the drive any more. When I looked for that desire, it wasn’t there, because the person who had desired it…didn’t seem to be there any more. Great. Not only do I not know my purpose, but who the hell am I?
And the idea of being of service somehow plagued me. I had a hard time believing that making people laugh and entertaining people was a service. I mean, how trivial! Shouldn’t I be opening up an orphanage somewhere?
My boyfriend patiently stood by my side as I wondered if I should go meditate in a cave in Nepal for a while…or teach acting to the homeless. I found a great therapist instead.
And other things began happening. Energy started running up my spine and out my head and through my head and down my spine. If I was around appliances, they stopped working. I went through two smartphones and two computers and one time made five copiers and a computer at Kinkos stop working.
“Sorry!” I said to the clerk and closed my eyes, grounded myself, reeled in my energy and the machines started working again.
“Whatever you did it worked!” he said. It’s L.A. Nothing fazes this guy.
I became more intuitive, and more sensitive to other people’s thoughts and emotions and energy. I started doing energy work on clients, which was great. But I also gained weight, my hormones went nuts, and things started disintegrating – relationships of all kind, and my long held ideas about myself, life, and reality as we know it. I started to see life differently.
Some people who know my journey would call this a Kundalini awakening with a Buddhist path moment – or satori – thrown in. Other people call it peri-menopause. Either way, I was freaked out.
My life was falling apart and I had chosen it. I trusted something was being melted down and created from this. I had to. People have been doing deep spiritual work and these very same practices for thousands of years and getting similar results.
But I began to get pissed off. After all, I was under the impression that a true, lasting, deep spiritual awakening would be fabulous. I thought I’d be sure about everything. I thought I’d be filled with unending peace all the time. Nobody told me that this – this is also what happens.
It’s as if you’re plugged in to the vast unseen presence that permeates everything in the universe – or God, or George Carlin, or whatever you want to call It – and It picks you up by the scruff of your neck, sticks a wire brush up your ass and shakes the shit out of you, and whatever does not serve you in your life falls out. It’s ultimately good for you. But basically your life goes to crap for a while. You won’t find that on a meditation retreat pamphlet.
From this sort-of blank slate I had begun to reinvent myself.
And I began to see that our desires are actually a blueprint for our purpose. And I began to honor what makes me happy, rather than view it as selfish. Taking care of me means I have more energy to care for others. And if I could stop all the questioning and doubt and worrying about doing MORE! and just do me being happy – that is a service, especially to those close to me.
My poor boyfriend. But I needed to go through it.
I booked acting jobs, got in to a couple of car accidents and wrote bad songs on my ukulele. And after feeling humbled and not teaching for a while, I began to guide people through their meditation practices again.
I started emerging and found myself writing an article on transformation and was interviewed on a talk show pilot about – yes – happiness. Hilarious! But when I check in with myself today, I guess I do feel…happy. Although happiness is not a static state; if we look closely we find that we are constantly ebbing and flowing and moving and changing in response to all we encounter in every moment.
What I feel is more of a fullness in my heart. A connectedness to everything. And a feeling that I’m right on purpose. (But check back with me in a week.)
I feel like I’m finally walking away from the explosion and back in to the flow of life. But as a totally new reinvention.
The past 2 ½ years has been a mess. I’ve been a mess during this time. But I’ve been a Divine Mess.
It’s been a time to find who I want to be on this worldly level. And this time, a conscious creation of self, using the blueprint of my desires – including the ones that trace back to my five year old THelf.
So I got back on stage the other night and told my story. And you know what?
Standing up in front of an audience of mostly strangers sharing stories…feels right. Playing characters and bringing words to life? It feels good again. In a totally new way.
We have a choice about who we are. We have a choice to open up and to love or to close down. To stick our heads in the sand or to face things head on. We have a choice to be happy or to suffer. To resist or surrender.
We have a choice to do what we really, really, really want to do even if it scares us or we think it’s not enough.
But most importantly, we have a choice to find meaning and purpose in what we do, that is beyond what we do.
And so if you, in your darkest moments, when the shittiest things in your life are happening and it’s all falling apart; when the things you love are dying and changing or turning on you; if you remain plugged in to the Universe and its flow, and you remain open to the lessons that are being painfully hoisted upon you, and you trust that a higher version of yourself is being carved away at and set free…then you’re not a mess. You’re a Divine Mess. And really, we are all Divine Messes.
Update, 11/2017: A culminating awakening took place in 2016. Seeking ended. Currently, I teach and assist people who are in the awakening movement, whether in the beginning stages, or are finding their way in the mid to later stages. You can learn more about what I offer at: www.sarahtaylor.org
And if any of you are experiencing the glorious fallout of non-dual awakening, I highly recommend Adyashanti. He teaches, gives talks, and has written many books, most notably “The End Of Your World; Uncensored Straight Talk On The Nature Of Enlightenment“. His web site is: http://www.adyashanti.org