Life In The Slow Lane...
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San Diego, CA, United States
This is a commentary about the slow lane, about the slowing of time since I suffered a severe brain injury while skateboarding with my dog. This is a blog about recovery; about our '82 VW Westfalia. It's about writing, surfing, camping, married life, bleeding ulcers that make you feel old at 32; about family, friends, and my dog Artie; it's about cruising in fourth gear, getting passed by every car and learning to appreciate every second of it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Power Of No

I've never been a spiritual person. I haven't embarked on that journey for inner peace that many friends have set out on. For some, that quest lasted months, for others it ended halfway through the first chapter of a Deepak Chopra book.

I never decided to go down that path. Enlightenment couldn't be found in some book one could find on a sale rack at a big box store, I thought, and it wasn't something a person can find, like one finds a lucky penny on the sidewalk. I believed enlightenment was the same as giving up. It was accepting the illusion one creates, about their surroundings, about the people closest to them. And while some point to the teachings of Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, or look to the Torah for guidance, others look to authors such as Chopra, and Eckhart Tolle. Whatever works for that individual is fine by me.

Since the fall, the coma, and, well, you know the rest, my outlook has changed slightly, let me repeat, slightly. I realized I was quick to judge and quick to generalize. I discovered it wasn't my philosophy that prevented me from searching for inner peace, it was my impatience in everyday life. More than anything, it was my tendency to look at others before looking at myself.

So, when my neighbor dropped off Eckhart Tolle's "The Power Of Now" for me to listen to, I was grateful. I thought it might be the inspiration I needed to start on that journey that I was too scared to consider in the past. I played the first disc, like a teenage girl plays the newest Jonas Brothers album. After ten minutes, my old habits returned; my new outlook tossed aside, instead of finding enlightenment, I found myself critiquing Tolle's approach.

"Eckhart Tolle, it should be Eckhart Tool," I said.

His belief that a person needs to detach themselves from their brain, to not give the brain too much control is ludicrous and is the wrong thing to hear when you're fresh out of the ICU from traumatic brain injury. The brain is you, there is no separation. The "voices" Tolle refers to inside a persons head aren't different identities, they are the same voice saying different things from the same mind.

Tolle then says that a person should live in the moment, not allowing their egos to get in the way, to live in the present. Granted , some people are unable to control their compulsions and some people do give way to their ego. But isn't that what Tolle is doing. After all, anyone who thinks they have the knowledge to guide people towards enlightenment has to have one massive ego.

I'll keep listening, trying not to let my inner critic take over, as it has throughout my entire life.


  1. I listen to a million audiobooks, and that one came highly recommended. All I'm going to say is it is a strong case for authors NOT being their own audiobook narrator. I couldn't get past his droning to listen to what he was saying.

  2. Seriously, the toe nails? Heidi's going to be grossed out.

  3. I am new to your blog and am very keen to read all your posts, but at this point I am curious - did your opinion on Tolle and his teachings change?

  4. Hi Peggy,

    I still have my problems with Tolle, though for different reasons. I really am not able to read all that much anymore, my attention span doesn't extend very far since the accident. So, I don't think I can really give Tolle the proper credit he may deserve. I'm heading on a road trip next week and will gve it a try again.

  5. Hi Dorian

    Thanks for responding. I also grapple with Tolle's book. I like the idea of enlightenment and think it looks good in theory. But I do think The Power of Now is Tolle's journey, not sure how to merge the theory into my own travels. If I can be inspired I'm sure I'll be able to apply it somewhere down the road.

    Hope your road trip brings some respite. :)