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  • Writer's pictureErin Chandler

What Today Brings

“We are all lies waiting for the day when we will break free from our cocoon and become the beautiful truth we waited for.” – Shannon L. Adler

Until recently, I was under the false impression that I had always been nice. As a happy child, I know this to be true and I feel certain that the kindness I feel in my heart now emanates around me. Apparently, there was a time this was not the case. Kathy California told me so. Memories of my teenage self in Lubbock, Texas would have been buried along with those of my high school graduation, May 1983, but thanks to Facebook, some of those times have been brought back into the light.

In sixth grade, I was dragged kicking and screaming to the dusty plains of the Texas Panhandle for seven not so glorious years. By fifteen, I was running with a pack of girls as wild as they come and piling seven of them at a time into the Mazda RX7 my brother bought me from money he won at the Black Jack table in Vegas when he was 17. Kathy California appeared on the scene for one brief year from the west coast, hence the nickname. My recollections of Kathy consist of a few flashes of intense, drama filled conversations about her adoptive relatives and estranged family back in California, her romance with a cowboy who happened to be the cutest boy in school and the knowledge that they had sex and were broken up. How grown up and important we all felt as we huddled around her and tried to solve these dramatic life turnabouts as she cried.

Thirty years later, Kathy California is more real as Kathleen Esquivel. She had a different memory at the forefront of her mind. One day, six girls were arranging themselves like pretzels into the front seat and hatchback of my tiny car in preparation to zoom from one place to the next to get as high as possible on anything we could get our hands on. Apparently, I told Kathy California there was not enough room for her. I have a faint memory, or maybe it’s my imagination, of her standing outside of the car in the parking lot. She said I was mean. Suddenly there was a flash of my pushy, high school self in a Stevie Nicks dress and headband, feather roach clip earrings and slightly snotty attitude. “I was mean?” I asked her on the phone the other night. “Kind of.” She laughed.

"I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.”- Joan Didion.

I cannot fully conjure that teenager. My creative but lonely eleven-year-old self, my college self and the young woman I was in my twenties who had lost her confidence are all less of a mystery. My teenage self is a total stranger that remains elusive. As I make peace with the conglomeration of cells, bones, muscles and organs that make up this vehicle, I strive to understand the concept of the ego. That decidedly ever-changing monster that tells us we are an island, that we are separate and different, that we are better or worse than those other islands around us. Enlightenment comes when we tap into that part of ourselves which is far deeper and knows we are beyond what we see. True identity is no identity. Maria Erving puts it this way, “The awakening process is not about ‘finding who you are’ but more about finding out about the ego, about who you are not.”

Eckhart Tolle, the German born, Oxford educated philosopher wrote a famous book, The Power of Now, where he talked about a time when he was deeply depressed and suicidal, “I can’t live with myself anymore.” This was when he had a life changing revelation, “Who is the me that I can’t live with?” He became aware that he did not consist of the identity he had come up with in his mind. Rather he was the observer of that self and something much more.

We are more than who we perceive ourselves to be. We are the healers and we are the healed. Life is a smorgasbord and if we can quiet our brains now and then, if we can put aside judging ourselves and others, our accomplishments and our so-called disasters, we will be able to surf the waves of life, riding purely on awareness.

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