Part eleven in a series.
Having used a Darth Vader / Yoda analogy during Belief Week, it was inevitable that James Mellon would get my attention by using Star Wars as a lead in for "Life Force" week of Spiritual Boot Camp.
Han Solo may not believe there is "one all-powerful Force controlling everything" but James does. He knows there is a "Life Force" behind what makes us happy and energizes us, as well as what takes our energy away or depletes us.
As "Life Force" week began, I lived out a dream to be lead vocalist for a band. At Sunday's weekly NoHo Arts "celebration", I sang a tune written by singer/songwriter Levi Kreis with support from great musicians (Doug Lebow and The NoHo Arts Band) and four backup singers dubbed "The Kittens" by James.
I hadn't sung or performed at this level for many years, and I am fairly certain it's safe to say I stunned people. The phrase I heard most was, "Paul, I had no idea you could do that!" They wouldn't, because it's a part of me that has lain relatively dormant for years.
Getting this part of my "mojo" back filled me with energy unlike any other. I am certain it is exactly what James means by "Life Force."
That kind of "high" comes once or twice a year if I'm lucky. However, every time I'm fortunate to have a day like that, there is always a "crash" that follows. Returning to "average" life after such greatness is jarring to a point that my physiological "balance" feels off.
This time the crash came quicker than I expected. Upon arriving to work on Monday, I learned a co-worker's husband unexpectedly passed away. I'd planned to send an email around the office with a link to video of my performance, but that idea became completely inappropriate given everyone's mood based on the news. I entered stage one of "Life Force" depletion.
By Tuesday, reactions to my performance were slowing down. I hadn't heard from certain people and my need for their attention caused me to "story spin" negative reasons they weren't getting in touch. I also had two offers to sing and chose to turn down both. Stage two.
My "Life Force" shot back up early Wednesday when Levi Kreis sent me a personal message about singing his song, but it went back down just as quickly when I told a friend about the singing chances I'd turned down. She said, "I'm so sad! Why did you do that?" The minute she asked, I wasn't entirely sure why myself.
The attention I'd craved the day before began to shift to an "instinct" to disappear and hide. The instinct, which I call the "Spidey Sense" (like Spiderman's) was telling me that people feel bombarded with 'that which is Paul Katz' right now. I'm "too much" and people can't handle it. So I will "go away." I am aware that hiding causes me to "hurt myself" before I'm hurt by anyone else, but I figure, "May as well beat everyone to the punch."
A Boot Camp session was an hour away and I sent a blog to James about the "Spidey Sense." After hitting the send button, I spent another 20 minutes trying to figure out why I felt so moody. At a point, I heard the voice of Yoda from Revenge of the Sith saying, "You must let go of everything you fear to lose."
I felt sucker-punched remembering that line. I recognized how tightly I was hanging on; the fear of losing "everything" was huge. I expected I could not sustain or build on what I have accomplished. I cannot, or don't know how to, "let go."
As these realizations came, I began to emotionally unravel. My "Life Force" got lower and lower. I was upset, irritable and it was hard to stop the tears.
Then I had to listen to James address the "wanting to hide" blog I sent. He said, "It's not possible for you to be "too much" for the world. Being authentic in your power may not feel comfortable to you. It may also be true that you have people around who are uncomfortable with your power, but that doesn't mean you adjust to them.
"Your instinct [to run and hide] may be a knee jerk reaction from the past. Most of our instinct is for survival, and if we are in an atmosphere where there are people around that do not necessarily gravitate to who we truly are, we will survive by adapting to them."
Now I really couldn't stop crying. James tapped into something I had been semi-conscious of throughout my life. I've always adapted to the personalities of others so people will like and accept me. It's no wonder that sometimes I feel I forget who I am.
Stage three of the crash continued from there. The emotional pain was tremendous and I was really angry I'd let myself become this way. I wrote a follow-up blog to James where I was very clear that the "Paul Katz" who sang Levi's song was filled with a "Life Force" for good and the "Paul Katz" who was writing at that moment was "Anxiety Monster" draining "Life Force" with fear.
Fear is my biggest "Life Force" killer. I was afraid to send the video link to my co-workers because they'd think I was inappropriate or insensitive. I said no to singing opportunities because I was afraid it would negatively affect my day job or I would get stressed out trying to manage too much. I wanted to run away because I was afraid people would get irritated by me and all the good things happening, if they weren't already.
While it felt good to release all of that pain by writing to James and Boot Campers, at a subsequent session he gave me some advice. He said, "Very often people let things out, but still keep [the pain] tied to them. Be sure you're not just tossing this stuff out there, only to reel it back in, and then throw it to someone else. You've got to take action after getting it all out."
It seemed perfect timing that I would have radical "highs and lows" of "Life Force" just at the time I needed to explore it in Boot Camp. I've heard it before, but James is saying it often lately, "What you focus on expands."
All of this is so innate and seemingly effortless for James that I can't help but look at him
and think of the Levi Kreis lyrics I sang over a week ago: "It may be easier than it seems. Maybe I'm the one who makes it hard."
I believe I'm headed towards a life where it is easier and I get stronger with remembering that the best of my "Life Force" is with me, just as Obi-Wan Kenobi says....always.
For information about singer-songwriter Levi Kreis, please click here.
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