It was the during the first week of attending University when already I started feeling boxed in. Nobody knew my name. Every night so far I had stayed in reading about people’s journeys instead of taking them. The spiritual adventure about fulfillment that Elizabeth Gilbert took in “Eat, Pray, Love” was one I truly admired. It wasn’t just the places she went to, but the risks she took in facing down her demons through meditation that I loved reading about. Inside myself there were arguments I was unwilling to have at the time. The most important ones were about love, loneliness, and creativity. I needed help expressing them so I started searching for a guru. Every day on campus I noticed there were groups of faith located in the courtyard. Some were about Jesus while others were about Atheism. I had a particular attraction to the one with a swami and three male disciples. I decided to sit down and talk with them about their beliefs to see how they could help me. It wasn’t like I was prejudiced against any of the others but this was a faith I had never heard of. Bhakti Yoga. I learned that they were vegetarians whom worshiped Lord Krishna through meditation. I pictured them sitting and chanting thoughtful words until reaching Enlightenment. Looking back now this was ignorant of me to assume. That was what I wanted so I accepted their invitation to visit temple the following evening. “I think there will be lots of students there.” I told my best friend Patootie (Alias). Patootie was going through a rough transformation at the time and agreed to come along. I think he pictured Meditation the same way I had. The next day though we found ourselves ready more for the gym than prayer. Outside, the temple looked like a regular person’s house with a vegetable garden. Inside were glossy wood floors, a monk, and a stage altar. The Monk welcomed us and offered a seat after Patootie and I took off our shoes. He told us about how faith was something he relied on to carry him through the darkness. I couldn’t really relate because I felt that darkness was still something I hadn’t opened myself up to. I didn’t know what my challenges were. Halfway through the Monk’s explanation of Prayer was when a group of them entered with the Swami. He was an older gentleman with a shaved head and draped in an orange robe. Patootie and I were welcomed to a half hour long dance/music circle. I shook a tambourine while chanting “Hari Krishna” over and over again. I remember thinking: Even though this isn’t what I wanted this is still exciting! And it was. After the dance the Monks pulled out their texts to review with the Swami, like a sermon. I took this time to watch Patootie. He seemed nervous when everything began but by now he was perfectly relaxed. I was happy.
An hour later we were on our way home discussing what just happened. Patootie expressed that he had been afraid at first. He hand’t expected something of Faith but a group that could help quiet his mind. I agreed but noted that what just happened never could have taken place in our hometown. That’s when I realized there was so much to explore. The reason I’m so boxed in is because I feel empty, I said to myself. I wanted more experiences inside of me. If they weren’t exactly similar to the ones in “EPL” I had to be okay with that. You can’t recreate other people’s experiences. And you shouldn’t. So I vowed to build a nest of my own interesting things. After dropping Patootie off at his house I went back to my own. I grabbed a couple of paint brushes, pastels, a canvas, and played some Lady Gaga on my iPod. This was my hymn and altar. I loved art. I loved music. I loved color. Maybe that day I hadn’t reached Enlightenment but I’d be damned if I stopped trying.