Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Spiritual Wake-up Call

He is a judge, and supposedly at the peak of his professional performance. He is well-liked by his colleagues, though his circle of friends is small there, given that he tends to stay to himself. He is in charge of family matters, deciding on who gets the custody of children as parents divorce. You would think that you need have to have the wisdom of a King Salomon to make these decisions, but he sticks to the letter of the law, and his powerful mind allows him to execute that task flawlessly. His boss, and the machinery of Jurisprudence is happy with his decisions, and that is all that matters, right?

Our judge has just turned 50, and he keeps in shape to the best of his abilities. He has a healthy diet and eats little meat; he rarely drinks, and he goes jogging often, like today when he is running in the Tiergarten, a public garden near the Reichstag in Berlin Germany. His wife has just returned from playing badminton with the kids, and she sees him lying there on the grass, stretched out as if he was sleeping. "What are you doing there, Manne?" she asks. "I am afraid", he only replies.

This is a real story, and that dreaded day marked the beginning of my father's multi-decade struggle with bi-polar some thirty years ago. Now I now have reached the age that he was in when the disease struck him. I share many of my father's attributes, the same physical attractiveness, the same shyness, and the same powerful mind. Consequently, both of us have the same tendency to stay in our own castles of our beautiful minds. Doctors are telling me that supposedly there is a 50:50 change that bi-polar is genetically passed down, but I don't quite see it that way. Every illness is a homework, and I have figured out mine in the meantime.

When you are in love with your mind you risk living in a world that is real to you, but out of touch with others. My father was a potent man when the disease struck and he loved life in is own quiet way. The disconnect, I figure, came from his profession. The letter of the law should stay out of family affairs. I am sure that mostly the right decision was made in all these divorce cases, but I am equally sure that in a few cases the powerful letter of the law steam-rolled what should have happened instead. You can't fool the heart! The fear that my father felt on that dreaded day was the ego that somehow had ran into a wall. 

I am a mind-driven person myself. I am an economist, which you can argue, is even more abstract than jurisprudence. At least you are still dealing still with real people in law, but to average over millions of consumers and countless of businesses requires pretty abstract thinking. The one advantage I have over my father, I have learned from him to compensate for my biases. Along my spiritual path, I spent years getting in touch with my emotions, and consider myself now as pretty balanced between heart and mind. I also transitioned professionally into the role of an investment strategist, which forced me to be as connected to my intuition as much as to my technical tools.

I do not have the arrogance to say that I am immune to bi-polar given that I am my father's son. What I am willing to state though, is that every generation can take this symbolic struggle to a new level. Every day I show up at work and in the spiritual community with the goal of taking yet another step towards wholeness and healing. Every day I try to find spiritual meaning in taking on the lurking monsters of my mind, and perhaps most importantly, use these insights I develop along the Way to share with you. My father didn't know what hit him in that panic attack of 1982  that seemed to come out of the blue. I am facing my monsters daily instead, which perhaps makes them more manageable.

Don't fear challenges, be they professional, relationship-specific, or health-related, but take them as what they are: another change to readjust your life and to make the uphill struggle spiritually meaningful. I thank my genetic position for having put me on that subconscious journey of healing and wholeness. It was the fear of fear that I instinctively felt when I grew up that launched me on this spiritual journey. But then, who cares what the starting point may have been, it is the now and the destination that matters. Fear is nothing but a fleeting feeling along the Way, and I may never have met Her had I not received my spiritual wake-up call. 

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