I reached for my cell phone, eager to call her. I dialed her number time and again, hanging up on her voicemail every time it came on. I had to hang up because I didn’t want to hear her voice recording and come into stinging reality. I factually knew she was gone-that much I had integrated. But there were deeper levels of acceptance I just couldn’t assimilate. I still needed to pretend there was someone waiting for me on the other end of the phone.
I walked back to the market hopelessly confused. I didn’t know how to live in this world any longer. I had climbed heart mountain and landed, face first, on a rusty spike. The contrast between the wondrous world that love reveals, and the materialistic world below, was almost too much to bear. When you love as God loves, all life forms appear beautiful. When you fall from grace, you can’t help but wonder why he ever bothered creating them. Would I ever smile again?
I got my answer around the next corner. As I turned into the Market, I saw my homeless mystic- Dude- sitting against his pushcart in front of the taco place. He was sipping a beer and taking some sun. I put $20.00 in his bowl and sat down beside him.
“Not needing any wisdom. Just want to sit here,” I said. Nothing comforted me more than Dude right now.
After a few minutes, he reached inside a small knapsack at the base of his pushcart and took out a nail file. He began filing his fingernails slowly, methodically, like he was engaged in a meditative practice.
“Look at my last finger,” he said, holding up a finger with a long, rough nail.
“Okay, I see it.”
“That’s like the soul when we begin this incarnation.”
“The soul is a fungal fingernail?”
He guffawed at my sarcasm. “It’s not fungal, it’s just dirty. Look, the point is that life is the nail file. It wears the nail down until all that’s left is the true essence.”
I rolled my eyes. “But why do some nails get rougher over time?”
“Those people didn’t live their real lives. They didn’t learn the lessons that smooth the soul. They hid from reality.”
The guy was a walking metaphor. I didn’t know what to do with him. “You mean smooth the fingernail, don’t you? Have you taken this theory to the beauty salon to see what they say?”
He didn’t answer, filing his nails mindfully.
“Not judging you at all Dude, but how come you live on the street? Why homeless? You could get social assistance and get a place, or….”
“For the same reason you couldn’t land that divine love in this here world. The more open something is, the more difficulty it has with society. Society was built on a foundation of fear, not authenticity. I get too numb when I join the world. I lose my openness, my access to the divine.” Then, pointing to the world around him, he added, “This way, I’m always part of it.”
He did seem more alive than the rest of us. “Okay, I get it.”
“And I ain’t homeless- I’m houseless. The bunch of you are the ones without a home. You got a house, but you ain’t got no home. You can’t be at home on this planet if you’re not at peace in your own skin. That’s where our real home is.”
Soul-food for thought. And he was right. Right now I felt like one of those people: housed, but homeless.
“Any last thoughts on my heartbreak?” I asked as I stood up to leave.
“Open Bless-a-me? You mean Open Sesame!”
“No, silly. Open Bless-a-me. Say that whenever you feel your heart closing. Open bless-a-me! No sense asking the universe to bless you if you aren’t blessing yourself. It all starts with you.”
I thanked him and started walking. When I got halfway down the street, I heard him yell to me at the top of his lungs, “OPEN BLESS-A-ME!” I looked back and he was waving to me with a big fat smile on his beautiful face. It was contagious. For the first time in weeks, I actually found myself smiling, too. Twenty bucks for a heartjob, well worth it. My pushcart guru of the heart.