“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
I was sitting in the Tim Horton’s at Stafford and Corydon and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2 came on the radio. (I know, Socrates, Tim Horton and U2 in the first three lines with Ken Wilber and St. Francis of Assisi yet to come! Please bear with me.) It got me wondering if, in my lifetime, I have found what I’m looking for, a question that demanded some serious introspection. Then I thought Chris and I could both blog on the question and post on the same day. People could compare and contrast our answers. Chris jumped at the idea. He is twenty-five years my junior and had an upbringing much different from mine. This should be interesting.
My search for an answer started with making a list of the most important things I have gone looking for in my life. It turned out to be a six item list: Love, Friendship, The Muse, Happiness, An Audience and My Life Purpose.
- Love: When I was a romantic lad growing up in Shoal Lake in western Manitoba, I had an imaginary dream girl, the perfect woman who would love me forever, cherish everything about me, forgive all my sins and die happily in my arms, all the same things I would do for her. Her name was Johanna, inspired by Bob Dylan’s Visions of Johanna. I held onto my vision of Johanna through high school, took her to Toronto with me to learn radio announcing and brought her back to the prairies where I started my career. Still not having found my Johanna by that time, I was starting to lose hope, thinking it was all just a childish thing ready to be discarded. However, I kept searching and I found her. She was just using another name – Linda. I am among those incredibly fortunate men who found a perfect soul mate to love and understand him. I found the love I was looking for in full measure.
- Friendship: At The Celebration of Light and Linda last fall, I was joined for a photograph by five guys I went to school with 50 years before. It is a most telling picture showing deep camaraderie and love. I could call on any one of these men today and they would help me, no matter what, and I would do the same for them. These are lifelong friends with whom I share common childhood experiences and mutual admiration. I have human friends of all ages and endeavours and find them stimulating and satisfying. My closest friendships feel more like family. Through shamanism, I have a pantheon of spirits who are also my friends but of an entirely different order. I have found the friends I was looking for.
Six buddies from Shoal Lake: from the left Terry Lewycky, Dennis Lewycky, Ernie Bart, myself, Mark Fikkert, Ron Bart
- The Muse: My creativity is a family legacy from my mother and her father. Imaginative and always ready to tell a story, real or imagined, my teacher Mom exhorted me to get inside my own head and discover what’s there. I’ve had an eager and unabashed connection to my imagination ever since. On my About page, I wrote (quoting myself, writer’s bliss!): “I seem to have tapped into the source of an endless stream of ideas that flow like quicksilver through my mind, some of them getting captured and sent far and asunder in my own words. As Terence McKenna said, ‘Imagination is where we are coming from and imagination is where we are going to.’ I have honed my imagination to a fine nib that dips into the rainbow ink of many worlds, leaving behind a sometimes elegant, sometimes smeared trail of word crumbs. If they ever help anybody find their way home, my job is done.” Finding a life partner like Linda, equally imaginative and creative, was an unexpected bonus. Looking for The Muse is a process, it never ends. I have found The Muse and an ongoing connection to its process.
- Happiness: The big truth here in ordinary reality is we only get little stabs at happiness, not long blissful swaths of it. The happiness we do experience is seldom of our own making, often artificially induced, always fleeting. Needy egos, the bind of the mind and the rolling thunder of life’s experience keep us from sustained happiness. Developing an inner practise like shamanism opens up new realms of potential happiness often leading to bliss. My power animal, Tiger, brings joyfulness into my life daily. Linda made me happy during her life and continues to do so after her death. Her consistent message is “Be happy.” Although this is not the forum to detail this, using wisdom flowing from her new vantage point, Linda has shown me a glimpse of heaven to illustrate why I should “be happy.” I have found happiness wherever I looked.
- An Audience: Both Chris and I are seeking our audiences this year. In my life, I have frequently had an audience: as a radio announcer, as an artist and performer, as an old friend prowling the stage of The Park Theatre at The Celebration and now with this blog. Today I’m finding my next audience in a whole new way. The content – me – is the same but the format is new and exciting, awash with instant possibilities combining images, video, audio and words. I am finding my audience here, view by view, in this burning ground of history where everything is immediately retrievable while the whole world watches.
- My Life Purpose: It’s not radio, not retail, not any of the myriad odd jobs I tried. It’s not even writing. My life purpose became clear to me when I was 45 years old. In 1994, I discovered a little book called The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner. He laid out the core elements of shamanism as it had been practiced for over 50,000 years, adapted the techniques and technology for modern people and, suddenly, I had access to the spirit world. I had found my Way! Though it would take me a few years to realize it, I had found my purpose, as well. Widely traveled, I visited dozens of ancient sacred sites on the Canadian prairies, performing rituals and exploring the realms opened up through my daily practice of neo-shamanism. Discovering my spiritual calling, my purpose has enriched my life beyond measure.
St. Francis of Assisi said something so profoundly simple in its truth that it took me years to understand it. He said, “What you are looking for is what is looking.” I knew the things I was looking for, that was the easy part. But what is looking? I pondered this many times. My searching and scrambling seemed to be what I wanted but I never had any real perspective on myself until I figured out what St. Francis meant.
So, what is looking? Our very essence, this vast empty awareness in which we and everything we experience and perceive arises, that’s what is looking. Call it Spirit, cosmic consciousness, God. Ken Wilber calls it “the deepest suchness of our being where all worlds arise.” Spirit is what’s looking, partaking of the world through my eyes and my being, in fact, everyone’s eyes and beings. Spirit is the tireless watcher, the eternal Witness to all that arises. The most satisfying discovery of my life had always been plainly obvious. To experience it, all I did was get out of my own way.
The Answer: Yes, reflecting back over six decades I can honestly say I have found what I’m looking for and I have been found by what is looking for me. In both cases, it is Spirit. If I die tomorrow, I’ll have a smile on my face.
However, although satisfied so far, I am still committed to the search, to learn my whole life long, to shine my curiosity into new realms and discover what’s there. I can report today that what’s there is incredible!
Check out Chris’ blog to see if he’s found what he’s looking for.
Chris welcomes the world to his blog.