Rev. angel: When someone comes up with that I’ll be the first to order. I have not found an ideal solution. I sometimes imagine that there’s a perfectly ideally matched person who won’t require that of me, but I haven’t found that yet. So I try to participate in social activities with a sense of joy because it makes my partner happy, and I try not to get bogged down in resentment or other negative emotion. I try to do it with integrity and authenticity about the nature of my experience—and it’s a constant learning journey.
The MOON: You talk about showing up for the world in the way you want the world to look, “walking your talk.” Can you tell us about some of the ways you show up for the world in your own life? What have been the hardest gaps to bridge between your aspirations and your behavior?
Rev. angel: One way is by not selling myself short in terms of the totality of my experience. Even though it would be easier in some ways to “rise above” or to just do the things that are asked of me because I can let go of my own preferences, I try to allow my personality to be fully expressed in an appropriate and authentic way—even though that creates more problems. If I’m not engaging authentically, if I’m just doing what needs to be done to keep the peace, to keep the situation smooth and easy, it’s a form of manipulation actually. That choice—to live authentically out of the totality of my experience rather than a slice of my personality—is my strongest and most intentional contribution to embodying the world that I want to see. I’m not talking about living messily just to be messy, but about letting my full self be present and known—to let my health challenges be witnessed; my intimate relationship challenges be witnessed. I’ve seen this have great impact on the people around me in a subtle, yet powerful and direct way.
Doing it is not as difficult as living with the outcomes. It might mean losing relationships with people for a period of time. I’d like to point out that our inclination to hold on to people is as damaging to our authenticity as holding onto stuff. I’ve learned not to manipulate the conditions of my relationships so that people only have a “positive” experience of me—because challenging experiences and conflict are the nature of our being human.
I’ve had to let go of my direct relationship with my father for periods of time—not out of anger, but out of a commitment to my own authenticity and to not letting him avoid responsibility either, which is what happens when we “patch things over.”
The MOON: Can you elaborate?
Rev. angel: My father had a son outside of marriage many years ago whom he never acknowledged. This young man turned up many years later and my father and I got into a conversation about the young man’s needs. Because I knew his mother had been abusive I suggested that the best thing my father could do for him was get him some therapy. My father said he didn’t have the money; he was on a fixed income. The fact that my father “didn’t have the money” to show up for a young man he’d neglected for 20-something years didn’t sit well with me, and I said so. My father got upset at my response, and we stopped speaking for a while. I told him that I would be happy to have a real conversation with him when he was ready, but I wasn’t going to just pretend that this hadn’t happened, or make it a conversation about money, rather than about the impact he’d had on someone’s life. Too often we’re not willing to be authentic because we want to preserve the nice relationship. My father and I do have a nice relationship—we’re fond of each other and enjoy each other’s company. So losing that for a while was painful.
The MOON: In another interview you said, “If more people in the world meditated for five minutes a day, we’d have a much better planet to work with.” What is it about meditation that is so powerful? What does it accomplish?
Rev. angel: The state of contemporary society is such that we’re in perpetual motion. We don’t take or create the space to just be, to experience being alive for the sake of being alive—not for the sake of accomplishing something. We’re completely missing the trust that comes from the felt acceptance of the universe.
The universe loves us. It radiates love, but we don’t trust it because we don’t feel that acceptance. It’s like being an infant in your mother’s arms, knowing that your mother loves you because you exist. It’s not about what you do.
I know some of us haven’t had that experience—or the love might not have come from our mother, but from a father, grandmother, a grandfather, an aunt—someone who just adored us, who gave us the sense that we were okay, which enabled us to trust and accept who we are.
Meditation can give us that experience, too, if we let it. I’m not talking about transactional meditation—which is meditation to get somewhere, to become enlightened—but meditation that lets us be and lets us have the powerful experience of being loved and accepted just the way we are.
The MOON: You’ve gotten that from meditation? You’ve had the felt experience that the universe loves you?