For twelve hours, in a cold conference room, I attempted to arrange my small bum in an even smaller metal chair. I sipped tiny Dixie-size cups of water, ate beef jerky for dinner, and crouched over a notebook. Simultaneously, I was moved, inspired and ready to take on the world.
Today, I started my last course in the Curriculum for Living, that began with the Landmark Forum several months ago. You’ve read my tales from that extraordinary weekend and then my takeaways from the Advanced Course, followed by a 10-week seminar. I haven’t been on board (in Landmark-speak: “present”) the whole time, and I even ended up quitting my Relationship Seminar – the irony of that statement is not lost on me, ex-boyfriends of mine.
It’s a running joke for some friends who shall remain nameless (cough, Nelse) when I begin another one of these long weekends:
What are you doing this weekend?
I am otherwise occupied.
Ahhh, Cult Weekend?
But I say that any cult that moves people to incredible, important action in their lives, not only for themselves but also their community, is a cult I want to join. I’m not jumping on couches. I don’t believe we hail from aliens. I’m quietly going about my business of changing my life. And maybe yours, if you’re lucky.
And it has changed my life. It doesn’t have anything to do with abandoning the religion that I’ve been born under, and I recognize my demons. I am in no way healed or better than anyone else. And that’s not what I’m being taught – I’m learning to reconnect with the best version of myself possible – one that is authentic and honest and true to the core. It’s about creating possibilities in your life, and announcing them out loud so that you are held accountable for them. I hide behind humor, there I wrote it. And I stood and said it to 75 people tonight. Humor is my defense mechanism – it is my warm blanket when I’m sad, is my role to play when I’m happy, and well, let’s just face it, I’m pretty much an all-around effin’ joy to be around. Seriously. Don’t pretend you don’t know this.
But anyway, enough about me, back to me. My possibility for the last few months, has been (and you need to say it in this language: Who I am is the possibility of being whole, complete, and perfect as a single woman, regardless of what my past, present, future relationship status is. So with everything I do, every action, every word that escapes my lips, I connect with that before I think, say, do.
This course is much different from the previous. The first was about what was inside of us, leaving behind the past, living in the present, and the fact there is no future. (What? What? What? You say. Come talk to me, or better yet, take the course).
The Advanced Course was about holding yourself accountable in your community being responsible for each and every person. For example, that being late is a more than an oversight; you’re telling people that they don’t matter enough.
Now we take it to the next level, the Self-Expression and Leadership Program. We look for something that is missing in our community – and create it. Past graduates have started charities, businesses, a walk for autism that raised $1.4 million. One graduate of this course, who just finished two months ago, became an advocate for six sex workers in San Francisco (aged 15-17), having gotten them off the streets, placed in stable homes and in the education system. She’s like 26. With a full-time job, husband, and plenty of other stuff to do. Just like you.
The Wachowski brothers, creators of The Matrix, are graduates and based a lot of their learnings on this program (remember the Red Pill?). Chuck Palahniuk, upon graduating, wrote Fight Club (you are not your f*ckin’ khakis) – see the patterns here? So, while I have no plans to write, produce, and direct an Academy Award-winning film or write next Great American Novel, the pressure’s a bit ON to do something magical.
I’m at the very early stages, and over the next four months you’ll hear more about my project as I continue to understand it myself. But I do know that it involves creating a safe haven for animals – getting them off the streets of the Bay Area, out of abusive homes, away from neglect, far from slaughterhouses and cruelty – and adopted by families that love and nurture. That’s what I’m up to. Keep you posted.